7-5-07 // Day Five Report from the B.C. Bike Race

Bike magazine publisher Derek Dejonge sampled a bit of the B.C. Bike Race today, jumping in to ride stage five, a delicious singletrack-heavy, 58-kilometer stage on the Sunshine Coast. Meanwhile, Bike’s two-man crew of managing editor Kip Mikler and guest ringer Mark Sevenoff from Moab enjoyed the trails so much, they rode some extra miles. Yeah, they got lost a couple times. Here’s Kip’s update.

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. Forgive the hackneyed Dickensian speak, and stick with me as I explain the adventures of the Bike magazine team at Thursday’s fifth stage of the B.C. Bike Race. First, I’ll get the results out of the way—that’s the part that can be filed under the “worst of times” category. Despite the fact that my teammate Mark Sevenoff is a professional mountain bike tour operator, we spent a lot of time lost in the B.C. woods on stage five. A couple of clueless, lost Americans in the deep, dark Canadian forests.

Three wrong turns added up to at least a half-hour or so of lost time in the overall standings, and we dropped from 10th to 13th. Oh well, these things happen. After the race, I spoke to some locals who told me that during the regional races that take place here on the Rat Race trails, wrong turns are common. So now I feel a little better.

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But the real story of stage five was the trails. I can honestly say I’ve never ridden anything like them. We must have ridden at least 25 bridges—some high, skinny ones, too—and that’s more than I’d ridden in my life. So while we had some seriously frustrating moments of doubling back and looking for pink course ribbons, it was hard to get too bummed when we were on a four-and-a-half hour killer trail ride.

When Sevy and I signed up for this thing (having never even ridden together), we sort of figured we’d be doing more cruising, stopping and enjoying the scenery. What better way to experience B.C. trails, we thought. Neither of us had ever done any sort of endurance race like this; finishing would be just fine. It’s 324 freaking miles of insane B.C. trails, what’s the rush? I know there are people who can push race pace like that for seven straight days, but that wouldn’t really be necessary.

But then we started getting ribbed by the Canadians. We started trading pulls with strong dudes. We began racing for the tops of the hills and battling for position going into the singletrack sections. We were looking at the results and talking trash. Damn, we were racing. So in those terms, stage five on the Sunshine Coast wasn’t too productive.

But did I mention the trails we rode today? The loamy, rooty, rollercoaster ribbons through the canopy made us forget about all the wrong turns.

Random interruption: I’m writing this on a B.C. Ferry, and the views are absolutely spectacular. This is the stuff that makes this event. After our stage ended, we boarded at the Langdale Ferry Station and went across Horseshoe Bay, before catching a bus to Squamish. On the ferry, Sevy and I gladly paid $21 for two Thai chicken wraps and wolfed them down in about two minutes flat.

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It’s about a 45-minute ride to Squamish on an old school bus. It’s hot, cramped, sweaty and chamois-stench-funky. A look out the window reveals spectacular scenery. Water and mountains with snow-capped peaks.

Now is the time of the day where the pain in your knee, hip, elbow, head, ass—you name it—makes you wonder if you can ride another day. Attrition has set in the last few days—nothing major, but injuries enough to prevent people from starting the next day. Lots of stitched up legs, some concussions, that kind of stuff.

So as I find an internet connection at 11:30 p.m., I got the story on Derek. Seems he had a great time and finished the stage while riding at the back with the race director Dean Payne and a few other VIP types. Dean says Derek “had a few rough moments,” but sucked it up and gutted in out to finish. A freerider at heart, I’m sure he ripped it on the bridges and descents. He was last seen sprawled out, flat on his back, at the finish line about seven hours after he started. We believe he caught a float plane for the first leg of his journey home.

Ding Dong

Time to get ready for tomorrow. Stage six from Squamish to Whistler is supposed to be the hardest of the week. Here we go.