Spring Blitz to kick off cycling season in the valley

Events will include a gear swap and kids ride

On May 27, the Elk Valley’s mountain biking season kicks off with a barbecue, bike swap, kid’s bike ride and more events courtesy of the Fernie Mountain Bike Club’s (FMBC) Spring Bike Blitz.

The event begins with a bike and gear swap at Fernie’s Elks Hall from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Items for sale can be dropped off on the day of the swap or Friday evening. The FMBC is taking a small percentage from the sale of the items as a fundraiser for the club and local trails. FMBC memberships and merchandise will be available and you will also get to meet like-minded bikers and learn about the best local trails at a barbecue and social.

At 1 p.m. there will be the Mud Muncher Kids Ride, which is a non-competitive scavenger hunt at the Fernie Bike Park kiosk. This is a fun event open to all kids but they should have parental supervision.

At 3 p.m. residents are invited to the FMBC AGM back at Elks Hall to learn about what the club has been up to the past year and preside over the election of a new board of directors. At 7 p.m. there will be an evening of mountain biking movies.

Compared to last year, bikers are getting a later start to the season, said FMBC spokesperson Angela Etheridge.

Though cyclists might be chomping at the bit to get on two wheels, Etheridge is asking residents to avoid muddy trails.

“At this time of year they need time to dry out,” she said in an emailed statement. “Wet and muddy trails are more vulnerable to damage, so we ask people to avoid the mud by picking trails that drain better, going for a spin on logging roads instead, or chill from riding trials until it dries out. If there is a puddle, try riding through it instead of around, which widens the trail over time.”

Etheridge referred to the FMBC’s rules of etiquette, which asks riders to obey trail signage, to leave no trace, to ride in a controlled manner and to avoid scaring animals. There is a trail etiquette section on their web page for those that are new to mountain biking or just want a refresher.

Riders are encouraged to support the community’s trail network by purchasing a 2017 FMBC memberships at the Bike Blitz or online. Memberships cost $25 for an individual or $50 for a family.

The vast majority of funds collected through memberships go into trail building and maintenance by way of donations to the Fernie Trails Alliance, which is an umbrella organization that manages trails and obtains permission from landowners to use the trails around Fernie.

Etheridge called FMBC membership a both a bargain and a responsibility.

“If a person rides bikes on the trails in Fernie, they should support all the work that goes into the trails by getting their annual FMBC membership,” she said.