With all the available spots selling out in only its second year, the B.C. Bike Race is poised to become a multi-day mountain bike epic on par with the Trans Alp Challenge in Europe, the Trans Rockies in eastern B.C. and Alberta, and La Ruta des los Conquistadores in Costa Rica — and maybe a little more technically challenging than any of the world’s top epics.
This year more than 400 riders will race seven days, starting at Shawnigan Lake on Vancouver Island June 28 and finishing in Whistler on July 4.
The course this year is over 500 km, with a focus on riding singletrack wherever possible. The race also includes a full day of riding in Squamish this year, which is something that was left out of last year’s race so riders could pedal the entire route.
The first stage is from Shawnigan Lake to Lake Cowichan, a distance of approximately 108 km. Day two is from Lake Cowichan to Port Alberni, a distance of 115 km, while day three is a ride from Port Alberni to Cumberland (distance to be announced).
The fourth day is just 60 km, but includes a pair of ferry rides to the Sunshine Coast before following a selection of trails all the way to Sechelt.
Day five starts in Sechelt, and hooks up with the Roberts Creek Rat Race trail network before heading to the ferry and a bus ride up to Squamish.
Day six is all Squamish, combining the courses from the Test of Metal and Gear Jammer to create a unique 65 km epic. Trails include Tracks from Hell, Bob MacIntosh loop, Rock and Roll, Rob’s Corners, Cliff’s Corners, Skookum, IMBA Smart, George’s Crossing, Recycle, Pseudosuga, Nine Mile Hill, The Rip, Powerhouse Plunge, Crumpit Woods, Route 99, Three Virgins, Seven Stiches, and Discovery Trail.
The distance for the last day in Whistler is still being determined, but it promises to be a tough day. The stage starts in Whistler Creek and follows the run up to the top of Lower Babylon By Bike before veering off to See Colours and Puke. The course then descends the Upper Far Side Trail, crosses the suspension bridge, goes down the Riverside Trail, climbs Lower Far Side Trail and hops onto the High Trail to the Microwave Climb. Next up is Tunnel Vision, followed by a climb up Kadenwood Road to Big Timber and back down to Creekside. From there the riders will head across the valley to attack the Lower Sproatt Trail, followed by Beaver Pass, A River Runs Through It, Rainbow Trail, Bob’s ReBob, Emerald Forest, Cut Yer Bars, and a lap of the Zappa Trails in Lost Lake Park before finishing in Spruce Grove Park.
The B.C. Bike Race is limited to teams of two and recreational teams of four, and there are categories for men, women and mixed groups. While the majority of teams are from Canada, the list of registered racers includes athletes from the U.S., the U.K., Australia, Mexico, Costa Rica, Columbia, Switzerland, Netherlands, the West Indies, Morocco, Germany, Oman, South Africa and France.
The majority of entries are men (83 per cent), and almost half are between the ages of 35 and 44.
Some of the more famous riders in the field this year include Chris Eatough and Tinker Juarez, 24 Hours of Adrenaline world champions, Canadians Andreas Hestler, Seamus McGrath and Leslie Tomlinson, and Costa Rican racer Many Prado.
The race will take 40 crew members and 60 volunteers to support the racers each day.
For more information on the race, or to volunteer for one or more days, visit www.bcbikerace.com.