Thursday, July 10, 2008

More pic's from BC Bike Race

Lisa & Kristenn; 2nd overall in womens category BC Bike Race 2008

Justin & Jeff, 15th overall open mens catergory BC Bike Race 2008

Kristenn @ the finish line with Erin (we're big fans of each other).  :)

Monday, July 7, 2008

BC Bike Race!

Justin, Marc & Jeff


Well it is almost hard to believe that the BC bike race is over for another year. I did not have any time (or energy) to blog during the event so I am putting together a little summary of the race.

Day 0: Beautiful Shawnigan Lake School

This is a Private Secondary school that has a rich and prestigious history--Blah blah, but it really is very nice. I am a little put off since we were forced to move our tent by a snooty groundskeeper. Day 0 was great, we got to see a lot of people & pick up our great shwag including the new DAKine bags.

Day 1: Shawnigan to Cowichan Lake

- Freshly cut hay field that claimed a number of derailleur hangers (not ours)
- Justin's jacket decided to fall out of his pocket and go into his cogs---twice, and once on the ground.
- Hot-Hot- Really hot climb....
- Heat exhaustion and a wicked fire road decent followed by 15 km of dead flat rail grade.

Day 2: Shawnigan to Port Alberni

- Nice paced roll out, but who ever decided that should know that mountain bikers cannot ride in a peloton!
- 90 km of peloton riding in horrendous dust and heat on the backroads.
- Heat exhaustion at KM 110 or so--Soft pedal to singletrack
- Arrive in Port Alberni and lay on the cobblestone floor of the recreation centre.

Day 3: Port Alberni to Cumberland

-Start with a nice climb up and over to around Horne Lake and the Beauforts.
-Nice deep water crossing to cool off with.
- More fire road until we get to Cumberland single track (or so we think)
- Very tired and put back onto Trent River HOT logging road--Not happy.
- Finally we hit the single track and tear it up making up a bunch of time, passing teams and finsishing up better then before.
- Nice comfy bed at Lisa and Curtis' house in Cumberland.

Day 4: Earls Cove to Sechelt
-4:30 am start to go on a bus ride and take the Powell River Ferry then another bus ride and take the Saltery bay ferry to Earls Cover.
- Race start at 11:00, legs feel like concrete.
- This was the first day where we had a lot of singletrack riding and Justin and I could make up more time.
-I had never ridden on the Sunshine Coast so it was nice to ride some new trails.
- We passed a number of pro teams who forgot the whole team aspect of this race and finished up in the top ten.

Day 5: Sechelt to Langdale Ferry
- Disaster at the start, that mountain biked peloton again! Speed up, slow down, Danger danger! I hear a bit of a tangle up & look back a see a rider rolling down the pavement a 30+ kM/hr and see his helmet pop off! Holy crap. Then Justin rolls by me and his derailleur is torn off--Oh no....
- We stop and replace the hanger and get going again and by this time we are at the very back, behind the vehicles even.
-Time trial mode to try and catch the peloton before the trails. We pass hundreds of people on the road and hit the single/double track where people were giving us some grief for trying to pass and make up time---Geeze....
-Needless to say this was our kind of course and we tore up the trails and battled back to 7th position for the day when we rolled into Langdale, and Justin had got a flat in this Rock garden right before the end, it held enough air to let us roll across the finish line.
- We all piled onto the ferry and headed to Squamish for stage 6.

Day 6: Squamish (Taco Del Mar)

- This day was brilliant since Justin and I were both very familiar with the trails as it was a combination of the GearJammer and Test of Metal. The course was so great that I seriously think they should use that as a regular race course and call it the Metal Jammer or something...
- We road a very clean race and made it to the start/finish in about 8th spot, Very nice!
- We headed up to Whistler early to stay in a condo that we had rented for a few days.

Day 7: Whistler (Dup's Burritos)

- Whistler was great, however right near the start as we climbed up Creekside, I went across a water bar a a bad angle and my tire burped a bit of air out. This turned out to be a problem on the first decent where it decided to blow off the bead on this little chute so I had to stop and repair it, we lost a couple of minutes.
- This day was great because we got to ride a bunch of fun trails that I had not ridden before and we knew that the end we near so we gave it all we had. I know I got really tired in the end but it was nice when we reeled in a few teams. We caught the team at Cut 'yer bars but I guess that motivated them to ride harder and they were able to maintain their lead to the end that was only about 30 mins away.
-We rolled across the finish line again in the top ten and ended up 14th overall in the open mens category.

The BC Bike Race is a brilliant race that shows what a mountain bike stage race should be: Technical Singletrack, except day 2. I would personally like to acknowledge Helly Hansen for all the support and sweet clothing, the BC Bike race volunteers and organizers and all our friends who provided encouragement along the way and Steed Cycles and Arrowsmith Bikes!


If I had to choose one word to describe the BC Bike Race I'd use 'Epic'.   Epic can be defined as surpassing the usual or ordinary, particularly in scope or size.  So yep, 'Epic' certainly applies to the hours & hours of racing us riders put in completing each of 7 gruelling stages, but 'epic' also applies to the effort the organizers, volunteers, course designers, medical staff, moto guys, catering staff & support crews put in!   A crazy amount of work goes into this event - very impressive!!  

I raced BC Bike Race with my good friend Lisa Ludwig.  I think I mentioned in an earlier post that it's always interesting racing with a new partner, and in a 7-day race you really spend a lot of time together, on and off the bike.  We had a lot of laughs, a few small meltdowns (literally!, it was HOT) and overall an absolutely excellent experience together.   The very best part of it all was that we got to share it with a group of amazing friends & fellow riders.  Those fellow racers really start to feel like teammates when they are cheering you on during the race and sharing words of encouragement with you on the trail; there is a power in that which can't be matched & I love it.  

Day 0 = Check-in @ Shawnigan Lake:
It was super fun to check-in and get our sweet bag-o-shwag (race sponsors spoiled us with gifts!) and some basic instructions for the week.  We quickly realized that the heat was already a factor, sitting sweating through the press conference & pre-race meeting.  Pretty amazing to see the collection of athletes from 23 different countries gathering around!  In the pre-race talk we got reminded by wilderness medic guru Brooks that if your pee doesn't look like water your not hydrated enough... oh how very important that reminder proved to be!  After the meeting it was off to pack/re-org for the week & check our racing kit options from wonderful sponsors Helly Hansen and Floyd Cycles, we looked good all week long thanks to these two awesome companies!

Day 1 = Shawnigan Lake to Cowichan Lake = 89km, ride time = 5:53:02:
The day started out a little crazy with a few laps around the school, part of which was a hay field that was recently swathed... oops... poor fast people up front got tonnes of hay in their cogs/derailleurs... lucky for us we got off pretty good, with a quick de-grassing after the 2nd time through we were off and riding!  The day had some single track, some hike-a-bike and some HOT HOT climbing with some mental toughness challenges on my part and some cramping issues on Lisa's.  I swear that the oranges at aid station 2 saved me and gave me enough kick to ride pace-line style through the last 20km of flat double track, we had second place in sight but they were a little stronger on the flat and pulled just out of sight before the finish, coming 3rd in the women's catergory for Stage 1.

Day 2 = Cowichan Lake to Port Alberni = 125km, ride time = 5:23:01:
The first of many 'controlled roll out' starts... most of these starts found my heart rate climbing to near max and my nerves on edge, with everyone jockeying for position, elbows out!  Like Jeff says; us mountain bikers don't know how to ride in a peloton!   Seeing our friend Tim from Steeds get taken out in a crash didn't help my fear, but relying on Lisa's excellent road racing experience I did my best to stick on her wheel.  We stayed in a big group up to the first Aid station (which was mayham!), and then found ourselves out on our own a bit.... until some fellow islanders (John Lowen & Aaron Amar) came up from behind and we were able to jump onto their wheels, that pace/draft got us into Aid station 2... just in time for the temps to hit record highs for the day and the road to heat right up.  It was HOT HOT HOT.  By the time we hit the last bit of single track I didn't even care it was single track, all I wanted was the finish.  As we crossed the finish line I nearly pushed the finish marshall over trying to get into some shade, by this time hyperventilating and literally feeling 'cooked'.  Lisa led me over to the medic tent and with some quick action by the medics and ice packs laying all over me I was cooled off and calmed down enough to realize that I'd just pushed myself harder than I ever had before.... and this was day 2.  3rd place for the stage, despite my 'meltdown'.

Day 3 = Port Alberni to Cumberland = 80km, ride time = 5:10:58:
We were looking forward to this stage for a few reasons; 1. we knew the Cumberland trails well having ridden them in training, 2. Lisa's house and 'real' beds were waiting for us after the finish, 3. Carey's b-day celebrations were going to include ice cream cake, yum!
The stage was beautiful and varied, with logging road, double track, river crossings, awesome views, short hike-a-bikes and wicked single track.  Everyone kept telling us that the single track would work in our favor and for the first time we sat (although briefly while ripping up 'Momma Bear') in second place.  We finished only 45 seconds behind the second place girls in the end and clinched 3rd for the 3rd day in a row.  This time it was Lisa that was overheated and a series of cool baths got her back to normal and ready to rest.

Day 4 = Cumberland to Sechelt = 60km, ride time = 4:35:06:
The day felt a bit weird, rising at 4:30 a.m. had us flashing back to those good old early rowing mornings.  After 2 ferry's and a famous BC Ferries breakfast (not my ideal pre-race meal but I can't resist a good breakfast sausage) we were at the start at Earls Cove, with no real room to warm up... and a road climb off the start, ouch.  At the start line I noticed my rear wheel brake rotor was loose, not much I could do about it at the moment... but when we hit the logging road and an awful rattle started to ring out I was worried... luckily the rotor was holding fine, but my bottle cage was rattling loose.  I managed to tighten it up at the first aid station and we were good to go.  We moved into second on a technical climb and held it through the single track to the finish.  We stood in 2nd on the podium that night but were still 3rd in the GC... more single track to come, but this was going to be a close race!

Day 5 = Sechelt to Langdale = 65km, ride time = 5:12:44:
Another 'controlled roll out' and a tough climb off the start, it was a great grind and we moved into second early on in this stage.  The riding was absolutely fantastic and we got to share some hoots and hollers with riders we'd become friends with along the way.  The last long (amazingly long) bit of rolling swooping singletrack into Langdale was fantastic, and neither of us could get over the trails that just seemed to sprout off in every direction.  Definitely a place to ride again, so amazing that I almost forgot about the bonk I had at the top of one of the climbs!  Lisa had been a trooper through that and kept me going, helped me regain some perspective until the fresh calories she'd reminded me I was overdue for kicked in.   We finished 2nd again for the day and moved into 2nd overall.

Day 6 = Squamish = 65km, ride time = 4:51:21:
It was nice to feel a bit 'at home' again, having done two other races that involved some of these trails already this year it was nice to be a bit familiar with at least parts of the course.  The start out was very similar to the start of the Test, which was advantageous for us and as Lisa pointed out, I was catching on to how to ride in a pack & actually able to make some moves.  cool.  We rocked the single track... except my nemesis a.k.a 'the plunge'... I will ride that whole darn trail... someday...grrr.  Anyways, we had an awesome day of racing in Squamish & with fellow racers cheering us into the finish we felt great.  2nd place for the stage and 2nd overall in the womens category.

Day 7 = Whistler = 47km, ride time = 4:34:15:
You can't help but look at the distance on this one and think you're getting a bit of relief... but it was evident from the start that the course designers were having no mercy.  With racers tired from the 6 previous days and anxious to get to the final finish line the atmosphere on the trail was nothing but a bit weird.  Everyone seemed a bit more jiggy.  However, Lisa & I knew that with a solid ride and no major mechanicals we'd be on the podium in 2nd overall as we now had about 25 min on our 3rd place competitors.   Then.... early on in the stage Lisa's chain broke and her derailleur was in her spokes.  (shit.)  With a stroke of luck we were right ahead of the boys from Duncan when it happened.  They kindly asked if we needed help with the chain & we replied with a 'yes pleease!'.  The chain was fixed before we knew it but the derailleur was a mess, so rather than fiddle with it too much Lisa decided to ride without shifting... who knew she was a singlespeeder at heart!  She was amazing and it was all I could do to keep up with her for the rest of the stage, which was unrelenting, the climbs were tough and the single track was tougher.  We managed to move fairly quickly through the course and maintained our 2nd overall placing in our category!  yay!    

A HUGE thank you to all of our supporters:
Carey - thanks for signing us up all those months ago and being there with us throughout the race, your a superstar! Marc - many thanks to you and Helly Hansen for supporting us, providing the HH kit & allowing us to be the 'Helly girls' for the week (and special thanks for the 'just ride it' pep talk).  Jeff & Curtis - thanks for accepting that you two have no choice but to be our bike mechanics, perhaps someday we'll learn something & do it ourselves!, it's just that your both so damn good at it!  Floyd Cycles - thanks so much for the kit, we look forward to seeing more of your products.  Arrowsmith Bikes & Arrowsmith Mountain Cycle - where would we be without you?  walking? 
There are so many more people I want to thank for making this experience what it was.  We had a blast.  We got to share the week with a group of wonderful people!  

Click here to read Justin's BC Bike Race report.