BC Bike Race

Monthly Archives: July 2011

BC Bike Ride - Mountain Biking BC Week

2011-07-30-mbbc3It's all about the Road Trip!

BC Bike Ride just concluded it's first tour of the year with six lucky riders from Mountain Biking BC. Mountain Biking BC wanted to showcase some of the diverse riding around the province, so gave a few lucky contest winners from Utah the chance to experience the best singletrack in the world!

The tour kicked off in Squamish, where the group started the ride with some of the highlights from BC Bike Race's Day Six course (Half Nelson, Psuedotsugas, etc). After a swim in the lake, they hit up Whistler to watch the finals of Crankworx Slopestyle. An awesome day - video.

Day Two was in Pemberton, where Johnny and Seb from the Bike Co took the team out to shuttle Middle Earth. Wicked views and awesome trails - video.

2011-07-30-mbbc1Day Three started in Whistler, with the group splitting up to take advantage of all the riding the area has to offer. Some hit the Bike Park, some the Lost Lake Trails, and others rode Kill Me Thrill Me. After this, Harbour Air flew the riders over to Victoria where they hopped on some cruiser bikes and explored the city - video.

Day Four started in Victoria where the team explored Hartland, had a quick swim in the lake, then drove up to Cowichan Bay to enjoy a seafood feast and spend the night on the waterfront. It's all about the road trip - video.

2011-07-30-mbbc2Day Five saw the riders hooking up with Robin Dutton from Cowichan Cycles for a lap of Mt Tzouhalem. More sweet riding, followed by some local delicacies, then a drive up to Cumberland - video.

Day Six, the ride started from door of the Riding Fool Hostel and finished with lunch at Tarbell's Bistro. The ride included Cumberland classics like Teapot and Crafty Butcher, plus new favourites like Thirsty Beaver. Later in the day, the group felt ambitious and shuttle Forbidden Plateua, then barbequed up some dinner. Awesome riding with Martin from Island Mountain Rides - video.

2011-07-30-mbbc4Day Seven, last but least, was Hornby Island. After sailing with BC Ferries over to Denman Island and dropping their bags at the cabin, the group rode on to the ferry over to Hornby. Endless trails criss cross the small island and the riders shredded up and down the mountain. A stop at the beach, lunch in the village, then snacks at the pub and a salmon barbeque at the cabin capped off the perfect week of riding - video.

Gotta love mountain biking in BC!

 

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Want to join us on our next trip? There's still space in our August Coast Mountains and Islands Tour!

BC Bike Race 2011 Stage Seven: Whistler Finale!

What an incredible backdrop for the final stage of BC Bike Race 2011! With beautiful mountains reaching toward blue skies and the Olympic rings watching over the finish line, the picturesque Olympic Square in the heart of Whistler was the place to be.rwd7start

Racers set off for their final stage, the Whistler 'victory lap' at 10am to the cheers of a huge crowd of spectators. Course Director Grant Lamont shared some final insights and anticipated that the fastest racers would cross the finish line in approximately 2 hours.

Chris Sheppard (Rocky Mountain Bikes) had worn the yellow jersey since Day One and had created a solid cushion from second place Jason Sager (Jamis). Barring any unforeseen incidents, Sheppard was likely to win BC Bike Race for the second year running. But would he win the final stage?

The answer came much quicker than expected. Squamish rider Neal Kindree (Republic Bike Shop / SRAM) astounded BC Bike Race spectators and crew when he shot through the finish line in a blistering 1:22:01, nearly 40 minutes earlier than anticipated. The question of who would win the Whistler stage had been brewing since the hard-fought battle for the win in Squamish. Kindree was one of the prospects, as were Sheppard, Sager, and the Kona combo of Kris Sneddon and Barry Wicks. Very strong performances all week saw Kindree on the podium five times, three of which were stage wins.

Kindree shared some of his Whistler-winning strategy with the finish line crowd, "I've ridden these trails quite a bit and knew that there were going to be some sharp rocks out there. So, I put extra air in the tires and throttled through the descents. I just kept telling myself, 'Ride smooth. Ride smooth'." A smooth ride it was. Kindree rode into a 2.5-minute gap over the next closest racers to cross the line: Brian Lopes (IBIS), Chris Sheppard and Jason Sager.rwd7solopodium

Yes, Brian Lopes. After winning the Rock Mountain Bikes "Love the Ride" timed sections in Squamish yesterday, Gravity legend Brian Lopes put in an unbelievable effort to win second place in Stage 7. BC Bike Race was Lopes' first crack at a mountain bike stage race and he was clearly stoked, "This is way more than I'd expected. My goal this week was a couple of top 20 finishes and I had two or three top 10 before today. But I never thought in a million years I would get in the top three!"

Lopes' performance-as well as the impressive 3rd place finish (Stage 7 and Overall) for gravity diva Katrina Strand (Troy Lee Designs/Oakley/Maxxis)-has shown that events like the BC Bike Race are accessible to riders from a broad spectrum of disciplines.

Sneddon and Wicks won Stage 7 in the Open Team category in 1:25:04, which gave them their seventh yellow jersey of the week. Mitchell Hoke and Brady Kappius (Clif Bar) were second and Greg Day and Colin Kerr (Rocky Mountain Bikes) took third.rwd7rock

Other highlights of the day include Trish Grajczyk winning Stage 7 in Master's Women category. Grajczyk, who clocked the fastest female time of the day in 1:51:22, earned her seventh yellow jersey at BC Bike Race 2011. "I loved the race," said Grajczyk, "I would recommend it to anybody!"

In the Veterans 100+ Team category, Canadian Nordic and cycling legend Pierre Harvey and his partner Daniel Auclair won Stage 7 and also claimed the yellow jersey for the seventh time this week. "It was a great journey. Every day was perfect," Harvey told the finish line crowd, "It was the best week of my life, that's for sure!"

In essence, every single racer who crossed the line today was a highlight of the BC Bike Race. Each finisher earned a BC Bike Race belt buckle medal, a finisher's t-shirt, and bragging rights to have completed more than 400km of West Coast singletrack in seven days. All that remains is to celebrate the accomplishment, which will happen at the final awards ceremony and banquet tonight in Whistler. These riders have earned it!

Some racers had such an incredible experience at the 5th BC Bike Race this week that they already want more. Several racers are hoping to return in 2012, including European pro Thomas Dietsch (BULLS).

Registration for the 2012 event opens at 10am PDT at www.bcbikerace.com Limited early bird pricing is in effect.

BC Bike Race 2011 Stage Six: Squamish – Shimano Day & The Jewel in the Crown!!

As the BC Bike Race has evolved to more and more singletrack over the past five years, Stage Six in Squamish has quickly become a favourite stop on the journey. With an unbelievable selection of incredible singletrack, Stage Six is "The Crown Jewel" of BCBR.

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This was a busy stage, with three separate races happening throughout the day: the Stage Six course for Epic and Challenge, the Rocky Mountain "Love the Ride" timed sections, and the Shimano Kids' Race.

Stage Six Epic & Challenge

Coming into this stage there was considerable speculation as to who would take the win for the day. From the hometown advantage, Neal Kindree (Republic Bike Shop / SRAM) is a Squamish local with intricate knowledge of these trails; while Colin Kerr and Greg Day (Rocky Mountain Bikes) train and play on the Squamish trails multiple times per week. Chris Sheppard (Rocky Mountain Bikes) and Jason Sager (Jamis) are sitting one and two for the GC; and Kris Sneddon and Barry Wicks (Kona) are incredibly strong technically, dominating their category, and posting times in line with the top of the solo GC.

As it turned out, fans at the finish line witnessed the most exciting sprint finish that BC Bike Race has seen. As Sneddon, Sager, Wicks and Kindree hammered toward the finish in a tight pack, Sneddon and Sager got into a tight spot at the last corner, nudging and elbowing to jockey for position. Sager turned up the heat and edged across the line just ahead of Sneddon, with Wicks and Kindree on their wheels. For the second consecutive day, the podium had European flavour as Thomas Dietsch (BULLS) claimed third spot. Though Sheppard suffered a flat that kept him off the podium for the stage, he still dons the yellow jersey going into the seventh and final stage tomorrow.

Regardless of when riders crossed the line during Stage Six, a common theme emerged: how much fun they had. Random racer quotes: Jason Sager "Best stage. Best dirt. Most fun riding!"; Thomas Dietsch "Really, really fun! It's a crazy race. I think I'll buy a house now and stay here. One of the best places to ride in the world"; Chris Sheppard "Squamish has the sickest trails in the world"; Neal Kindree "I've done races all over the world and this is by far the best race I've been to"; Pierre Harvey "This is my first stage race and my first time at BCBR. It's great! It's the best trails I've ever ridden in my life!"; Katrina Strand "Before this race I don't know if I've ever gone for a 3hr ride and not more than two days in a row. If I can do it anyone can do it!"; Manny Osbourne-Paradis "I knew I wasn't going to win. I'm having fun, put some endurance on these legs"; Anon "These trails melt my face off!" (yes, that is positive); Anon "This is the best week I've ever had in my entire life!"

Rocky Mountain Bikes "Love the Ride" Timed Sections

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BCBR introduced the first "Love the Ride" sections during Stage 2 in Campbell River and it quickly became the race within the race. Timed sections pit racers against the clock regardless of their category. Challenge or Epic, Open or Vet, racers are only grouped by gender. Results are determined by the combined total of both timed sections and leader's jerseys are awarded to the top male and female. Andreas Hestler and Katrina Strand won the first jerseys awarded in Campbell River.

The two timed sections for Stage Six in Squamish were on Pseudo Tsuga and Half-Nelson. Both trails offered a different flavour and the results for each varied. When this new race within the race was introduced, eyes were on the gravity racers like Brian Lopes (IBIS) to turn some fast times. While the top scores were tight within the men's field, Brian Lopes came out on top and earned the leader's jersey for the stage. Joining him from the women's side was Hannah Thorne from New Zealand.rwd6hannah

While the Rocky Mountain Bikes "Love the Ride" concept was new for the 5th running of BCBR, next year, event organizers plan to implement the "Love the Ride" sections during each stage of the race.

Shimano Kids' Race

The 2nd annual Squamish Shimano Kids' Race took place on a fully marked course staged outside the Brennan Park Leisure Centre. The BC Bike Race Bear's Den, set up for prime viewing space and the standard variety of amenities, was filled with racers and Kids' Race spectators. Originally scheduled for a 2pm pistol, the Kids' Race was delayed slightly in order to process the overwhelming number of registrants for the event.

One hundred and fifty children brought their trusty steeds to the start line for a chance to ride the course and earn a coveted BC Bike Race Shimano Kids' Race medal. The children, ranging in age from 2 to 11, were split into heats by age and rode the fully-taped course with Team Flower People / Rocky Mountain Bikes Luli Cox and Adriana Boccia. Excitement ran high as Drew Bragg announced the play-by-play for each heat. From run bikes to pedal bikes and caped crusaders to tutued ballerinas, the kids gave it their all. Even with a few tumbles here and there on course (hey - that's racing!) every single child crossed the line a winner and received a medal from Shimano rep and former mountain bike racer Elladee Brown.

Next: What better place than Whistler to wind up a full week of riding the best singletrack on the West Coast. Less than 30km of singletrack remain in this epic adventure. It's the Whistler victory lap! Finisher's medals, the banquet and subsequent celebrations await racers after their final pass under the finish line arch for BC Bike Race 2011.

The Stage 6 Rocky Mountain Bikes "Love the Ride" trail of the day: Shimano Kids' Race Courserwd6lovetheride

BC Bike Race 2011 Stage Five: Sechelt to Langdale – Our Way's the Highway...102 That Is!

Stage 5 starting in Sechelt is the second of two consecutive point-to-point days that flow south along the Sunshine Coast.

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Due to a dangerously overflowing creek crossing that resulted from prior rainfall, the first segment of Stage 5 was rerouted, resulting in a 10km shorter course. Many racers seemed grateful for the reprieve so they could save energy for the amazing 8km descent on buff singletrack leading into the finish line at the Earl's Cove ferry terminal. The grin-causing trail, called Highway 102, is meticulously maintained by rider volunteers and is generally identified with the sounds of thundering tires and endless hooting and hollering. Today was no exception.

With such incredible trails allowing racers to 'let go and let gravity' racers were posting fast finish times, especially at the front of the pack, where Neal Kindree (Republic Bike Shop / SRAM) jumped to the lead two-thirds of the way through the race and held on for the stage jersey win. Chris Sheppard (Rocky Mountain Bikes) was second for the day and held onto his positioning as GC leader for the 5th consecutive stage. Marzio Deho (Olympia) claimed third place after winning a finish line sprint with Thomas Dietsch (BULLS).  After five stages, the Europeans found their groove and claimed one spot on the podium; it seems that they are shifting into the west coast way, complete with downhill blasts like today's 8km on Hwy 102 in approximately 30 minutes. We are very excited to see their newly shaping 'downcountry' riding styles evolve over the remaining two days of racing!

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In the Men's Open Team category, Kona's Kris Sneddon and Barry Wicks once again owned the stage win, to make it five in a row. Nativo/Devinci's Marty Lazarski and Rocky Mountain Bicycles' Colin Kerr and Greg Day claimed numbers two and three spots in the stage and overall team rankings.

While there may have been some shuffling in each category for top stage spots, the GC jersey leaders remain the same at the end of five days of racing. An interesting story developing in the GC is that Trish Gracjzyck (Masters Solo Women) is battling for the overall women's lead with Jennifer Schulz (Open Solo Women).  As of Stage 5, Gracjzyck holds a three-minute lead over Schulz.  This will be one to watch.

As racers rolled across the finish line at the Langdale ferry terminal, they traded in their bikes for a change of clothes and the last BC Ferries sailing of the BC Bike Race. The 40-minute Langdale to Horseshoe Bay trip brought racers back to the mainland for the final two stages of the week-Squamish and Whistler.

The highway that leads along the coastline from Vancouver to Whistler is referred to as "The Sea to Sky Highway." Racers were transported along the same picturesque route from Horseshoe Bay to Squamish for their first of two nights in Canada's 'Outdoor Recreation Capital.'

Squamish is a beautiful, small city nestled between the waters of Howe Sound and the majestic face of the Stawamus Chief. And it also just happens to have a stunning array of singletrack, which racers including Dave Richardson and Pat Murphy will sample heartily tomorrow during Stage 6.rwd5devinci

Richardson and Murphy are two BC Bike Race participants with a special goal-raising funds to support Team Diabetes Canada. "I know three young guys, including my nephew, who have Type 1 diabetes," said Murphy when asked of his motivation to do BCBR as a fundraiser. "Everyone does a little bit and the world becomes a better place," added Richardson.

More than 3 million people in Canada have diabetes and Richardson and Murphy are doing their part to help out-between them the dynamic (and comedic) duo have already raised more than $12000 to support the cause.

"What I love about the BC Bike Race is the diversity of the people from around the world," shared Richardson. "And it's great to be able to combine doing this race, which is quite self-oriented, with raising money for a meaningful cause." Murphy agreed, "Even in the most down moments I wouldn't want to be anywhere else but here."  Support Richardson and Murphy's fundraising effort, or inquire about participating in BC Bike Race as a Team Diabetes contributor here.

Up next: A day of amazing and highly-anticipated singletrack woven together from two of Squamish's renowned singletrack races-Test of Metal and Gear Jammer. Racers will tour the entire Squamish Valley and take another shot at the Rocky Mountain Bikes "Love the Ride" timed singletrack sections. Andreas Hestler and Katrina Strand dominated the first "Love the Ride" sections. Who will claim the leader jerseys in Squamish?

The Stage 5 Rocky Mountain Bikes "Love the Ride" trail of the day: Highway 103

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BC Bike Race 2011 Stage Four: Earls Cove to Sechelt – Planes, Ferries and Point-to-Point Epics

Racers woke up this morning to the pastel palette of a west coast sunrise at their beachfront Base Camp in Powell River. It was a beautiful farewell as racers made their way to the Saltery Bay ferry terminal for a sailing to Earls Cove, the start line for Stage 4.

Twenty-four racers missed out on the morning's picturesque sailing with BC Ferries. Instead, BC Bike Race founding sponsor Harbour Air generously provided scenic floatplane flights from Powell River to Earls Cove for those racers randomly selected the night before. The two groups of 12 lucky winners were treated to incredible panoramic views as they cruised the skies southbound along the coastline to Earls Cove.

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Harbour Air was also pivotal in helping a racer whose bike was misplaced while being shipped to the BCBR last week. Obsession: Bikes, the BC Bike Race bike tech provider, worked to track down the wayward steed, build it, and, in partnership with Harbour Air, transport it from North Vancouver to the Earls Cove start line where it was reunited with an incredibly grateful racer.

And what perfect timing for a reunion with the bike! Today's stage, the mid-point of the week and often referred to as "hump day", was a test of endurance and willpower as racers made their way from Earls Cove to Sechelt via plenty of hand-built singletrack and double track trails including ACDC, Cabin Fever, Elevator, Escalator, Brat, Over Easy, Desoto, Rockabilly, Bypass, Easy Street, Skullduggery, Beaver Pond, Par Back, VFR, Adanac, and Lee's Big Easy. Whew! Strategically integrated fire roads offered racers the opportunity to refuel and replenish, which was a critical part of the hot, sunny, dusty day that put the epic in Epic.

Fortunately for racers, Ryders Eyewear has been staged at aid stations to provide a sunglass-cleaning service to everyone rolling through, so the dust and sweat weren't permanent on their shades. Every racer received a pair of custom BC Bike Race logoed Ryders sunglasses at the start of the week Ryder's own Brent Martin, who usually races BC Bike Race, wanted to support racers in a tangible and unique way, as he's ridden many miles in their shoes. So Brent devised the sunglass-cleaning service and is along for the week with BC Bike Race, cleaning sunglasses at Aid Stations. And he couldn't be happier. Feedback on the trail is that racers love the Aid Station sunglass service. An original BC Bike Race sponsor, Ryders is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year.

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The action on the trail was intense and challenging all around today. The Epic Solo Men category saw current yellow jersey leader Chris Sheppard (Rocky Mountain Bikes) and second place GC racer Jason Sager (Jamis) wheel-to-wheel for the duration of the Stage. European Thomas Dietsch (BULLS) was in the running with them in early stages, but suffered a flat and mechanical that would drop him back in the pack. Sheppard and Sager wound up in a sprint finish, with Sager nipping Sheppard at the line by a mere second. Sager took the stage win while Sheppard retains the "golden fleece" for the 4th consecutive day and holds a commanding 14 minute lead over Sager in the GC. Kona's Corey Wallace hung on to claim third place for the stage and GC. Yesterday's winner, Neal Kindree, suffered a mechanical and was eighth for the day, fourth in the GC.

Hometown boy Kris Sneddon and partner Barry Wicks (Kona) had their sights set on a victory in today's stage as Sneddon grew up riding these trails. "Of course we wanted to win the stage," said Sneddon, "It's like a hockey team playing on their home rink." Wicks decided he'd let his partner do what he does best, "Following Kris downhill is super fun but really scary. I just have to put all my trust in him. It's amazing how fast he descends."

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The Kona boys retained the yellow jerseys for the 4th consecutive stage and have created a 30-minute lead over 2nd place Marty Lazarski and Ricky Federau (Nativo/Devinci).  What had at one point been a hard fought battle for 2nd and 3rd place has now spread out. Colin Kerr and Greg Day (Rocky Mountain Bikes) are 15 minutes behind in 3rd.

While some categories saw a reshuffling in the top ranks for today's stage, the yellow jersey wearers remain the same as yesterday.

Up next: Racers get to sleep in a little longer as the Day 5 Sechelt course had to be modified to due a creek crossing that's running at a higher volume than normal. With approximately 10km less to ride in the first half of the course, racers will have even more in the tank to thoroughly enjoy the day's highlight: a close to 12km flowing descent to finish at the Langdale ferry terminal

Today's Rocky Mountain "Love the Ride" trail of the day: EscalatorRMBLoveTheRide4

BC Bike Race 2011 Stage Three: Powell River – Sunshine, Blue Skies and Rolling Thunder!

Another beautiful, sunny day graced racers as they left Campbell River behind and sailed from Vancouver Island to Powell River with BC Ferries. The beachfront Stage Three Base Camp in Powell River is one of the most picturesque of the week, with the start/finish line arch and racer tents set up mere metres from the ocean's edge.

The stage began with an Oceanside lead out winding racers into an extensive trail network that's meticulously maintained by local riders and includes singletrack affectionately referred to as 'rolling thunder.' Trees were the theme of the day, providing swoopy, slaloming trails and undulating rooty sections that lent themselves to strong focus and flow.  The reward at the end of the trail was a return to the sun-drenched beachfront finish line where sandy beaches and cool ocean waters beckoned.

Stage winner Neal Kindree (Republic Bike Shop/SRAM) was less than 30 seconds ahead of GC leader Chris Sheppard (Rocky Mountain Bikes) who still reigns with the yellow jersey, carrying a 10-minute lead into Stage Four. Jason Sager (Jamis) placed third for the stage while the European riders, Thomas Dietsch (BULLS) and Marzio Deho (Olympia) both struggled with some mechanical issues.

The Kona Factory Team of Kris Sneddon and Barry Wicks won the stage and continue to wear the leaders' jerseys for the third consecutive day. While the focus often falls on the lead rider, there's an intense battle shaping up in the Epic Team category. Nativo/Devinci's Marty Lazarski and Ricky Federau, Clif Bar's Mitchell Hoke and Brady Kappius, and Rocky Mountain Bikes Colin Kerr and Greg Day are in a fierce battle for the remaining top spots in the GC, with working within a 3 minute spread. This is definitely becoming the race to watch.

Remaining Yellow Jersey Highlights:

Challenge Solo Men - Grant Fox

Challenge Solo Women - Tanya Berg

Challenge Mixed Team - Denver Poole & Derek Reynolds

Epic Solo Women - Jennifer Schulz

Epic Solo Masters Men - Jeff Neilson

Epic Solo Masters Women - Trish Grajczyk

Epic Women's Team - Simone Mccallum & Claire Garcia- Webb

Epic Mixed Team - Mike Brown & Veronica Jarlehag

Epic Vets 80+ - Frank Wittmann & Axel Ruecker

Epic Vets 100+ - Daniel Auclair & Pierre Harvey

One international racer at BC Bike Race is here for more than just an amazing singletrack adventure. North Shore mountain biking legend, Paul Chetwynd, moved to Japan over 20 years ago for a biking career, fell in love with the country and its people and chose to make his life there. Paul was out of the country when the Tsunami struck earlier this year, but the disastrous scene hit hard when he returned two days following. While many people left Japan in anticipation of higher taxes and the cost of recovering from the devastation, Paul and his family opted to stay and do what they can to help rebuild.

That brings Paul to BC Bike Race. He elected to ride the event to create awareness and raise funds to support children who were orphaned as a result of the Tsunami. "At last count, 201 children were orphaned in one five minute wave. They're going to need a little help for a long time and I want to do what I can," said Paul. BC Bike Race is supporting Paul in his fundraising efforts and has provided a link on their website for those who wish to contribute www.bcbikerace.com/about_us/Charities.html

Stage Three wrapped up with an amazing evening dinner and a host of local dignitaries welcoming BC Bike Race participants and staff to Powell River. Most touching was a blessing bestowed upon the group by Tla'Amin (Sliammon) First Nations Elder Honourable Dr Elsie Paul, "This is a prayer that is said whenever someone went on a journey by land or by sea. And I understand that you've undertaken quite a journey to be here." In the Tla'Amin language, Dr Paul connected the room full of BC Bike Race participants and crew together through a warm and sincere prayer for a safe continued journey.

Up next: BC Bike Race's first point-to-point stage begins at Earl's Cove ferry terminal. Racers take another scenic BC Ferries ride from Saltery Bay to Earl's Cove where they will walk off the ferry and straight to their bikes for an 11am race start. Stage Four is the first of two days focused on the Lower Sunshine Coast, which introduce yet a different type of riding to the BC Bike Race story.

BC Bike Race 2011 Stage Two: New Campbell River Stage Introduces a Twist

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In almost Tour de France fashion, BC Bike Race has introduced a new stage and consequently a new community each year. In this 5th anniversary edition of the event, Stage Two shone the spotlight on the ocean-side city of Campbell River. The hometown of Stage Two course designer, Martin Ready, Campbell River is the third-largest city on Vancouver Island and fast becoming known for its exceptional mountain biking areas. BC Bike Race racers were about to find out why, as both the Epic and Challenge courses offered close to 33km of uninterrupted Campbell River singletrack.

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For the vast majority of today's riders, including current race leader Chris Sheppard (Rocky Mountain Bikes), the Campbell River area trails were unexplored territory - would this level the playing field for the top racers? A little more than two hours after Campbell River Mayor Charlie Cornfield signaled the Stage Two start, we found out as a small pack of Epic frontrunners blistered across the finish line.

In a sprint finish, Jason Sager (Jamis) eked ahead of Chris Sheppard to take the stage win in 2:13:24, while Sheppard retained his GC leader status, and the 'golden fleece' for another day. Team Kona's Barry Wicks and Kris Sneddon, rounding out the leaders pack, took the Team of 2 stage win in 2:13:26 and also retain GC leader status. Both categories saw a little shuffling in the top places within the stage, but the times remain tight and there is still a lot of singetrack to be covered over the next five days.

Currently the solo GC shows Sheppard with four minutes over Thomas Dietsch (Team BULLS), and seven minutes over Sager and Neal Kindree (Republic Bike Shop/SRAM). There is a huge battle developing in the Team of 2 GC behind leaders Sneddon/Wicks who have fifteen minutes over the next teams. Marty Lazarski and Ricky Federau (Davinci/Jamis), Greg Day and Colin Kerr (Rocky Mountain Bicycles), and Mitchell Hoke and Brady Kappius (Clif Bar) are all separated by a less than 30 second spread and fighting hard for position.

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The majority of the other Epic GC category leaders remain the same after two days of racing. In the Challenge GC, Grant Fox leads the men, Tanya Berg leads the women,  and Denver Poole and Derek Reynolds lead the mixed category.

And adding another twist to the day was the introduction of the Rocky Mountain Bikes "Love the Ride" timed singletrack sections. Two separate segments of singletrack were marked and timed separately within the course to create a 'race within the race.' In these sections all racers, regardless of Challenge or Epic, are pitted against each other to find the fastest male and female times.

Andreas Hestler (Rocky Mountain Bikes) and Katrina Strand (Troy Lee Designs/Oakley/Maxxis) each won both of the inaugural "Love the Ride" sections in Stage Two. They were awarded leader's jerseys and will have the chance to defend their titles on the next "Love the Ride" stage, scheduled for Day 6 in Squamish.

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The timed "hotspots" are a new feature in BC Bike Race and introduce an element that allows, as Mark Weir (WTB/Cannondale/Shimano) put it, "more heroes" to emerge within the race. Weir feels that this might be the evolution of stage racing, reflecting a move from "pinning it" style racers to bigger bikes ridden by more relaxed racers looking to have more fun.

While the "Love the Ride" sections are a young category for BCBR this year, the vision is to give more racers a shot at the podium. "Some climb well, some descend well, some are built for speed and some for distance," said BCBR's Andreas Hestler, "The Rocky Mountain Bikes 'Love the Ride' section creates the opportunity for a variety of racers to shine each day."

The sections also allows racers of all abilities to test their riding skills against the pros in the pack. The first offering seemed to be a hit with racers: Chris_McGregor on Twitter, "Epic moment @ #the bcbikerace - I rode wheel 2 wheel Katrina Strand for the 2nd times section + was only a few seconds off her winning time"

Thanks to the new "Love the Ride" section, an array of amazing trails, and a warm and welcoming community Campbell River Stage Two made its mark on BC Bike Race with style.

Next Up: A very picturesque sailing from Vancouver Island to the Sunshine Coast with BC Ferries. Once the ferry docks in Powell River, racers will walk off the ferry and down to the beachfront Base Camp and Start/Finish line area.

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BC Bike Race 2011 Stage One: 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!

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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.

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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!

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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 2:34:20

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 Ramsden 3:19:45

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 Colvin 1:55:26

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 Sheppy 2:23:27

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We'll wrap up this edition with a brief racer story we've come to call "Planes, Ferries and Automobiles." Epic 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!

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BC Bike Race 5th Anniversary Edition is Ready to Roll!

While Canada celebrated its 144th birthday on July 1st, BC Bike Race kicked off its 5th anniversary edition with a Kid's Race celebration and an early racer registration opportunity in North Vancouver. In roughly four hours, close to 300 racers picked up swag, hooked up race plates and dropped off their gear at the Harry Jerome Rec Centre in preparation for the seven-day stage race.

Kids' Race

2011RWD0_1Meanwhile, the Kids' Race attracted an enthusiastic array of children aged 2-11 who conquered the mini course on bikes, training wheels, and run-bikes. Every child received their own BC Bike Race plate, a finisher's medal, and the glory of cheers from a crowd of family, friends and BCBR supporters. A second Kid's Race will take place on Day 6, July 8th, in Squamish.

This morning, July 2nd, the sun shone brightly as BC Bike Race Day Zero got underway in North Vancouver. Final registration saw the last of the bikes and bags loaded up for the transition to the first Base Camp on Vancouver Island.

Before racers embarked on the first of four ocean crossings with race sponsor BC Ferries, they were treated to a press conference and Racer Welcome meeting at the Centennial Theatre in North Van.

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Press Conference

An impressively diverse array of athletic talent formed the panel for the media launch, hosted by BC Bike Race Media Director Dave Howells. Racers in the spotlight included champion European XC racers Thomas Dietsch (Team BULLS) and Marzio Deho (Team Olympia); returning BCBR winners Barry Wicks and Kris Sneddon (Team Kona); renowned champion downhiller Brian Lopes (Team IBIS) returning BCBR winner Chris Sheppard (Team Rocky Mountain Bikes); Canadian Olympic downhill skier Manny Osbourne-Paradis; mountain bike luminary Mark Weir (Team Cannondale/WTB); and strong Brazilian riders Luli Cox and Dri Boccia (Team Rocky Mountain Bikes).

It was a panel of interesting contrasts, with Europeans Dietsch and Deho making a first appearance at BC Bike Race next to seasoned BCBR veterans like Sheppard, Sneddon and Wicks. Dietsch, fresh from the World Cup, stated he felt ready for the race, but acknowledged "BCBR is completely different than Europe. Here we will have 70% singletrack over seven days. In Europe we'll have maybe 7%. I don't have too much experience here, so I can't expect much. I hope to be up with the fast racers, but I am going to be careful. It should be a lot of fun this week."

Sheppard indicated that for him BC Bike Race is about "enjoying amazing trails, scenery and camaraderie. 70% singletrack over seven days is unheard of in bike racing. Every day is the most fun and the trails are incredible." Giving a nod to the European riders as being 'amazing, talented athletes,' Sheppard pointed out that all the frontrunners have their strengths on the trail. "At the end of the day we'll all walk away with smiles on our faces," he said, "and hopefully I can walk away with the 'golden fleece'!"

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Wicks echoed the theme of fun during BC Bike Race, but from a team perspective: "BCBR is unique for having a team format. That's the magical thing about the event. It's an adventure experience and I get to share it with someone. When you go out riding for fun, you go with your buddies; it's cool to have a race experience that offers that!"  Wicks' teammate Sneddon added, "Sure you have your blow-ups [as a team], but the course is so cool that those blow ups fade away. It's nothing but hi-fives at the finish line!'

Two names that have drawn considerable attention BCBR followers are Brian Lopes and Manny Osbourne-Paradis. Lopes, a known gravity racer, is making a first appearance at BCBR. When asked about his preparation for a multi-day stage race like BCBR, Lopes commented, "I rode my bike a lot, more than normal for me…I'm not sure if it's enough!" And his goals? "I've heard great things about the race and trails. I'm going to try not to suffer too much. My goal is to have a smile on my face and have fun."

Manny Osbourne-Paradis is riding BC Bike Race as part of his rehab program for a leg injury sustained during the last downhill race season. Osbourne-Paradis, who crashed at approximately 125kmh on a downhill run, is now four months post-op. "While rehabbing the injury, I spent long hours on the stationary bike," said Osbourne-Paradis, "and BC Bike Race was he light at the end of the tunnel." He's partnered with longtime friend Greg McDougall, owner of Harbour Air, the BC Bike Race founding sponsor. Osbourne-Paradis grew up mountain biking but took a hiatus from the sport to ski race. When asked, he confirmed that BC Bike Race might be his foray into a new racing arena to complement the downhill focus.

Adding a splash of colour to the stage, the Brazilian pairing of Cox and Boccia showcased their newly acquired steeds for the week: a pair of pink, custom-painted Rocky Mountain Bikes. The two, who have a love for technical singletrack, will be hard to miss on the trails with the bikes rounding out their head-to-toe pink race kit.

Lastly, BCBR's Director of Marketing, Andreas Hestler introduced a new twist in the 2011 race format: the Rocky Mountain "Love the Ride" chip-timed sections. On two days during race week riders will be timed on short sections of singletrack to determine the fastest "hotspot" rider of the day. "That's exciting!" interjected Mark Weir, who's racing with partner Jason Moeschler. "There are more heroes that way. It can really broaden your spectrum and this is a great creative way to do that." Weir and Moeschler grew up together and have been on the race circuit for years. They're excited for a chance to race as a team and might give the Kona boys a run for their money, though Weir gestured to Wicks and Sneddon saying, "Keeping up with the tall guys will be t

ough!

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The Journey Begins

Following a lively and entertaining Welcome Meeting, racers boarded a convoy of busses headed to the first of four BC Ferries scenic ocean crossings during the week-long event. A 90-minute sailing brought the travelling show to Vancouver Island, the location for the first two stages of the week. Many racers took advantage of the sunny skies and caught some rays on the ship's deck enroute to the Island.

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Unique to this version of the BC Bike Race is a two-night stay in the Village of Cumberland - the first stop on the race agenda. Like all of the communities through which BCBR travels, Cumberland rallies heartily behind BCBR when it rolls into town. This year, racers arrived at Base Camp, settled their gear into their tents and had the option of attending an amazing fundraising dinner hosted by the Cumberland Community Forest Society. The dinner was a huge success, with all proceeds going to support the local trails.

Next Up

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Racers now tucked into their tents for the night will wake up to see the impressive inflatable BC Bike Race arch decorating the main drag in the heart of Cumberland. Day One brings an amazing variety of the best trails in the area, with a fast finish into the Base Camp area.

With such an intriguing mix of top name athletes and riders from across the globe, we're excited to see how the first day shakes out. Stay tuned!

BCBR 2011: "Day -1" Registration Rocked!

North Vancouver was the hotspot today as registration opened for the 5th edition of BC Bike Race. Flagged on the agenda as Day -1, the first registration day was a great opportunity for racers to get into the race week groove. A large percentage of racers took advantage of the early registration to pick up their swag, organize their gear and let the pre-race excitement build.

DayMinusOneThe morning of Day 0 is the last opportunity for racers to collect their race plates and jerseys before hopping the ferry to Vancouver Island where they will spend the first night at Base Camp in Cumberland. The starter's pistol will fire on Sunday, July 3rd, right in the heart of Cumberland to see racers begin their seven-day singletrack adventure.

Stay tuned right here in the BC Bike Race Blog for daily updates and pics throughout the week.

For more frequent updates during the day, check us out on Facebook and Twitter.

Interested in following some of the racers throguhout the week? We've got links to their blogs as well.

BC Bike Race 2011 is in the house!