Rumblefest tumbles from 2014 schedule

Annual downhill biking fixture off the calendar for 2014.

PORT ALICE—After 20 years of drawing Vancouver Island’s top mountain bike racers for a weekend of cowbell ringing, horn-tooting and general mayhem, Rumble Mountain will go quiet this spring.

Rumblefest, which had become a fixture on the Island Cup downhill racing schedule, has been cancelled this year, the victim of a shortage of organizers and sponsors, said longtime volunteer Tanya Spafford.

“We’re hoping it’s not a permanent thing,” said Spafford. “But we kind of need a new group to come in; we need some new blood.”

Rumblefest, typically run the second weekend in June, once featured the Rumblefest cross-country race Saturday, followed by a bike rodeo and barbecue, and the Rumble Tumble downhill on Sunday on a course that drew rave reviews from visitors from across the Island.

Dwindling turnout resulted in the loss of the cross-country race following the 2011 event, though the downhill continued to draw competitors in the Island Cup points series.

Spafford has been aided in recent years by fellow organizers Derek Koel, of Port McNeill and Brad Sedola, of Port Hardy. But Sedola has moved from the region and Koel is busy with both a job and his own business, said Spafford.

Putting on Rumblefest was more than simply organizing the race itself. Most of the real work took place well before the arrival of the riders, in preparing and grooming the steep, twisting trail.

“It’s physically demanding,” she said. “You’re out there on the trail every week getting it ready.

“We hit our 20th year and it kind of feels like we closed a door behind us,” she added. “It was a great, fantastic run.”