On July 1st, Canada Day, communities of all descriptions across Canada host festivities to celebrate this great country in which we live. On July 1st 2007, roughly 200 of the global mountain biking community joined together on Vancouver Island to celebrate the inaugural launch of BC Bike Race â€“ The Pacific Traverse and Ride Guide was there to capture the moment. In fact, Ride Guide captured many moments of the BCBR â€“ from its start on the Island to its finish in world-renowned Whistler.
For those of you who havenâ€™t heard of it yet (though Iâ€™m sure you will!), BCBR is a 7-day mountain bike stage race that winds its way from Victoria to Whistler and treats racers to some of the very best singletrack mountain biking trails that beautiful British Columbia has to offer. In fact, this race differentiates itself from the other epic mountain bike stage races around the globe due to the sheer volume of squeals-and-giggles-inducing singletrack trails artfully woven together throughout its spectacular race course.
The race is the brainchild of Dean Payne, known for his involvement in the adventure racing community with his Sea2Summit races. Dean enlisted legendary Canadian mountain bike racer Andreas Hestler as lead course designer, and gathered a solid team of seasoned events experts to produce the race.
With the sun shining and the sky blue, BC Bike Race stared out in the small community of Sooke, just outside the provincial capital Victoria, BC. Day 1 destination: picturesque Lake Cowichan, roughly 110kms away. From lengthy logging road to rolling reclaimed rail trail riders worked to settle into a comfortable groove that would carry them through the next 7 days. Besides the amazing scenery, the dayâ€™s highlights included a playful rip through the swooping singletrack nestled in the Burnt Bridge and Can-Am mountain bike areas.
On Day 2, racers pushed through some lengthy logging roads, which got sticky at times and really warmed up the legs for the persistent 700m climb past the second aid station. Their perseverance to reach the top was paid in spades with a 20km ripping descent and 900+m elevation loss towards the finish in Port Alberni. And to sweeten the pot just a little, race directors threw in some sweet singletrack at the end of the dayâ€™s ride. An amazing meal that night provided the very necessary fuel for the Day 3 challenge that lay ahead.
Day 3 was a monster of a day, with a huge 800m ascent in just under 2km thrown into the mix. Along the way racers were treated to some spectacular views that took the edge off the pain of what seemed like an endless climb. But what a treat at the top – a 10km ripping descent down a quiet logging road that led right into the amazing singletrack trail network for which the finish area of Cumberland is renowned! Trails like Bucket â€˜o Blood, Soggy Biscuit and Space Nugget were a huge hit with riders and made for a great finish to a tough tough day.
Everyone awoke early on Day 4 for the first of two ferry rides from Vancouver Island to the Sunshine Coast. The weather was spectacular and the view from the ferry unforgettable. Partway through the crossing, our entire group of BCBR racers and crew gathered together on the top deck for an aerial photograph taken from the BCBR helicopter. The final shot was very coolâ€¦and so was the breeze on deck! With a start right at the ferry terminal on the Sunshine Coast, the backdrop was unbeatable. Racers worked their way into a huge day of stitched together singletrack that carried them from Earlâ€™s Cove into the seaside village of Sechelt, where they experienced a traditional Squamish Nation ceremony in the Nationâ€™s longhouse. Along with a taste of some wicked Sunshine Coast trails, our group got a taste of some interesting aboriginal culture.
By far, the highlight of the week was Day 5, where racers were treated to almost 50km of the best singletrack that Sechelt has to offer. The renowned Rat Race trail system consists of countless buff, fast singletrack gems that always leave xc lovers grinning from ear to earâ€¦and Day 5 was no exception! Though it wasnâ€™t downhill glory all day long â€“ riders had to earn their turns with some good uphill slogs, but every meter gained translated into ridiculous fun on the downsideâ€¦including the fantastic 7km blast to the finish at the Langdale ferry terminal. Still giddy from the ride, racers rolled straight onto the ferry for a relaxing and scenic voyage to Horseshoe Bay where they were transported to Squamish to chill out before the seemingly daunting climb of Day 6.
After 5 full days of riding, the profile for Day 6 almost loomed before the racers. Tired legs would be tested by a large portion of the famous Cheakamus Challenge route that climbed through the spectacular Cheakamus canyon and into the Brandywine trail system enroute to the village of Whistler. It was a beautiful, hot and sunny day, which made for dusty trails and spectacular scenery. On top of a series of relentless climbs, racers ripped through challenging yet super-fun singletrack trails including Trash, River Runs Through It, Billy Epic and Rebob â€“ all some of the best that this area has to offer. With the peaks of Whistler and Blackcomb as the backdrop, our tenacious group of riders tucked in for one last night in Base Camp before the grand finale of Day 7.
Just to mix things up a little, racers kicked off Day 7 flying down a cable-line at speeds up to 100km/h at Skyline on Cougar Mountain! With hearts a-pumping and adrenaline surging from the recent flight, riders inched their bikes up to the start line and blasted off in 1 minute intervals to challenge the final trails of the race in time trial format. Once again, the best of Whistler singletrack was on tap, with Thrill Me Kill Me, Comfortably Numb and the Green Lake trail strung together. And once again, teams crossed the finish line with humongous grins and at last collected their hard-earned finisherâ€™s medals. One awards ceremony and huge after-party later and the inaugural running of BC Bike Race â€“ The Pacific Traverse was etched in the history books. No doubt racers left this great event with visions of incredible BC singletrack dancing in their heads. Come join us for the ride, and youâ€™ll see why!