BC Bike Race is summer camp for adults. You and 500 of your new best friends from around the world get to spend a week riding the best singletrack in the world. It isn’t every day (or anywhere else) you get to line up next to mountain bike superstars like Geoff Kabush and Catherine Pendrel and race to the finish and honestly compare your time to theirs. If you don’t really care about your race time you can just focus on getting your money shot in front of the photographers when you see a good opportunity. Meanwhile, the camp counsellors are planning dinner and accommodations for you so when you finish all you need to do is roll your bike to the transfer truck and hit the showers. It is a week to remember for all.
Now that I am finally writing an update for BC Bike Race… it is over! What a whirlwind of climbing, descending, roots, rocks, bridges, ferries, roads, bottles, GU, gingerale fruitpunch and Belgians. The cornucopia of sights, sounds and experiences at BC Bike Race are hard to describe to anyone who hasn’t been there. On a professional note, by day 6 my legs finally started opening up and I was feeling like I could climb on a mountain bike again. My Specialized Era was the perfect bike for this race with lots of suspension when you need it, less when you don’t. The Brain did it all: I never had to think about locking/unlocking anything. On the last day I managed to cross the line second overall female (behind Catherine Pendrel) in Whistler so that was a solid way to end the stage race. I did win every stage and the overall race in the solo women’s category… but along the way I was always measuring against Catherine, Mical and Wendy since they are the highest quality mountain bikers and were good motivation for me to compete with. All of them chose to race in the mixed category so my main competition was Ingrid Rolles (a familiar face at XTERRA events) and she was fun to hang out with off the race course as well so good, fun, friendly competition all around.
The sweet sweet ride!
I managed to get in over 22.3 hours of racing in the seven days (add to that a few warmups and warmdowns), five runs, two swims, a hike up the Chief and three yoga sessions so that adds up to a solid training week to kick off the bid for a good showing at Worlds. Knowing my legs were their best on the last day was a big confidence boost that the race was a good idea so I am excited to see what these new legs are going to be able to do.
Big thank yous go out to Andreas, Dean, Dave, Tom, Will, Dana and Beth from the race for making my week especially good. That doesn’t include the hundreds of volunteers I thanked in passing every day for making the show go on… the ratio is 1 to 4 volunteer to participant, which is insane. Thank you to Ben, Elladee, Adam and Lesley from Shimano for outfitting my Era with some sweetass bling Dyna-sys 10 speed XTR to test ride in some extreme trails. Thanks to Ian and Specialized for supporting my bid at my first mountain bike stage race of this length (I did not have to tent it, thus the added ability to train!) and thanks to Ross for being my sherpa on the last two days. Thanks to GU for delivering electrolytes and sugar and to Nathan hydration for a delivery method of getting them to my legs to keep them going over the long week. I was also really enjoying Sundog lenses on my face during a variety of light conditions so good equipment all around. I rode Maxxis Larsen TTs for the week and felt they were a solid choice over a variety of conditions and I also enjoyed a 36 rear cassette courtesy of the new Dyna-sys Shimano 10 speed.
Some people have asked why I would do a local stage race when I could drive to and ride all of those trails whenever I want. The answer to that is I couldn’t actually do those trails whenever I want. I have never ridden 90% of the trails in the race and even if I had been on some of them, I would never be able to connect 60-70kms of mountain bike trails without getting lost or waiting around for a guide to try to keep up. The only way you can go and haul ass on these trails is to do this race. This video is a good preview of what you can expect:
Although there was a huge amount of climbing in the race it never really felt like it. Much of the climbing was under canopy in singletrack so stages of 3-4h (for me) flew by every single day. There was so much to keep your mind engaged it was impossible to get bored or feel like you were suffering. I noticed that over the week I was re-learning how to ride the descents fast and had plenty of people to show me the lines. It was a good crash course in riding singletrack fast ;). I didn’t find too many things that I couldn’t ride… although there were things I chose NOT to ride particularly on the second Sechelt stage when it rained. Some of the higher bridges were a bit scary in the rain but on a dry day I think I would have rode more of them. For those of you wondering if you are an accomplished enough rider to do the race, I would say to evaluate your ability like you would your skiing ability on the mountain: if you can ride the blue runs you are ready for the BC Bike Race. If you aren’t sure, try the Challenge race and see how that goes your first time out and then decide if you want to up the challenge to the Epic. No matter what, butt in saddle time is good training so either way, you will get a lot of it!
Next up is the Vineman 70.3 in Sonoma. Let’s see how these mountain bike legs perform!