A Cranbrook mountain bike rider is heading to France next month to take part in a six-day endurance race through the French Alps.
Jason de Rijk, who owns Sidekick Stickers, has been a keen mountain bike rider since before he moved to Cranbrook from Lethbridge five years ago.
“We have a great little nook here in the East Kootenay,” he said. “There is a lot of great stuff around here that we are lucky to have all to ourselves.”
Having competed and placed in mountain bike competitions around western Canada and the U.S., de Rijk is now setting his sights on conquering a new series of mountains: the French Alps.
“We live in the Rockies which are extremely beautiful, and I’ve always had the desire to go to somewhere that’s like it,” he said.
“The biking is going to be sweet, and I’ve always wanted to see the Alps. Taking my bike along in a race is just a bonus.”
Held from August 18 to 23, the Trans Savoie is a rally-style race where only the downhill sections are timed. The course begins in Val D’Isere, France, and passes through 13 villages to its conclusion in Chamonix.
But between the villages, the route stays in the mountains on single track, de Rijk explains.
“There are no roads, there are no quad trails,” he said. “It’s pristine, beautiful, meant for bikes, meant for hiking, there certainly isn’t any motorized use. It’s going to be beautiful.
“I’m getting excited! My palms are sweating.”
Each of the six days consists of four or five timed stages as the riders rocket downhill, around 5,000 metres (16,400 feet) each day.
The uphill sections – about 1,000 metres (3,280 feet) a day – are not timed, and in many cases riders can use existing ski facilities to reach the mountain tops.
“A lot of the uphills are covered by chair lifts or trams or gondolas. They might even truck you for portions of the uphill,” said de Rijk.
To help him achieve his dream, de Rijk has put together a fundraiser raffle.
Thanks to supporters such as Cranbrook Dodge, Favorit Cycle and Ski, High Country Sports, Max’s Place, Tim Hortons, Canadian Rockies International Airport, Giant and Gore Bike Wear, more than $1,000 in prizes are going to be raffled off.
Prizes include a Giant Via town bike, Briko biking shades, a Tassimo home brewer, and a High Country gift certificate.
Tickets are $10 each and available at Favorit Cycle and Ski, High Country, Max’s Place and Sidekick Stickers.
De Rijk said Cranbrook Dodge and a local dentist who doesn’t want to be identified have both chipped in to support him in the competition.