Posted by Editoress on 07/8/11
Day 4: (July 6th) Earls Cove to Sechelt – Planes, Ferries and Point-to-Point Epics
Racers woke up this morning to the pastel palette of a west coast sunrise at their beachfront Base Camp in Powell River. It was a beautiful farewell as racers made their way to the Saltery Bay ferry terminal for a sailing to Earls Cove, the start line for Stage 4.
Twenty-four racers missed out on the morning’s picturesque sailing with BC Ferries. Instead, BC Bike Race founding sponsor Harbour Air generously provided scenic floatplane flights from Powell River to Earls Cove for those racers randomly selected the night before. The two groups of 12 lucky winners were treated to incredible panoramic views as they cruised the skies southbound along the coastline to Earls Cove.
Harbour Air was also pivotal in helping a racer whose bike was misplaced while being shipped to the BCBR last week. Obsession: Bikes, the BC Bike Race bike tech provider, worked to track down the wayward steed, build it, and, in partnership with Harbour Air, transport it from North Vancouver to the Earls Cove start line where it was reunited with an incredibly grateful racer.
And what perfect timing for a reunion with the bike! Today’s stage, the mid-point of the week and often referred to as “hump day”, was a test of endurance and willpower as racers made their way from Earls Cove to Sechelt via plenty of hand-built singletrack and double track trails including ACDC, Cabin Fever, Elevator, Escalator, Brat, Over Easy, Desoto, Rockabilly, Bypass, Easy Street, Skullduggery, Beaver Pond, Par Back, VFR, Adanac, and Lee’s Big Easy. Whew! Strategically integrated fire roads offered racers the opportunity to refuel and replenish, which was a critical part of the hot, sunny, dusty day that put the epic in Epic.
Fortunately for racers, Ryders Eyewear has been staged at aid stations to provide a sunglass-cleaning service to everyone rolling through, so the dust and sweat weren’t permanent on their shades. Every racer received a pair of custom BC Bike Race logoed Ryders sunglasses at the start of the week Ryder’s own Brent Martin, who usually races BC Bike Race, wanted to support racers in a tangible and unique way, as he’s ridden many miles in their shoes. So Brent devised the sunglass-cleaning service and is along for the week with BC Bike Race, cleaning sunglasses at Aid Stations. And he couldn’t be happier. Feedback on the trail is that racers love the Aid Station sunglass service. An original BC Bike Race sponsor, Ryders is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year.
The action on the trail was intense and challenging all around today. The Epic Solo Men category saw current yellow jersey leader Chris Sheppard (Rocky Mountain Bikes) and second place GC racer Jason Sager (Jamis) wheel-to-wheel for the duration of the Stage. European Thomas Dietsch (BULLS) was in the running with them in early stages, but suffered a flat and mechanical that would drop him back in the pack. Sheppard and Sager wound up in a sprint finish, with Sager nipping Sheppard at the line by a mere second. Sager took the stage win while Sheppard retains the “golden fleece” for the 4th consecutive day and holds a commanding 14 minute lead over Sager in the GC. Kona’s Corey Wallace hung on to claim third place for the stage and GC. Yesterday’s winner, Neal Kindree, suffered a mechanical and was eighth for the day, fourth in the GC.
Hometown boy Kris Sneddon and partner Barry Wicks (Kona) had their sights set on a victory in today’s stage as Sneddon grew up riding these trails. “Of course we wanted to win the stage,” said Sneddon, “It’s like a hockey team playing on their home rink.” Wicks decided he’d let his partner do what he does best, “Following Kris downhill is super fun but really scary. I just have to put all my trust in him. It’s amazing how fast he descends.”
The Kona boys retained the yellow jerseys for the 4th consecutive stage and have created a 30-minute lead over 2nd place Marty Lazarski and Ricky Federau (Nativo/Devinci). What had at one point been a hard fought battle for 2nd and 3rd place has now spread out. Colin Kerr and Greg Day (Rocky Mountain Bikes) are 15 minutes behind in 3rd.
While some categories saw a reshuffling in the top ranks for today’s stage, the yellow jersey wearers remain the same as yesterday.
Up next: Racers get to sleep in a little longer as the Day 5 Sechelt course had to be modified to due a creek crossing that’s running at a higher volume than normal. With approximately 10km less to ride in the first half of the course, racers will have even more in the tank to thoroughly enjoy the day’s highlight: a close to 12km flowing descent to finish at the Langdale ferry terminal.
Day 5 (July 7th): Sechelt to Langdale-Our Way’s the Highway…102 That Is!
Stage 5 starting in Sechelt is the second of two consecutive point-to-point days that flow south along the Sunshine Coast. Due to a dangerously overflowing creek crossing that resulted from prior rainfall, the first segment of Stage 5 was rerouted, resulting in a 10km shorter course. Many racers seemed grateful for the reprieve so they could save energy for the amazing 8km descent on buff singletrack leading into the finish line at the Earl’s Cove ferry terminal. The grin-causing trail, called Highway 102, is meticulously maintained by rider volunteers and is generally identified with the sounds of thundering tires and endless hooting and hollering. Today was no exception.
With such incredible trails allowing racers to ‘let go and let gravity’ racers were posting fast finish times, especially at the front of the pack, where Neal Kindree (Republic Bike Shop / SRAM) jumped to the lead two-thirds of the way through the race and held on for the stage jersey win. Chris Sheppard (Rocky Mountain Bikes) was second for the day and held onto his positioning as GC leader for the 5th consecutive stage. Marzio Deho (Olympia) claimed third place after winning a finish line sprint with Thomas Dietsch (BULLS). After five stages, the Europeans found their groove and claimed one spot on the podium; it seems that they are shifting into the west coast way, complete with downhill blasts like today’s 8km on Hwy 102 in approximately 30 minutes. We are very excited to see their newly shaping ‘downcountry’ riding styles evolve over the remaining two days of racing!
In the Men’s Open Team category, Kona’s Kris Sneddon and Barry Wicks once again owned the stage win, to make it five in a row. Nativo/Devinci’s Marty Lazarski and Rocky Mountain Bicycles’ Colin Kerr and Greg Day claimed numbers two and three spots in the stage and overall team rankings.
While there may have been some shuffling in each category for top stage spots, the GC jersey leaders remain the same at the end of five days of racing. An interesting story developing in the GC is that Trish Gracjzyck (Masters Solo Women) is battling for the overall women’s lead with Jennifer Schulz (Open Solo Women). As of Stage 5, Gracjzyck holds a three-minute lead over Schulz. This will be one to watch.
As racers rolled across the finish line at the Langdale ferry terminal, they traded in their bikes for a change of clothes and the last BC Ferries sailing of the BC Bike Race. The 40-minute Langdale to Horseshoe Bay trip brought racers back to the mainland for the final two stages of the week-Squamish and Whistler.
The highway that leads along the coastline from Vancouver to Whistler is referred to as “The Sea to Sky Highway.” Racers were transported along the same picturesque route from Horseshoe Bay to Squamish for their first of two nights in Canada’s ‘Outdoor Recreation Capital.’
Squamish is a beautiful, small city nestled between the waters of Howe Sound and the majestic face of the Stawamus Chief. And it also just happens to have a stunning array of singletrack, which racers including Dave Richardson and Pat Murphy will sample heartily tomorrow during Stage 6.
Richardson and Murphy are two BC Bike Race participants with a special goal-raising funds to support Team Diabetes Canada. “I know three young guys, including my nephew, who have Type 1 diabetes,” said Murphy when asked of his motivation to do BCBR as a fundraiser. “Everyone does a little bit and the world becomes a better place,” added Richardson.
More than 3 million people in Canada have diabetes and Richardson and Murphy are doing their part to help out-between them the dynamic (and comedic) duo have already raised more than $12000 to support the cause.
“What I love about the BC Bike Race is the diversity of the people from around the world,” shared Richardson. “And it’s great to be able to combine doing this race, which is quite self-oriented, with raising money for a meaningful cause.” Murphy agreed, ”Even in the most down moments I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else but here.” To support Richardson and Murphy’s fundraising effort, or to inquire about participating in BC Bike Race as a Team Diabetes contributor, visit www.bcbikerace.com/about-us/charitable-partners
Up next: A day of amazing and highly-anticipated singletrack woven together from two of Squamish’s renowned singletrack races-Test of Metal and Gear Jammer. Racers will tour the entire Squamish Valley and take another shot at the Rocky Mountain Bikes “Love the Ride” timed singletrack sections. Andreas Hestler and Katrina Strand dominated the first “Love the Ride” sections. Who will claim the ? baggy jerseys in Squamish?
Reports and photos courtesy BC Bike Race