The changes to the BC Bike Race course this year are both big and small, but regardless of size, they all achieve the same goals; more singletrack. With the introduction of the Cowichan Valley as the new Day 1 Squamish will be the new Day 7 and the communities in between will flow in the same order along the rugged west coast of British Columbia; Cumberland, Powell River, Earls Cove to Sechelt, Sechelt to Langdale, North Vancouver, and Squamish. Whistler, formerly the site of Day 7, will now be an optional Day 8 upgrade for racers where they experience all that it has to offer.
Participants will now start their race in the Cowichan Valley, on Vancouver Island, traditionally called Quw’utsun’ by the local First Nations. Racers will tackle two of the areas favorite trail networks Mt. Tzouhalem and Maple Mountain in a 1A and 1B format, each route approx. 15 kilometers of pure singletrack heaven, joined by a neutral 8km rural tour. The participants arrive the evening before Day 1 to basecamp staged amidst a landscape of farmlands, vineyards, rivers, and handcrafted singletrack. “We are honored to be invited by the Cowichan Trail Stewardship Society to experience the incredible trails they have to offer,” shares BC Bike Race President, Dean Payne. Due to the warmer than the average temperature in the valley, builders here are able to work year-round on perfecting their hand-crafted trails. “We found that each location offers something unique to our racer week, just as each of the communities we visit offers something different. It’s this diversity that paints the real picture of the true West Coast for our racers.”
“It is important for us to always be looking for ways to enrich the event experience for our racers; we are always looking to evolve our event,” adds BCBR Marketing Director, Andreas Hestler. “BC Bike Race is dynamic. There are so many incredible communities and quality built singletrack in British Columbia, that we feel lucky to be able to continue to share them with the world.”
The race route will encompass local favorites on Mount Tzouhalem and Maple Mountain with one timed course on each mountain separated by a transition that will allow you to spin out your legs. Mount Tzouhalem will offer racers trails like the Grand Traverse; this uphill flow trail will leave riders smiling ear to ear, Field of Dreams; a classic piece of undulating singletrack, Rocky Mountain Ridge and Chicken Run; trails that will put your technical skills to the test, and Double D; fast and flowy berms and whoops that will have riders hooting and hollering the whole way down! After a short segment through private farmland where racers will enjoy the view of Maple Bay and their next summit, they will pass under a totem pole arch onto Story Trail which was built by local Coast Salish First Nations youth. Xylem trail will take riders through the Arbutus and Garry Oak forest to the summit before dropping into Maple Syrup trail; a classic technical trail which will introduce riders to the rocky, rooty terrain that British Columbia is known for. This trail makes full use of the topography and will test everyone’s ascending and descending skills. “Maple Syrup Trail is one of my favorite climb trails in British Columbia,” says Dean. “I’ve ridden some incredible trails in our province, but this is definitely high on my list.” Solar Coaster and Loggers Lane will deliver riders to the end of the first day.
The course in Cumberland remains the same through the first half, but the back-nine has become a singletrack extravaganza. “I’m pretty excited about the changes we’ve made to the latter half of the course for this year, we’ve eliminated a challenging road climb and replaced it with a rolling singletrack climb interspersed with sections of fun descents,” says Cumberland Course Designer, Jeremy Grasby. “The first portion of the course remains the same showcasing Cumberland’s premier downhill singletrack!” All extraneous gravel roads have been removed to beat the summer heat. We are excited to introduce a new inventory of trails including, Monday’s Child, Thursday’s Child, Rapture, Two Shoes, Tunnel Canary, Crazy Ivan, Top Hat, and Iron Curtain. Racers will especially enjoy the sweet downhill to the finish! “
Not to worry, Powell River still offers the same incredible beachfront campsite and the same beautiful sunsets, however, the road and gravel sections of the course have been reduced with the addition of new singletrack. The overall course length has shortened but with the addition of more technical riding, the finish times are expected to be the same.
Sunshine Coast course designer, Rod Camposano, after eleven years with BCBR has passed the torch to Sue Duxbury and Warren Hansen. Rod’s contributions and advocacy on behalf of the BC Bike Race have been an incredible contribution towards the race’s success. The two stages, Earls Cove to Sechelt and Sechelt to Langdale, have had a significant reduction of road riding that has been replaced by singletrack.
“We are especially honored to continue Rod’s legacy of being stage directors this year and very excited to help BCBR organize these two stages on the Sunshine Coast,” says Warren Hansen. “Sue has been heavily involved with BC Bike Race ever since their inaugural race 12 years ago and I came through Rod’s ranks from course marshall to route marking to BCBR media support. This year we made some great changes to the Day 3 course to add fresh new singletrack and more flow!”
North Vancouver, the legendary land of Gnar, was voted last year’s second favorite stage by racers. It will remain the same, but a little advice – don’t let the distance fool you, this is a tough day on the bike, rise over run is steep and finding flow through the roots and rocks will require some skill, hopefully with it being Day 6 this year, the participants will be well warmed up for it.
Consistently voted the crowd favorite over the last decade, Squamish will be the final stage for 2018! Also new for this year, racers will have one more night at basecamp with the celebratory banquet just steps from their tents.
Any racers who are planning to spend some extra time here post-event will have the option to upgrade to a Day 8 experience in Whistler. It is a ‘choose your own adventure’ day whether it’s a spa treatment or a day in the famous Whistler Bike Park, participants are sure to enjoy this beautiful area.
Thank you to all the trail builders, bike clubs, volunteers, and community support that make the BC Bike Race experience possible.
Photos by Dave Silver, Margus Riga, and Rob Shaer.