The best way to describe the fourth annual B.C. Bike Race was "travelling circus."
While the race covered some of the same ground as its predecessors, the scope of the race changed from a point-to-point epic, with participants riding long sections of road between staging areas, to an event where the group is bused and ferried from stage to stage and let loose on the singletrack in the area.
The goal from the start of the race has been to showcase the best of B.C. riding to the wider world, and by that measure the event is a huge success. Riders from across the U.S., Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Belgium, Switzerland, Norway, South Africa, the U.K., Hong Kong, Israel and Costa Rica have participated.
The race started with a short prologue on the North Shore then went to Nanaimo, Cumberland, Powell River, Sechelt and Sunshine Coast, Squamish and Whistler.
The course for the Whistler stage was shorter than others. It included a climb up Blackcomb and descent to the base of the Whistler Mountain Bike Park, a climb to mid-station, a descent on Crank It Up and Heart of Darkness, a climb back up Blackcomb, a descent to the Lost Lake area, and one final climb up Blackcomb to Roam in the Loam before descending back to the Blackcomb base area.
Dr. Cathy Zeglinski, riding the B.C. Bike Race for the first time, said the singletrack was incredible.
"They really emphasized the technical nature of the trails," she said. "When they said it was all singletrack, they meant it - it was all singletrack. You would actually look forward to the roads and doubletrack so you could get a bit of a break."
Although she's ridden all over the world, Dr. Zeglinski says she was surprised by the quality of riding in Nanaimo and on the Sunshine Coast, both destinations just a ferry ride away from Sea to Sky. "These are our backyard trails in a way, you can literally ride off the ferry onto some really great trails."
Dr. Zeglinski and her partner, Brandi Heisterman, raced the event as Team Northlands Medical Clinic. They held the lead for the first three stages of the race but got lost on course at one stage and watched their lead slip away to a strong team called Terrascape-Hardcore Racing.
After seven stages, including the short prologue eighth stage, Northlands were second with a cumulative time of 25:13:34, while Terrascaep-Hardcore Racing were first in 25:05:17. Dr. Zeglinski says it was fun to have someone to race against because it made them push themselves harder.
Without the crash and getting lost, Dr. Zeglinski believes they could have won their category. "But that's racing," she said.
She gave credit to her teammate for being the stronger rider.
"Brandi was riding like a pro out there," she said. "A lot of the time she was at maybe 60 per cent of her maximum heart rate, and she'd be out there chatting to people while I'm drooling and bug-eyed trying to keep up the pace."
But Dr. Zeglinski was proud of her ability to race the more technical trails.
"The fact is that we would have placed ninth in open men and fourth in the mixed category, with all those pro riders in there," she said. "You could really tell the people who were used to riding this type of trail, I talked to people from all over, like Texas or wherever, and most of the people had never even seen this type of riding before."
Dr. Zeglinski plans to ride closer to home for the rest of the season, taking part in the GearJammer, Just Another Bike Race, Cheakamus Challenge and other local events.
American rider Chris Sheppard won the solo category in 18:17.32, followed by Jason Sager in 18:25:27. The top Canadian, in third place, was Cory Wallace in 19:02:07.
Colin Kerr, a fixture at Sea to Sky races, was fourth in 19:04:12. Whistler's Duncan Mackenzie placed 24 th in 23:27:15.
Nanaimo's Melanie McQuaid destroyed the field in the women's solo category, finishing in 22:22:18, almost two hours ahead of Ingrid Rolles of the U.S. who finished in 24:21:51. Katy Curtis of Canada was third in 24:38:30.
Whistler's Sarah O'Byrne had a solid ride from start to finish and completed the epic in 30:56:03 to rank 11 th .
In the solo masters women, Penny Cameron of Whistler placed fifth in 29:55:38.
In the Team of Two Open Men category the Kona team of Kris Sneddon and Barry Wicks won six of eight stages with a combined time of 18:34:21. The team of Branden Stewart and Max Knox of South Africa placed second in 19:09:53. The Rocky Mountain Factory Team of Marty Lazarski and Stefan Widmer was third in 19:23:39.
Team Squamish, Kelly Servinski and Dwayne Kress, were fourth in 20:18:34.
In the women's team category the third place team was the Steedettes, Colleen Little and Mary Shaughnessy, in 30:12:19.
The mixed team category saw Canada's top World Cup cross-country riders, Olympians Geoff Kabush and Catharine Pendrel, join up as Maxxis/Rocky Mountain/Luna Pro. They completed the race in 20:27:54. Jeff Neilson and Mical Dyck, Team Nelson, had an extremely good ride to place within an hour of Maxxis in 21:37:23. Kona-Frontrunners, Wendy Simms and Normon Thibault, were third in 22:01:50.
Doug Krumpelman and Mike Gaertner of the U.S. won the Veterans 80-plus team category in 21:34:46. They were followed by Andrew Handford and Pat Doyle in 21:46:40 and Robin Dutton and Ron Hewltson in 23:44:09.
In the Team of Two Veterans 100-plus race, Greg McDougal and Graeme Fitch of Pemberton placed seventh as Team Harbour Air with a cumulative time of 30:27:23.
There was also a category for teams of three or more. The KM10 team from Belgium - Michel, Arno and Daniel Thuy - were first in 29:52:02.
This year organizers also staged a separate B.C. Bike Race Challenge category, where the courses were roughly half as long as for the Epic riders - roughly 30 km a day for seven days.
Brent Dyer won the solo men's category in 18:17:11. He was followed by Rob Dunn in 18:40:01 and Randy Barker in 18:41:57.
Kelli Sherbinin was the top solo female in 16:23:54, followed by Heather King in 17:55:50 and Kelly Wilcox in 19:20:27.
In the open mixed race Isabelle Dguise and Dan Webster were first in 20:56:16. They were followed by Michael Haward and Kori Creighton in 28:48:18, and Ginger Hagood and Michelle Conklin in 32:49:58.
Complete results are posted online at www.bcbikerace.com.