Mitchell Thacker soars over a jump as spectators look on Sunday during the annual Rumble Tumble Downhill mountain bike race in Port Alice.

Mitchell Thacker soars over a jump as spectators look on Sunday during the annual Rumble Tumble Downhill mountain bike race in Port Alice.

Anderson belts Rumblefest downhill foes

PORT ALICE - Defending champ retains title in annual mountain biking event

PORT ALICE — Brent Anderson can have his belt and wear it, too.

Anderson, a Comox Valley mountain-bike racer, constructed a boxing-style champion’s belt for the winner of the annual Vancouver Island Mountain Bike Association downhill series points champion. On Sunday, he blitzed the field of advanced riders by eight seconds at the annual Rumblefest Rumble Tumble Downhill to clinch his fourth straight championship.

“I’ve been coming here for eight years, and this was the fastest course yet,” said Anderson, one of dozens of riders who came from as far away as the Lower Mainland for the final in the Island points series. “There’s talk this was a record for the downhill.”

Anderson posted rides of 3 minutes, 57 seconds and 3:59 in two runs down the steep, root- and rock-studded course, the only two sub-4:00 runs of the day on the expert course. Jeff Beeston followed with a best ride of 4:05 and Mitchell Thacker was one second back in third, in 4:06.

Anderson accepted his Rumblefest trophy — featuring a used bike part mounted on a slab of wood — and proclaimed it was the proper way to construct a mountain-biking trophy.

He then pointed to his homemade belt, made of heavy leather with a bike sprocket at the “buckle”. Tucked inside the sprocket is a golden cyclist — oriented downhill, of course — from a cheap, prefabricated trophy he dismantled for parts.

Anderson said the quality of the Rumble Tumble race course and the volunteers who put on the event will keep him coming back in the future.

“Every year, I bring another recruit or two,” he said with a laugh. “You can easily say this is one of the best courses in B.C. It encompasses all the best things in a downhill course, and so do the volunteers. The salmon barbecue, the shuttle drivers, it’s just an excellent weekend.”

Marine Harvest donated salmon for the annual Saturday barbecue following that day’s cross-country race.

In Sunday’s downhill, Danice Uyesugi won the women’s advance title uncontested, in 4:54.

In the intermediate division, Richard Abernetay and James Herriot shared the men’s title with matching 2:52 clockings. Emily Tay was the top women’s finisher with a second run of 3:50 that shaved more than a half-minute off her first run (4:22).

The beginner class produced another tie among the men, with Mark Bickford and Riley Varkonja posting identical 2:31 times. Janine Lansdowne took the women’s trophy with a 6:03 time.

In the cross-country event Saturday, which encompasses the lower portion of the downhill, Craig Gillett won the men’s advanced, Nathan Krein won the men’s beginner, Fraser Ullstrom won the men’s intermediate, Doug Goodman won the senior race, Isabella Hlavon of Port Alice won the women’s beginner race and Elizabeth Fraser won the women’s intermediate race.