7-2-07 // Day Two Report from the B.C. Bike Race

Bike’s Kip Mikler, racing the seven-stage, 324-mile B.C. Bike Race, is checking in with occasional updates from the wilds of British Columbia. He posted this report right before going off to OD on Advil.

Road Riding B.C. Style

Day two, a 118-kilometer stage, ended in Port Alberni, where the small logging town’s mayor showed up to crack a few jokes during the award ceremony, and where racers were treated to their finest meal yet—on real ceramic plates.

Day two is in the bag, and a win by Trek-Volkswagen riders Chris Eatough and Jeff Schalk extended the team’s lead over Rocky Mountain riders Andreas Hestler and Kevin Calhoun. Tuesday’s Monday’s stage was the longest of the race, and I for one am happy it’s over. It took my teammate Mark Sevenoff and me five hours, 42 minutes to finish the stage, which, according to the Garmin, included 5,750 feet of climbing.

In the battle of the mid-packers, Sevy and I dropped from ninth to 10th overall, but we did manage to make it to the front of the dinner line.

There wasn’t a lot of singletrack in Tuesday’s Monday’s stage, which took riders in a northeast direction from Lake Cowichan to the town of Port Alberni, but there was just enough to send me head over heals on a rooty, rocky, slick-ass, classic B.C. descent. It was a low-speed tumble, but one that resulted in a nice trajectory into the woods, leaving me all tangled up in my bike, branches and some Land of the Lost style foliage.

Having never ridden in B.C. before, Tuesday’s Monday’s stage, which started with about 50 kilometers of super-fast group riding, was a firsthand look at the logging industry in these parts. We rode through clear-cuts and regenerated forests, past massive logging trucks and machinery. The joke around here is that logging is B.C.’s second-biggest export industry, the first being another type of green plant called B.C. Bud. Or maybe it’s not a joke.

Aint that the truth?

The team format is central to the B.C. Bike Race experience. Things got interesting on stage two, which featured lots of 50 kph paceline riding. Like a road race, these sections are a constant battle to hold the wheel in front of you, avoid being hung out to dry in the wind and expend as little energy as possible before the real fun begins in the singletrack. If one teammate makes a group and the other gets spit out the back, someone’s going to be waiting around. Teammates are required to always stay within two minutes of each other, and if officials find out they’re not, riders are slapped with a one-hour time penalty.

Some of the things I saw on Tuesday Monday:

• A nice gathering of roadside spectators bidding us bon voyage at the start in Lake Cowichan. It wasn’t a big crowd, but when you consider the size of the tiny town on Vancouver Island, I was impressed.

• Lots of bear scat, and I’m talking big piles. My teammate Sevy and I dug deep to catch groups ahead of us so bears not cool with us invading their territory would have more choices about who to go after. In fact, much of the singletrack we rode through was freshly cut just for the race, and the local trailbuilders told us in advance that there are tons of bears around here.

• A guy snap his handlebars while hopping over a log. Bummer.

• An impressive finishing arena in Port Alberni, a town surrounded by cloud-covered peaks. When we finally rolled into the Port Alberni multiplex, it felt like the finish of Paris-Roubaix: Into the stadium and around a beautiful track that surrounded a lush, green athletic field.

• Lots of crazy Canadian downhillers getting flat tires on a wicked-fast, rocky, 2000-vertical-foot descent.

• A helicopter hovering over the main group on the fast logging roads, making us feel like we were in the Tour de France or something.

• No ducks. This despite the fact that the day’s biggest climb, a never-ending granny gear grunt to a high point of 3,500 feet, supposedly had a summit in an area called Duck Lake. Never saw the lake, either.

Duck Lake?

Editor’s note: Kip is rattled, talking in Canadian-speak, , no douubt frothing at the mouth and getting his days confused, hence all the “Tuesday’s.”