Day 7 Presented by Harbor Air
26km / 16 miles
1,070m / 3510ft
Average Time: 2:38hr
“I was wondering who would I share a tent with, like I don’t even know this person, but she was just an amazing lady. We’ll hang out tonight at the banquet.” ~ Whistler local Caroline Lamont was nervous at first about sharing sleeping quarters with a stranger.
Faces in the Races
Caroline Lamont has a long history with the BC Bike Race, but always second-hand as an observer showing up to the banquet on the last day with her husband who has been the Whistler Course Director for 10 years. “I always wanted to do it because I’d go to the banquet and everyone seemed so close that they’ve shared this big thing together and I’ve never been part of that, I was like an outsider.” This year she decided to finally jump in and join the show, riding trail that is arguably in her backyard.
“We found a great group of people to ride with. We found our friends out on the trail. We all stuck together, looked after each other and helped each other out. We had snapped chains that we all sorted out together, we had crashes that we helped each other through, we looked after each other it was awesome….. The trails were amazing. I just road things I would never even dream of riding in my life. The flow, the root systems you guys have, having them wet most days was just absolutely amazing. I was just a passenger on my bike and just lapped it up.” ~ Corrigan
This year’s final stage had a new course, new start and finish, and a new point to point format that put riders on some classic Whistler trails never used by the race before. At 26km, today was slated to be a taper to the week of racing. Shorter did not mean easier as riders soon discovered that climbing 1070 meters in such a short stage might kick you in the pants a little harder than expected. Fortunately the weather played nice and riders actually got to experience trails that kicked up a little dust for the first time this week. Beginning in Bayly Park the course started with mellow gravel paths and soon kicked up the first big climb of the day. As the stage progressed the climbing got steeper and the trails more technical as it reached the final descent on chunky root and rock strewn Danimal. A beach side finish in Rainbow Park with the snow peaked mountains in the background gave riders one last picture perfect backdrop memory to go home with.
Today was Alberta’s Cory Wallace’s (Kona Bikes) birthday and his first BC Bike Race champions jersey. After many years working as a lieutenant for teammates he finally the had the strength and teammates willing to be there for him. At the beginning of the day Wallace had a 1:13 deficit to his teammate Spencer Paxson, the result of two flats during the week. A Herculean effort after each set-back and on the last two stages helped him claw back the four minutes he had lost. Even today a crash over the bars in the last two kilometers tried to sideline him from his long fought goal. With a crooked stem and dirt still in his eye he dug hard to the point of memory loss to get to the line for the overall.
It had to be a bittersweet end to the race for Paxson who was third on the day but was 2nd overall for the fourth year in a row at a race he loves and truly wants to win. Wallace was clearly the strongest of the men in the race and the goal for the Kona team was to be on the podium. Paxson rode a consistent and clean race in support of his teammate but even the most loyal and humble racer at this level wants to be on the highest step of the podium they can.
“I’m really happy with the way it went. It was so fun and something that alowed me to reconnect with my roots a little bit. Get back to just having fun racing bikes with friends.” ~Ettinger
An interesting side-note to the story of the top four racers this year was that Shimano had outfitted them all on the new electronic Shimano Di2 XT drive trains. This was the first time many of them had even used electric shifting. The overwhelming impression was positive for all the reasons a stage racer would hope for after one of the most harsh, equipment testing, environments you can put it through. Wallace and Paxson both emphasized the efficiency and precision that allowed them to concentrate on the trail, make less stressful and intuitive gear changes while keeping their thumbs fresh after 16 hours of racing.
The top European for the week was Austrian Manuel Weissenbacher (Craft Rocky Mountain) who surpassed his goal of at least one top five finish for the week with a 5th position in the overall. He battled hard with the French National Marathon Champion Frederick Gombert (Cycletyrres.com) who finished 6th and faded as the week progressed.
Kelli Emmett (Juliana/ SRAM/ Lululemon Athletica) walked away with the overall this year by winning each stage. That doesn’t mean that she escaped without adversity as her legs and one flat tire reminded her what cross country racing was all about. Seven years ago Emmett raced the BC Bike Race before turning away from the XC scene and concentrating on the world of Enduro racing.
“I’ve been so wrapped up in enduro racing. BC Bike Race has always been at the top of my list… I really realized I kinda missed racing with people again. Having people to motivate you, to push harder, to look ahead. It’s pretty exciting to be out there with other people again.” ~ Emmett
BC Bike Race 10th Anniversary
Up until this evening there hasn’t been much conversation from the BC Bike Race founders about their 10th year other than a new logo to celebrate. There were small clues they got a sense of pride having reached the decade mark putting on a premier mountain bike stage race. Dean Payne, the president always tears up at the racer meetings. Co-founder Andreas Hestler has a photo of the first peloton stashed in the visor of his event truck. Original core staff 20 deepand founding sponsors such as Harbor Air seem as engaged and excited for the week as they probably were 10 years ago. The years are ticking by but the gas tank is full, and the destination keeps moving ahead over the horizon.
1. Kelli Emmett (USA) Juliana/SRAM/Lululemon 1:50:46
2. Kaysee Armstrong (United States) Kona Super Grassroots 1:52:44
3. Sammi Runnels (USA) Ride biker Alliance 1:56:50
1. Cory Wallace (Can) KONA Factory Racing 1:26:48
2. Quinn Moberg (Can) Rocky Mountain Factory Team 1:27:12
3. Spencer Paxson (USA) Kona Endurance Team 1:28:59
1. Kelli Emmett (USA) Juliana/SRAM/Lululemon 19:31:05
2. Sammi Runnels (USA) Ride biker Alliance 20:47:17
3. Kaysee Armstrong (USA) Kona Super Grassroots 21:08:43
1. Cory Wallace (Can) KONA Factory Racing 15:48:09
2. Spencer Paxson (USA) Kona Endurance Team 15:49:07
3. Stephen Ettinger (USA) RideBiker Alliance 15:54:39
Full results here.