The 9th Annual Dirt Diggler Downhill Race returned to Fernie last Saturday.
Organizer Derek Bird called the classic race his “illegitimate son” after tending to the trail that he began flagging and digging a decade ago.
The 6.5 kilometre-long course offered white knuckle alpine steeps, steeper ridge line trees and a coal chute referred to as “The Black Lung”.
Gap jumps ranging from 20-30 feet, a peddle section through the woods and a small hill climb to the finish line rounded out the rest of the challenging course with a 3,500 foot vertical drop thrown into the mix as well.
Last year, Nick Quinn set the fastest time, completing the course in 10:37. This year, Quinn took third place with Ross Roseingrave beating his time by 25 seconds and winning the overall with 10:02. Dave Woods finished second at 10:17 to round out the podium.
“The guys are getting younger, faster and learning the trail better every year and I only get older,” joked Bird.
The exception — rider Darcy Lewis, a 53-year-old ex-motocross racer, who showed up to the event ready and armoured with full body padding.
“These guys can get by with just their helmets and a neck stabilizer, but not me,” Lewis said.
Lewis is a fourth-generation Fernie local who rode the Diggler for a second time this year and was the oldest participant in the race.
“After I crashed big time last year, I was hooked,” admitted Lewis whose hopes were simply to get down the course in one piece and in under an hour.
“I’m impressed with these guys and how they can do this so fast,” he added. Lewis had done several training runs to prepare himself for the course.
He ended up completing the course in 31:39.
Lucie Richer, who has ridden in the Diggler every year since its conception won the women’s category for a second year in a row and placed 27th overall. Richer beat out the three other women who competed: Lindsey Kelley, Michelle Thorne and Krysta Longridge.