Lack of volunteers forces Merritt Mountain Biking Club to cancel race, aiming for return in 2019.

Merritt’s premier mountain biking event will take a year’s hiatus, after the local organizing group realized they would be shorthanded for the 2018 event.

The Cow Trail Classic — which usually takes place on the Coutlee Plateau, five kilometres south of Merritt on Midday Valley Road — attracted more than 100 riders last year.

In 2017, the event comprised of three separate races, covering 39, 16 and 10.5 kilometre distances. While the latter two races were both single-lap affairs, the long course involved three different routes.

The race is put together by the Merritt Mountain Biking Association (MMBA), which is losing two key members this year as they move away from the community.

“It’s a lot of work and it’s hard on volunteers,” said last year’s race organizer Erika Doyon. “We have really great volunteers, but it’s a small community. We just couldn’t find someone to take the place, and thought: ‘Let’s just put it on hold and focus on some other projects this year.’”

Projects for this year include rehabilitating the bike park near Voght Street, building a new trail on Iron Mountain, and continuing to install signage along MMBA trails around Merritt, said Doyon.