This year’s event could have been called the Salty Dusty Dog.
With the little bit of rain that’s fallen lately, the trails were dustier than normal, sunny and a few degrees warmer than usual.
Riders still went out and pushed themselves hard. There were as many or more eight- to 10-lap performances by both riders in the team and solo categories.
Just over 720 people, aged just shy of two years to pushing 60, were all out smiling, riding as hard as they could and having a great social time in the Salty Bike Pits. They were out there to push themselves, see how many laps they could do in six hours, and maybe win a handmade woodalion or an apple pie.
Salty Dog Enduro encourages the next generation to start to pedal early.
There are three events run just for people two to 14, and 200 kids participate each year.
Whole families from the Lower Mainland, the Interior and the Calgary to Revelstoke corridor come in droves to the Shuswap each year to experience the Salty Dog family experience.
The Salty Pup races had almost 80 kids out on run bikes and 12-inch to 24-inch sized bikes, all pedalling for 30 to 60 minutes an a 1.5-km loop to the excited cheering from parents, family, friends and grandparents.
The U15 three-hour Enduro had another 120 young people racing in teams of two and riding as fast as they could pedal.
On the hot day for the race this year, a lot of water, bananas, energy bars and drinks were consumed.
Most of the riders were prepared for the heat, but as people push themselves there were still a few heat-related and tired-body challenges – all part of the event.
One of the Solo riders coming in through the finish area with 15 minutes to go in the event told organizer Tom Peasgood: “I am so glad I finished that lap on time; all the way around my final lap I was trying to decide if I was mad at you for putting on this event, or happy to see if I could finish this lap on time!”
The social aspects of the event are clearly as important as the racing. It’s not just about showing up, riding hard, and finding out what kind of early-season bike ‘shape’ riders are in. People ride laps with their buddies, hang out in the Salty Dog tent city and recover between laps with friends and family and watch their kids race.
As well as filling local hotels and restaurants, Peasgood points out that many of the out-of-town riders visit Salmon Arm one to three times before the race weekend every spring, to pre-ride the Salty trails and train.
The Shuswap weather helps too – this year the post-Salty Monday was a 23-degree day, while the cyclists from Alberta woke up to three to eight centimetres of fresh snow.
Race organizers say they are extremely grateful to the 100 to 120 race volunteers, nearby residents and the many organizations and sponsors who make the event possible.
The Salty Dog 2016 weekend of events will be May 13 to 15.
Once again, local riders earned some top placings at the event.
For results in all the categories, go to zone4.ca.