Day 7 Presented by Harbor Air Seaplanes
Uhl breaks the Canadian hold on the Men’s Solo, and Nash seals the deal with a flawless performance.
“It is a real mountain bikers course. A technical, bumpy, chunky course and not manicured at all. It required a ton of focus for the last day. By the end of the week you’re a better rider and this is a good test for those skills you’ve built all week.” Kevin Calhoun half of the winning Duo Men’s Team.
People like to joke that the BC Bike Race is a week long bike camp for adults. You might qualify it as a camp for high functioning kids looking for a something to do with their minds and body to become better, more well-rounded human beings. Sounds like ivy league preparation but it’s more like a wilderness adventure experience carefully orchestrated by the councilors of the BC Bike Race crew, the volunteers, and the communities from each day. Perseverance is a key element of the BCBR and everyone will get run through an emotional or physical wringer at some point during the week no matter if the majority of their time is an all-time high. It’s pretty much the experience every parent hopes their kid has to go through under someone else’s watch each summer.
“Toughest week of my life but the best. We tented but we’re not tenters. We hate camping, it was a gong show in the tent, but we did it. We did it because it was part of the experience. We roughed it. We had friends along the way but we said no, we’re going to rough it.” Leah and Brandi residents of Squamish and Whistler who raced as a team for the first time.
On it’s trip to the Olympic Village at Whistler Mountain, the BC Bike Race tour introduced riders to trails that are known worldwide and to trails in small communities with less of an international representation. Each trail network is equally qualified to fill the days in-between the known destination spots because the communities along the route are filled with passionate riders who build trails according to their needs and the landscapes they live in. Each location had a memory to leave with the racers for the rest of their lives, and the joke amongst the crew is that the tenth anniversary will have a station set up at each day to give a tattoo commemorating each stage.
“One year ago the person who has done this event says this was a life changing experience, I had never had an life changing experience in my life, so I say maybe I should do it.”
Yutaka Taniyama, Vice President of Shimano North America
This was the hottest year for the BC Bike Race in its’ nine year history. Racers had to work around dehydration and limited lines of site from the rising dust, but the trails delivered what they always do which is a singletrack experience unique to the Province of British Columbia. Racers were not treated to the normal conditions one expects from the temperate rainforest of the Pacific Northwest. The roots may have been dry and tacky, but where traction was found in one place it was lost in others.
Solo Open Men
“You might play a bad hand or even be dealt a bad hand but in my opinion, folding is not an option, you got to go for it. Tristan rode an amazing race, total overall performance really awesome.” The always thoughtful Spencer Paxson, this year’s second place finisher.
As is usual for the sport of competitive mountain biking, a racer needs to have a plan A, but they also need a plan B, C, and possibly D. Strategy plays a big part in any stage race because of the increased need for energy management, for both self and your competitors. An elbow to elbow competition requires constant experimentation, adjustments for unforeseen variables, and a bit of luck. This years men’s race was the perfect showcase of all these elements.
“It was a great week. It’s not to often that everything works in your favor but that seemed to be the case this week. No mechanicals or flats and very few mistakes on the bike. I’m excited to get the win, this is my favorite race all year and I’ve been dreaming of winning it since the end of last year.” Tristan Uhl, the 2015 winner of the BC BIke Race
Tristan Uhl (Competitive Cyclist) exemplified a patient strategy on his journey to the win today in Whistler and the overall victory. Early on he was giving credit to the fitness of Spencer Paxson (Kona Bikes) as was everyone, but a simple mistake on day two for Paxson quickly shifted the formula for the week. Though Paxson went on to win day three and bring back in heroic form the time he lost the day before, new calculations were already being made by a hungry pack of outsiders ready to take down the Kona Collective that had used team tactics for victory the past few years.
Uhl’s previous year’s experience and the motivation of Quinn Moberg (Rocky Mountain Bicycles), a young local from Squamish, created the perfect synergy to disrupt the game plan of the veteran Kona team which included last year’s champion Kris Sneddon and the perennial lieutenant Barry Wicks.
It was fitting that the final stage of the seven day journey came down to a sprint finish amongst the three men who played the most cards of the week and refused to fold no matter the odds.
Solo Open Women
“Awesome. I’ve done this race before, and I knew I wanted to come back. It’s everything and more than I remembered. I really liked the stages, the way they were laid out and everyday there was something more fun and challenging to experience.” Katerina Nash the 2015 Overall Champion
The women had a great week of racing despite the runaway victory of Olympian Katerina Nash (Luna Chix). Her dominant performance showed no weakness whether she was on a long exposed climb or nailing the lines in the technical singletrack. In a race of over 622 participants she placed 27th overall and enjoyed mixing it up every day with the racers around her, finding her race within a race.
The other top women in the race to ride high into the overall field were Rebecca Hodgetts and Vicki Barclay (Stans Notubes Elite Women/ Bike Flights) who battled it out every day for second and third overall Women’s Solo, and fourth place finisher, the young Andreane Lanthier Nadeau (Rocky Mountain BIcycles). Those three women finished 40th, 44th, and 71st respectively. Finishing an impressive fifth was Kristine Gross.
“It’s been an amazing week of riding. Makes me want to enhance my strengths and weaknesses. I love this race!” Barclay’s thoughts at the end of a long week.
Because a stage race mixes all categories it’s a perfect opportunity to ride with people you might not normally have a chance to. Doing it day after day forces a certain acceptance of the fact that skill and fitness are not limited to one gender. When you’re forced to see the person the next day after a comment or action didn’t land well, then a shift of understanding through the powerful emotion of humility can be an effective social lever.
Alex Deibold missed the selection for USA’s Snowboard Cross team which was heading to the 2010 Winter Olympics being held in Whistler. He went anyways as a wax-tech for the team.
Four years later he won a bronze medal at the Sochi Winter Olympics in snowboard cross.
All the genetics in the world don’t make an champion without the key elements of determination and a competitive spirit. Any Olympian has put countless hours into their chosen sport and it is often the mental game that holds an athlete back.
Deibold has entered a few enduro races recently but this is the first time he has jumped on the challenge of a mountain bike stage race. I asked him how his snowboarding experience translated to his BCBR adventure. His process seems like a good one.
“It’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. It met all of my expectations physically but it was even harder mentally. There are a lot of things from snowboarding that I take over. I can’t really worry about what else is going on with everyone else. When I came up here I just really wanted to have fun, but as soon as the clock started ticking I started getting really competitive. So when I go out there I just try to focus on the things I can control, my nutrition, keeping my vision down the trail, and making sure my bike is up and running good. If I focus on what I can control it helps me enjoy it a little bit better, and it makes me feel like I have a little more control over my results. There are so many things that are out of your control, so you just gotta roll with it.”
Leah and Brandi: Locals to Whistler and Squamish
Originally signed up as solo racers for the BCBR, a shared journey at the Test of Metal race in Squamish found them riding with each other and using laughter and camaraderie to get to the finish line. It was decided soon after they would tackle the big one together. It is obvious they have spent a week making jokes and conversations because in their interview they would finish each other’s sentences and paragraphs.
Soon after they came across the finish line it was an inspired team who obviously had a great time challenging themselves all week and enjoying every minute of it.
“Riding as a team it was awesome. At Test of Metal we signed up originally solo. It’s more inspiring to be with somebody. Laughing and making jokes to keep each other motivated.” They jokingly used the international field of men as daily motivation to keep at it and not let them get away. Obviously it was a week long mission to keep themselves and those around entertained because what else are you going to do when in the saddle for 22 hours?
Ben Jackson - Lululemon
In case you were wondering what involvement sponsors for the BCBR have in the race it is important to realize that six of the seven main sponsors had employees from the companies participate in the race this year and every sponsor at some point has sent a representative to live the event the way the racers do.
One of those “Racer/ Sponsors” is Ben Jackson who along with four other employees of Lululemon joined the race this year as part of their company’s desire to not just slap a logo on an event as a sponsorship and call it a day.
“We do it from an authenticity perspective because we don’t want to just come in and put our logo on an event. We want to be a part of the event. To come in and support it through activations. It helps to internally have people do it which creates a real ground swell, and creates a lot of conversation which in turn supports the race more.”
His personal perspective from completing the event was more emotional and less company philosophy. He choked up when describing his last day on the trails in Whistler. “I hadn’t done anything like it before. The first three or four days were really hard then I got into a groove. Then, today was really hard. I kinda lost it a little bit in Lost Lake, I got choked up a little.” It’s very common for people to be emotional at the end of the BC Bike Race. Very few people come out of the BCBR unchallenged, and it’s often the mental fatigue that is the most cathartic and needs a few tears to clear the senses and gain some perspective on what the week was for them.