A year after the world’s plummeting economy resulted in lower than anticipated attendance, organizers of the B.C. Bike Race say the annual mountain bike race is back on the singletrack.

The seven-stage race, which hops from North Vancouver to the Island, Sunshine Coast and Whistler, has maxed out at 500 participants.

“It was almost like a software company,” said Andreas Hestler, a former Olympian and race spokesman, of last year’s downturn.

“We were growing, growing, growing and then suddenly the economy isn’t there ... it was a bit of struggle.”

Now in its fourth year, the ever-evolving race has introduced a “challenge” category.

The traditional or “epic” course push racers about 60 to 70 kilometres a day. The challenge category is about half that distance.

The challenge gives racers, who may have bitten off more than they could chew, another option besides riding in the van to the finish line.

This year also has a “prologue,” or Day 0, in North Vancouver with a short staggered race down the Richard Juryn Memorial Trail.

“Last year we did an entire stage in North Vancouver and it was kind of scary,” Hestler said.

Despite the difficulty of the North Shore, he added, people were happy to ride it — even if they ended up walking a lot.

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