Saturday, July 11, 2015

The Big BCBR Recap! Episode 1.

Thunderbolting on the Ferry (Day -2)
I wanted to blog throughout the race as I did last year but it just wasn't meant to be because I was too busy kicking ass and stuff ;) 

So! For your reviewing pleasure (and for posterity) I have been chipping away at a recap day by day, beginning with "Day -1" ... which was a doozy. Stay tuned and I'll keep posting daily updates all week. 

It was been two weeks almost to the day since the BC Bike Race adventure began, and the time since has all blurred into one long snoozy state between napping, eating, and thinking about singletrack past. Billed as “The best week on a bike,” I think if you ride bikes, you can just cut it down to “The best week.”

My week was made even better because I was joined by so many family members, including Gerhard, Mom, Dad, Gerhard’s Mom and Dad, and my brother-in-law, Reinholt.  My sister Kim, brother-in-law Bryan and favorite nieces Ella and Clara sent video messages of encouragement along the way as well, joining us virtually.  

Gerhard, Mom, Dad and I were the core crew, RV-ing our way along the course and getting along the entire time despite the cramped quarters and insane heat wave. We began in Vancouver …

Day -1 – Vancouver (Friday June 26)


Getting around North Van by boat, bus, and bike (Day -2)
Hate to start off on a bummer, but this day was a nightmare for me. But better to get this all out of the way before the actual race.  The day before, I moved over from the Island, got in an awesome ride with Bryan from Rocky Mountain to check out some of the North Van course and then enjoyed Bjorn and Amber’s hospitality as they graciously let me crash at their North Van hotel. That set me up perfectly for Day -1. It started out all right  … I had my bike, so I was using that to get around. Unfortunately, I also had a 50-pound pack to get around with it. 

I headed to Endless Biking in the morning to catch up with Kelli Sherbinin for an interview for my Bike Mag coverage, which was easy – Endless Biking was about 500m from the hotel. From there I had to get over to registration at the Harry Jerome Rec Centre (less than 5km), and from registration, connect with my parents at the RV park (another 5km that was actually more like 7km).

I had hoped to hear from them in the morning so I could ditch my pack in the RV when they rolled by, but thanks to Verizon being totally useless, I had no cell service the entire time I was outside the US. Unless I had wifi, I couldn’t text or call anyone. Verizon, this is therefore all your fault.

Like a moth to the flame: WiFi hotspot (Day -2)
By the time I heard from my parents, they were already comfortably parked and set up with the RV at the RV park. So I was on my own.

I figured, it’s not that far … I’ll just ride, get this done, then spend the rest of this hot afternoon resting getting ready for the race. I was anxious to get my feet up because truth be told, I had been a little too enthusiastic with my pre-riding on the island, but how could you NOT ride Cumberland when it’s right out your door?

I started the short roll to the rec center and quickly realized I had made a big mistake. My route included a hill that had to be at least a category 2. There was no way I was riding up it with this dang pack on. So I hoofed it. In the hot sun. Very quickly, sweat stains ceased to be a concern because my top was just 100% soaked.

Once at the top of this mountain, the going was much easier, and I thought, well, I will definitely figure out something else to get to the RV Park because that was insane.

The gathering throngs at registration! 
Registration was awesome, it was so cool to meet all the racers and see the bikes being unloaded and red racer bags on their way out the doors. I ended up in the mix with a fellow media person, Clayton, so we went through the process together.

Once we were done, it was back to figuring out logistics. Since Verizon sucks, I had been taking screen shots of apple maps to help me while I had no connection. So I had directions, after a fashion. Now I just needed transportation. Riding was not going to happen because now I had a 50-pound pack, a bike, AND my BCBR-issued red racer bag. (I did try riding, one-handed with the pack on, and towing my roller bag, but it just felt like the beginning of the worst BCBR non-starter story ever …). A volunteer called me a cab, but I quickly realized it was useless to call a cab. By now, registration was in full swing, with cabs and riders all over the place. I tried to get three or four cabs, but kept getting beat to the punch. It was 35°C out, and I was already up to an hour of this. So … I thought I’d walk. At least away from the rec center and try for a cab elsewhere along the way. However, unbeknownst to me, the only map I had showed me a route that went basically 100% through a residential area. After a solid hour and a half, someone drove by me yelling “yeah!! BCBR!” then they realized I was a long way from anything and stopped to see if they could help me. It was Pup! Another one I interviewed for Bike Mag – this was our first meeting. He thought I was heading back to the hotel and that he could maybe take my bags but I was headed elsewhere, and he didn’t have room for my bike. So that didn’t work out.
directions, wifi free
 
This all happened in the parking lot of a mini-grocer, so I told him it was fine, I would call a cab from here (the first public anything I’d come across). So he headed out. And I looked for a payphone. The store didn’t have one. And she didn’t speak English very well and wasn’t into me using their phone. But there was a boy in the front selling raspberries. He said if I bought some berries, he’d call me a cab. By this point, I’m half (okay, 100%) stupid with dehydration and heat stroke and had tunnel vision about this cab idea. 

So I spent my only Canadian cash on his dumb berries (which was good anyway because I hadn’t eaten yet and it was already well-past lunch time) and he called the cab. “It’s busy,” he said. “I’ll try again.” After a really valiant two tries, he gave up and basically just left me to fend for myself. “Where are you going? Oh that’s really close, you’re almost there,” he said dismissively. I was dubious, but out of options, I continued.

Another hour of this insanity and I finally reach an area of shops and busy streets. There are buses, but I didn’t know where they went, nor did I have any fare because I gave it to the useless berry seller. But I did find a Starbucks and a wifi connection and was saved. I texted my parents who called a cab to come and collect me. But they didn’t tell him there was a bike, so when he got there, he almost said he wouldn’t take me. But I bullied the bike into the back of his car, got in the front, and demanded he take me to the RV Park. Now. I was starving, hot, frustrated, and the best part was I was pretty sure I’d blown all the physio therapy I’d had on my knee since it was howling with pain, two days before the race. I could have thrown up.


The team caught me at the RV Park, put food in me, and I got into the pool. I swear steam sizzled off me when my overheated skin hit the water. I went to bed shortly after that because that was the stupidest day ever.

Great start! 


Waiting for my cab. At last.