With registration closing June 2, more than 350 riders have signed up so far to take part in an epic seven-day mountain bike race through the mountains of Coastal B.C.

“The preparations for the course are in place and we’re now just finalizing the details,” Andreas Hestler, a spokesman for B.C. Bike Race, said yesterday.

He spent the day on the North Shore at BikeFest, a family festival for cycling enthusiasts.

The B.C. Bike Race on the other hand is a seven-day all-inclusive stage race aimed at the ultimate “weekend warrior.” It leaves Vancouver June 28 and arrives at Whistler on July 4.

Organizers had hoped for 450 participants, but got off to a slow start because of the tough economic times.

Despite lower numbers than anticipated, Hestler said the race is “ahead of the curve,” and points to five new stage races — including one in Kamloops — that have started up around the world in the past year.

“Obviously we’re on to something … all of these other events are validating what we’re doing and have their own flavour.”

This year’s race, the third annual, features significant changes to the first three stages, including a new Vancouver starting line that has racers ride across the Lions Gate Bridge.

This weekend saw the return of bike racing to the north shore, with a cross-country and downhill race, both part of BikeFest 2009.

Festival organizer, James Wilson, who also owns North Vancouver’s Obsession: Bikes, said his goal was to create a family atmosphere that fosters a love of biking.