2017 Road Race Wrap
Along with breakfast, dinner, yoga classes and tent time, interstage travel offers opportunities for strengthening bonds among this mobile international community. While you may think a warm, soft bed in the comfort of a hotel room would trump the idea of a week in a sleeping bag, the experience of six days in tent city is one that shouldn’t be missed. It’s a chance to get to know those riders who seem to share your tempo and shadow you on every stage during the week. The genuine camaraderie that is built over the week is priceless, as is the exposure to stories from new friends from around the world. It was amazing to hear how far some had traveled to enjoy what we often take for granted in B.C., and to re-experience our incredible environment though the eyes of visitors from around the world.
The tents are clean and roomy and the BCBR crew takes care of complete setup and takedown, so you have nothing to concern yourself with other than showing up each day and getting up each morning. Of course, if getting up is a challenge, BCBR has your back with some extra chicken in the morning – an iconic morning ritual that is both hilarious and horrific!
Tent technicalities are not the only chore BCBR takes off your hands during the week. In fact, several impressive teams of staff and volunteers take care of most of your needs. The BCBR wellness team consists of medics, chiropractors, physiotherapists, acupuncturists, naturopaths and the oh-so-coveted massage therapists. The team works together to ensure that every racer rolls up to the start line as recovered and ready as possible. If things do go south health–wise, the BCBR medical team jumps in to patch and tape riders up and get them back into the race. There are even roving bike patrols spread throughout the pack to ensure a quick response to any mishaps along the trail, and Shimano techs are on hand at feed stations for mechanical support.
You may even run across a random feed station serving up hot bacon off the ATV grill during some stages! One of the most impressive things about all of these teams, including “Back Country Back Bacon Man”, is that they are not only there ensuring participants are healthy along their journey, but when they are not working they are lining the trails cheering riders on in all sorts of colourful costumes.
The BCBR crew treats participants’ bikes as well as their bodies. A crew of mechanical magicians from Obsession Bikes works relentlessly throughout the evening and night to ensure every bike is race-ready come start time. We were lucky enough to have Team Rocky Mountain backing us up for bike care, but as it turned out we required very little of their time. Our Element took on each stage without a snag and always came across the finish line solid and ready to ride. After each stage, another team of volunteers takes the bikes and meticulously cleans them while racers recover and refuel from the day’s adventure. BCBR then packs up and transports all bikes from one stage to another – an impressive feat when you consider there are over 600 bikes to move – and then lines them up in an easy-to-find coral for the next stage.
The breakfasts and dinners are well thought out, balanced and plentiful. No one goes hungry, but if you want to expand your gastronomic options during the event there are on-site vendors offering everything from smoothies to smokies. In fact, many highquality establishments in the local communities are very supportive and bestow BCBR participants with somewhat of a celebrity welcome.
Outside of camp and on the trail your only concern becomes keeping the rubber side down, maintaining hydration and nutrition, and enjoying some of the most diverse and inspiring mountain biking trails in the world. That enjoyment was taken to an even higher level thanks to the BC Edition Element that Rocky supplied us. The Element made every stage a pleasure to ride, tackling every form of terrain the week offered up as if it had been designed specifically for this race – which it turns out, it was! Although the start line was littered with every form of mountain bike you can imagine, from 1980 hardtails to A-line downhill rigs, with so much trail diversity the right ride makes all the difference on a marathon course like the BCBR. XC marathon bikes like the Element 990 BC Edition just maximize the fun factor on this course.
The course selection for the BCBR couldn’t offer a tastier piece of mountain bike pie. Each stage seems to complement the previous offering with a gradual increase in technical treats, building your confidence as you go and culminating in an all-out fitness and skill test by the end of the week in Squamish/Whistler.
Granted, the journey is a challenge. If it wasn’t, there would hardly be a reason for riders to travel from 33 countries to participate. But with a good balance of decent climbing legs, a solid set of lungs and an eagerness to stretch your technical-riding envelope, any participant can make it to the BCBR finish line – and most do!
Even though the front of the pack is seeded with podium-owning pros such as Geoff
Kabush, Stephen Ettinger, Quinn Moberg, Katerina Nash and Maghalie Rochette, to name a few, thousands of amateurs have taken this event on and lived to tell the tales of their amazing B.C. coast conquests.
As far as a full course description, we could pull almost every positive adjective available out of a thesaurus to describe the trails that meander through 300km of lush green rainforest canopy, but it would hardly do the event justice. You can hear about the jaw- and seat-dropping descents and thigh-burning climbs from friends, read about rollercoasterlike downhills with berms higher than houses in mags, and even watch trail-blazing GoPro snippets from BCBR alumni, but until you actually put tire-to-trail, you will never truly understand what the BCBR has to offer in terms of pure mountain-biking bliss.
Of course, the BCBR is much more than a mountain-bike stage race. It’s the coming together of like-minded people from around the globe to form a community of competitors and share in an outdoor adventure among some of the most beautiful scenery in the world... and it’s an opportunity to score a new BCBR belt buckle!
Stephen Ettinger wins Stage 3
Powell River’s Willingdon Beach
Canada’s Maghalie Rochette (r) just behind Katerina Nash