Greg Graham flies over a tabletop jump at the end of his run during last Saturday’s Piper Cross race

Greg Graham flies over a tabletop jump at the end of his run during last Saturday’s Piper Cross race

Bikers battle gravity, grizzlies at Piperfest

Two-wheeled downhill warriors gathered on Hudson Bay Mountain in Smithers last weekend for the fourth annual Piperfest.

Two-wheeled downhill warriors gathered on Hudson Bay Mountain last weekend for the fourth annual Piperfest, a two-day mountain biking race and gathering at the Piper Down Recreation Area. Despite return visits from a grizzly bear and black flies in sufficient numbers to carry off pets and small children, the sun stayed out for both days of racing and most everyone went home happy, said organizer Dave Percy.

“The weather worked out, we had great attendance, and the biggest thing is nobody got seriously injured,” he said.

Gabe Newman, a co-organizer, said the times also offered many racers a challenge.

“It was a tight race. There was good competition in all the categories,” she said.

Riders travelled from Terrace, Kitimat and Prince George to join local Smithers bikers on their home turf.

“A lot of them have been coming back every year, it’s a fun event,” said Percy.

Some regulars that were unable to make it were replaced in number by a handful of first-time racers, he said. Quite a few new faces were on hand for both days of racing, as well as a night of camping in between.

Saturday’s Piper Cross race drew almost 30 riders. In the Junior category, Dylan Marek took first place, with a time of 3:11.7. Eric Jonkman finished second, and Josh Saunders was third. In the womens’ group, Gabe Newman finished first in 3:16.3, with Tashi Newman in second and Leanne Helkelburg in third. In the Open Mens race, Matt Kilback finished first in 2:56.5, with Kylar Highe in second, and Jeremy Roscoe in third.

Sunday marked the second year of the Piper Enduro race, with about 20 racers. Dylan Marek again won the Junior race, in 8:57.2. Coming in second was Scott Mitchinson, and Eric Jonkman finished third. In the Womens’ division, Gabe Newman took the top spot with a time of 9:15.8, with Tashi Newman in second. In the Masters category, Scott Marko finished first in 9:24.6, with Sean Rowell in second and David Marek in third. In the Open Mens race, Kyler Highe finished in first with a time of 8:33.9, one tenth of a second ahead of second place Matt Kilback. In third was Oren MacDougall.