One of Fernie’s last mountain bike events of the season will roll around some of the areas most iconic trails on Sept. 24. According to Heather Lavers, a Fernie Mountain Bike Club (FMBC) board member and an event organizer along with Angela Etheridge, “the motivation for starting the event was to have an end-of-season biking event where we’d all get together and ride a lot in one day to cap off the bike season.”
The Highroller is a “poker ride” where contestants ride routes to checkpoints. Each checkpoint gives riders a stamp. Once the riders have completed the loops they will have enough stamps for a poker hand – the highest hand wins.
“Participants start and finish at The Royal and ride singletrack all day, collecting stamps at designated spots along the way. The total distance of trails is around the 40 to 50 kilometre range with 1,500 to 2,000 metres elevation gain,” explained Lavers. “The number of stamps corresponds to the number of cards that you get in a single poker hand. Top three hands win first pick of prizes and the rest of the prizes are drawn randomly. We all enjoy a dinner put on by Infinitea and a beer from Fernie Brewing Company (FBC). We usually have a contest in the evening, such as best tie or bike shirt, and the winner gets to drink from the FBC keg for the night for free until it is gone.”
The event is not new for Fernie, and Lavers believes it has been happening for around 10 years.
“As the years have gone by, the event has gotten a bit more organized and more people are wanting to do it every year. It has gone from having the after-party in someone’s back yard with a potluck to dinner being provided by Infinitea and everyone gathering at the Royal. The route has changed over the years. It used to be the biggest peaks, Big Money, Slunt and Hyper Extension,” she said. “This intimidated a lot of people and limited registrations, so it has evolved over the years to be more appealing to a vast range of ability levels, and last year we introduced the addition of the ‘Lowroller’. It’s like the Highroller, but smaller, you still have the possibility of getting up to six stamps/cards.”
This year will also see the addition of stamp spots at Fernie Alpine Resort.
“We have changed up the route this year to include some areas on the ski hill that we haven’t included previously, such as the trails Blackforest and Snakebite. Also we have some sweet hats for swag instead of an event t-shirt for all participants,” said Lavers.
Just because riders sign up for the event does not mean they need to complete all the loops. The event is also looking for people who aren’t riding to help out and add an extra layer of fun to the event.
“We are always looking for volunteers, they are needed for morning registration, various shifts for check in during the day at The Royal and to man the feed station,” said Lavers “This year we have made a call out to any groups or individuals who would like to add a creative twist and have some friendly competition around the feed stations. We are hoping people will have some fun with this idea.”
All ages and abilities are encouraged to come out and enjoy the end-of-the-season event, in order to register riders must be members of the FMBC.
“We typically have anywhere from 65 to 125 people, the variance is usually based on the weather. Only mother nature knows how many people will sign up this year,” said Lavers “This event is for everyone who rides, you do not have to complete the entire route – high or low, you still get a hat, beer, dinner and a chance at prizes – even if you only get one stamp. I cannot emphasize this enough, you don’t have to ride the whole route to have fun.”