Riders take the Plunge at Pidherny

Every summer, Ben Yeager crisscrosses the province competing on the downhill mountain biking circuit.

Golden, Vernon, Kamloops, Whistler, Fernie.

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Even trips to Mont Tremblant and Mont Sainte Anne in Quebec are common.

It's all to ride down mountainside courses on some of the most difficult, narrow, challenging terrain in the country.

But for once, Yeager had the chance to compete at home in Prince George on Saturday in Chapter 0: The Plunge.

Yeager, 20, was the fastest down the 2.3-kilometre, gnarly twisted course at Pidherny Rec Site, clocking five minutes 52.19 seconds in the inaugural downhill race in Prince George.

Yeager was more than familiar with the course, comprised of two trails - New England Clam Chowder and Ditch Pig - since he helped design them.

"Clam Chowder is the one that we race up top and is the more downhill course," he said Saturday afternoon of the black diamond-level course.

"We wanted to use that. It's pretty rough in some spots. There are a lot of wood features on it, too, which make it interesting.

"With this course there was a lot of pedaling which is kind of good because all the cross-country dudes and downhill dudes can come together and race and have a good time.

"Clam Chowder was built last year and Ditch Pig has been (in place) since Pidherny has existed. But we just picked the course a few weeks ago, uploaded it on the Internet so that everyone could come out and pre-ride it and get some practice rides in."

More than 40 male and female athletes from Prince George navigated their way down the course in two-minute intervals in the Prince George Cycling Club event, which made organizers happy.

"It was awesome. We were aiming for 50 and we pretty much got there," said organizer Andrew Steele.

"It's a big win for us, getting this many riders out and we hope to grow it even more next season. We'll use the results from today for the start order for the first race of next year's series. Riders will just accumulate points for every race they ride in. It will be amazing."

Yeager has been riding on two wheels ever since he can remember, taking up downhill racing about 10 years ago.

Four years ago, he started competing on the B.C. Cup and Canada Cup circuits that feature stops at Sun Peaks in Kamloops, Panorama in Invermere, Silver Star in Vernon and Kicking Horse in Golden. Sun Peaks has hosted the national championships the last two seasons.

"It's a lot of fun, then usually we'll go over to Mont Tremblant and Mont Sainte Anne in Quebec," said Yeager.

"That's the best part, you get to ride a lot of fun trails. It's a mental game and something to compete for. Everyone likes going fast."

Yeager, who works full-time at Ruckus Skis Boards and Bike, chose to take the summer off this year but he was more than happy to race closer to home on the weekend.

He said the city and the mountain bike community is lucky to have Pidherny, which is located off North Nechako Road.

"It's developing more and more every year," Yeager said.

"Usually a trail goes in every year. The best part is there are trails out here for anyone, if it's their first time riding a mountain bike ever, to guys like us who are going to come out here and race. Now that it's a legit mountain bike park and all sanctioned we can have these kinds of events out here and bring the community together. It's really cool and it's only going to get better."

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