Pedal Magazine - - Test Gear - BY PAUL NEWITT

Just as the dust be­gan set­tling from Canada’s 150-year an­niver­sary cel­e­bra­tions, the BC Bike Race was prep­ping to kick it up again with the 11th an­nual BCBR on July 6-13.

Over 12 years has passed since a ca­sual con­ver­sa­tion over a few beers in North Van­cou­ver mor­phed into what is ar­guably one of the most im­pres­sively well-or­ga­nized and en­joy­able off-road stage races on the globe – and the globe knows it!

In fact, over 600 rid­ers from 33 coun­tries de­cided to jump, cleats first, into this year’s ad­ven­ture and take on seven days of sin­gle­track seren­ity along the south­west coast of Bri­tish Columbia. BCBR in­vited us along for the ride and Rocky Moun­tain Bikes hooked us up with their lat­est El­e­ment 990 RSL BC Edi­tion – the ul­ti­mate marathon ma­chine to tackle the epic BCBR.

Of course, long be­fore any­one takes their first pedal stroke off the start line, the BCBR team is hard at work. An army of or­ga­niz­ers, sup­port staff, vol­un­teers and spon­sors labour re­lent­lessly through­out the year to en­sure ev­ery as­pect of the event is di­aled-in and ready to go come Day Zero. For par­tic­i­pants, Day Zero is possibly one of the eas­i­est days of the week, at least in terms of car­dio­vas­cu­lar stress.

Ner­vous stress, on the other hand, runs ram­pant through the tribe that de­scends on North Van­cou­ver for pre-race ori­en­ta­tion and the first of the week’s four ferry trips. It’s the day you re­al­ize that the BCBR ad­ven­ture is about to get very real. It’s also the day you be­gin sec­ondguess­ing your train­ing, tech­ni­cal rid­ing abil­i­ties, fit­ness level and san­ity. BCBR is well aware of Day Zero ner­vous­ness and ap­pre­hen­sion, so it pro­vides an in­for­ma­tive and hu­mor­ous ori­en­ta­tion that calms the crowd and gets ev­ery­one revved up and ready to roll. Much of the time is spent en­sur­ing all par­tic­i­pants are aware of the huge amount of sup­port that is avail­able to get them through the event, in­clud­ing med­i­cal, me­chan­i­cal, nu­tri­tional and “yo­gal” guid­ance and ex­per­tise, and they em­pha­size the im­por­tance of par­tic­i­pants sup­port­ing each other. It’s an in­clu­sive and im­pres­sive in­tro­duc­tion to what has be­come known as one of the world’s best off-road stage races.

You come away from Day Zero re­al­iz­ing that BCBR will do ev­ery­thing in its power to get you through each and ev­ery stage and to pre­pare you for the next, reliev­ing you of al­most ev­ery task other than rid­ing your bike, mak­ing new friends and en­joy­ing the in­cred­i­ble beauty that B.C. coastal moun­tain bik­ing has to of­fer.

The seven-day ad­ven­ture pro­vides over 10,000 me­ters of climb­ing and 300km of epic off-road tri­als, 75% of which are ma­jes­tic, hand­crafted sin­gle­track, travers­ing through sev­eral uniquely beau­ti­ful Bri­tish Columbian com­mu­ni­ties – Cum­ber­land, Pow­ell River, Sechelt, North Van­cou­ver, Squamish and Whistler. Each com­mu­nity is in­cred­i­bly rich in both First Na­tions and more re­cent his­tory, and each has a ded­i­cated group of lo­cal spon­sors, con­sul­tants, trail builders, clubs and vol­un­teers who fine-tune their spe­cific por­tion of the BCBR into a ride ex­pe­ri­ence that will rank as one of the best moun­tain bike mem­o­ries your lim­bic sys­tem will ever log.

Although the trails may be the star of the BCBR, they are not the only high­light of the event. Trans­porta­tion be­tween each stage, which is an ad­ven­ture in its own right, in­cludes stun­ningly scenic ferry, boat taxi and sea plane rides across the Ge­or­gia Strait, and of­fers an awein­spir­ing ex­pe­ri­ence you won’t find at any other event in the world.

Start of Stage 3 at BCBR

Rocky Moun­tain’s Quinn Moberg.

Fa­mous rub­ber chicken wake up call

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