BCBR Wrapup

I wouldn’t have changed anything about how my race went. I felt good throughout the race. I felt like I managed myself well. I hydrated well through the race, managed my nutrition well, recovered well and consumed enough calories to get through each day. My bike held up well, only needing to get a minor service once, and that was just to get the shifting tweaked.

I really wanted to do the whole BCBR experience and I truly feel like I did. I did massage, I saw the penguins, took part in the bacon station, experienced tent city, hanging with Johnny Rock, got a waterfront tent in Powell River, and I even visited medical to get some hotspots on my toes taken care of. I really don’t have any regrets about the race. I even managed a few things I hadn’t expected (selfie with Tippie, being fed watermelon by Tippie at an aid station, no mechanicals or crashes).

Even today, two weeks after finishing I am still in awe that I did it. After many years of following the race, reading race reports, hearing people’s stories, and dreaming about it, I finally have my belt buckle. In fact, about a week before the race started I dreamt about crossing the finish line and receiving my belt buckle.

All the gear I took with me worked well. I had a battery pack with an integrated solar panel. This charge my phone and watch throughout the week which meant I didn’t need to use the on site charging stating, which was a bit of a gong show. As I said above, my nutrition on cause worked well. I did a consult with Infinit a while ago (August 2016) and Darcy helped me tweak my formula based on that. What I drank while racing provided me with ample calories, nutrients, and electrolytes that were easily absorbed, but even better I had plenty of sustained energy. I love using Infinit for my long rides. As soon as each day was complete I would drink a bottle of Infinit Recovery which helped me recover from the day and got me through to the next meal.

My bike, although bigger and heavier than most on the course, was comfortable to me, and was a lot of fun on the descents. I really appreciated the extra travel in North Vancouver, Squamish, and Whistler. It did make for more difficult climbing, but I wasn’t doing the race to win, but to experience it.

The weather worked out perfectly. It was a little hot some days, but I’ll take that over cold and rainy. There were many conversations about the weather, and everyone agreed that it would be a much different race in the rain. Not only race, but tent city would be fairly awful in the rain. I really cannot imagine being soaking wet for a whole week, riding in the rain for 4+ hours a day.

I really did luck out with my support. Sue was amazing throughout, and it allowed me a few luxuries like real showers in Powell River and Sechelt. Sue did laundry for me which allowed me to pack a little less gear, or at least avoid having to wash gear myself. Having Sue and the kids at the finish line was great too. The whole family was impacted by my training, and for the kids to see/experience the finish and show them what hard work can allow anyone to accomplish was priceless.

I’ve been asked if I would do the race again. I certainly would. It will be a different experience next time, but I would likely train a little harder, and push myself a little more in the race to try and place better. Either that, or I would do it as a team. There were a lot of parent/child teams that I met. If one of the kids were interested in 10 years time, I would definitely do it again. The other option is if a friend wanted to do the race, I would do it again with pretty much anyone!

What a race though

  • 7 days
  • 625 racers
  • 300 km
  • 9100 m vertical
  • 15,000 racing calories burned (who knows how many consumed)
  • Most of a bag of Infinit Custom Blend
  • 1/2 a bag of Infinit Recovery
  • 1 unforgettable experience

BCBR Food

I signed up for the meal plan, which seemed expensive at the time, but in retrospect was an amazingly good value. I also chose seating plan B, which was absolute gold in my mind. The A plan ate first which meant right after they got out of bed, and C plan at last meaning right before riding for the day. With the B seating, it meant I got to wake up, start getting ready for the day, eat breakfast, then finish getting ready. At the end of the day, it did mean I had to wait a bit for dinner, but I was always able to fill my time.

The food of the BCBR was pretty darn good. I don’t Instagram my food very often, but I did take a few pics of the food I ate during the race. I did find the drink options lacking. There was nothing to drink with breakfast nor dinner other than water, coffee, or tea. Some places we could puchase beer, but that wasn’t always available. I ended up getting Sue to buy me some drink boxes so I could get some apple juice with breakfast.

There were also a couple mornings where there was no meat protein. Minor quibble given there was other options for protein, but it still would have been nice. I will also bring my own cutlery next time since there were quite a few days where we used plastic cutlery.

Most meals I would take a big plate, then go back for seconds. Dinner I always grabbed dessert, though sometimes I had to get it to go and eat it back in the tent after things had settled a bit. 🙂 Knowing the days rides, eating as many calories as possible was the name of the game. My goal was to replenish the loss at the end of the day, and stock up at the beginning of the day.

On course the aid stations were packed with all sorts of amazing things to eat. Fresh fruit (including the best watermelon I have ever had), pretzels, chips, M&Ms, Clif Bars, Clif Shots, energy drink, water, sandwiches, Red Bull, and more. The finish line food was very similarly stocked, but there were more sweets like gummy bears, baked goods,

 

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Cumberland Day 0 Dinner – Ham, salads, cauliflower mac n cheese
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Cumberland Day 1 breakfast
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Day 1 dinner – Chicken, rice, roasted veggies, and samosa pie
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Day 1 – post dinner (and post dessert) snack
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Day 2 breakfast – fresh fruit, eggs with cheese, spinach and potatoe, porridge, and granola with yoghurt
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Day 2 dinner – roast pork with apple sauce, pasta, fresh salads
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Day 3 breakfast – same eggs, porridge, and granola, but with a side of sausage
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Day 4 snack on the ferry – bacon cheeseburger and ice cream
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Day 4 dinner – pulled pork, beef brisket, coleslaw, baked potato, and some salads
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Day 5 breakfast – french toast, eggs, granola with yoghurt and fresh fruit
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Day 5 post ride snack – big messy tasty burger (and a slurpee not pictured)
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Day 5 dinner – lasagna, potato salad, garlic bread, quinoa salad, and a casear salad

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Day 6 post ride snack – red onion, pancetta, peporoni, topped with balsamic reduction
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Day 6 dinner – pork roast, poached salmon, rice, salads, corn on the cobb.

BCBR Day 7 Whistler

Waking up early in Squamish we quickly got our things together, ate breakfast, boarded some coach busses and said goodbye to tent city. Day 7 was upon us and it was going to be a day full of lasts, but one big first.

 

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In Whistler we had some time to get sorted. Use washrooms, find bikes, be attended to by medical, make last minute tweaks, then it was time to start lining up. Lining up for day 7. The race had flown by.

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The first few waves started and as we got closer to the start my nerves melted away to a deep sense of satisfaction and pride. Then we were off. Some small course changes were made the night before so our final day was supposed to be 28km and 1400m vertical.

The road section was intended to spread us out and help us warm up. Unfortunately it want long enough and in the first single track there was quite a clog of riders that left is standing for a couple minutes.

Onward we went and very suddenly we were in the first aid station. I sailed through that again and kept riding.

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We hit some steep downhill loose sections that had many riders walking. Myself and a couple others rode through picking up a couple spots. Not sure what I did but on one steep line I filled my left shoe with dirt.

At one point we got back on the road to gain some elevation. This was a paved road too, open to traffic, with many large dumptrucks going back and forth. I made a quick stop to empty my shoe then set out for the climb. Quit a grunt up that road.

Dropping into trail again was a nice relief. Again it got steep and I was behind some less technical riders. Thankfully many people were great about moving out of the way for riders who had the ability. There were two riders running down the trail that had no option but to keep running in front of me since there was no easy way for them to get off the trail. No big deal since they were faster on the uphill.

Throughout the day there some great trail features that were fun to ride. A couple big rock faces, steep chutes, ladder bridges and more. With about 5km to go I came across a rider with a flat. For the first time after offering help someone took me up on it. He had a flat and someone else had given him a tube but his CO2 canister hadn’t inflated it properly. Inpsecting his tube, I ntoed that someone had given him a road bike tube. Odd that someone would even have that with them. I grabbed a fresh tube from my pack and we set out changing the tube and pumping up the tire.

I got rolling while he finished up putting his wheel back on. The final few kilometres are a bit of a blur. The final descent was still pretty technical. Not steep but full of sharp rocks. Suddenly we dropped out of the trail, crossed some train tracks and a bridge. There it was, the finish arch. One final high five to Bob, a victory arm pump and there were the finish line attendants handing out the buckles. Sue and the kids quickly found me and I shed a few tears of joy.

 

 

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I’ve been thinking about this race from the very first one. The last few years I’ve read all the online coverage I could find and dreamed about doing it and getting that belt buckle. There I was with a finishers buckle hanging from my neck. Incredible.

The entire race was a lot of fun, and this was in large part to my support crew. Sue did an amazing job cheering on the racers and me in particular. Never knowing when I would see her on course lead to many surprises discovering her cheering.

 

The final few days of the race the whole family was involved. The kids were also amazing in their cheering. Not only that, but their support over the last year has been unwavering and that has been a tremendous burden off my shoulders.

 

What a week! I cannot wait to get a belt to put my buckle on.

 

BCBR Day 6 Squamish

This was the day I had been training for. Big elevation and lots of techy descending trails. I knew it was going to be an epic and long day. Before the start of the ride I ran into one of the guys from the bike shop who was there doing the Shimano guest ride day.

As has become normal, we lined up in the start chute and got mentally prepped for our day. Just before the first wave was about to head out, I looked down and realized I had forgotten the top tube sticker showing the elevation. A quick sprint to the tent to retrieve that and I was all set.

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Heading out from the start line we rode through some neighbourhoods and quickly the roads turned skyward. Once we hit dirt the roads still went up.

 

Topping out felt pretty good, and the trail that greeted up was a taste of thinkgs to come. I don’t know the name of the trail, but it was swoopy, bermy, loose, dusty, and immense fun.

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Back on a logging road descent I was screaming around a corner and over a bridge when I saw this gorgeous stream. So pretty that I stopped, and turned back to get a picture.

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Entering a technical section I found my flow. There was talk of the upcoming rock faces, and in one briefing I heard they all had ridearounds. All too suddenly the trail forked and I went right, not realizing that left was the first rock face, and I had missed it. I could see up ahead there was a traffic jam and people were stopped. Behind me there was a pretty large gap, so I hiked my bike back up and rode the rock face! Every opportunity that I could take to hit a rock face I did. They were all reasonable and a lot of fun.

More stunning vistas were seen.

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Then I could smell it! Bacon. Somewhere out there was the bacon station and we were close. A little boost to the energy level so I pedalled a little harder. On a small trail I jumped off a root, and when I landed, there it was. Beautiful bacon in the middle of nowhere. Awesome.

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More climbing was in store, then we entered Half Nelson. For me, this is the highlight trail of the race so far. Huge berms, easy lofty jumps and lots of hooting and hollering. I was in a train of three other riders and we were all pretty well matched for speed. At the bottom we were all grins and high fives. The quote of the race from someone else was ‘Even my nuts have goosebumps’. All of us were tempted to go back up and try it again.

Then it was up again. Climb, climb, climb up logging road. When we got to Tsuedo Tsuaga and I reached down to put my shock in descend mode. Much to my shock I had forgotten to change it to trail after Half Nelson. Oops. No wonder that climb seemed extra hard. Tseudo Tsuaga was pretty fun as well with lots more berms and high speed. This time I was behind someone slower than I wanted, and I did get a chance to pass them. It was all good though, I was concerned about going too fast and wiping out in my tired state.

Another climb was needed to get up to Hoods in the Woods and it was a long grunt of a hill. I started to recognize parts of it that I had ridden during the guys trip to Whistler earlier in the year. Once in Hoods I passed a few people on the descent. At one corner we I could see someone taking pictures and assumed they were part of the media crew. Turned out they were just racers pulled off watching and taking pics at a trickey corner. Again I was having a good time on this trail and was flowing along pretty nicely. Other racers were kind enough to move to the side and let faster riders go.

After Hoods it was a descent on the fire road. I was hugging the left side too much when I caught a hidden sawn off branch in the shin. Nearly bit it, but managed to stay upright.

Next up was Crumpet woods where I was suffering quite a bit. It was 10km back to the finish but it felt like a lot more. Loads of uphill still then some flat root infested sections. Myself and another racer were the only people for what seemed like an eternity. I knew we were still on the right trail, but I had no idea where we were. Then I could hear some cheering and knew we must be getting close to the finish line.

Exiting the woods Sue and the kids were there cheering me on and telling me it was only 3km back. It was pretty flat too. Bouyed by nearly being done I tried to kick it up a bit, but it sure seemed to take forever to get back. Crossing that finish line was a great feeling though. Day 6 done and only one left to go.

Today was a day to celebrate. I got my bike washed, quickly ate some food, then hit the beer garden for a beverage or two. The beer was mighty tasty!

 

It wasn’t just me celebrating either. Shimano had a big giveaway, and there was some entertainment. Johnny Rock was on hand to play some tunes, and he was a hoot! I loved it when he ran into the beer garden for selfies with random people.

 

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One more day to go.

BCBR Day 5 North Vancouver

This was a much different day today. Even though there was a later wake up call, but I still woke up at 5:30. Even with a later breakfast time, I was still ready for it at 7. I was race ready by 9, but it didn’t start until 9:30. 

Ever wonder why they give everyone a bag? Well, it makes for much easier packing of the trucks.

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In all it was a chill morning which was a very different vibe than normal. In the start chute there was a mix of anticipation and nervousness. I was looking forward to this day for quite a while. Soon enough my group was in the start chute. After a minute it was our turn to go. 

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This was this short stage but the first few climbs were still hard. My legs needed to wake up and as soon as we climbed enough to get to the Seymour Parkway they were feeling great. We climbed up the road a ways before it was party time.

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That’s not the party I mean though. The Red Bull car was pumping some tunes at the side of the road giving the racers some motivation. The party I meant was the downhill section. The bike patrol was warning everyone coming up the parkway to get their bike in ‘party mode’. 🙂 The first descent was a lot of fun and I think a wake up call for some people. Some steep sections, some steeper rick faces, tricky bits, bot nothing too dangerous.

I enjoyed it immensely and didn’t want it to end. Unfortunately it did them we headed up again. I didn’t stop at the aid station except I did grab a watermelon slice on the way through. Up ahead there was a big cheer section that were giving it out little samples of beer! Don’t mind if I do. Back into single track and up we went. The climbing trail was awesome. Lots of the guy switchbacks, but with an easy grade. Some people had troubles with the corners, but somehow I kept spinning up them. 

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The final descent was another technical one and thankfully there were no traffic jams. I monster trucked over a lot of stuff and passed quite a few people. People either heard me coming or pulled over when I announced I was coming up. It really was a lot of fun. 

Suddenly we popped out on the road for a final short sprint to the finish. Day 5 was now done and it was time to clean up and get ready to move on to Squamish. 

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Sue and the kids caught up to me at the finish line. The kids went to the Rocky Mountain lemonade stand and got some bike shaped gummy treats.

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After a quick visit I got my bike stowed for transport to Squamish, had a quick shower, another snack, a Slurpee delivered by Sue, then got in line for a bus ride to Squamish, our base camp for the night.

Stunning mountains all around! What a gorgeous place to camp.

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BCBR Day 4 Sechelt to Langdale

This was a good day. Starting in Sechelt I managed to get a decent amount of of breakfast into me then it was all about getting ready for battle. I got my bike ready, my gear ready, my bags stowed, then I made the wise decision to visit medical to get some second skin put on a hot spot on my toe.

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Soon enough we were off. We started off with a long road descent before the first logging road. Then it was up and up for a while. We saw the sights of Sechelt (waste treatment plant and garbage dump) on our way to the first single track.

Not that you can tell from this picture, but I am pretty sure Curtis Robinson from the Coast Gravity Park passed us on our way up one of the roads.

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Then we entered the first trail. Glorious single track. So much fun. Sweeping back and forth through the trees, on a slight downhill grade. I think everyone had a huge grin on their face.

Exiting the trail, we hit another road, but this one was very manageable. Then more single track and more road. It is all a bit of a blur but the mixture was so perfect. I bypassed aid station 1 again but stopped at the second for some fruit and a top up of water. Then the final climb of the day before a massive descent to the ferry terminal.

The descent was amazing. So much flow and a couple small stunts along the way. I was starting to peter out so I slowed down a bit then my back started giving me grief again.

Suddenly we hit the pavement and it was a short dash to the finish line in the Langdale ferry terminal. Day 4 in the bag!

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Another quick turnaround here. Get the bike cleaned and in the truck, get some food, get cleaned up as best we can, then wait for the ferry. The group was going to be split in half and I heard that the first group was getting in line for loading. I followed some people and managed to get in on that.

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On the ferries the race pretty much takes over everything. The bathrooms, the food, the seats, and even the power outlets. I grabbed a seat and chatted with another racer for quite a while. When he decided to get some fresh air, I was suddenly hit with hunger. Dinner was a few hours away still, so I did what any seasoned ferry traveller would do: grab a burger and ice cream!

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After the ferry we were bussed to North Van. There I grabbed a tent, got my bags in it, had a quick shower, then headed for dinner. And what a dinner! I’m going to do a post on the food, but I could smell the pulled pork from the door. Not just pulled pork though, beef brisket, coleslow, baked potatoes and more.

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After dinner it was time to raise the legs and relax a while.

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I’m doing this race but it still feels unreal and surreal. I’m constantly surrounded by hundreds of like minded cyclists yet as I look around bas camp tonight I can’t believe that this year of hard work has resulted in this experience. It really is blowing my mind.

BCBR Day 3 – Earls Cove to Sechelt

This day did not start off well. When I got up my legs didn’t feel that good. Then as I was getting breakfast into me, I suddenly didn’t feel too hot. I felt like breakfast was a ball of goo in my stomach and that I might puke at any moment. I sat back and started to worry about the day, fully concerned I was not getting enough calories into me, or that I might be ill on the trail. Carefully I managed to get most of a plate into me then decided to call it quits before I did puke. 

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I then jumped on a bus and headed for the ferry. The ferry crossing was fine and all too soon we were docking and getting ready to race. 

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This was billed as a long tough day and it certainly lived up to it. Lots of logging roads, lots of climbing, and lots of suffering. As we got going my legs started to come around. The tiredness went away, the power was still there, my mind felt at ease, and I quickly forgot about breakfast.

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Once again I bypassed the first aid station. And a few kilometres after I kind of regretted it. I was concerned I was drinking too much water and my electrolytes. I tri d ca meet victoria my the electrolytes after calculating that I would have enough water to last me to air station. 

Did I mention the climbs? Make sure you zoom in on the below picture.

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The nice thing about climbs is that you can be rewarded with some stunning views.

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Then we hit the unofficial aid station. What a treat. Lots of fresh fruit and ice water which was by far my favorite thing. The real aid station was 4 km away and all up hill. After some snacks I set off and soon found, Sue cheering in the trees. That was a real boost. 

Hitting the seconf aid station I took on some more fresh fruit, topped up with some water in my Camelbak, grabbed a couple gels, took a picture with Tippie, then got going again. 

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The rest of the day was a bit of a blur. More climbing, heat, suffering, walking, riding. Finally we started the descent and headed to the park.

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Then I came across Sue again cheering alongside her brother. Another boost for the final few kms of road. Crossing the line felt amazing. Finishing a long day that was billed as the toughest of the week, and I feel the least enjoyable.
After a quick break I got onto the task of my bike, getting a tent, getting some food, and getting myself clean. Sue’s brother lives a short drive away from where we were camped so I was able to go to his place for a lovely shower, and a vist over beer and chips. Great cap to the day.

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BCBR Day 2 Powell River

Waking up in Powel River to an ocean front view was a very nice way to wake up.

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The temp dropped which was a real blessing. Add in the better shade and this stage was a lot cooler than Cumberland. 

The trails were spectacular but much easier. I remembered many of the trails having ridden them backwards before and this was actually a big help. I knew when some of the climbs were happening and where some of the tricky bits were. 

A few times I latched on to a wheel that was just a tad slower than I normally would have ridden, but stuck there keeping myself in check to not burn out. 

Aloha trail was a hoot. Lots of people dressed up in Hawaiian gear, and a tiki bar serving drinks (shots of pineapple juice). Having seen pictures of this in previous years it was pretty surreal to be part of it this year. 

Sue made her way around the course with the help of her dad and step mom so I got so see her a few times. Definitely a boost to have that extra personal cheer. 

Nearing 51 Dodge I knew we were getting close to the last climb. I made my way up and near the crest we could hear some cheering. Another great cheering section complete with costumes and some shots of coke. 

Then the start of the descent. I passed a bunch of people on the doubletrack and nearly wiped out on one rather loose section. Once in the road I figured we had it made, but there were a couple more hills hidden. On one I was standing and could feel that familiar quad burn. 

A few more small trails and we ended up back on Willingdon trail and crossing the finish line. Another great, and dusty day in the saddle.

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Powell River has such great community support, from disembarking the ferry, to the trail maintenance, to the cheering squads, to the other umpteen volunteers helping out, to a most amazing camping location. Lots of fun, and I can’t wait to get back and ride some more. 🙂

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BCBR Day 1 Cumberland

Done and dusted and a ton of fun. I seeded myself back a ways since I am here to have fun. I ended up at the beginning of a wave of riders which was kind of fun. I’m the start chute I was pretty nervous, but as I neared the actual start line those all went away. Sue and Amy were there to see the start and it was a boost to have someone there cheering just for me.

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Very quickly my wave was off. Hitting dirt for the first time I was immediately conscious of my skyrocketing heart rate. I hit 160 pretty quickly even though I didn’t feel like I was putting out a lot of effort. I chalked it up to the heat and kept an eye on it.

The first climb was a long one and I settled into a comfortable pace and kept at it. I passed a lot of people which I found a little odd. Hitting the single track there was a huge road block. Standing for a couple minutes wasn’t any fun.

Once we got moving it was slow going for a while. I got around a few people and was able to pick up the pace a bit, until the next roadblock.

Once we got going though it was a lot of fun. My bike does excel on the downhill bits and it was fun to open it up and rip down some of the trails.

I was trailing one guy and as we rounded a corner I saw a log ride so I went for it. Halfway down the other guy wiped out and he ended up catching himself on the log. I surprised him as I passed him up on the log.

I bypassed aid station 1, but stopped at the second. I had some of the most amazing watermelon and topped up with water.

The next grind was brutal. Full sun and no breeze at all. Getting back into the single track was awesome and the descent back to the finish line was great. At one point the trail opened up into this amazing meadow. Purple flowers all around, a small singletrack through the middle, and full mountain view in the background.

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Nearing the end I saw Sue and Amy so I made a quick pit stop for some family time. It was a nice boost to see them.

Crossing the line I was pretty pumped on how the day went. I stuck to my hydration and nutrition plan, didn’t push too hard, hard no issues, had a lot of fun, and ended up with a time I was happy with. Clean up time. I handed off my bike to the wash station, got it loaded on the truck, the headed for the first bus off to Powell River.

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Waiting for the ferry I chatted with a few people, then did the typical dip in the ocean to cool down the legs a bit.

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The welcome in Powell River was pretty amazing. Tons of people lining the dock cheering and waving at us. Signs welcoming us to Powell River and a quartet of pipers off to the side.

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BCBR Day 0

Inspiring process so far. I’ve registered, got my roller bag, got my swag, bought some merch, hung out with Sue and have tried to soak all this in. Something I’ve watched from the outside for so long, I am now a part of. It still doesn’t feel real, but tomorrow we race and that is very real.