For anyone who likes to play on two wheels on the local bike trails, Mount Sima is the place to be the weekend of July 14 and 15.

That’s when the local ski hill will play host to the AFD Gravity Cup, the second and final downhill mountain bike race in the 2012 AFD Downhill Race Series.

“It’s going to be a huge event,” says Jarrd Davy, one of the local event organizers.

“We have people working on the competitive race course right now and it looks fantastic—it should challenge even the most expert riders in town. I’d say it’s probably a double black diamond course.”

It won’t just be local riders stepping up to the challenge, however. Brett Tippy, a member of the Rocky Mountain Bicycles Freeride Team, will be joining the ranks of cyclists on Mount Sima’s slopes for the weekend, as well as acting as the event’s MC.

Tippy is a professional snowboarder and downhill mountain biker who burst onto the scene in the 1990s. He is often credited as one of the pioneers of the freeride movement, alongside Wade Simmons and Richie Schley.

Joining him will be Dylan Sherrard, a pro rider based in Kelowna, B.C., who is sponsored by Race Face and Kona Bikes amongst others.

Sherrard is stoked to be returning to his hometown of Whitehorse for the event. He will judge the dirt jump competition, hosted by Icycle Sports, which will form part of the weekend’s events. He will also join riders on the pre-race training runs of the course.

A series of riders from southern Canada will also be making their way north to take part in the festivities.

Former Whitehorse resident Greg Taylor, out of Vernon, B.C., will be among them.

Taylor has won the Mount Sima Slamfest (the predecessor to this year’s Gravity Cup) for two years running, and is excited to return north to defend his title.

Joining him will be Cody Ratte, a member of the Bryson Racing Clan and winner of the first race in the AFD Downhill Race Series in Hinton, Alberta, last month, as well as at least 10 members of the AFD Downhill Race Team.

The organizers are working hard to bring in even more riders from outside.

“I’m really excited about the exposure this event could bring to Mount Sima,” says Justin Mullan, another Gravity Cup local organizer and past organizer of the Mount Sima Slamfest.

“We have fantastic riding up here, and it would be amazing for it to get more exposure outside of the territory.”

To help make that happen, event sponsor Mountain Madness Tours is offering riders from Alberta round-trip transportation to the race for them and their bikes for $285.

Despite the impressive lineup of big names travelling here for the race, and the challenging terrain of the competitive race course, organizers stress that the event is for anyone and everyone who is interested in getting involved in downhill racing.

“I want to see as many locals out as possible, especially the younger generation” says Davy. “I have two kids who will be participating and I’d love to see many of their peers joining them on the slopes.”

The event’s sister race in Hinton saw 100 riders turn up, notes.

“I’d love to see Whitehorse break that number.”

Kristy Jacklin, marketing and community investment coordinator for AFD Petroleum, elaborates.

“The decision to organize downhill mountain bike events as part of the company’s community investment program was made through AFD’s desire to contribute to the creation of sustainable, responsibly built trails in the communities in which the company operates as well as host an exciting event, encouraging people of all ages and abilities to participate.”

To find out more about the event check out: www.afdracing.ca and www.facebook/afdracing.

Amber Church is a painter, writer and sports enthusiast. You can reach her at [email protected].