Cumberland Singletrack Sets the "Fun” Bar High!
The start line of any race is always alive with energy. But when you
bring 450 singletrack hungry mountain bikers to a singletrack crazy town, line
up the start chute down the centre of the main drag, mix in a heavy percentage
of cheering locals, and remind riders that this is the first of seven straight
days of singletrack heaven, well, it’s electric!
Enter BC Bike Race Stage One. This morning you could have powered the
entire village of Cumberland with the energy racers exuded as host Drew Bragg
counted down the launch of BCBR 2011. More than 50km of incredible riding lay
ahead for the Epic riders, while the Challengers experienced 30km of the same.
The big question of the day was how would European riders Thomas
Dietsch (BULL) and Marzio Deho (Olympia) fare on these trails against the
defending champion Chris Sheppard (Rocky Mountain Bikes). At yesterday’s press
conference, Dietsch pointed out that the European races only see about 7%
singletrack to BCBR’s 70%. And the technical levels are incomparable, so it was
going to be an interesting week.
Stage one didn’t disappoint. Dietsch tailed Sheppard through the
initial singletrack and attacked on the long fire road ascent. Sheppard
regained the lead back in the singletrack with Dietsch–rocking a hardtail this
week–close behind. Close, but not close enough to steal the yellow jersey from
Sheppard for Stage One. Shep, who is very familiar with this terrain, holds a
2+ minute lead over Dietsch going into Stage Two. The next four category
finishers, Neal Kindree (Republic Bike Shop / SRAM), Cory Wallace (Kona), Jason
Sager (Jamis) and Marzio Deho all crossed the line within three minutes of each
other. Gravity master Brian Lopes (Oakley/Ibis/ENVE/Kenda) sits in 14th.
The Epic Team of 2 Men category promises some solid competition as
well this year, as champions Kris Sneddon and Barry Wicks (Kona Factory Team)
defend their title against a strong field. A little bottlenecking and some
tough breaks set a few teams back during the day. Sneddon and Wicks blasted
through the finish in 2:28:12 to claim the day’s jersey with Mary Lazarski and
Ricky Federau (Nativo/Devinci) just over a minute behind. Five minutes later,
Mitchell Hoke and Brady Kappius (Clif Bar) came through with Greg Day and Colin
Kerr (Rocky Mountain Bikes) and Mark Weir and Jason Moeschler
(WTB/Cannondale/Shimano) less than a minute back. It’s still very early times
and there are hundreds of kilometers of singletrack that can see this race take
any number of turns. No matter what, it’s shaping up to be hot competition!
Epic or Challenge, racers crossed the finish line today with huge
grins and exuding a serious sense of accomplishment. It’s not surprising as the
Cumberland trails are hand-built beauties that are guaranteed to delight every
rider. Course Director Jeremy Grasby knows almost every inch of the trail
network and continues to craft a Cumberland stage thrill-ride every year.
Gravity girl Katrina Strand (Troy Lee Designs/Oakley/Maxxis) was having so much
fun on course that she was accused of smiling too much!
Today’s selected stage highlights:
Epic Solo Men – Chris Sheppard,
Team Rocky Mountain Bikes 2:23:14; Thomas Dietsch, Team BULL 2:25:42; Neal
Kindree, Team Republic Bike Shop / SRAM 2:31:56
Epic Team of 2 Men – Kris
Sneddon and Barry Wicks, Kona Factory Team 2:28:12; Marty Lazarski and Ricky
Federau, Nativo/Devinci 2:29:30; Mitchell Hoke and Brady Kappius, Team Clif Bar
Epic Solo Masters Men – Patrick Jansen 2:39:49; Jeff Neilson 2:40:13;
Craig Gillett 2:44:00
Epic Team of 2 Vets 100+ – Daniel Auclair and Pierre
Harvey 3:00:09; Vince Haag and Steve Wright 3:14:23; Andy Aufschnaiter and John
Epic Solo Women – Jennifer Schulz 3:06:25; Wendy Lyall 3:15:50;
Hannah Thorne 3:20:19
Epic Team of 2 Women – Simone McCallum and Claire
Garcia-Webb 3:47:12; Heide Saunders and Robyn Pickering 3:59:32; Luli Cox and
Dri Boccia, Rocky Mountain 4:59:40
Challenge Solo Men – Grant Fox 1:41:01; Brad Jansen 1:53:53, Lawrence
Challenge Solo Women – Alice Pirard 1:54:02; Tanya Berg 1:55:56;
Wakana Heilman 2:17:21
Challenge Teams of 2 Open Mixed – Denver Poole and Derek
Reynolds 2:02:55; Melanie and Mark Foster 2:22:43; Brock Martin and Suzanne
We’ll wrap up this edition with a brief racer story we’ve come to call
"Planes, Ferries and Automobiles.” Epic Solo racer Anthony Alvarado hails from
Costa Rica. He’d intended to join us for registration on Day 0 but missed his
flight. That led to a panicked phone call and overnight stop at a friend’s
place, a repeat trip to the airport, and a subsequent 7hr flight from Costa
Rica to Toronto on July 2nd. Anthony then landed in Vancouver at 2am July 3rd,
took a cab to the BC Ferries terminal, caught a 5am sailing to Vancouver
Island, and was met by BCBR crew who shuttled him straight to the Cumberland
start line… with 50 minutes to spare. The Obsession: Bikes tech team assembled and
tuned Anthony’s bike in record time and he was ready to roll for a 9:30am Stage
One start. 26 hours after leaving home.
Anthony finished in less than four hours and, despite being exhausted
and battling near-cramping through the course, could not stop beaming with
excitement: "I enjoyed it like I was a kid!”
And that seems to sum up the sentiments of many racers around Base
Camp at the end of Stage One. Seven days of super-fun singletrack has begun!
Next Up: A quick morning trip up the highway brings racers to the site
of our brand new stage for 2011: Campbell River. With a picturesque Base Camp
set at the ocean’s edge and 33km of consecutive singletrack, Stage Two could
become a new favourite!
PS – Campbell
River trails will also be the launch point for the Rocky Mountain Bikes "Love
the Ride” chip-timed sections. It’s our race within a race that promises to
bring a whole new element to the BCBR!