July 5, 2011 (British Columbia) – The start line of any race is always alive with energy. But when you bring 450 singletrack hungry mountain bikers to a singletrack crazy town, line up the start chute down the centre of the main drag, mix in a heavy percentage of cheering locals, and remind riders that this is the first of seven straight days of singletrack heaven, well, it’s electric!
Enter BC Bike Race Stage One. This morning you could have powered the entire village of Cumberland with the energy racers exuded as host Drew Bragg counted down the launch of BCBR 2011. More than 50km of incredible riding lay ahead for the Epic riders, while the Challengers experienced 30km of the same.
The big question of the day was how would European riders Thomas Dietsch (BULL) and Marzio Deho (Olympia) fare on these trails against the defending champion Chris Sheppard (Rocky Mountain Bikes). At yesterday’s press conference, Dietsch pointed out that the European races only see about 7% singletrack to BCBR’s 70%. And the technical levels are incomparable, so it was going to be an interesting week
Stage one didn’t disappoint. Dietsch tailed Sheppard through the initial singletrack and attacked on the long fire road ascent. Sheppard regained the lead back in the singletrack with Dietsch–rocking a hardtail this week–close behind. Close, but not close enough to steal the yellow jersey from Sheppard for Stage One. Shep, who is very familiar with this terrain, holds a 2+ minute lead over Dietsch going into Stage Two. The next four category finishers, Neal Kindree (Republic Bike Shop / SRAM), Cory Wallace (Kona), Jason Sager (Jamis) and Marzio Deho all crossed the line within three minutes of each other. Gravity master Brian Lopes (Oakley/Ibis/ENVE/Kenda) sits in 14th.
The Epic Team of 2 Men category promises some solid competition as well this year, as champions Kris Sneddon and Barry Wicks (Kona Factory Team) defend their title against a strong field. A little bottlenecking and some tough breaks set a few teams back during the day. Sneddon and Wicks blasted through the finish in 2:28:12 to claim the day’s jersey with Mary Lazarski and Ricky Federau (Nativo/Devinci) just over a minute behind. Five minutes later, Mitchell Hoke and Brady Kappius (Clif Bar) came through with Greg Day and Colin Kerr (Rocky Mountain Bikes) and Mark Weir and Jason Moeschler (WTB/Cannondale/Shimano) less than a minute back. It’s still very early times and there are hundreds of kilometers of singletrack that can see this race take any number of turns. No matter what, it’s shaping up to be hot competition!
Epic or Challenge, racers crossed the finish line today with huge grins and exuding a serious sense of accomplishment. It’s not surprising as the Cumberland trails are hand-built beauties that are guaranteed to delight every rider. Course Director Jeremy Grasby knows almost every inch of the trail network and continues to craft a Cumberland stage thrill-ride every year. Gravity girl Katrina Strand (Troy Lee Designs/Oakley/Maxxis) was having so much fun on course that she was accused of smiling too much!
Today’s selected stage highlights:
Epic Solo Men – Chris Sheppard, Team Rocky Mountain Bikes 2:23:14; Thomas Dietsch, Team BULL 2:25:42; Neal Kindree, Team Republic Bike Shop / SRAM 2:31:56
Epic Team of 2 Men – Kris Sneddon and Barry Wicks, Kona Factory Team 2:28:12; Marty Lazarski and Ricky Federau, Nativo/Devinci 2:29:30; Mitchell Hoke and Brady Kappius, Team Clif Bar 2:34:20
Epic Solo Masters Men – Patrick Jansen 2:39:49; Jeff Neilson 2:40:13; Craig Gillett 2:44:00
Epic Team of 2 Vets 100+ – Daniel Auclair and Pierre Harvey 3:00:09; Vince Haag and Steve Wright 3:14:23; Andy Aufschnaiter and John Ramsden 3:19:45
Epic Solo Women – Jennifer Schulz 3:06:25; Wendy Lyall 3:15:50; Hannah Thorne 3:20:19
Epic Team of 2 Women – Simone McCallum and Claire Garcia-Webb 3:47:12; Heide Saunders and Robyn Pickering 3:59:32; Luli Cox and Dri Boccia, Rocky Mountain 4:59:40
Challenge Solo Men – Grant Fox 1:41:01; Brad Jansen 1:53:53, Lawrence Colvin 1:55:26
Challenge Solo Women – Alice Pirard 1:54:02; Tanya Berg 1:55:56; Wakana Heilman 2:17:21
Challenge Teams of 2 Open Mixed – Denver Poole and Derek Reynolds 2:02:55; Melanie and Mark Foster 2:22:43; Brock Martin and Suzanne Sheppy 2:23:27
We’ll wrap up this edition with a brief racer story we’ve come to call “Planes, Ferries and Automobiles.” Epic Solo racer Anthony Alvarado hails from Costa Rica. He’d intended to join us for registration on Day 0 but missed his flight. That led to a panicked phone call and overnight stop at a friend’s place, a repeat trip to the airport, and a subsequent 7hr flight from Costa Rica to Toronto on July 2nd. Anthony then landed in Vancouver at 2am July 3rd, took a cab to the BC Ferries terminal, caught a 5am sailing to Vancouver Island, and was met by BCBR crew who shuttled him straight to the Cumberland start line… with 50 minutes to spare. The Obsession: Bikes tech team assembled and tuned Anthony’s bike in record time and he was ready to roll for a 9:30am Stage One start. 26 hours after leaving home.
Anthony finished in less than four hours and, despite being exhausted and battling near-cramping through the course, could not stop beaming with excitement: “I enjoyed it like I was a kid!”
And that seems to sum up the sentiments of many racers around Base Camp at the end of Stage One. Seven days of super-fun singletrack has begun!
Next Up: A quick morning trip up the highway brings racers to the site of our brand new stage for 2011: Campbell River. With a picturesque Base Camp set at the ocean’s edge and 33km of consecutive singletrack, Stage Two could become a new favourite!
PS – Campbell River trails will also be the launch point for the Rocky Mountain Bikes “Love the Ride” chip-timed sections. It’s our race within a race that promises to bring a whole new element to the BCBR!
Daily Results Epic (pdf) HERE.
Daily Results Challenge HERE.