NANAIMO — Glasgow, Leavenworth, Durban, Gross-Umstadt...Nanaimo?
Not typically a collection of cities that would be connected. That is until the Red Bull Pump Track World Championship series was created.
In August, Nanaimo's Stevie Smith Bike Park will host the only Canadian stop on the international tour set to hit at least 20 cities.
Claudio Caluori, an organizer of the series and owner of international track builder Velosolutions, is connected to Nanaimo through his friendship with the late Steve Smith.
When he came to the harbour city to help build the local bike park last summer, he said he experienced good people and a great biking scene.
"Don't underestimate your city. It's awesome. You do have one of the best tracks worldwide so for us it was never a question where the Canadian stop should be," Caluori told NanaimoNewsNOW.
Caluori will make a point to personally attend the Aug. 4 event, noting his connection with Smith, Nanaimo's world championship winning downhill mountain biker who passed away tragically in 2016.
"We were all close to him. It was quite an emotional time for us when we were there. He's going to be proud of what he achieved with his bike park. Looking down, he must be happy with people having so much fun at a park with his name."
Caluori said after building pump tracks around the globe, it was a natural progression to creating a world championship series. He said the idea was to start something "grassroots" and accessible to everyone.
"We want to build the scene, we want to give something back to every community, not just the big cities. We also go to third world countries...The idea is really not only the big huge show, it's really to also give something back to the sport and bring in new kids from countries that don't usually have access to international competition."
The event is open to anyone over the age of 16 and there are 100 spots up for grabs via online registration. Racers will compete in timed laps and head-to-head knockout heats, with the top four qualifying for the world championship finals in Switzerland in September. Caluori said the winner of each qualifier will get their flight to the finals paid for.
"It's mainly local people but obviously we'll have the big guys who want to qualify and they will have to go to one of these stops too. I know in Nanaimo for sure there's going to be big names."
He said Smith was certainly on to something with his vision for Nanaimo's park and it is already reaping benefits.
"When we build a track in a community we immediately feel what it does to a community, what it changes and how many people actually start riding bikes only because of a pump track. Now having the world championship this whole effect has multiplied because now cities realize this is both a kids playground and an actual sport."
The tour will also make stops in countries like India, Japan, the Philippines, South Africa, Austria, Estonia and Thailand.
You can learn more and register for the Nanaimo race here.
On Twitter: @domabassi
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