“This guy I wanted to send to the hospital, but I turned my back for a second, and he bolted — right back to riding,” the medic said.
Love it. That’s my people. Faced with a certain birthday and prospect of turning into a pair of 20-year-olds this May — i.e. 40 trips around the sun — I began to research the appropriate mountain bike-related spectacle/epic/bash. And while there’s appeal in catching a glimpse of a famous Texan in a Mellow Johnny’s jersey at Leadville, or battling the leeches and big lungs at La Ruta, or going Euro-glam at TransAlps, the bottom line for me was about one 12-inch-wide precious commodity: singletrack, and plenty of it.
Heck, 40 ain’t old — for a tree. But as time wears on, my tolerance for grinding along fire roads, the dusty grim reality of enduro-racing, has slipped to nil. Nada. Enter the BC Bike Race front and center, a sevenday, 500-kilometer stage race from June 27 to July 3, a fully supported allyou-can-eat buffet of the world-class trails stretching from Vancouver to Whistler.
Billed as the Ultimate Singletrack Experience, the race organizers set out to pool decades of riding experience and beta and simply compile an all-out best-of-BC. What emerged is a mountain biker’s dreamscape of endless ribbons of loamy trails, bridges and berms, and very stout days of pedaling through old-growth forests. Those “allworld” trails that have dominated the shiny covers of bike magazines for a decade are Ground Zero for this event. The North Shore, Squamish, Nanaimo, Sunshine Coast and the technical terra firma of Whistler itself, with all trails mapped, marked, bagged and tagged for your shredding pleasure, linked by scenic boat crossings on BC Ferries, FREE and book-ended by hot $25 Team Hat meals, hotter showers and pre-constructed athlete villages. Sa-weet.
A tiny sampling of the trails on tap includes: Buggered Pig, Short and Curly, Soggy Biscuit, Black Hole, Space Nugget, G-String, Lower Armageddon, Ripped Nipple, Heart of Darkness, Humility, The Abyss, Hades, Highway to Hell, Squeezer and Young Lust. Lust, indeed, and our northern neighbors aren’t much for hyperbole.
If you have never had the pleasure of goofing off outdoors in Canada (biking, skiing, climbing, insert other rad sporty activity here), prepare to enter a kind of anti-Boulder, a bizzaro Boulder if you will — zero attitude plus maximum friendliness in all things sport-related. Imagine no dis cussion of training schedules and casual comments on bodacious personal V02 max levels. It must have to do with the abundance of natural resources and a low population density, ’cause the good folks over the border will kill you with kindness every time, and you will find yourself getting used to it very, very quickly.
In fact, I remember my first visit to BC 15-plus years ago. My sweetie and I had a bike flat by the side of the road, and the first car that passed, before we even stuck out a hesitant thumb, stopped, the door flew open, and the smiling driver asked if we needed a hand. I believe he might have even shoved a cold Kokanee in my hand. How do you like that, eh?
Who races BCBR? Well, a murder’s row of pros including Kabush, Sydor, Eatough and Pedrel, which isn’t surprising given the rising profile of the race. But more illuminating is to hear the sponsored hammerhead gods making comments like, “In all my epic stage races, it’s the first time I’ve actually heard riders whooping, hollering and expressing their glee while racing,” and, “It was honestly one of the first times I’ve totally forgotten about the race and just enjoyed the ride. It was just me and a friend bombing through the woods. That’s never happened to me before …” If all events were laid out like this, with a BCBR 96 percent overall completion rate, perhaps more of us would feel like pros.
Look for a complete race report following the event in this column. For complete information, images and video to drool over, and all event info visit BCBikeRace.com.