Freeriders rip it up for GK

Sports

Approximately 70 teams of riders came out for the fifth annual GK Ripper mountain bike race Sunday (Sept. 11), combining the disciplines of cross-country and downhill in one event.

"The GK Ripper is unique because there is no other race in Canada that has the nation's best X-C and DH racers in one race," said one of the original event organizers Alan Ross.

The fundraiser earned $11,000 this year for a five-year total of $59,000, all of which has gone to locals who have suffered severe injuries.

The event began Friday evening with a party and auction at the Howe Sound Brew Pub. Party-goers bid on dates with two bachelors and three bachelorettes, and a chance to go to a Vancouver Canucks hockey game with Graham Kuerbis, the original recipient of the event's proceeds, and an ATV tour and dinner in Whistler with the third year's recipient, Kristen McBride."It was so much fun," said McBride. "It was the most successful pre-Ripper party so far."

Kuerbis collected the evening's top bid of $400 and McBride drew in $200.

The race began Sunday morning with the uphill crew climbing Diamond Road.

"This year was an amazing effort by the uphill group," said Ross. "Road Conditions were slower with washboard sections, loose chunky rocks in the construction areas, as if 3,000 feet of elevation gain and 12 km of climbing wasn't enough."The top time was 40:39 by two-time world champion Roland Green, followed by young local phenomenon Neal Kindree at 42:04.

Organizers added more trail to the downhill portion of the race, which included P-Nut's Wild Ride and 19th Hole. Thomas Vanderham repeated his performance as the fastest downhill time at 12:28, followed by local boys Aaron Kempf at 12:43 and Kyle Ritchie at 12:50.

Racers were thrilled to race alongside the sport's hot shots such as Wade Simmons.

"For the average rider and young riders especially," said Ross, "it would be equivalent to playing hockey with Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux."

After the race, riders still had enough energy to rip it up at the Klahanie campgrounds for the after party. Party-goers were greeted with draw prizes including a Kona bike, bike passes to Whistler/Blackcomb and gift baskets from local businesses. A DJ kept the party's pace up while volunteers, including Kuerbis's dad, brought food and sold G.K. hats and shirts, which had camouflage designs donated by Joe Raguerro.spaillard@squamishchief.com

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