Posted by Editoress on 07/1/08
BC Bike Race - Stage 2 June 30th
Stage 2: Port Alberni to Cumberland
BC Bike Race Stage 3 had an explosive send off as the local West Coast Rangers Black Powder Club fired dramatic black powder cannons to start the race. After a police controlled start through the city of Port Alberni, racers deked into a sampling of singletrack destined to whet their appetites and, more practically, thin out the field in the early stages.
For the majority of the challenging 80km Stage 3 route from Port Alberni to Cumberland the sun beamed down on racers and temperatures soared into the high 20's Celsius. It's the third consecutive day that BC Bike Race competitors have been blessed with clear skies and dry terrain. Now that the potentially rooty, rocky singletrack volume is starting to increase, dry weather is a bonus.
Through combination of logging road, doubletrack and refreshing river crossings racers toured along the Beaufort mountain range as they transitioned from the Port Alberni Valley into Comox Valley and the finish line that waited in Cumberland.
By far the much anticipated highlight of the day was the final network of singletrack trails just metres from downtown Cumberland, Stage 3 Course Manager Jeremy Grasby's hometown. Cumberland is quickly joining the likes of Whistler and Squamish as must-do mountain bike destinations in British Columbia. Grasby has played a huge part in showcasing Cumberland's grin-fuelling trails, including building new trails specifically for the BC Bike Race course.
First to the Cumberland finish line was Beijing-bound Canadian Olympic team member Seamus McGrath and his partner Chris Shepherd (Old School), in a blistering 3:42:17, though not officially ranked. Just 31 seconds later, the Trek-Volkswagon team of Chris Eatough and Jeff Schalk claimed their first yellow jersey of the 2008 race, which launches them into the overall lead by 2 minutes over Team Kona (Kris Sneddon & Barry Wicks).
It was a race of ups and downs. We'd been riding in the lead group when I had a flat tire halfway through the course, said Chris Eatough. We caught the leaders at the second aid station, took a chance and blasted straight through the feed station, running with just the water we had with us. We were first into the singletrack and held the lead all the way to the end, when Seamus and Chris passed us to take the stage.
After today's stage, BC Bike Race Marketing Director and Course Designer Andreas Hestler and partner Max Plaxton (Team Rocky Mountain Bikes) are sitting in 6th place overall. For Hestler, Day 3 was frustrating, I flatted early in the race and fought to catch up to the lead group at the top of the last climb. We were right where we wanted to be - and I flatted again.
After the top of Steam Donkey, we started to pin it down the trails. The singletrack was in perfect condition it's wonderful.
The powerhouse women's pairing of Sara Bresnick-Zocchi and Kelli Emmett (Taint Slo) claimed the stage and leader's jersey for the third straight day, increasing their overall category lead to 87 minutes. Once again Wendy Simms and Normon Thibault (Kona - Riding in Memory of Denis Fontaine) took top honours and leader's jerseys in the Mixed category, as did Andrew Handford and Pat Doyle (Different Bikes / Deadgoat Racing) in the Veterans 80+, as well as Brian and Bruce Johnson (Double Shot) in the Veterans 100+.
One of two teams riding single speed bikes from Victoria to Whistler, Dejay Birtch and Tim Doughterty (Team Sobe/Cannondale/Niner) are running in an impressive 30th place overall. The more singletrack the better, said Doughtery. I think we passed about 10 teams once we hit the trails. They had a lot of flow today.
While Dougherty is still recovering from a bad case of heat stroke on Day 1, Birtch is adjusting to life with more spring. Just four days post transition from fully rigid setup to a cushy front fork, Birtch's bike feels unpredictable on the trails, I'm treating it like a bucking bronco - I just hang on a let it go!
Soon the rest of the 400+ BC Bike Race competitors will soon see the wisdom in those words as the BC-style singletrack quotient takes a rapid increase each day forward from here.
Next up: Serious Sunshine Coast singletrack packaged in a 60km trip from Earl's Cove to Sechelt. But first, two scenic ferry rides whose stunning scenery promise to reward racers for their very early Day 4 wake up call.
Full results (pdf format)
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