Local rider Ricky Federau in action at last year’s Vedder Mountain Classic bike race. JAMES LISSIMORE PHOTO

Top riders compete in Vedder Mountain Classic bike race

The annual race at Cultus Lake attracts a large field of cyclists with a wide range of skill levels.

The Fraser Valley Mountain Bikers Association partners with Cycling BC and the Canadian Enduro Series to host the Vedder Mountain Bike Festival at Cultus Lake this weekend.

Saturday features the Vedder Mountain Classic, an XCM Premier race sanctioned by Cycling BC.

This year’s Vedder Mountain Classic is attracting riders from as far away as Toronto, Las Vegas and even Italy.

Sacha Torhaghi, is traveling from Bernareggio, Monza E Brianza, a little town 25 kilometres north of Milan. He learned of the race after seeing a post on Facebook from Olympic Medalist Catherine Pendrel, who finished first in the women’s elite division in last year’s race.

“I hope to finish the race in under three hours and maybe take second or third place on the podium,” Torhaghi said. “I am a little bit scared about the nine hours time difference between Italy and Canada, and how I will adjust within four days after arrival, but I’m excited to shred some awesome trails in B.C. and race the Vedder Mountain Classic XCM because I want to try a MTB race on the other side of the world!”

His local competition, Ricky Federau, won’t make it easy to win.

Federau won the race two years ago, finished fourth last year and comes into this year’s event with a goal to finish in 2:15:00 and take top spot.

Federau, who has 10 years experience racing professionally worldwide, grew up in the Fraser Valley riding Vedder Mountain.The Vedder Classic is the first bike race he ever watched.

“So for me this race is very sentimental and I really wish the race was around during my prime,” Federau said. “I always think it would be so awesome if some kid watched the race this year and went off to race pro and get to the Olympics.

The Vedder Mountain Classic has short and long course options and there is a kid’s race for children age 5-12.

“This race is a great opportunity to showcase our trails to people from all over the province and beyond,” Federau said. “The venue for the Vedder Classic is second to none, Cultus Lake is amazing and you can easily hike up the mountain to see some of the action.

“Being a family guy, it’s a great place to bring your kids to see some good wholesome fun. If I wasn’t racing I would be bring my family up to the Notorizer trail to heckle people for crashing or cramping.

“Watching people cramp is the best!”

Competitors range in skill level from novice to professional to Olympian.

Tim Lawson, a registered short course novice competitor from Toronto, Ontario doesn’t mountain bike regularly because living in Toronto limits his ability to find good trails to ride, although race road and cyclocross for fun. Lawson is looking forward to the vertical in this course.

“Even the short course offers vertical that we don’t even have close to in Ontario,” he says. “(To prepare for the race) I’ve done some indoor winter training with Zwift, I also just completed the Paris Roubaix Sportif in France (a bucket list trip) and the famous Paris Ancaster race in Ontario.”

Sunday features the Fraser Valley section of the MEC Canadian Enduro Series. This race is part of the Canadian National Enduro Championship, North American Enduro Tour and is an Enduro World Series Qualifier.

“The Enduro series is a race for both the competitive and non-competitive athlete,” said event organizer Ted Morton. “The idea behind Enduro is untimed uphills and timed descents. For our non-competitive athletes, it’s about getting out on group rides with friends to explore new riding areas, and finishing the race with a beer.”

Keep your eyes on Chilliwack’s Max Leyen, the current Canadian Champion in the Canadian Enduro Series and one of the fastest juniors in the World Enduro Series.

Leyen does most of his training on Vedder, and he also helps maintain the trails on Vedder.

“I like the fact that in mountain biking, and with Enduro racing specifically, you have to stay consistent for seven to eight hours, alongside being fully self-sufficient the whole time,” he said. “Whereas with lots of other sports that I have competed in in the past, the timeframe I had to be consistent for was a lot shorter compared to Enduro and, there was no self-sufficiency.

“And I love that with mountain biking you can just hop on your bike any time and ride.”

When asked if he has any advice for someone who wants to try racing for the first time, Leyen said, “go for it and dive in head first—though not literally, I’ve done that before, but that’s for another story. With Enduro racing, you don’t have to be scared to give racing a try. It’s more about the experience you’ll take out of it versus the result. So, if it’s your first race, I would say sign up for an Enduro event and go in with the focus being on having a good time on your bike and you’ll have a tough time not wanting to experience it again.”

Beyond the races, the festival will also include group rides and demos, prize giveaways, a beverage garden, a local food vendor, after party and countless other entertaining events for families, casual bike riders and outdoor enthusiasts.

Find more info online at veddermountainclassic.com.

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