A group of dedicated mountain bikers in Kamloops, British Columbia is preparing a five-day stage race designed to return multi-day endurance racing to its off-road roots.

The Intermontane Challenge, to be held July 27-31, 2009, will serve as a showcase for the superb trails around Kamloops. Some 60 percent of the 450-kilometer course will be singletrack—in contrast with many other international stage races in which the majority of the courses are on fire roads or even tarmac.

"We want every stage to keep people on their toes," says the race's marketing director, Kelly Servinski, a seasoned mountain biker who has completed races such as the Trans-Rockies, Trans-Alps and La Ruta. "Every stage, the majority of it will be singletrack, and that means on actual mountain-bike trails that have been ridden for years and years.

"The Kamloops area is really known for the freeride set," he adds. "At lower elevations, we have the drier, swoopy, twisty-turny stuff, while up a bit higher it gets a bit more rocky and rooty. We've got a little bit of everything."

The race will be a series of five loops, with each one ending in Kamloops—dramatically simplifying the logistics and making it easy for weary racers to relax in the same bed each night without having to repack and move their gear each day.

"There is nothing better than racing some awesome singletrack all day and pinning it that little bit extra for the finish line to enjoy the benefits of basing out of a city jammed full of places to hang out at after the stage," the organizers state on the Intermontane Challenge website.

The course, designed by Kamloops local and former DH and XC pro Dustin Adams, has already been set, and will have its "epic" stage on the third day.

"That will give the racers two days of riding to settle in before we hit them with one of the most challenging days of mountain biking they'll ever experience," says Servinski. "We want to challenge people big time on the third day.

"Our course is also unique because Dustin is putting his face, name and credibility on the line in designing it. He's a former cross-country pro, and we are all confident that it will be a course that mountain bikers will love."

Racers will be able to compete solo or in two-person teams, which will not only enable solo riders to race with full support, but also is expected to make the team division more competitive.

The fifth and final day of the race will consist of a time trial right in the heart of Kamloops itself. "There's so much singletrack right in town it's amazing," Servinski says. "Lots of spectators will be out, and since the race will end right in the middle of town, everyone will be able to party it up and celebrate five days of wicked racing."

For cost and other information go to: www.intermontanechallenge.com