BC Bike Race

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BC Bike Race

Post by wonger » Tue Jul 17, 2018 10:39 pm

Some of you are aware that Mandy and I took part in the BC Bike Race last week, and even though there is a dearth of dual-suspended, dropper-posted, fat-tired chit-chat in this venue, I can’t resist telling some of our adventure. If stories of riding bikes off-road in baggy shorts offends your sensibilities, might be best to exit here. For the rest of you, read on…

This event has been on our radar for years. I think this is the eleventh year that it’s taken place and it has become world renown on the mountain bike calendar as a showcase of BC singletrack, something mountain bikers know as legendary. When the grandparents decided to take the kids on a Disney cruise at the same time the race took place, the stars seemed to align. In addition, there is a group of buddies that I went to university with who ride mountain bikes – the Chiefs Biking Club. Generally, there is an annual adventure that we all take part in. Last year it was the Carson City Off-Road. This year my buddy Steve decided he wanted to celebrate his 50th birthday by having all of us do the BC Bike Race together. He’s pretty convincing, so there were a dozen of us registered to take part. And then, six weeks ago, he's riding his bike, crashes and tears his quad muscle 80%. BCBR over for this year. The good news is that we had a cooler boy travelling with us.

It starts with Day Zero on North Vancouver. 640 entrants all gather there, register, pack their bags and check their bikes. The whole shooting match is packed up and shipped over to Duncan for the start of Day One. This means that all of us got on buses and ferries and travelled to Duncan where tent city was waiting for us.

Day One – 39K, up and down Mt. Tzouhalem, a neutralized section over to Maple Mountain, then up and down Maple Mountain. This was probably our fastest day, mostly because I was trying to keep up with Mandy. We were told to go hard because you get seeded for the week based on your finishing position. There are 40 countries represented in the race and most of them are not used to riding BC single track, so while a lot of people are fit and can go uphill quickly, we heard so many horror stories of having to pick your way through people walking down the descents or crashing or worse. So we pretty much pinned it, which made for a three hour day. It was good to get this under our belts because there is all the nervous energy and aggro dudes who are yelling at everyone to go faster even when there are 150 people all riding uphill single file! I had a shifting problem on my bike so I stopped at the tech tent at an aid station where a Shimano mechanic who spoke basically no English tweaked it and had me rolling perfectly in no time. I found out later that he is one of the two engineers from Japan who actually designs the XTR derailleurs. Now that is service!

Got to the finish, drank beer, ate food, bathed with baby wipes (there are full on movie set shower trailers but the line-ups were really long) and loaded buses for the ride up to Cumberland.

Day Two – 42K, 15K up, 15K down plus 10K of punchy up and down at the end that kicks your ass because you just want to be done. I was 3:11 on this day, my best day. It was wet and rooty up top after a 12K fire road climb. There were foreigners splayed all over the trail. I rolled up to this wooden ramp that was pretty slick only to find two Spanish women tip-toeing down it, walking their bikes. I just started yelling “Go, Go, Go, Go!” because if you touch your brakes on that stuff it’s all over. They scrambled out of the way and the only work I recognized as I went sailing past was “Punta!!”.

Got to the finish, drank beer, ate food, had a massage and a shower, got on the bus to Powell River.

Day Three – 52K, lots of fire road and some awesome single track. Powell River was great – the trails were super sweet, not as technical as Duncan or Cumberland so a welcome break. Still plenty hard and long. This was the day I remember it hitting me: “Wow, this is going to be a long week”. The community in PR loves this event and it shows. There was a crowd of people waiting as we walked off the ferry, cheering us and ringing cowbells. So cool.

At the start line they send you off in waves and Mandy and I found ourselves at the front of our wave, waiting for our start. The emcee walks around and interviews people on the start line. How are you doing today? Where are you from? That kind of thing. He walks up to Mandy and asks how she’s doing, she’s polite and they have this little chat. Then he comes up to me and asks “how are you doing?”. He puts the mic up to my mouth and I say “I’d be doing a lot better of you’d stop hitting on my wife”. We didn’t hear any more start line interviews for the next two days.

3:11 on this stage. Drank beer, ate food and did not have to leave town that night, so we hung out and watched our little posse grow for a few hours, due to the fact that we had a bottomless cooler and everyone loves beer.

Day Four – 62K, the longest stage. First 20K were brutal with steep hike-a-bike sections on roads under the powerlines. Not fun. It was hot that day too. The further we went the better the riding got but it was tough. 1700 meters of climbing and travelling from Earl’s Cove to Sechelt. 4:33 for me that day.

Drank beer, ate food, had a massage, went to bed.

Day Five – 50K, Sechelt to Langdale. 4:02. We rode right into the Langdale ferry terminal. This day ended with about eight or nine km’s of descent on super singletrack - a real treat after all the climbing. At this point in the race I was pretty much in survival mode. Just making sure that I was eating all that I could, drinking V8 to keep my potassium up, trying not to forget anything like chamois cream or my helmet or food for the day. I was turning a bit into mush.

Drank beer, ate food, got on the ferry to Horseshoe Bay and the bus to our camp in North Vancouver. We were lucky enough to stay with friends that night and pick up our car for the rest of the trip which cut down on the waiting in line for school buses.

Day Six – 19K, the North Shore. You cannot believe how stoked I was to only have to do 19K. It was straight up then straight down on the Shore, which can be pretty full on, but hey! It’s not 50K! They sent us out in smaller waves and we went up through a neighbourhood, the Baden Powell Trail, Old Buck and the Mt. Seymour road. Then we dropped into Corkscrew and Dales and it was total carnage. Mexicans and Kiwis and Spaniards and Swiss and Germans all over the forest, walking their bikes right down the riding line. It was pretty crazy but I really enjoyed smoking past them all, yelling at the top of my lungs “ON THE RIGHT!”, “ON THE LEFT!”, “RIDER UP!” and feeling like such a hero bombing down the trail. I was 1:49 on that day. Red Bull sponsored the downhill on this stage, so they had a timed section just for the downhill descent, not all of it, but a portion that was pretty gnarly. To put it in perspective I was just under ten minutes on this section. Geoff Kabush, who won the race this year as well as last year, was six and a half minutes. On a cross country bike. With file tread tires. Running around 50 psi. That dude is my hero.

Ate food, soaked in the Seymour River, drove to Squamish. THEN I drank beer and had a massage. And ate more food.

Day Seven – finally, day seven. Only 52K. I really didn’t care anymore. I’m thinking “just mail it in, man”. But the gun goes off and you’re racing. And everyone is racing, so you go and you try to beat that guy up the hill, then down the hill. Squamish has some super fun trails, but you could tell that everyone was on the limit. Personally, I was completely done with being tolerant of people who can’t ride and I wasn’t alone. There were maybe 30 of us at one point riding slowly along a long, flat bridge about 18 inches wide when people start stopping. One person fell off and ran through the swamp until she was about two feet from the end of the bridge, where she proceeded to re-mount the bridge and make the whole line stop and fall into the swamp. I learned some new swear words.

It was a long, hot day. There was the random freezee guy at about 42 K just handing out freezees. All of the RMT’s and physios got dressed up and climbed trees at a place in the woods maybe 10 K from the finish – there were fairies and sumo wrestlers and clowns – I thought I was seeing things for a bit there.

I absolutely hammered the last 5K to get to the finish. There was a little bit of a melt-down. I had to go lie down for a while and gather my shit. Then I was very happy and I drank a lot of beer and ate all the food.

Some stats:
300km's of riding, 10,000 meters of climbing.

I finished 202 out of 640 starters.
16th out of 86 Veteran men.
Best day (Cumberland) 185th across the line. Worst day (Sunshine Coast 1) 235th across the line.
Weirdly I was 214th across the line on three separate days.

Mandy was 218th out of 640, 6th out of 21 Masters Women
Best day (North Van) 208 across the line. Worst day (Sunshine Coast 1) 246th across the line.
Last edited by wonger on Wed Jul 18, 2018 6:14 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: BC Bike Race

Post by Rolf » Wed Jul 18, 2018 4:51 am


Kidding! :D Awesome, guys. Much, much respect... for killing it, staying safe, and drinking so much beer and V8 (and eating all the FOOD!) all week long.

Knowing how strong the two of you are on the bike, the fact you were finishing with 200 riders in front of you (very respectably in the top third!) says everything about the calibre of this field and the challenge of the parcours.


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Re: BC Bike Race

Post by Fozzy » Wed Jul 18, 2018 8:34 am

Wow Geoff and Mandy!!

Great write-up. I felt like I was there with you.
Kudos to you both.

Cross is coming!!!

Greg F
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Re: BC Bike Race

Post by Greg F » Wed Jul 18, 2018 9:12 am

wonger wrote:
Tue Jul 17, 2018 10:39 pm
Then he comes up to me and asks “how are you doing?”. He puts the mic up to my mouth and I say “I’d be doing a lot better of you’d stop hitting on my wife”.
Thanks, Geoff, for providing me the opportunity to spew coffee all over my keyboard (it still works, apparently)!

Seriously, that is some epic-epicness you two!! So stoked to hear it went well after quite a few months of tough training days. Bravo!


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Re: BC Bike Race

Post by Robgrant » Wed Jul 18, 2018 9:22 am

Great report Geoff- I'm glad you guys had a blast. You had me laughing several times reading your story. Very cool you had a Japanese XTR engineer adjust your derailleur.

Now if you can get to more of that drinking beer and eating all the food, cross season will be much better for me.

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Re: BC Bike Race

Post by JTyre » Wed Jul 18, 2018 10:09 am

First, "punta" is my new favourite curse word, Second, Greg should be punished for that otter pun. Third, Geoff, Mandy, and the grandparents rock. Fourth, return to First.

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Re: BC Bike Race

Post by Alec » Wed Jul 18, 2018 1:16 pm

Great recap - TOUGH race - I did it last year and loved/hated it at the same time. You guys did so well.



AJ Neale
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Re: BC Bike Race

Post by AJ Neale » Thu Jul 26, 2018 1:18 pm

Geoff and Mandy,

Like everybody else, I really enjoyed your report and am not surprised with your results. But most of all, I am once again impressed with your infectious joie de vivre. You and Mandy seem to have nothing less than childlike enthusiasm on your rides ..... it is wonderful ....... don't ever stop! Oh, and you also finished your recap with 4 inspiring words: "ate all the food". ;) Awesome.


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Re: BC Bike Race

Post by GarthC » Wed Aug 01, 2018 2:05 pm

Great race report Geoff, amazing what your body and mind can do when you’re pushed to the limit!
Congrats to you and Mandy for not only finishing the grueling event, but finishing well up in the standings!

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