By Dan Walton
Professional cyclists from around the world had their race at the Toby Benches sabotaged last weekend, when a local resident misdirected competitors along the Johnson Trail during Stage 3 of the Singletrack 6 mountain bike event.
“Everything was going along great until this idiot plugged in her own agenda,” said Lyle Wilson, race director of the event. “Either she thinks it’s a joke, or she’s vindictive that there’s so much mountain biking going on up at the benches that she tried to screw up the whole event.”
Stage 3 of Singletrack 6 took place on Monday, July 28th on the Johnson Trail across from Lake Lillian on the Benches. Just before riders would have approached the Kloosifer trail network, Mr. Wilson said cyclists were misdirected by a vehicle that blocked the designed route, with the driver having removed several markers and instructing racers to pedal off the course.
Out of 254 riders, the top 20 were deceived before a race official discovered what was happening. The lady fled upon confrontation, and the fastest riders weren’t able to earn credit for their effort. The top eight riders were forced to improvise their way back to the finish line, where they crossed together and were all assigned a time of 2:15:09.
“All these pros who put their lives into biking had to have their day negated,” said Mr. Wilson. “The whole local bike community spent months putting that course together, and there were people from all over the world there.”
He said the affected cyclists were livid, and the incident puts a black eye on the entire Columbia Valley.
“The whole goal was to offer a good experience at the event, and to have somebody come by and wreck that is disappointing, it makes our town look bad,” said Jordie Kirk, co-owner of Crazy Soles in Invermere and an avid trail user and advocate. He said he’s heard of courses being sabotaged in the past, but never in the Columbia Valley.
“But aside from [the sabotage], people really liked that stage,” Mr Kirk said.
Stage 2 was held at Nipika Mountain Resort on Sunday, July 27th, which Mr. Wilson said ran “fabulously” with no vandalism.