Tuesday, July 8, 2008

The BC Bike Race - report

I can, without a doubt, say that the BC Bike Race has been the single most incredible riding/racing experience that I've had to-date. Everything about the experience, the highs and lows (most of them were highs), were amazing. I don't know how I can possibly cram all of my experiences that I've encountered over the seven stages of the BC Bike Race into one blog post? Here are some words and some photos.

  • miles and miles of primo BC single track
  • hitting speeds of 60+ km/hr down loose logging roads while cornering with the back end whipping out - yeeeee haw!
  • massages
  • mobile showers
  • hot tubbing and swimming at the Squamish rec centre
  • ladders, bridges and skinnies
  • meeting tonnes of people from all over the country and world who had riding on the brain
  • incredibly enthusiastic volunteers who never seemed to run out of energy
  • the food was awesome - every night stuffing your face with as much food as you could eat
  • logistics and organization - meticulous planning made everything run smoothly
  • aid stations: water, ultima, oranges, bananas, Cliff shots, Zinger energy gels and bars, Sharkies - it was a free for all to stuff your face and fill up
  • schwag: Dakine gear bag, Suarez jersey, Syncos handle bar, Crank Brothers multi tool, Zinger energry bars, Ryder sunnies, T-shirts, coffee, etc.

  • not enough toilets - lots of line-ups each morning before and after breakfast and especially before each stage began. Came close on a number of occasions to having 'accidents' while waiting for a toilet.
  • day two - 125km stage, only 2km of single track (right at the end) - the rest was logging and fire roads
  • day 4 - 4:40am wake up call, a bus ride, a ferry ride, another bus ride, another ferry ride, then stage four starts at 11 am!?!?!? Legs did not want to spin!
  • controlled starts weren't that controlled (except for day two) - more like hammer fests right out of the shoot.
There were no easy days. I thought organizers would throw us a bone to break up the seven days of riding. Nope, not a chance. They ripped the legs off of us each and every day. As the week went by, each day got more and more single track.

Day One (89 km) :
went into the hurt locker about mid-race. 33 degrees out, climbing exposed fire/logging roads which seemed to take hours (the longest climb of the day was aprox. 9 km); fighting through loose, rocky single track finally cramped the legs, back, neck . . . everything started to go. Wasn't drinking enough, hadn't settled into a drink/eat routine for the work load. I suffered cramping right up until the time I went to bed. This hurt me for the first three days of the race. Many people crossed the line very dehydrated and hurting. Many were immediately hooked up to IVs to get fluids into them quickly. As a result, the next stage would have two additional water stations.

Day Two (125 km):
long, hot stage - 125km of fire/logging roads. Kind of boring. Good controlled start for the first 10km let the legs gradually wake up and spin the pain out. Was seriously worried about this stage as the legs were in a lot of pain from yesterday - muscles were very sore. Mark paced me for most of the race and climbed like a champ, leading many pace lines. Started to cramp up on the last 20km which ended on a fairly flat rail trail. One flat tire for the day.

Day Three (80 km):
Can't remember too much of this stage. Went fairly well I suppose. Not a lot stands out from this day. Got into a little more single track today.

Day Four (60 km):
Mark flatted and broke a chain, and I flatted later on. Lots of powerline climbs and desents. It was also a late start after the two ferry crossings and a very early wake up call. We both struggled through today trying to find momentum.

Day Five (65 km):
We started out flying, hammering and riding with people who we hadn't seen so much the first three days (faster riders). We were doing really well until we followed a lead group down a 1000ft descent of rocky, steep, fast single track. Took five minutes to get down, and about 25-30 minutes to get back up. I physically blew up on the climb back up (you couldn't ride it, it was all hike-a-bike) and was spent. With the loss of time after doing so well, mentally I was also beaten, got out of my eat/drink routine and ended up bonking. Once back to the top and on the correct trail I flatted within five minutes - another blow to the days race and my mental capacity to keep things in perspective. I basically shut down and was just riding along trying to survive until Mark was able to shake me free of my mood. Once past aid station two, we pulled our shit together and really made up time in the single track and had a blast. Says a lot to be able to turn that shit around - that's what racing is all about - highs and lows. I learned a lot on this stage of racing - it's as much of a mental race as it is a physical race and you have to dig really deep sometime.

* about 20-25 other riders went down the same wrong trail that we did. This was one place that race organizers messed up a little.

Day Six (65 km) :
we owned day six and Squamish. Made up a tonne of time and railed all the single track thrown at us. By far, the most technical single track of the race. To be honest, if I had seen what was coming before hand, I probably wouldn't had ridden some of that stuff, or at least not at the speed that we were moving. We hammered it through some really gnarly technical sections - by far the most technical stuff I've ever ridden. Grinning ear to ear at the end of this stage.

Day Seven (47 km):
another unbelievable day of single track. However, it did start on a ski hill climb on the outskirts of Whistler village. Straight up for 50 minutes. Riders from Ottawa - think of climbing the CBC Climb on the Fortune Race Course for 50 minutes straight with no breaks. Yeah - good times! After the first 8-9 km of climbing was done it was all about what Mark and I are good at: riding rooty, rocky single track. We caught and dropped many riders in this stuff and had a blast riding the final stage.

Tents were all set up for us each day as we arrived in whatever town organizers had us finishing in. Sunsets behind the mountains.

5 Am on a school bus taking us to our first of three ferry crossings. Tanya and Kari napping.

While they napped, Mark and I ate pizza that we bought the night before.
Mmmmm, nothing better than cold pizza at 5 am while driving on a school bus, on the way to the first of two ferry crossings before stage four.

Stage Eight . . . . no racing today. Rest and relaxation. The day began with eating oatmeal (that Tanya found in the condo we were all renting) in the hot tub.

Race bib

Sharing a tent with Curvy Bum - I needed to do what I needed to do in order to get a good nights sleep. The first two nights I was woken up by a smell which burned my nose and thought a BC Saskquatch was coming into the tent to have it's way with us . . . however, there was no such beast. The beast, in fact, was Mark's bodacious booty cooking out odors unfit even for a landfill. You pile in gels, bars, Sharkies, energy drinks, and as much food that is humanly possible at supper and you are bound to get some wild chemical reactions happening in the lower GI.

March of the penguins. Each and every morning you had to drop off your race bag so that organizers could load them onto trucks and ship them off to the next town we were staying in.

Kick'n it in Whistler - post race.

Helicopter buzzed around and took pictures of everyone on top of the ferry.

I got Kari onto my shoulders for the helicopter/ferry shot so that we could more easily find ourselves when they post up the photos on the BC site.

Super heroes - Anthony and Peter off to the mobile showers after day two.

Day Eight - rest and relaxation in Whistler. Yeah, what can I say? I was born to be wild.

Boarding the first of three ferry crossings.


fritZman said...

Good stuff BRR! Congrats.

I guarantee it will take a couple of months before you go a day w/o thinking about that race, and then another year before you go a week.

While events like this are a HUGE investment in time, effort, and cash (for you and your family), it's a must-do at least once in your life to readjust perspectives.

Shorty said...

Congrats Craig - excellent report and racing!


MCF said...

Absolutely love it. I'm sure you have more to tell and just can't get it all in to words! Congrats Craig! All you are awesome!