North Vancouver: BCBR 2017 – Day 5

Riders face down daunting North Shore trails

"If I could bring one thing to our new home, it would be Mount Seymour. It sounds cheesy, but all of our friendships have grown there, all of our kids have hiked there, been in baby carriers there, and we have learned to ride stuff you never thought you could there. It's a pretty cool thing for nature to provide, strengthening how you feel about yourself, and your friendships, and your family, and it's emotional." North Van local Sarah Stark is racing with her sister and moving two days after the race.

Today riders have returned to a place they left not even a week ago. This time their skin has a new patina of cuts, bruises, and dirt painted on by the sun and trails of the past five days. Memories of the riding they have experienced in this short amount of time still linger in their thoughts and tired muscles. Even though the ones who are new to the whole experience are becoming wiser to the twists and turns of the BC trails, they still face the daunting reputation of the North Shore as a place to challenge them once again. Shorter than any other stage, it may seem like a rest day in the middle of the week, but these are "North Shore Kilometers" and confuse people when they see the ratio of kilometers they rode to their finish times. This may be the briefest stage in distance but the work to be done is made for mountain bike technicians. Those people who like to piece together sections of trails as if it were a puzzle to be solved.

Mount Seymour is the easy going child of the North Shore mountains. It's a major playground of the surrounding communities who have a special relationship with this mountain in their backyards. Fromme Mountain is the popular place that has traditionally gotten the most attention, while Seymour has been happy to develop in it's own world, not seeking a lot of attention. It is actually a perfect stage for solidifying the trail knowledge the riders have learned over the previous four stages. The reward for each pedal up feels greater than the effort. The downhills are a mix of high speed imaginative carving, and technical rock moves with some roots liberally sprinkled on top. The trail builders on Seymour have crafted a spiderweb of trails that can keep you entertained for a lifetime.

BCBR 2017 – Stage 5 Presented by Rocky Mountain Bicycles
North Vancouver
Distance: 18km
Climbing: 871m
Featured Trail: Forever After

"In the last five years the growth and maintenance of trails (on Mount Seymour) has grown enormously. It's an endless variety of loops. It's a playground now. Before that it was just a set of swings." Andreas Hestler (Rocky Mountain Bicycles)

The Stark Sisters
Best friends for 20 years, Karen Stark and Sarah Stark became sisters officially the day Karen's brother married Sarah. Together they have grown a friendship, learned to ride mountain bikes, and raised kids with Seymour mountain as their backdrop. In that time Karen began working for the BC Bike Race and has been with the event for seven years as retail and media coordinator. The two women have wanted to do the BC Bike Race from the day they heard about it and Karen knew that she would want only Sarah as her partner. "Sarah would be my only pick for sure. I think it's more fun as a team, you got to pick the right person. Sarah and I are so compatible."

Karen's relationship with the race, the mountains, and the community has evolved through the years and getting to compete in the race turns a new page in her journal of understanding what this event is all about. "This is definitely my favorite chapter. The integration you have with the racers when you're out there is so much more than I had back at basecamp. I really feel the connection with different racers. I can see their pain, and before I didn't understand the pain so much."

It's an emotional trip for the sisters and Sarah finds herself challenged twofold. Once by the physical effort of each day and again by the realization that she is leaving a place that has been her home for so long. "I'm usually the cheering squad. I'm surprised at how epic it is. Karen feeds me gels and literally puts things in my mouth. Today she was pushing me up the hill. I was crying and riding and didn't want to stop because I knew that if I had to explain why I was hyperventilating I would cry for like three days" says Sarah. This race is a marker in time for them to experience one more new thing on the eve of another major life shift.

Kazlaw Award Winner: Deb MacKillop
Every year the Kazlaw BC Mountain Bike Community Award is given to an individual chosen by their peers for exceptional dedication to the mountain bike culture in their communities.

This year Deb MacKillop of Nelson, British Columbia was voted to receive the award and soon found herself with a free entry to the BCBR. The last time MacKillop did a cross country race was in 2000 and in the time since then she has dedicated herself to the growth of the mountain bike community in Nelson. Self labeled as the official "Secretary" of her local club, she is engaged in so many levels of the club that to give one label may be underselling her talent. Event liaison, coach, tour guide, and general fun ambassador seems to be closer to the full scope of her activities.

Even in the BC Bike Race she has found herself making friends on the way to the top of each climb and making courteous passes on the way back down. As a former BC Cup DH champion and World Cup team member she has riders now waiting for her at the tops of the climbs so they can follow and pick up some BC lines on the way back down.

MacKillop is attacking this race with the same strategy as the liaison for events in her club. Communication is king to mutual understanding of needs and when done right everyone stays smooth and may learn a new thing.
"Powell River I was giving tips all day. My strategy is to stay mega-stoked. Communication is critical. When you communicate, people don't mind moving over. And when you're nice on the uphill, they don't mind moving over on the downhill." Deb

The Race
Short but long is how you might describe the North Shore stage on Seymour Mountain. It was a dry day, but the lack of moisture made the trails loose and the rocks slick as the dust lay like graphite on the surfaces where tires were trying to find as much traction as possible. Thought it was only 18km, the average speed was only 9km an hour. Here the riders with power and skill were going to come home closest to the front of the pack and put pressure on the rest of the field.

Open Mens
Geoff Kabush (Scott Sports/ Maxxis) lived in North Vancouver for the past 3 of 4 years and in the process gained an intimate knowledge of each section of the race course today. "Today I felt a little more relaxed knowing where I'm going and found the flow and time I needed. I definitely wanted to try and get in the single track and try to disappear today." That he did with an attack crossing the power line towards the top of the first climb. It was a crux move that allowed him the space he needed for a win and the more comfortable 3 minute margin he now has over second place Stephen Ettinger (Focus/ Shimano).

"I knew today was going to be kind of the crux for us, because Geoff knows the trails so well. It's still close. We probably have 6-7 hours of racing to go on the next two days. We got a lot of racing to go. I'm excited. Geoff put some time into me today, but we're going to climb into the car and go get dinner together tonight and it's all good." Ettinger

In third today was Quinn Moberg (Rocky Mountain Cycles), who seems to always get stronger as the race gets closer to his hometown course of Squamish. Following Moberg was Sam Schultz (Rocky Mountain Ambassador/ Kistbow) and Jesse Melamed (Rocky Mountain Urge Enduro) in fifth. This was the first crack of the top five for the Enduro World Cup specialist. It just proves that to race at the top of the EWS you have to be fit as well as a shredder.

Open Womens
Katerina Nash (CLIF Bar Pro) once again put some time into her charging teammate Maghalie Rochette. "I'm happy to get a little more time on Maghalie. She's been riding super super strong and it's taken all of my energy and all my tricks to get a little bit of time on her." Besides pushing to stay in front of the young Rochette, Nash has been super impressed with the younger rider's learning curve. "I'm enjoying the progression she's made over the last few years. I'm looking forward to watching her for years to come."

Hielke Elferink (Rocky Mountain) was once again 3rd with her steady climbing and charging descending style. Cary Mark and Kristien Achten rounded out the top five with 4th and 5th respectively.

Masters Men
Garret Heitman took another solid first position on the day and Benjamin Jones snagged a second today. In third and fourth was Guy Sutton and Edward Lawson. Both riders are only separated by a minute in the overall with Sutton in the lead. Two days left of riding to settle this battle.

Masters Women
Kimberly Beck took herself a win today, showing that the was not intimidated by the technical nature of the terrain. The current overall leader Tricia Spooner settled into 3rd with Ellen Blome coming in between the two for second. Beck and Blome are only separated by less than two minutes in the overall, making that battle for 2nd overall far from settled.

Open Team of Two Men
The team of "No Team Name" from Belgium won a hard fought battle today with a squeak across the line only 24 seconds ahead of the "Race for Movember" team from Switzerland. The Race for Movember team only has 4:30 minutes in the overall so expect these teams to have some fine racing in the next two stages.

Open Team of Two Women
Patricia Sinclair and Chrissy Da Ball of Whistler Wildcats took the win today on the type of terrain they feel most comfortable on. That win helped them move to third in the overall. With two big days in front of them there is a chance they could pull an upset on the first and second pace teams. In second today and in the overall is Pneus Baloune with The Stark Sisters rounding out the podium today in 3rd.

Featured Trail
At 1.4km long the trail Forever After is a welcome descent that challenged riders with a variety of speed and rock moves that left more than one person walking. For those who maintained their speed and could put their tires where they wanted the reward was a descent that moved the body in coordination with the terrain. A choreographed trail ride by some of the North Shore's finest builders.

Day 6 Preview
Back to a long day on the bike in Squamish. Yearly voted as the riders favorite stage, it certainly makes you pay for all of the rewards. At 53km and with 1680m of climbing it's going to send riders through just about every style of trail Squamish has to offer. Maybe they are miniature versions of the bigger stuff in the woods, but riders will get a taste of the progressive and diverse trail styles that Squamish is known for.