Powered by Ice Cream – BCBR Day 3

Powell River was great, but time to move on, as some would say, movin’ up movin’ on. With 620 racers, and a hundred more staff, the ferry from Powell River to Earl’s Cove is too small to fit everyone from the event! So a lucky few get to commute to the start by Harbour Air float plane. I was one such lucky sole.

  In order to make this happen, I had to have all of gear ready to go before I departed for breakfast, so it was an early morning for sure. Hurry up and wait – hurry and pack your bag; wait to catch the bus to breakfast. Hurry up and eat breakfast, wait for the bus to the float plane. Hurry up to get to the float plane, wait to board…

  Our chariot awaits

But the experience was well worth the wait. Each float plane around was made in the ’50’s, and Harbour Air can rebuild every part if they have the brass plate. FInd a brass plate in the bush and they could build a float plane around it. The pre-flight safety video was  played on an iPad and and the racer who got to sit in the front with the pilot was instructed, in the event he needed to take over, to “pull up and the trees will get smaller; push down and the trees will get larger”.

  Raceing today started right from the ferry terminal and climbed up for 10kms again. 1597m of elevation was gained over the 59km course, and stacked up to be a test of self pacing as it was hot and most of the course was exposed to the sun with little wind.

A rack full of rocket ships from Rocky Mountain

I managed my effort quite well today and avoided dipping into the red zone, dropped a few Euros on the final descent and finished 17th overall and 10th in Solo men on the day. I eased off the gas when things got stupid steep and kept the throttle open when it was smart to do so.  The toughest day is behind us.

 

Racing right from the ferry terminal

I’m currently sitting in 12th place in GC – about 8 minutes outside of the top ten. With 4 stages to go I can keep chipping away a that deficit and see if my strong polish blood enables me to fade less than my competitors as the race goes on.

  Thumbs up!

Tomorrow is hump day we race from Sechelt to the Langdale ferry terminal with a quick boat trip back to North Vancouver and a rendezvous with my family.

4 scoops of ice cream does a body good!

Thanks for reading,

Mike

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That’s More Like It – BCBR Day 2

Ah, Powell River, a little mountain biking oasis tucked up on the mainland but only accessible by ferry. What a beautiful place. BCBR 2015’s route has us camp here on the beach for two glorious nights, with an amazing day of singletrack shredding in between.

Good morning BCBR

Day 2 of BCBR was 52 kms with 1094m of climbing. The Powell River stage is one of my favourites, most likely because it most closely resembles Edmonton trails. Someone described it as a a magic carpet ride – just hope on and ride. The trails here on course were more rooty than rocky, and not so steep where you constantly needed to keep your speed at bay but rather you could just open it up and flow through the corners and float over the roots.

All smiles at basecamp

Starting right from the beach, we climbed for about 10 k before hitting the singletrack. I settled into what I’ll call the 2nd group and had some fun riding the trails with a fairly evenly matched bunch of dudes.

I didn’t make the same mistake as last year by missing water at Aid Station 1, so I actually didn’t need to soft pedal at all today. It’s so cool to race in these places as it feels like the whole town comes out to cheer us on. My favourite today was the “Aloha Climb” with a tiki bar and all.

A way better day for me results wise, 8th on the day in Solo Men by finishing 17th overall. Two days into the 7 day race, and I think people will start to fade quicker than I with my strong famine resistant polish genes, so I hope to look ‘stronger’ each day. Cheers to that!

Taking in a killer ocean view

rebike hooked me up big time with Rocky Mountain bikes, as they are supporting me as one of their riders throughout the week. My bike is working great and the Rocky boys will keep it that way. They set up is pretty sweet too and free beer for all wins a lot of friends.

Rocky Mountain’s setup

Things are just winding down here at base camp, and as I type, Lululemon, one of BCBR’s sponsors, is hosting free yoga for racers. I really looked forward to coming to Powell River, and both the trails and the atmosphere did not disappoint.

Powell River sunset 

On tap tomorrow is the longest stage of the race, Earls Cove to Sechelt. But first up in the morning is a plane ride!

Thanks for reading,

Mike

Emerging From a Dark Place – BCBR Day 1

When your standing on the start line, one minute away from 8:30am and the start of Day 1 in Cumberland, and you see 30 Celsius on your Garmin, you know it’s going to be a hot & sweaty day on the bike. 48 kms with 1,163 meters of climbing was on tap.

  30 degree start line

I timed the start shoot appearance perfectly, and rolled out near the front to kick of my BCBR 2015 campaign. The course went up and up and up some more with 10 kms of fire road climbing. I felt really good, and spun up and climbed my own pace, even poking my nose to the front of the race. I kept the throttle in the sample place as the road pitched up even steeper, and the Kona boys and Rocky Mountain Factory team kept the pace and just like that the elite lead group was formed.

I climbed well and held my own so to speak on the decent, with only a few guys coming around me. Once I hit the first aid station, I was the only guy to stop. A bit strange, but all the water jugs were way at the back, so I thought, ‘nah, I have enough water with me’. Nah, not so much Mike!

Done and dusted

By the time I hit basecamp (the mid point of the race) I was bone dry and had to spend the next 7 kms climbing up the fire road to Aid Station 2 in the baking sun. I throttled way way back and inched my way for what seemed like forever.

Like an oasis in a desert, Aid Station 2 quenched my thirst as riders blew by while I chugged a Red Bull and nearly choked on gummy bears. Feeling much better after getting some fluids in me, I rode the last part of the course well, giving hope for tomorrow.

  A freezing cold shower was just what the doctor ordered. Cold water never felt so good!

Ferry views

The Queen of Burnaby ferry delivered us to Powell River, my favourite basecamp in the BCBR. Lucky for us we spend two nights here camping right beside the ocean.

Not a bad place to camp for two days

Thanks for reading,

Mike

Hurry up and Wait – BC Bike Race Day Zero

Hurry up and wait – a necessary and well executed evil BC Bike race. Hurry up and get your race bag and bike loaded, then wait for the racer briefing. Hurry up and get to the terminal, then wait to board the ferry. Hurry up and get on the ferry, then wait as we set sail. Hurry up and find bus to get on, then wait as we drive an hour or so to our final resting spot – Cumberland. Ahhh, we have arrived.  

Racer Briefing

Day Zero, in my opinion, is the longest day of the whole race. All travel with no riding. As this is my second go round with BCBR, I knew what I was in for, and adjusted my game plan accordingly.

The best idea of the day was to have my wife, my daughter, and her grand parents drive me to the ferry terminal instead of taking the BCBR busses. It was a beautiful day and precious last moments where had with my family before I set sail away racing my bike for a few days.

  A Little Time for Some Swinging

I made the best of the situation and made some new friends. Funny how easy it is when everyone wants to talk about bikes! Then entertainment factor was super high as Brett Tippie sat right behind me on the bus. If you ever get a chance, ask him to tell his Tarzan joke – it will have you in stitches

Beauty of a Day to Sail to Vancouver Island

Cumberland always plays a great host, and my Steelhead trout straight out of the Campbell River was truly delicious! What did you have for dinner at your last bike race?

I really feel like we are cattle.  So racing starts tomorrow and I’m ready as i can be. Can’t wait to throw down.

Thanks for reading,

Mike

It’s Go Time – #BCBR2015

Well here I am on the eve of my main target for bike racing in 2015, the BC Bike Race. Dubbed as the “Ultimate Singletrack Experience”, BCBR races over 7 days from Cumberland, to Power River, to the Sunshine Coast, North Vancouver, Squamish, & finishes in Whistler. It is an adventure and an experience; a tour of British Columbia’s West Coast – the trails, the towns, the lifestyle.

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My build up to BCBR has been solid and insightful. I trained mostly to and from work, and sprinkled in some Alberta Cup XC races to get some speed and intensity. The first race for me was the Hardcore hosted Royal River Valley Rumble. It was a great way to debut my Provincial Champion jersey by taking the win over a hard charging field. Feels good big time.

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Cool and Collected. 📷: Robert Photography

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The following weekend, hump day of the triple-header of MTB racing in May, was the Devon River Raid XC. With self-inflicted high expectations after my win in the previous weekend, I crateored hard with some bad luck combined with poor judgement. I pushed the boundary on PSI and paid the price with a couple of unfortunate crashes. The body can only take some many shots of adrenalin (post crash) and I bonked my way to an 8th place finish. Far from what i wanted, but that is racing – take the good with the bad and learn from it.

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Hit the Dirt – A couple of times!

There is always next weekend, and the trifecta of races took place in Alberta’s mecca of MTB, Canmore. A double header weekend with the Iron Maiden XC Saturday and the 5hr Organ Grinder on Sunday. Good friends Josh & Stef surprised us with a place to stay in Canmore, so instead of commuting from their house in Calgary for each day, we were sitting pretty in Canmore (literally, look at the view!).

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I dialled in the Organ Donor drop (slaying one MTB demon of mine) and was ready to go for race day.

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Riding the Organ Donor. 📷: Masa Higuchi

But life is a funny thing. I’m a family man now, and super pumped about that. 3 weekends of racing was just too much for this family man, and I really lacked the killer instinct at both days. I lost the sprint for 3rd in the XC to fellow Dad Jamie Lamb, and Sunday I decided to end my race at the 3 of 5 hr mark since it was too nice of a Canmore day to not be hanging out with my girls.

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Charging Soft Yogurt in Canmore. 📷: Ken Anderson

So a much needed mental break for competition leaves me here – well prepared, well tapered, and mentally sharp for BCBR. I’d really be happy to finish in the top 10, and that’s my goal. But more importantly, I really want to enjoy the adventure, live the experience, and enjoy life!

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I’m going to try my best to always be my little girl’s Champion.

 

310kms, 10,000 meters of climbing, 600 racers, 24 different countries represented. BC Bike Race is going to be a fun adventure!

Thanks for Reading,

Mike