Eugene Sepke is a familiar face around Mission’s trails. As a member of the Fraser Valley Mountain Bike Association, he loves riding, but he is also known for his work in maintaining and building kilometres of road for walkers, hikers and bikers.
This week, however, Sepke will not be in the woods with his saw and shovel, he’s competing in the B.C. Bike Race, a popular week-long riding competition which is usually sold out every year.
The ride was on Sepke’s bucket list and he received free entry to the event when he won the Kazlaw Community Mountain Biking Award last month. More than 100 people were nominated for the award in recognition of all the work they do in the community to forward the sport of mountain biking.
Sepke is relatively new to mountain biking, having picked it up seven years ago when he was 33. He joined the FVMBA three years ago and now spends 75 per cent of his time building rather than biking.
“I get much more enjoyment from building trails,” explained Sepke who takes pleasure in woodworking and putting boardwalks together so people don’t have to trudge through muddy sections of the trail.
Sepke has built three kilometres of trail, but has provided maintenance to every one in Mission. One of the trails the Mission resident has constructed is Hannah’s Trail, about two kilometres long, at Heritage Park which connects to a network of trails leading to the monastery. It took him more than a year to build it in memory of a girl, whom he had never met, who died of a brain tumour.
“The person I learned [to build trails from] knew her and he wanted to build a trail for her, but didn’t have time,” Sepke explained. “Hannah used the park all the time with her family.”
After hearing the story, Sepke took on the challenge and spent two months scouting the area and determining the curves of the path.
He changed the course several times before starting on the final route.
“It’s like the ground speaks to you,” said Sepke, noting he tried to find features along the trail for users to enjoy.
He took the plans to the district’s forestry department and began sawing away when he received approval.
Hannah’s Trail is now four years old and her family continues to use the path regularly. Sometimes they even hide trinkets along the way. Hannah’s trail can be accessed off of Prentis Avenue.
The B.C. Bike Race began June 29 in North Vancouver. Participants make their way to Cumberland on Vancouver Island, then Campbell River, Powell River, Sechelt and ending in Whistler on July 6. Details of the race can be found at bcbikerace.com.