Day Zero—Prologue. North Vancouver
I put an old race acquaintance, Bruce Dickman on a plane from Birmingham earlier this week to help me with driving for the 2010 BC Bike Race. Bruce is pretty well known on the east coast and down south for his exploits MC’ing all types of cycling events. He is also an avid mountain biker, well versed in the general racing schlep-fest and keeps flexible schedule.
We headed north yesterday and of course experienced traffic purgatory in Seattle. Apparently Washingtonians know each and every time I travel the I-5 corridor and immediately wreck, stall or otherwise jam the freeway with vehicles to impede progress as much as possible. After spending 6 hours simply getting past Seattle things cleared up and we found a cruddy motel in Blaine for quick border access this morning.
I visited the gas station convenience store across the street for a snack. I perused the aisles for something that might not kill me and found nothing except a cup of joe. When I paid for it the proprietor started shaking me down for shop lifting! I emptied my pockets of keys, wallet and phone and then proceeded to explain to the fool and even if I was a thief I wouldn’t bother since every item in his store was full of sugar, saturated fat and a variety of chemicals OSHA would require gloves, goggles, boots and apron to handle!
We crossed the border with no further cavity searches amd made it to registration less than an hour after it opened. Evidently the BC Bike Race crew planned a marathon que and a short MTB ride for today as it took about four hours of lines to accomplish registration at which point there was another two hour wait for the prologue start.
The prologue was took most people about 10 minutes and consisted of a variety of surfaces and technicalities. Overall it was really pretty RAD and just about perfect for the first day. Chris Sheppard set the pace and the rest of us filled in behind within about a two minute window. Barry Wicks and Kris Sneddon won the open duo and Geoff Kabush and Katherine Pendrel the mixed. It was my first ride on the IBIS Mojo and WOW—love at first bike! Climbs like a goat, descends like a butterfly and felt like an old friend. Special thanks also to NoTubes and Manitou suspension for also making this trip possible!
Thanks for tuning in…
Day 2—Stage One. Nanaimo
WOW, that was a beautiful ride Started the day with a ferry ride across to Vancouver Island and started the stage with RCMP (Royal Canuckian Mounting Police—er something like that) escort through Nanaimo before climbing out of town to a frenetic funnel into in a sickening single track climb. During the chaos another bike rear-ended my Mojo and busted the rear derailleur housing which resulted in endless skipping regardless of gear selection for the ensuing punchy climbs.
Since there were no less than hundreds of roots, rocks and steps-ups I was off the bike countless times nashing my teeth and cursing my luck at which point I had an epiphany of sorts: I love racing and I love riding technical trails but I found out today they can be mutually exclusive. Once I resigned myself to the reality of riding a really janky three speed for 80+ kilometers and relaxed, things became ridiculously fun. In fact, more fun than I have ever had in a "race”. There was something refreshing and exhilarating about NOT being cross-eyed in the single track, NOT getting a flat, NOT wrecking or coming close, and actually being able to look for the sick lines and enjoy the ride!
After the first loop, we did another equally awesome collection of single track silliness that leaves me in awe… Who builds all this and how does it stay so sick and buff? There must be an undocumented species of trail gnome indigenous to British Columbia doing all this…
Sheppard, Wicks/Sneddon, and Kabush/Pendrel all moved to consolidate their leads with victories in each of the open divisions.
The sun began to burn through this afternoon and shone brightly on all the post race smiles. In fact the trails are incredibly dry so far and the forecast is for improving weather for the remainder of the week. Oh, yeah!!!
Day 3—Stage Two, Cumberland
We began the day with an hour drive from base camp to the start in Cumberland. As karma would have it, one of the racer buses broke down resulting in some serious anxiety. Alls well that ends well and it seemed like most of them made the start only ended up being delayed a few minutes. The race began ape-crazy with everyone thinking they would get out front for the trails that started almost immediately.
Of course that isn’t possible so I just rode along and lost some time prior to the first open road section where I was able to put the pedals down a little harder. Thankfully my gams were respondent despite yesterday’s over-gear punishment and I was able to move up a bit. However, things came apart on each of the next couple single track sections as first I blew a turn and then I didn’t see a cut off post and smacked a pedal on it. Both times a boob snuck by to check our speed prior to the next road work.
Finally we hit the big climb of the day and after several miles things had sorted out pretty well. I managed to pass the last riders in sight just as we entered downhill trails and it was pure unadulterated shred-bliss. Up, down, French braided roots, chutes, ladders and rock slabs galore. This went on without interruption for miles and without riders to deal with I was alone with my only vice and addiction and loving every second of it!
Finally my own little session came to an end and I passed Blake Harlan just before the second significant climb. He seemed to have slowed but then came back like a pesky little flea leaping up the steep pitch in nearly a single bound. Soon he was out of sight and mind and other than some of the "challenge” (shorter daily distance) riders I didn’t see another rider until Harlan Price caught up just a few k’s from the finish. We rode in together and learned that Sheppard, Wicks/Sneddon, and Kabush/Pendrel had all won again.