|Race Ready with my Rocky Mountain Thunderbolt 770 MSL and brand new AMAZING custom kit from Eliel Cycling|
Day 1 – Cumberland
Course info found HERE.
This stage was important for the race because it would decide your start wave for the week. It was important for me because I love riding in Cumberland, and knew I had my best chances for good racing since I was most familiar with this course. I used the ride from Courtenay to Cumberland as a warm up and a moment to get centered. Even with the Day -1 debacle, my knee seemed to be okay, bike was perfect, and I was raring to go. It was awesome to take a minute on the way to the start line to do some big deep breaths, and reflect gratefully on all the people, miles, and work it took to get to this place. Honestly, just making it to the start of the race feels like an achievement to me. There is so much that goes into an event like BCBR, and then on top of that you also need to hope for a little good luck.
|Learn more about the Cultural Undertones of the BC Bike Race in Cumberland here|
Racers were rolling up Dunsmuir already getting into the start gates so I joined them, quickly finding Bjorn (the athlete I coached to get him ready for this event) and his partner Eric in the 3.5hrs wave. I had to work really hard not to get swept up in the pre-race festivities because I knew if I started chatting and commenting on all the interesting things happening, I'd lose some focus and I was determined to be 100% "on" this time (lest I wipe out chit chatting on a trail as per last year). And there were festivities! A beautiful "owl" and "raven" danced in the store windows (we later saw them on course as well) and the Comox valley poet laureate, Kevin Flesher delivered an amazing poem, "I am a Mountain Biker," that had us all grinning.
Later, when I was speaking with course designer Jeremy Grasby about the stage, he told me that Flesher came to a few Cumberland events to help immerse himself in our MTB culture before he wrote this masterpiece. He nailed it, so obviously he is a worthy man for the title of Poet Laureate. Check it out (kudos to Step Carruthers for uploading this awesome memory!):
During his performance, I was nervous but not nervous. Excited maybe is the better word. I felt like even though there was the surprise heat, I had a good race in me and was eager to get through the weird energy at the beginning of the BCBR, when everyone is gnawing on fears of the unknown, and move into the "in progress" stage of the ultimate singletrack experience.
On "go," I had some ground to make up to get to the front of the wave and hopefully cut down on the dust inhalation. I skirted the pack up the side, and got into the fireroad near the front. Gave it some gas before settling in to the first big climb of the day … about 45 minutes to the top, with plenty of it exposed under the hot sun.
|The start of the start of the ultimate singletrack experience.|
I remember last year the first singletrack was tough as it was technical, uphill, and wet from the morning dew. This year, there was no morning dew. It was bone dry, I had a different bike much better equipped to handle the technical roots and drops and I was rolling really well. Nothing to do but pedal.
I made great time on the climb, and lost none in the singletrack. Thank goodness for the women of the Wednesday night ride for showing me some of the opening sections, including Blockhead, Bucket of Blood, and Bear Buns. I was able to coach a rider through some of the sections to prevent any impediment to my own progress, and nailed a few lines I was too shy to hit the week previous, including a gnarly drop, the likes of which are not normally in my bag of tricks. Before I knew it, we were beginning the second loop. It was tough to go through camp … and lots of people opted not to finish the stage, that’s how hot it was.
Next up was the Trent Main ascending to Thirsty Beaver. I got some serious work done passing another three women in my category suffering on the climb. This is where living in SoCal I think gave me an edge. I was working, but I never crossed the line into "suffering" until the final few meters. I could just "set and forget" at lactic threshold and diesel my way up like I was back on my old dump climb at La Costa. I LOVE Thirsty Beaver, had practiced it, and nailed all the cleanest lines. Powered to the day’s feature trail, Blue Collar, and shredded the hell out of that too. It's always awesome when a rider gets on your wheel, you ask if they want by, and they say "no way, you're ripping" -- so I was stoked.
Crossed the line super happy with my ride, confidence, and focus, and was even happier to find out it was good enough for5th place. I juggled my delicious daily dose of GU Recovery Brew (in hard-to-find chocolate, thanks to Yuri!!), Coke, and as many potato chips as I could cram in my face.
Day 1: Cumberland presented by BC Ferries from BC Bike Race on Vimeo.
The team was with me, and after grabbing a quick shower at the race -- which was 100%, all-the-way-over cold -- we were off to Courtenay and then the ferry, ready for Powell River. I did some more interviews on the boat and then we got to walk off and enjoy the amazing hospitality of the town as they welcomed us with drums, pipes, and crowds. We felt like rock stars.
|Welcome to the Powell Riviera! A warm welcome from the community.|
|The first time I've ever been piped in anywhere! So awesome.|