Monday, July 6, 2009

BC Bike Race: A week of racing fun, June 28-July 4, 2009

Home safe and sound, I can finally post some pictures and recap some of the highlights of the week. BC Bike Race was fun last year, but this year it was even better. More singletrack for sure! The race itself is a logistical miracle. Ferries back and forth, bikes in trailers and off trailers, tents, gear, etc. Being supported makes the race so much easier, but what a week! Definitely a great vacation for Tim and a good week of 'work' for me. Here is my story:

Day 0: July 27, Pre-race madness. North Vancouver. The team all arrived safely. The van and trailer driving from SLC, Tim and I from Portland, and others flying in. A miracle in itself. We spent Saturday taking a quick ride and then off to registration in downtown Vancouver. I think finding parking near the hotel was our greatest challenge. It is a bustling metropolis!
Tim & I high above Vancouver, B.C.

Day 1: June 28, North Shore, North Vancouver. For all of you who ride, you probably know that the "north shore" is synonymous with hucking and free ride. Well, they sent about 400+ riders on XC bikes on some of the 'green' trails. This is where parents take their 10 year olds to learn to ride. Now I know why Canadians rip on the dh. Man, that was frightening, but fun. I rode way more than I had expected, but the cost of failure on some sections did force me to walk. But I was not alone. It was a rush and a lot of fun. Bryan and I finished out of the top 3, but only by 37 seconds. I knew that not breaking anything was going to be more important than that amount of time.

My race partner, Bryan Alders

Day 2: June 29, Nanaimo to Parksville. We woke up in N. Vancouver and took a ferry to Nanaimo, home of friends Wendy Simms and Norm Thibault. Norm actually helped design the course, so I knew it would be good. Unfortunately my bike came off the semi with a low tire, that didn't want to hold air. After our neutral loop through Nanaimo, about a mile into the race, Bryan & I were forced off the bike to put a tube in. A not so fast flat change forced us to the back of the pack on the singletrack. It was painful. We were walking very rideable trail b/c the masses were not moving. Bryan would dismount and sprint like a rocket through the brush, forcing me to try to follow. It was a slow start. We finally got clear trail and tried to start cutting our losses. We had a great day of riding, but the time lost was massive. We were still in 4th overall, losing 38 minutes to 2nd that day, but only losing 15 to 3rd. We could still climb back to the podium. We remained positive and focused, because we had so much fun riding that day! And anything can happen!

Horseshoe Bay Ferry terminal. Team love.

The ocean wasn't cold enough. Post race ritual at Monavie-Cannondale's camp.

Beautiful campsite. But loud. I didn't sleep.

Day 3: June 30, Cumberland. After waking up on the beach, we all transported ourselves to Cumberland for a fantastic day of riding. Although it all kind of blends together, Bryan and I had a good day, finishing 3rd in the stage, making up a few minutes on 3rd and just off of 2nd. Of course, Ryan and Georgia were untouchable.

Day 4: July 1, Sechelt. This was the ultimate travel day. With a 4:30 a.m. wake up call, we were all transported (sans support) to the ferry, where we took 2 ferry's and 2 busses before arriving to the start line. When we arrived to Earl's Cove, my bike was nowhere to be found. Yes, I got concerned. I don't know what it is about MY bike and semi transportation, but it came off with yet another flight. The mechanic support attempted to fix it, but unfortunately blew up my rim and a tube and new tire would have to do. It was a little wobbly, but nothing I couldn't live with. After 6.5 hours since waking up, we were starting our race. The gun went off at 11 and Bryan and I had a great day of riding, finishing the stage in 2nd. Finally we were where we wanted to be. We had climbed into the GC top 3. Patience had paid off and we were riding strong and having fun.
Happy Canada Day, eh?

Day 5: July 2, Sechelt-Gibsons. As the days run together, the most memorable part of this day (which I had remembered from last year) was the final descent into the ferry terminal. Such fun riding and a good day in the saddle. We were treated to more great riding in the area and Bryan and I again had a 2nd place stage finish. Now only if I could go down hill faster, we could make up some real time. After we arrived in the ferry terminal, we showered up for the ferry over to the mainland again and got a bus to Squamish. But burgers were on the menu for the ferry ride. Lunch. What a concept. And then to the river for a soak of the legs. Glacial run off is not very warm.

Day 6: July 3, Squamish. This was a hard stage last year, with a long road climb that I remembered hating. But I was pleasantly surprised to find out that it was no longer part of our course. We battled it out with Mical and Jeff, putting time into them on the uphills, having them catch us on the downhills. A lot of fun, technical descents. I think I surprised Bryan, because I really love this kind of riding. We held them off for a second place stage finish again. Fun riding and a lot of smiles, followed by another trip to the river and a really hot afternoon in a beautiful setting. After dinner and awards, we headed up to Whistler for a night of sleeping in a bed. What a treat!

Squamish was beautiful.

Day 7: July 4, Whistler. Was the end already here??? I couldn't believe it was the final day. We woke up and sought out some coffee and breakfast, then rode over to Creekside for the final days start. I knew it wasn't going to be easy. Last year ay 7 was my hardest day. Rumor was it had been shortened, but they didn't take off the initial climb up the ski slope. A little hike a bike won't kill you, will it??? Lose rocky descents that were way too fast for my liking. Too much brake put us behind Mical and Jeff for the day, but we knew we couldn't make up the difference on such a short stage, so we rode, smiled and finished strong, taking 3rd in the stage and 3rd overall.

At least this bridge had sides. There were many that didn't.

Tim won the last stage!

Our 3rd place overall podium.

Although bad luck made it impossible to race for 2nd, we never gave up. Georgia and Ryan schooled us all, putting 10-15 minutes on us each day. It was a great week of riding with great people. I had the pleasure of riding with former world champion, Alison Sydor, having her patiently follow me down a descent, giving encouraging advice through some really technical riding before she could safely pass. I had the pleasure of following Catherine Pendrel's wheel one day for about a while as they made up time from a wrong turn. That doesn't happen in a XC race. Bryan was a great partner, patient and encouraging, dragging me around for 7 days even though he could have gone faster alone. The encouragement and camaraderie of a race like this is what makes this sport so great and makes me keep coming back for more.


Sarah K said...

Congrats Sue! That was a fun read - thanks :)

Krista Park said...

Good post, nice pictures. Looks like you guys really had a good time.