Lucky number 13!
This is the 13th year of the BC Bike Race, a seven-day mountain biking stage race visiting the best singletrack trails coastal British Columbia has to offer. With 600 racers from 38 countries, this is a bucket-list-worthy mountain bike event for riders around the world.
Day 0, Cowichan Valley
I met the travelling circus in Duncan, in the Cowichan Valley on Vancouver Island. By this time, the racers had already done the Day 0 prologue in North Vancouver, and had taken the first of the four ferry trips that would take them to mountain biking destinations around coastal BC.
BoB (Bear on a Bike) is the mascot of the BC Bike Race.
Six hundred racers come with a lot of baggage.
We were welcomed to Duncan in the Cowichan Valley by the Quw’utsun First Nation.
The sun set on the tent city on the eve of the first full day of racing in the Cowichan Valley.
Rocky Mountain mechanics were up late getting their athletes' bikes ready for the next day.
Day 1, Cowichan Valley
Two timed segments greeted racers on the first full day. Mount Tzouhalem featured some fast, flowy singletrack, while Maple Mountain offered some sweet technical rocky climbs and descents.
Tzouhalem's Double D in particular was a crowd pleaser.
By the time racers had gotten to this point in the course, they had ridden about 35 km and were ready to see the finish line.
Day 2 Cumberland
Overnight rain made the Cumberland trails slick and... interesting... for visiting racers. Locals cheered, heckled, and coached participants down one particularly gnarly corner on Blockhead, high in the Cumberland trail system.
Cumberland was the first introduction many participants had to West Coast riding. The talk around the campground over the next day was that "the wet roots were a real eye opener!"
The second portion of the loop took riders through some tight, flowy, singletrack amongst the alders.
Day 3 Cumberland
For the first time, the BC Bike Race spent a second day on the same trail system. This shorter loop in Cumberland took racers down some trails never visited before by the BC Bike Race.
The race course reached tight singletrack very quickly on the 2nd Cumberland day, so rather than the 100 rider waves, racers started in groups of 25.
The fireweed was in full bloom in the clearings.
By the end of the 3rd day of racing, some riders were looking to ham it up in front of the camera...
...while others were all about the intensity.
After the second Cumberland stage, the race crossed the Strait of Georgia via ferry to Powell River on the Sunshine Coast.
The rain and clouds of the previous two days cleared and the ferry crossing was done under blue skies and calm seas.
The campground at Powell River is always a crowd favourite, being right on the beach and all.
The mechanics at the Obsession Bikes tent didn't let gorgeous views stop them from keeping racers' bikes in tip-top shape.
...And a beautiful sunset brought an end to day 3.
Day 4 Powell River
The perfect conditions continued throughout the day in Powell River and racers were treated to ribbons of undulating singltrack through mossy forests.
This guy wore a bunny suit for the entire race. If that isn't hardocre, I don't know what is.
Four days in and some folks were still hamming it up for the camera.
While there was less elevation gain and loss than on other days, there were still some descents to keep things fun.
...And that's it! It was a blast playing bikes with all these fine people.
Check out bcbikerace.com for more information! Maybe I'll see you on course next year!
Keywords: athletes, athletics, bc, british columbia, mountain bike, mountain biking, pacific northwest, recreation, vancouver island
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