It was probably the constant swing of the morning weather and the day with the longest mileage of the race that induced the most anxiety for riders on Day Three of the BC Bike Race, presented by Ryders Eyewear.
Sunshine and thunderstorms accompanied the thirty minute drive to the Saltery Bay Ferry Terminal where racers would be taking Harbor Air Float planes, BC Ferries, and Water Taxis to travel across the Bay. If the clouds hung heavy then the floatplanes would be grounded and the water taxis, along with the small ferry, would be forced to make extra trips to shuttle everyone across the water to the Earls Cove Ferry Terminal start line.
Fortune was with the BCBR riders who were spared a cold wet wait on both sides of the water. The various modes of transportation insured the travelers all have the opportunity to see the spectacular views of the coves of the Jervis Inlet which are always a highlight of the day's travel options.
A warm wet rain did accompany the riders out of Earls Cove for the first ten minutes along their journey which started with a long climb on the Suncoaster Trail. The sun quickly emerged to accompany them the rest of their way to their ultimate destination: the new basecamp at Kinnikinnick Park in the traditional stopover town of Sechelt. Long climbs were accented by punchy pitches that forced some to walk while others grunted it out. The pot of gold at the top was a steady trail descent to the finish that rewarded anyone who had enough leg juice left to whip the loamy corners into frothy peaks of fun.
The race times ranged from 3-7 hours with the average time just over 5 hours. No matter where you ended your day the course asked for all you had to give. Quinn Moberg ( Rocky Mountain ) won the stage in 2:59 and survived attacks from his competitors and he bluntly labeled the day as, “damn hard.” In contrast, the 7:16 finishing time of Arnold Dagdgan of the Philippines, was no less of an effort that required an aid station at the right spot and a strong will to not quit.
“I was this close to not continuing, but after I passed the second station going to the climb I decided to continue, and I enjoyed all the downhills after that. It was a big reward. I never seen a downhill as long as that.” ~Dagdgan
Today marked the return of Quinn Moberg ( Rocky Mountain ) to the BC Bike Race podium since 2015. The Squamish native fought hard through attacks from the European contingency and the other local Cory Wallace ( Kona Bikes ) to take the top spot on the stand.
“It started pretty full gas on the first climb. Some of the Europeans were just drilling it. Going basically as hard as I could. In the Singletrack the North Americans got away and we just drilled it. Basically riding as hard as I could.” ~Moberg
An unfortunate slow rear-wheel leak for Wallace negated the strong efforts he made on the Frogger climb and sent him to a sixth place finish on the day. In the process he lost his Leaders Jersey to Stephen Ettinger (Rider Bike Alliance/ Focus Bikes) who took second in the sprint finish to Moberg. Last year’s second place finisher Spencer Paxson ( Kona Bikes ) crossed the line in third.
Riding strong to a 4th and 5th position were the previously mentioned Euro’s who were driving the early pace up the power line climbs. Manuel Weissenbacher and Andreas Hartmann ( Craft Rocky Mountain ) found their trail moves as they settled into a chase together through the woods.
Kelli Emmett ( Juliana / SRAM / Lululemon ) ran part of the course on her way to another first place after she forgot to include a quick-link in her daily survival kit. It was an unusual oversight from a veteran rider. “I always have one and it was one of those days when you just make a dumb mistake.” As a result this enduro specialist had to run, scoot, or coast down the last 7km descent.
Sammi Runnels ( Rider Bike Alliance ) worked her way to another second place finish while Kaysee Armstrong ( LIV Giant ) took full advantage of the physical nature of the final descent to claw back a few of the seven minutes she had given up earlier in the day.
“I felt really good today on the gravel. I just stayed really steady. Then whenever we got to the singletrack I tried to make up some time. I felt really smooth, it was fun.” ~Armstrong
The BCBR Destination: Norwegian Invasion
Every year different groups of riders meet in British Columbia brought together by a common BC Bike Race goal. This year a group of 13 Norwegians, with a supporting team of two, can be found sprinkled through the finishing results - many of them riding into the top third of the results. You will recognize them by their Blue and Orange jerseys with “Team Norway” and “GULF” emblazoned on them in a tasteful Scandinavian aesthetic.
They were brought together by the one guy in their group who always manages to motivate and organize the group trips. Stein Larsen explains it as a group of people who always train together and live in proximity to each other. This came up a little more than a year ago and it’s amazing we all made it.
“So far it’s been a nice thing. This morning an old guy in a truck just pulled up and said, ‘Thanks for coming out.’” You get the impression that the Canadian generosity and trails are leaving a strong impression on these Scandinavians...
Their comfort on the trails of the BC Bike Race are impart due to the raw nature of the trails they ride back home. Norway’s private property laws permit anyone to cross almost any property, so the network of trails is vast and always available. Their culture’s philosophy on property rights are summed up in the Freedom to Roam, also known as Everyman’s Right mantra. It’s based on the idea that the general public has a right to access certain public and private lands for recreation and exercise.
It’s a stark contrast to the property laws of many parts of the world, but it is fitting for the trails and communities of the BC Bike Race. The belief that land should be utilized for enjoyment and shared by all is one particular belief that many mountain bikers can stand behind.
From a group of three Floridians to 26 riders from Mexico and too many Peruvians to count. There are many groups large and small at the BC Bike Race who have decided to tackle the week together.