Tag Archives: BC Bike Race Blog Posts

My Tweets from BC Bike Race

*really* hoping this severe thunderstorm watch doesn’t impede my flights to #YVR for #BCBR!
8:12 AM Jun 26th from TwitterFox

On the plane about to depart for Toronto and ultimately, the start line of #BCBR. Fingers crossed for no issues with bike!
1:57 PM Jun 26th from TwitterBerry

Wolfing down some chicken pad thai in Toronto. 30 minutes till take-off for #YVR and hopefully to the awaiting @bmann 🙂 #BCBR here I come
3:27 PM Jun 26th from TwitterBerry

The tweeter has landed. Just pulled up to the gate at #YVR. Fingers crossed on bag and bike now 🙂 smooth flights, kept entertained.
9:23 PM Jun 26th from TwitterBerry

In the line-up to complete registration for #BCBR it’s starting to sink in now! Long days ahead for @activesteve and Carl
10:51 AM Jun 27th from TwitterBerry

Bags are packed, bikes are tuned and ready to roll. Just about to get the race briefing underway here at #BCBR. Mood is very excited.
2:08 PM Jun 27th from TwitterBerry

Well, we’re officially set to go. Supper is done, gear getting re-packed. Had some rain showers, but now watching an awesome sunset. #BCBR
8:57 PM Jun 27th from TwitterBerry

In a car on the way to the start line of Day 1 for #BCBR. From here on out, it’s tents and singletrack baby! North Shore here I come #NSMBA
8:20 AM Jun 28th from TwitterBerry

Got the bikes, took the obligatory start line shot, just one hour till the starting gun at #BCBR sun is poking out from behind clouds.
8:52 AM Jun 28th from TwitterBerry

Day 1 wrapped up! Finished stage at the 3 hour mark. Epic singletrack today on the North Shore. Couple technical issues, but awesome. #BCBR
1:25 PM Jun 28th from TwitterBerry

Last team rolled in just after the 5 and a half hour mark. Had my shower, tuned my bike, and working on blog. Results to follow. #BCBR
3:34 PM Jun 28th from TwitterBerry

Day one is officially over. Meal is done, awards are done, blog post and map have been posted. Off to bed now for 6am wake-up call. #BCBR
9:47 PM Jun 28th from TwitterBerry

Day 2 getting underway soon. Packing bags, getting breakfast than onto bus to ferry. Have to check in gear, so no tweets till late #BCBR
6:14 AM Jun 29th from TwitterBerry

Now that mechanical issues are sorted out, Carl and I plan to make up some time on the trail. Yesterday definitely did not favour us. #BCBR
6:17 AM Jun 29th from TwitterBerry

Stage 2 complete. Too bagged to write right now. Off to tune bike and get sorted. Amazing day of riding, felt great. 5 more to go. #BCBR
5:27 PM Jun 29th from TwitterBerry

Okay kids, don’t hold your breath for new #BCBR posts. There just isn’t enough time to get that stuff done and race. The next 5 days are tuf
8:19 PM Jun 29th from TwitterBerry

I’ve just eaten, showered, worked on bike, and haven’t started prep for day 3 yet, and its already 8:30. Boo. Gotta get to bed soon! #BCBR
8:21 PM Jun 29th from TwitterBerry

Good morning. 6am and its time to get organized for day 3. 60k of flowy singletrack in Cumberland on the menu. Time to get body movin! #BCBR
6:09 AM Jun 30th from TwitterBerry

Just took a look at results. Damn, we dropped! Guess we’re just tourists now. Lotta awesome riders out here. Off to stage 3 start. #BCBR
7:06 AM Jun 30th from TwitterBerry

Stage 3 complete. Showered, bike put on truck. Amazing trails around Cumberland. Best day so far. No technical issues. Maybe moved up? #BCBR
4:11 PM Jun 30th from TwitterBerry

Sitting at Carmie’s Cafe enjoying my post-stage meal. Western-style buffet. Yum. Hoping to work on blog later. #BCBR
5:06 PM Jun 30th from TwitterBerry

9:30pm and it’s bedtime. 4:30am wakeup call. Good news, wrote 2 posts, bad news, no connectivity. Now suffering a lot in my butt. #BCBR
9:33 PM Jun 30th from TwitterBerry

OMG it’s early, and stupid cold. Have to check my bag in by 4:45, so no more tweets till the end of stage 4 of #BCBR
4:43 AM Jul 1st from TwitterBerry

Stage 4 over. Early morning, long day in blazing sun, but we had a great ride, totally nailing the final technical singletrack section #BCBR
5:58 PM Jul 1st from TwitterBerry

Stage 4 was a good one for us. Made up some time, beat several teams close to us. Picking up steam. Definitely riding strong. Bedtime #BCBR
9:55 PM Jul 1st from TwitterBerry

Happy Canada Day from the left coast and basecamp of #BCBR. As a treat, they’ve pushed stage 5 start to 8:30 due to adding 8k today!
10:03 PM Jul 1st from TwitterBerry

Good day campers. Stage 5 upon us! Had breakfast, time to get pumped up. Starting in Sechelt, end day in Squamish, after ferry ride. #BCBR
7:24 AM Jul 2nd from TwitterBerry

Stage 5 complete, had amazing flowing trails (and some tough bits and climbs of course). Did well. Waiting for results. 2 more to go #BCBR
5:44 PM Jul 2nd from TwitterBerry

Results are in. We’re still gaining times on teams. Hoping to move up at least one spot 😉 tomorrow will be a hot, long day. #BCBR
7:56 PM Jul 2nd from TwitterBerry

7am in Squamish and it’s already cookin’ Gonna be a hot, hard stage through the mountains here. Luckily, base camp isn’t moving. #BCBR
6:57 AM Jul 3rd from TwitterBerry

Stage 6 was a doozy. Great mix of technical climbs and challenging descents. Racking up quite a collection of war wounds! Resting now. #BCBR
4:11 PM Jul 3rd from TwitterBerry

Pushed hard again, hopefully moved up a spot 😉 one day left, so time to do gear check and prep. Bike is faring better than body! #BCBR
4:13 PM Jul 3rd from TwitterBerry

Day is done, gone the sun. Off to Whistler early in morning for 7th and final stage of #BCBR. Managed to move up to 32nd in our category.
9:42 PM Jul 3rd from TwitterBerry

One last day of chamois butter and shaved legs. Stage 7 of #BCBR is upon us. Just about to check my bag and grab breakfast. Off to Whistler.
7:03 AM Jul 4th from TwitterBerry

Race is done!!! Stage 7 in Whistler was awesome. We pushed super-hard to keep our position, so no race pics sorry. Time to party #BCBR style
1:53 PM Jul 4th from TwitterBerry

On my way to #BCBR final awards. Got my bags totally packed, so it’s on like Donkey Kong. Time to party. Life is good in Whistler!!!
3:53 PM Jul 4th from TwitterBerry

Laying my weary head down in a real bed for the first time in week. #BCBR was tough slog, but totally worth it. See y’all in the O-town soon
12:25 AM Jul 5th from TwitterBerry

On bus to #YVR. Great driver, talking lots about the history between Whistler and Vancouver. Finally feels a bit like vacation after #BCBR
11:39 AM Jul 5th from TwitterBerry

BCBR Day 5 Update

Glancing Back

Welcome to the second last day of race coverage for the 2009 BC Bike Race. This would be our second and final day on the Sunshine Coast in BC. Normally I would be waking up with a slight hangover, given that it was July 2nd. However, as a result of this race, my 1st of July traditions were put on hold. I had work to do, and celebrating would have to wait until the end of the week in Whistler. In all honesty, I think the decision not to have any beer the night before was the best decision, given that we’d had such a long day in Stage 4, and with all the travel, I was beat. A decent night’s rest was the best perscription for success on Stage 5. Of course, even a super rest probably wouldn’t elevate Carl and I to the podium or anything like that, but I just wanted to feel strong and ride hard all day. It’d been a great week of riding so far, with plenty of challenges, and I’d been growing as a rider with each day and each pedal stroke, so I was excited for another day of riding. It also helped that we could wake up and walk to the start line, rather than need to be bussed somewhere else. Before you read the rest of the story, check out the pictures from the stage that I took, as well as the custom map that I put together. Once you’ve had a look, click on through to read more.

Our stage was to take us from Sechelt to a ferry terminal, where the finish line would be located at the overflow parking area for the ferry. Depending on the time we finished the stage, we had our choice of one or two ferry rides to take. The reason for this is that the next 2 nights would be spent in one place! Another nicety of the week, as we’d be taken by bus straight to Squamish for the night. The next day, we’d race all through Squamish, then sleep there for another night before being taken to Whistler for the final day. We were also informed at the start of the stage that true to their promise, the stage director had shortened the stage by at least 5km to make up for the extra pain he doled out on us the previous day.

As usual, Carl and I started our morning by packing up the tent and our gear to be placed on the trucks to be moved. Next step was off to the arena for a tasty breakfast. Before we knew it, we were picking up our bikes, and putting ourselves into the starting chutes. Of course, we were placed in the third (read: back) corral, since our cumulative time placed us in the bottom third of the pack, but just barely. By this point in the race, that no longer mattered. We were racing our own race, and just having the time of our lives, growing as bikers and meeting great people and seeing great sights along the way. When the starting gun went off, we first had to travel through town as a pack. First part of the stage was the downhill run that I walked down the evening before. We had to keep our speed in check, as this was the ‘neutral zone’. As usual there were some people out to cheer us on and watch the grand peloton. BTW, in case you are wondering, our group was far larger than the TdF peloton, since we are over 350 riders on the line, whereas the Tour de France is only 180, so when you see those riders in a pack, multiply that by 2, and you’ll get a sense of the start of a BCBR stage. Pretty cool sight.

After the neutral zone start, we soon turned into a quarry road, which seemed to head straight up into the sky. The sun was already high in the sky, and with only dirt and rocks around us, we were cooking in no time flat. Carl and I pushed hard once again, passing oodles of slower climbers on our way through the crowd. Many of them may well pass us again later in the day, but in a race like this, you take every chance you get to pull ahead. We knew that after the torture of the long climb, we’d be heading once again into the refuge of the shady forest for some sweet singletrack, so our legs were twitching with anticipation.

The remainder of our ride was spent in trails quite similar to the day before, giving us a mix of every type of trail, but with a focus on technical singletrack as well as power line-type trails. However, the one main difference with these trails was that there seemed to be a lot more ‘obstacles’ to have fun with. When I say obstacles, I’m of course referring to things such as single plank bridges, a-frames, log crossings, et cetera. Had this been earlier in the week, I probably would have hesitated a bit more, but with my race confidence, I tackled a lot of these at top speed, with no hesitation. If felt great. I wish I had some pictures or footage to share with everyone, but you’ll just have to take my word for it, I had some great runs 🙂 I don’t even remember if I fell on any of them at this point. Chances are I did, but like all good cyclists, I have a short memory for the bad parts. If you dwell on falls and crashes, you quickly lose confidence as I’d found in a couple training rides I had before heading to BC.

Not everyone had the greatest of days though. Our friends Nathalie and JR had a much different day. JR unfortunately had to skip the day entirely due to the injuries he’d sustained the day before. Nathalie opted to do the stage solo anyway, and when we caught up with her at the end of the stage, she admitted she was pretty freaked out by a lot of the bridges. Apparently she is not a big fan of those sorts of technical bits. Which I found pretty ironic, because she is a super-strong rider technically, and didn’t seem to have any fear on the steep technical singletrack descents. After all, her and JR finished ahead of us on every single stage.

As the day had been shortened at the start, we were caught off guard when we finally exited the woods later in the day to be told that it was a straight downhill run to the finish line. And when I say straight downhill, I mean it. We had a white-knuckle straight descent at top speed till we could see the big inflatable Bear on Bike that signifies every start and finish line. We crossed a road, then a quick ditch drop, and pop up on the other side, giving us the chance to catch a little air before the final 25m of the stage. We were in great spirits, and crossed the line while they announced our names over the sound system, as they do every day. Hopped off the bikes, and started stuffing our faces with junk food and pop as we did at the end of every stage 🙂

Of course, we were too late to catch the early ferry, but we didn’t feel too bad, because we’d heard that only about 10 teams made that early boat. I think most people just opted to hang around at the finish instead. And why not? The atmosphere was very fun. There was no gear to sort, since it was all waiting in Squamish. All we had to do was grab out showers, clean and check in our bikes, then enjoy the warm afternoon sun while watching more riders coming in. We milled around chatting with other racers, getting to hear more stories from racers. There were definitely a lot of seasoned riders with great stories in our group. Very cool. I opted to just lay flat on the pavement in the shade near the finish, and thoroughly enjoyed myself.

When we finally packed up to head for the ferry, we were treated to another very impressive ferry crossing with majestic mountains around us, a beautiful sky and calm weather. For a few glorious hours, I actually felt a little bit like we were on vacation. Yes, I know, we technically were, but when you’re race-focused, that’s all you can think about. On the far end of the crossing, the buses were once again waiting for us, and whisked us off to Squamish, land of rock climbing and the Chief, Canada’s best known granite monolith. The backdrop for our tent city for the next 2 nights was spectacular. We chose a nice tent (ok, they’re all exactly the same), and settled in. After supper, I even treated myself to some hot tub action. You see, we were at the local rec center, where they had a pool, and hot tub facilities. For under 5 bucks, I had the use of the facilities all evening. Although the hot water absolutely burned on every little abrasion, it was still a very nice experience.

Once being soaked, showered, and dried off, I was ready to hit the hay. It was already about 10pm, so it was definitely time to rest. So ends my day, and so ends the story of Stage 5. It was a great day. Short-ish stage, nice finish line party, beautiful ferry crossing, and to top it all off, a spectacular base camp and hot tub soak. What more could a weary racer ask for? Hope all of you can find the kind of tired happiness that I had that evening! Till next time, race hard, and rest harder 🙂

BCBR Day 4 Update

Smile for Camera

Well folks, this race update is a bit late as you can tell, but I definitely have been thinking about it, and send my apologies for the delay (especially since I wrote up the latter stages already!). Day 4 was a bit of a ‘transition stage’ in terms of the BCBR. We had to get up super-early in Cumberland in order to make our way to the starting line back on the mainland. That’s one of the main reasons this post is so late. We ended up getting out of our tents before 4:30am in fact. As most of you know, I’m not that much of a morning person, so I wasn’t in any shape to write up a post at the end of the long day ahead of us. However, now that I’ve had time to soak it all in and recover a bit, I can tell you my tale. For starters, you may want to check out the pictures from the day, as well as the custom Google map that I put together. Once you’re done that, click on back here and read the rest of the story.

Timing was going to be so tight that we were piled into buses pretty much straight after we got out of bed. We just had time to pack our bags and get them loaded on the trucks. We also packed our little red day bags with our biking clothes to change on the ferry. Before even getting to the start line we were going to take a bus to get one ferry, eat and change on that boat, then get loaded on buses on the other side and driven to yet another ferry before finally getting off the boat at Langdale where our start line awaited. From there, a nice long day in the saddle before finishing off the day in Sechelt. Hello Sunshine Coast! The scenery while getting to the start line was going to be as good as anything we’d be seeing along the race route, but since it was so early, I just didn’t have the energy to enjoy it very much.

The first ferry ride was also our host breakfast location. It was quite a sight to have 300+ athletes lined up to get our BC Ferry Sunshine breakfast. Kudos to the crew for having things well organized for us. Everyone had plenty to eat, and even be able to take a little extra with us for the bus / 2nd ferry. I tried to take a couple cat-naps under one of the benches on the ferry, but even that wasn’t really working. I resigned myself to be very tired at the end of the day, even though, as the calendar would indicate, it was July 1st. Normally, Canada Day is a big day off and a day of celebration in Ottawa, but this year, there wouldn’t be much pomp and circumstance. Just a long day of traveling and racing 🙂

Another neat part about our first ferry ride was the fact that they set an entire passenger deck aside to act as a changing area. Half of it for the females, half of it for the men. We were on the viewing deck level, so they actually papered over all the windows on that deck as well. They even managed to move most of the seats / benches, so it was pretty wide open. So here in this deck, all the guys were crammed in, changing into their spandex outfits and buttering up with the chamois butter (yes, I was using lots of that to keep my butt in shape). We had to get changed on this leg of the trip because the second ferry would be too small to accommodate us all changing, and once we de-boarded, we’d be going right on out bikes to the start.

I should also mention at this point that I was not sure where my bike actually was. The day before I dropped my bike off with the techs for a race tune-up, and they told me that they’d take care of washing it and getting it to the start line. I could only hope that was the case. So you can imagine that when I got off that second ferry, I was anxious to be re-united with my steed. Unfortunately, it was nowhere to be found in the racks. Uh-oh. I headed to the bike tech area, and saw it on a repair stand. Luckily, they were working on it right away, so it would be ready before the 30 minutes were up to race start. All in all, pretty impressive, given that those guys would be working on probably 80-100 bikes each night, and also have to re-locate their mobile workshop each day/night. Basically, these guys would work all night on bikes to have them ready to go first thing in the morning. No small feat for a full week. Without these guys though, a lot of riders wouldn’t be able to finish the race.

The day’s stage was slated for about a 60km ride to Sechelt, starting right from the ferry terminal, and shortly after that hearing into the local trails. When the starting gun went off, the race almost immediately started heading uphill, to the riders started to spread out fairly early, which is a good thing before we plunge into the technical trails in the woods. I was feeling pretty good, so we decided to try and push things a bit and see if we could move up in the general rankings.

As far as the trails go, there was a pretty good mix of stuff, single track, double track, powerline trails, and some nice custom work as well. Our equipment was working pretty good for us in general. We did have to stop at one point so that Carl could fix his chain (it had a bend in it causing really bad shifting). We hadn’t realized the problem was repairable, so unfortunately, Carl suffered for quite a while with the bad shifting, which undoubtedly caused us to lose a bit of time. However, after the first aid station and the bike fix, we came out fighting. There were a couple fairly exposed climbs, one of which was pretty much impossible to ride, so we had to slog up a tricky path in our shoes while pouring sweat. As a result, we stuck diligently to our hydration plan, which of course also means we have to stop a little extra for pee breaks, but the alternative (a visit to the medic) was well worth the small delays. After all, there were still 3 full days of racing coming up.

Overall, the trails were a lot of fun, but not quite as nice as the day before. I think for me, my favourite overall stage would go down in the books as Stage 3, the trails around Cumberland. At one point in Stage 4’s trails, we came across a spot where there was very low branch. It was flagged in pink tape, and luckily I’m pretty short, so I got under it easily. However, in my mind, I was thinking that it would be pretty dicey for a tall rider who might not be paying too much attention. Sure enough, when we got to the finish line, we came across a friend of ours, JR who looked to be in pretty rough shape. Turns out he took that branch full in the face! His teammate, Nathalie, called out ‘tricky’ as they were going to that area, which is the way to alert people about obstacles. Unfortunately, rather than looking up, he looked down for the obstacle. The resulting impact was not very pretty.

JR’s face was quite badly beat up. His lips were nicely split and swollen, as well as half of his face and around his eyes. By later in the evening, there was some quite obvious swelling. Unfortunately, things were so bad the next morning that he couldn’t start. His eyes were too swollen so that he couldn’t even get his contacts in. Ouch.

The end of our day found us in Sechelt. We had a great meal in the nearby arena, washed and tuned our rides, attended the awards for the day, and then basically crashed pretty early. We also learned that an extra 5k or so had been added to this stage at the last minute due to land use issues. There were a few unhappy riders, as they are so tuned to the distance of a race that they had mapped out their food and liquid needs, but ended up running short. In an attempt to make up for that, the organizers promised to chop a little distance off the next day. On the final run-in, I had also witnessed a very impressive view down along a valley and water. I had hoped to make my way back there to snap some shots around sunset. Unfortunately, to get there would have meant a hike of several kilometers. I had already checked my bike in, so I had to resign myself to a long walk if I wanted to get the view.

The problem is that I didn’t walk the right way. I ended up going for a long walk DOWNHILL to get to the waters’ edge. Of course, that meant a long walk back up the hill to get back to the tent. D’oh! Not that much fun after a long day. Oh well, at least it was nice to steal a few minutes to myself in the week. I didn’t get exactly the view I had hoped for, but it was nice nonetheless. When I got back to base camp, I had been hoping to score a beer to celebrate Canada Day, but in the end, that never materialized, and I decided getting some sleep might be a better idea. Luckily, we were starting the next stage at the same spot, so we didn’t need to scramble to get on buses or anything. It was a nice reprieve. Well, that should wrap it up for my Stage 4 report. Stay tuned for my last and final report, which will be the Stage 5 report.

BCBR Day 7 Update

Official Finish

Holy Cow! I can’t believe that I’m writing this post. Day 7 means that the race is over, and that Carl and I have successfully completed every single stage, and become official finishers of the 2009 BC Bike Race! Woo hoo! Party time indeed, and time to finally vacation for a few hours. As I write this, I’m actually flying back from Vancouver, and am not even sure just where to start to try and summarize the totality of the event that culminated in the final day. So, to keep it simple, I’ll just do what I always do, I’ll kick things off by inviting you to peruse the pictures that I took from the final day, as well as the customary Google map that I threw together showing where we rode for the final day. After another tough day of climbing and fighting our way through the Squamish trails, our final days took us up to the sub-alpine regions of Whistler, on some of their sweet singletrack trails. Read on for the full story.

Oops,this paragraph finds me over a week after returning to Ottawa. My apologies. After returning, it’s been a really busy week, with work, Bluesfest, another upcoming race, so on and so on. Not to mention trying to get through some PVR Tour de France coverage! I’ve just really not had the energy to get back to my blogging and wrap up my big effort for BCBR. However, I’m determined to at least get this post out of the way, and hopefully my summaries for stages 4 and 5. Anyway, rewind to the start of Day 7 in BC. Morning came early, and I shook myself out of my sleeping bag in Squamish around 6am. I knew that this was the last day of racing, and that at the end of it, I’d be sporting the coveted finishers’ belt buckle, as well as laying my head down on a real bed in a suite that Carl and I had booked at the First Tracks lodge in Whistler Creekside, right at the finish line of the race! As with the rest of the week, the sun was shining brightly, and the sky was cloudless. We really couldn’t have dreamt more perfect weather for the entire race week. Thank you weather Gods!

First off was the final race breakfast, this time in the community center once again. Granola with yogurt was my main fuel for the day, and was pretty tasty. After breakfast, a final pack-up of the tent that we’d lived in for 2 nights, then off to the buses for transport to Whistler. We’d be climbing up to the higher altitude of Whistler for the final day. Not so high that altitude would be a factor, but high enough that it might be a little cooler for us. After all, the exposed long climbs have been getting kind of tough. The other thing we had to keep in mind for this final stage was that it would only be about 30km. They decided to give us a fast, technically tough final stage. There would be a couple of tough technical descents, but at least you knew that in a few hours, you’d be done the entire day, as well as the entire race.

Of course, this knowledge meant a few things for Carl and I. The first and foremost thing we realized is that we’d have to keep the pressure on in order to keep our current position. The day before, we finally passed our nearest competitors, getting a couple minutes in the bank. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough for us to be able to play tourist. In some ways, I’d hoped the standings would be suspended in stage 6 so that we could sort of take it easy. I would have loved to stop and take pictures of the trails to show you all the kind of terrain we spend our days riding, but with only 2 minutes between us, we had to put the pedal to the cranks in a big way. The jockeying for position started right in the starting corral, when we saw our nemesii (I dunno, plural of nemesis?) lined up pretty much even with us. We hadn’t really talked much, but we were pretty sure that they were well aware of who we were, and what our relative positions were.

Without focusing too much on them, we had to get things underway the way we always do; at our pace. Using our strategies and playing to our strengths. As usual, the start had us at the back of the pack due to our cumulative time, which meant we’d have to pull ourselves through the pack to keep the momentum going. Also as is typical, the first kilometer or so were just a touring pace, passing through the village of Whistler creekside. However, before we knew it, it was game time, and hill time. Very early on the stage we hit our first killer climb. This one? Basically straight up the damn ski hill. Ok, it was actually a sweeping climb, but it was still a brutish push in the hot sun on an exposed mountain face. The sweat was pouring off me in no time. So as usual, Carl and I also focused on our hydration strategy. We’ve stuck to that plan all week, and I think it was paying off, as our times were improving in comparison to other teams throughout the week.

In case you’re wondering, we had absolutely no idea where the Bonsai Brothers were at this point (our name for them) in time. After the hard climbing, we were rewarded by the toughest descent of the day, which I believe was called See Colours and Puke. It had a particularly nasty section where the motocross riders wouldn’t even dare descend. It was at this point where Carl suffered a little crash that he had to dust himself off from. However, given the adrenaline and desire to finish strong he got back on pretty quick and we rolled on. We were looking forward to an aid station in what we though would be about a kilometer, but it ended up being a few km before we got to it. Kinda frustrating when you’re hungry and totally out of fluids. After checking in there, we were having a snack and filling up when who should I spot, but our competitors! I told Carl we should probably get going, as he hadn’t noticed them yet.

It was too late though, as we all eyed each other before gritting our teeth and pressing on. Unfortunately, we were on another tough slog of a climb, and I could see they didn’t want to let us get past them at all. My sole focus was to stay on their wheels all the way up, then try to take them on the descent, and finally put things in the bank on the final long climb. A few times on this climb they seemed to be getting a little away from us. However, finally, on the way back into some trails, it looked like we’d pass them, as they had to pull off for a second. My moment of excitement was quickly put out when my chain came off while shifting! Luckily, I was able to put it back on quickly, but now, Carl and I were sandwiched between the Bonsai Boys. Carl in front, then one of them, then me, then his partner. It was a pretty crazy situation.

We kept pushing hard, and I dare say riding pretty awesomely on the technical terrain. Finally, they broke on some gnarly stuff, and I told them I was going around.From that point on, we just kept driving hard. We eventually hit the next technical descent, known as ‘Tunnel Vision’. We had to truly focus on this one, so the Bonsai Boys slipped our minds for a bit. Then came the final climb. Another fairly long slog to the top before our final descent. We’d ridden a really smooth cross-counrty trail to get to that point, and we hoped we’d put a big margin in the bank once again. However, once comfortably working on the climb, I looked back to see the Boys on the climb as well. Damn! Back to work. I felt really strong, so I actually offered to pull Carl for a bit to get us further up the hill. I was very surprised at the strength I had, and we were actually passing teams while I was pulling Carl for a bit. That time was key for us. We made some new friends on the climb, and spirits were high.

We hit the final bend and then into the technical downhill. From here, it was basically a straight shot to the finish. Yes, it was technical, but after a week of really challenging trails, this one didn’t look like it would pose too many problems. Just had to focus and ‘git er done’. We pulled off some great moves, and soon enough popped out beside the creek and could see the tell-tale gondola station at the base of the mountain where we’d be crossing the finish. We finished the stage and the race with arms held high and giant smiles on our faces Before I even had time to wipe the sweat from my brow, I could see the Bonsai Brothers coming around the corner to the finish. We went straight to them to congratulate them and chat about the push. They confirmed my suspicion that they were definitely pushing their hardest to try and pass us in the standings. Mutual compliments all around about the days’ ride, and it was time to party!

To finish off the race, we checked into our awesome suite and cleaned up. I also packed all my gear for the return flight so that I wouldn’t have to get up early to do it. We then headed back to the finish area to enjoy some beers and the atmosphere of the finish line of the 7-day race. It was a pretty emotional time for us I think, thinking back on the amazing week of racing we’d just gone through. We’d made some good friends over the trials, and this was finally the time we could really just relax and chat with everyone. Good times. After being sufficiently ‘relaxed’ we decided to head to a nearby lake for a dip to cool off. More fun ensued :-). From there, a bunch of us opted to head to the Players Chophouse for our final meal. The food was good, but probably slightly overpriced for what we had. After that, back to Dusty’s bar at the finish line to enjoy a final few drinks with racers, volunteers, and some of the race crew. It was my chance to have some good talks with the race organizers as well, and to give them props for a tough job well done.

Whew! After all that, I was well and truly ready to lay my head down one final night in BC in a big king sized bed. I’m not sure what time I finally went to sleep, but I was just happy to know I didn’t need to get up till about 8am. Next morning, I woke Carl up and convinced him we should help ourselves to one of the hot tubs outside. They weren’t officially open, but we pulled the blanket off one, and got in for a soak in the early morning sun. It was, in a word, glorious. Probably the nicest feeling of the whole week. Once dried off, I had to grab breakfast quickly, and get myself to my shuttle bus for the ride to the airport. Once again, I shared the bus with some other racers, and we enjoyed the drive back with a colourful driver providing commentary the whole way. Like, for example, did you know that Happy Gilmore was filmed almost entirely in BC? Yup, in a place called Furry Lake. Cool eh?

Flight back was very uneventful, and I was happy to hit the hay once again at home, since the first week back was promising to be tough. Well, that’s it for the Stage 7 wrap-up. Stay tuned, and I promise to fill you all in on the missing stages in the next little while 🙂 Till then, keep the cranks turning!

BCBR Day 6 Update

Team Diabetes at Start

Hoowah! Welcome back race fans. Yes, I know that I’ve skipped days 4 and 5, but the fact is, Day 6 is done, and I’m only finding time to write now! It’s been a pretty long week over here on the West Coast, and it’s amazing to think that we’ve been riding all week on some of this country’s best mountain biking trails. We were blessed yet again with an amazing day weather-wise, and yet another great physical challenge was put before us. However, ActiveSteve and Carl overcame the challenges yet again, and were in fact in fine form yet again today. The course for today was set all around the stunning scenery of Squamish. I’ve never been up here, and boy was I impressed. This place is probably best known for its rock climbing, but the biking was also very impressive. Have a look at the Google Map that I put together to get a sense of where we were riding, and then come on back to read the rest of my tale of how Day 6 rolled out for us.

The 30 minutes in the hot tub that I sprang for the night before were put to good use. My muscles, although sore and tired from a week of riding still felt relatively good, and willing to do my bidding for me 🙂 Wake up call was 6:30 am this morning, and race start was slated for a leisurely 9:30, on account that we didn’t have to get here from anywhere, or deal with any major prep work. It was a nice break from the hectic rest of the week previous. I had a pretty good sleep, and was ready to hit breakfast when I rolled out of my cocoon. Early in the week they said this would be a lot like summer camp, and it really is. There’s also a lot of waiting. In fact, as I write this, I’m in a room with 200+ hungry racers waiting for their meal sitting. Crazy times here.

Before getting in the start chute, I gave the ole bike a quick once over and lubed it. I’ve been lucky with my bike this week. Apart from the earlier derailleur hanger bending, things have been running quite smoothly. In the chute, we got down to the business of staying hydrates, as there were going to be a lot of climbs again today, and Mr. Sun was out in all his glory, with another cloudless sky greeting us. Another difference with Day 6 is the fact that our numbers were augmented by about 50-60 “guest” riders and VIPs, which were all stacked in our start area. They were put there so they would intrude too much on the pros going for the win. However, a lot of these guys wanted to go for it and strut their stuff, which meant that early on in the race, there was a lot of jostling for positions. Not the funnest, but we’re pretty used to it by now.

As with most days, they started us off pretty much right away with a nice long climb as we made our way to the start of the singletrack for the day. This is meant to string us out a bit, and Carl and I tried to push pretty hard right off the bat to try and avoid any major traffic jams further on. It was tough work, but we thing that it paid off in the end. Once the big climbing was done, we plunged right into the gnarly stuff. As you will have noticed lately, my maps have been rather devoid of many pictures. This isn’t by choice, but of necessity. It’s just impossible to take pictures on those trails, and you can’t really stop for fear of losing momentum. I think I’ll just have to rely on some of the photos taken by the pro photogs instead. Trust me, I wanted to take you all on my adventure, but I just couldn’t!

Although the day wasn’t supposed to be the hardest of the week, it certainly seemed to be taking its’ toll on the racers. There were a lot of big crashes, and a lot of people commenting on how the course kicked their asses. In one particularly nasty section, poor Carl took a pretty bad tumble as well. No major damage, but his shoulder was certainly not feeling 100%. I kept on using my unconventional downhilling style of hanging my ass off the back of the seat to avoid too many mishaps, but I had my share of tumbles and close calls. At one point, I was doing a log crossing on the side of a steep hill, and just totally bailed. I fell about 5 feet down, luckily into soft brush. It was a bit scary, as you’re never sure what might be down there, like sharp point sticks, etc.!

Carl’s crash came at a very hairy point in the course. A section so steep that not even the motocross guys dared descend it! It was also fairly early in the day, which made Carl pretty bummed out, but we kept pushing hard. After that section, we had some more long ascents to help get our legs and arms back. Ironically, in a race like this, the downhills are just as hard as the climbs. It was getting to the point that we were looking forward to long climbs, because as hot as they were, we could get through them. As per usual, there were 2 aid stations along the course, the first of which we felt was a bit further than it should have been. On the terrain map, it was supposed to be at the highest course point, when in fact it was not 🙂 I checked my pocket for my camera, and lo and behold, it was gone! Yup, I’d lost it somewhere in the really steep stuff, which meant that I’d no longer have pictures for you all.

I resigned myself to this, and didn’t let it bother me too much. I let the Aid Station folks know, and they put out the word about my loss. I didn’t hold out much hope, but much later, I got really good news. Another racer stopped and picked it up when he came across it, in a really dicey part of the trail, sitting there gleaming in the sun. What good fortune! My saviour? None other than Fred Drier, a writer for Velo News who was racing and covering the event too. How cool is that? Very cool, I assure you. At least it means I’ll have it to take shots tomorrow on the final day of our odyssey 🙂

After the initial technical downhill, the next couple seemed tame by comparison, but were still challenging nonetheless. One of theme was quite rocky, so you really had to be bringing your A-game to the table once again. These descents were complicated further by the fact that there seemed to be a constant barrage of riders trying to get by right when we hit the hairy stuff. As it turns out, Carl and I seemed to be stronger climbers, whereas the downhillers take longer to get up but then they just fly. So basically, we spent the day cat and mousing with a big group of riders. Kinda fun, but kinda not 😉

The total distance was about 50km, ending back at basecamp. Once again, we were surprised when we finally popped out of the woods, only to find out that the final 5km or so would be a combination of roads and commuter paths. It was a welcome thing, and allowed us to open ‘er up a bit to try and get things done in a hurry. In this section where I had my stupidest accident of the day. We were screaming through the woods, and had to cross a pedestrian bridge. I somehow managed to cross my handlebar, and went down on the metal-grate covered bridge. Yeah, a lot like a cheese grater! Luckily, I had taped up my knee that morning, so the tape took the brunt of the damage, rather than several layers of my dermis. Whew!

We finally rolled under the finish line around 4 hours and 50 minutes. Just slightly faster than we expected. Nothing wrong with that. We later learned that we’ve moved up to 32nd place overall in our category. Double sweet. As a reward for a job well done, I took a stroll to the river to give my legs some ice therapy. Given that the river is glacier-fed, that’s pretty much what it was. Super cold, and just what I needed to reduce the swelling on some of my aching joints. After that, bike clean up, tune up and check, so that it can be whisked up to Whistler for Stage 7. I’ve just eaten, and we’re waiting on the awards ceremony, and some other fun stuff, like a chainsaw carving thing. How fun is that! Off I go to enjoy that. Ride hard friends.

BCBR Day 3 Update

Hilltop Smiles

Wowza, another day in the books for Team Diabetes / ActiveSteve. Today saw us travel up the coast on Vancouver Island to Cumberland by bus, where our next stage was set to both start and finish. Rather than bore us with a long point-to-point leg, the plan was to have the stage be entirely located in the Cumberland region on some awesome singletrack trails that they had in the area. And awesome they were! The day was slated to be a bit shorter than Day 2 and have less climbing overall. Also, the climbs and trails were supposed to be slightly less technical overall, so I hoped for some relief on my posterior. As per usual, I’ll have some photos posted, as well as put up my custom Google Map for the day. It was another awesome day for us, and we were pumped about ending a little earlier, so that we’d have some relaxing time. Read on for the rest of the story.

To start the day was another lovely bus ride, but at least they fed us a full breakfast at the Parksville base camp, which had scrambled eggs, ham, sausages, hashbrowns, etc. etc. I helped myself to a whole lot of it, making sure that I’d have the energy I’d need for the entire day of riding. I also focussed on hydrating well too, a plan which had paid off for us on the Stage 2. We were facing more clear blue skies, and the likelihood that temperatures would climb high enough that dehydration was a concern. So plan number one for us was going to be our health, then having fun, and finally, racing hard 🙂 After realizing that all our efforts in Stage 2 still didn’t really move us up in the rankings, we’d resigned ourselves to more or less be tourists for the rest of the week. No biggie. After all, this is our vacation, right?

When the bus pulled into Cumberland, the start area and base camp preperations were already well on the way, and our trusty bikes were all waiting for us as well. It was yet another idyllic location, nestled amongst the mountains and the forests of Vancouver Island. This would be our last day on the Island, so we were itching to get out there and see more of the trails. On the bus over, I decided that I felt strong, and wanted to race. My legs felt surprisingly fresh, no doubt a result of staying hydrated. It was a new day, and we were facing it optimistically.

At the start, we were once again relegated to the third check in gate, the dreaded ‘back of the pack’. We were in high spirits though, as just being in this race is a pretty great accomplishment. Also like Stage 2, we started with a ceremonial cycle through the town for a bit, with curious onlookers cheering us on. Before long though, we hit the trails, and the first major choke point. As we’d all been riding as a large group, we had to stop and wait while everyone got onto the trails and started riding. This again was proof of why once you’re in the back of the pack, it’s very hard to move up. Too many people ahead causing the group to slow and stop. After all, when just one person slips up or falls, it stops everyone behind. Imagine it as a constant traffic jam for mountain bikers. This takes a long time to sort out. I’d guess it was about an hour into the race before we could really settle into a comfortable pace.

However, the riding was absolutely stunning. They’d told us these were ‘mature trails’ that had a lot of flow. The first technical section was all that and more. We really loved it. However, after that, we started down some gravel sections, then into more technical stuff. All in all the day was a good mix. I’d say a thrid of really flowy trails, a third of really technical descents and XC trails, and a third of gravel roads and fire trails. There was a couple pretty taxing climbs, one of which came later in the day. It was the ‘less appreciated’ climb by most riders. The funny thing I noted was that once again, the day really seemed to get super-tough right at the end. I figured out why though. Mentally, you know the end is x km away, so the last 5km before that start to really suck. After all, you’ve been on the saddle all day and suffering.

However, no suffering can make this stuff bad, since it was just so bloody awesome. However, back to the suffering. I just got back from the MASH area where I had to ask that really awkrard question. “Can somebody look at my ass?”. Yup, ole monkey butt Meyer was back. I knew it would happen. One quick glance, and the guys knew I needed some help. They asked if I had a partner, to which I said yes. Well, it turns out Carl may have a new job on his hands tomorrow. Patching up my butt. The worst part is that they said there’s no way it’ll get better this week, only worse. All they can do is try to make it hurt less overall. Burn pads, and lots of cream. Yes Lawson, I have a big tube of Chamois Butter, but it turns out I really should have looked into waxing. I can only imagine how things will look at the end of the week. On the plus side, I’m a survivor, and will definitely suffer through it.

Wow, I sure have gone on at length about that, haven’t I? I’m pretty sure that’s something I won’t be showing you all pictures of! I’m sitting right beside the ‘unofficial results’, so let me scoot over and see if anything has changed today…. Nope. Looks like we’ve lost more time to our next closest team. It also looks like there are only 9 minutes before the next team behind us. Ho hum. Too bad. Definitely tourist mode from here on out. Well, tomorrow is Canada Day, so we might as well celebrate. I can’t say I’m not a little bit disappointed, but as least we’re having a good time.

Well, it’s after 9 now, and we’ve got a 4:30 wake-up call to tend to. Plus, I still have to sort out my clothes and gear for the morning. So long story short, I’ve got to sign off. Bye kids!