Tristan Uhl is no stranger to stage-race success.
The former Transylvania Epic enduro winner also had a third-place showing at the 2014 BC Bike Race in his back pocket. The Texan, hailing from the capital of Austin, made hay in the stifling heat as he jumped two spots to the podium's top step at this year's edition of the BC Bike Race, which wrapped up in Whistler on July 4.
Uhl completed the challenge in a grand total of 16 hours, 29 minutes and 58 seconds (16:29:58), giving him a seven-and-a-half minute advantage over runner-up Spencer Paxson, placing second for the third straight year, and a nearly 15-minute lead on two-time defending champion Kris Sneddon.
On the women's side, Bay Area resident Katerina Nash, a 2012 Olympian originally from the Czech Republic, won the women's side by nearly an hour. Nash finished in a time of 19:18:41, besting Rebecca Hodgetts' 20:10:03 and Vicki Barclay's 20:15:47.
"I was mostly relieved to get the race done with no mechanicals, no crashes," said Uhl. "It's kind of stressful when you have the leader's jersey and everybody's gunning for you. I was relieved to get across that line and get it all done, but I'm a little sad that all the fun riding is over."
Uhl placed third last year, and said some extra familiarity with the course helped him cut those few precious minutes necessary to help make the leap.
Uhl felt the fourth stage beginning in Sechelt and ending in Langdale was the toughest, as it made for the longest day.
"You're really exposed. You're in the sun the whole time, sweating. It was the hardest physically for me," he said of the Canada Day stage in which he finished third, three seconds off Paxson's pace. "The day in Squamish (on July 3) was equally hard on paper, but I had a good day there, so it didn't feel quite as hard.
"The heat wasn't a huge factor. It's hot for everyone. I would have preferred it to be a little cooler just because I was hoping to escape the heat when I came up here, but it was not a huge deal.
"It definitely worked in my advantage."
Knowing how and when to exert one's energy is of the utmost importance for riders during stage races, and Uhl said he's starting to get his day-to-day down to a science.
"I learned a lot last year that helped me in this year's race — little bits of the course. I didn't remember everything about the course, but little pieces here and there helped a lot," he said. "And also (I learned) the racers. I remembered (on July 3) that Quinn (Moberg) was from Squamish and he won the stage last year.
"It's a combination of both of those things that helped me out this year."
On the women's side, Nash noted she didn't suffer any major setbacks like mechanicals or crashes over the course of the week and she could build an advantage.
After a trying week, Nash was thrilled to cross the finish line, and even happier to do it as the first woman in after what was a relative sprint with a course about half the distance of what riders had been generally riding throughout the week.
"I really enjoyed today, being a shorter stage," she said. "It's the whole package."
She explained this was her first race of more than two days since she last took part in the BC Bike Race seven years ago. Though the course has changed in that time, including some minor alterations from last year to this year that bumped up competitors' times, Nash explained she still was familiar with some aspects of the course.
She also was able to use her fitness and some smarts to ensure she was ready to go each and every day.
"Pacing is really important and I recovered between each day. It's neat to watch because in your mind, it's, 'Oh my God, how am I going to do seven days of this?'" she said. "I'm really happy to see that every day I could keep pedalling and keep fighting.
"The last couple days weren't as fast as the first couple, but I definitely paced myself well so I had enough energy for the last day."
Nash is slated to do the Leadville 100 in Colorado later this summer in addition to some races on the World Cup circuit, which are "opposite events," she explained, with short laps at the World Cups and Leadville being a one-day race. Nash explained the BC Bike Race terrain is different from her typical training, but appreciates the challenge.
Sea to Sky residents Brandi Heisterman and Leah Trudeau powered their way to the open women's team win over Elie Yazdani and Amy Josefczyk, while Kevin Calhoun and Greg Day won the open men's event and Alex Hawkins and Sarah Kaufmann won the open mixed event.
Dwayne Kress and Christine Shandro won the respective open solo masters divisions, as did Simon Callaghan and Ted Russo for the open solo veterans.
Lastly, Ibon Zugasti and Tomi Misser captured the veterans 80-plus team title, and Tim and Troy Zimmerman did the same in the veterans 100-plus division.
Full results are online at www.bcbikerace.com.