Thunder Bay’s newest mountain biking event gears up

By Jonathan Kettle

Bike trials. PC: Sam Charal

Bike trials. PC: Sam Charal

On September 24th, The Blacksheep Mountain Biking Club will be offering the biggest mountain biking race in the region: the Shuniah Forty Miner XC Marathon.

With a title like that, an explanation is definitely required. “Shuniah”, the common title for Shuniah Mines, is the heart of Thunder Bay’s single track trail network, and is where the bulk of the racing takes place. “Forty Miner” relates to “forty-niner,” as the event does offer a 49 km option for riders (actually worked out to be 48 km. We punished them heavily over this). Even though it’s called a “Marathon”, there’s no running involved – why run when you can bike?

Riders have the option of competing in 12, 24, and 48 km events. With a course starting from the Trowbridge Falls Campgrounds (known to many as Kinsmen Park), each 12 km lap includes a mix of double track climbing, technical single track, swooping single track descents, and pavement (gotta love that pavement). There will be an aid station set up at the finish/lap point where riders can stash their race nutrition.

This event will see the Blacksheep giving away more prizes than they’ve ever done before. “We’re so grateful for the support that the community has shown us. We wouldn’t be able to put this off without them, and the riders are going to feel that directly. Up for grabs are a set of disk brakes, carbon-fibre components, and a bike-specific head lamp, all coupled with hundreds of dollars in smaller prizes,” Blacksheep President Mark Maranzan told The Argus.

So what exactly do you need in order to race? Surprisingly little. Any functioning mountain bike and helmet will work. The Blacksheep has a variety of riders at all different skill levels, ranging from national-level to the “I’m so excited, I just bought my first bike” demographic.

Last day for registration will be the Friday the 23rd. Race-day pickup kits will be available on-site starting from 9:00 AM, with the main event beginning two hours later. It’s recommended for riders to show up at bare minimum an hour before the event start.

The race will conclude at 4 P.M; then the real party begins. Sleeping Giant Breweries (check out their ad in this week’s paper), will be hosting their annual Oktoberfest in conjunction with the Shuniah Forty Miner. After finishing the race, the Blacksheep are packing up and heading to the CLE grounds to shake it up with Sleepy G. All racers gets free admission to Oktoberfest, where there will be no shortage of food vendors, beer, live music, and more beer.

Anyone interested in learning more about the event should go to www.blacksheepmtb.com and click on the Shuniah Forty Miner tab. Here, registration information, as well as the course map and instructions on how to get there, can be found. Have additional questions? Message the Blacksheep Mountain Biking Club on Facebook or email info@blacksheepmtb.com.