Dwayne Kress and Kelly Servinski are going to be representing Squamish in more ways than one when Stage 6 of the week-long BC Bike Race cuts across local trails this summer.
The mountain bikers are teaming up to take on the relentless ride in hopes of raising $10,000 for research and programs supporting people suffering with diabetes. And when the Team Diabetes backers have caught their collective breath, they'll be spouting praises for the Squamish riding scene to help promote its reputation as a paradise for those who enjoy keeping fit atop two wheels.
Pedaling about 500 km in seven days is a grind, but Kress and Servinski said they have already found the right gear.
"Any time we can combine something we like doing with a positive message makes it really easy to do," said Kress, 38.
"Type 2 diabetes is rising but it's easily preventable. Usually the cause of it is just poor choices and inactive lifestyle, so it's a real quick alignment between an active lifestyle and preventing Type 2 diabetes."
Kress recently created a Facebook page called Bike Squamish to showcase local riding and encourage mountain bikers from all over the world to put the nation's outdoor capital on their "must-ride" lists. The site offers trail and race updates and had 570 members as of this week.
Squamish is just starting to get the recognition it deserves, said Servinski, who moved from Calgary about 18 months ago because of the outdoor opportunities available along the corridor. Last month Squamish was featured in Bike, a popular American magazine, while its first government-funded trail is set to open at the end of the month.
It's up to locals to take advantage of the recent spotlight created by the Olympics and reveal the benefits of the Squamish lifestyle, said Servinski.
"Not everyone knows what a gem this area is, but I think the Olympics helps a ton. It's just following up after the Games and staying on the gas," said Servinski, 37.
The BC Bike Race starts in Vancouver on June 27 and ends in Whistler July 3. It warms up on the North Shore and features stellar singletrack in Nanaimo, Cumberland, Powell River and the Sunshine Coast before finishing up in Squamish and Whistler.
The day Squamish hosts, however, is considered the "queen stage", according to Kress. The course, which is designed by Corsa Cycles owners Dave Heisler and Sandra Brull, features a challenging one-of-a-kind trail network that weaves through the community and wraps up with the exhausted riders celebrating together on public campgrounds near Brennan Park.
"It's not only decisive for the overall of how people finish up, but it's decisive in that it really wraps up the best qualities of the race," he said.
Kress and Servinski have multi-stage race experience in South America and Europe. But besides winning Whistler's Corridor Cup last summer, they are relatively new teammates. With an event like the BC Bike Race, where the team is only as fast as its slowest rider, it's all about pushing each other, said Kress.
"Whatever it takes to motivate: yell and scream and plead and beg," he said with a laugh.
To make a tax deductible donation visit www.teamdiabetes.ca and type Kress and Servinski's names on the pledge a participant page. Anyone can sign up to Bike Squamish as well, where the team will be posting stories and photos during the race.
As a bonus, anyone registered on Bike Squamish will be included in a draw to win an official BC Bike Race jersey and bag, along with a ticket to race Stage 6 in Squamish. It's a particularly special prize because racers are not able to purchase entries to any single stage.