June 29, 2009 North Vancouver, BC (Source: B.C. Bike Race) — The tempest that unleashed high winds and heavy rainfall onto the Vancouver area on Saturday night did nothing to ease the pre-race jitters building among the almost 400 racers set to roll up to this morning’s start line of the 2009 BC Bike Race.
Already anxious about the legendary North Shore singletrack, racers arrived at the North Vancouver start to find dark clouds lifting and the sun working hard to shine through.
At 10 a.m. sharp, the wait was over, the start gun fired and the pack worked its way up the 3-kilometer residential road climb up to the trailhead. After the paved start helped spread out the pack, the first riders dropped in to the much anticipated Mt Seymour singletrack. More climbs awaited as racers grunted up Old Buck and the Baden Powell trails to hit their first technical descent of the day—Severed trail. Through the really technical sections, some racers found themselves running off their bike.
From Severed, the course drew racers through Bridle Path and Bottle Top after which they made their way over to Fromme Mt. The roots, rocks, bridges and drops of the North Vancouver mountains made for a helluva welcome carpet for the BCBR participants.
During Saturday’s press conference in Vancouver, the banter among the top three men’s teams hinted at the battle that was to come this week. Day One did not disappoint. Seamus McGrath and Chris Sheppard (Jamis/ Santa Cruz) said they were here for redemption and their aggressive attack on the North Shore course secured their first Stage win of the week in a mere 1:35:14.
Last year’s overall winners, Kris Sneddon and Barry Wicks (Kona), and year-one winners Chris Eatough and Jeff Schalk (Trek/VW) rode practically within arm’s length of each other for much of the course as they put constant pressure on the lead team. More than halfway through, Trek/VW’s Schalk took a tough fall on the Pipeline trail for which he later required stitches in his top lip. That opened the door for the Kona team to put some time between them, as Kona finished in 1:36.29.
Even with Schalk's bloody face, Trek/VW rallied back to a 1:38:57 finish.
The top Team of 2 Open Women was no surprise today, as Catharine Pendrel and Katerina Nash (Luna Chix) were hot on the heels of the best male riders. They blazed across the finish line in 1:50:07 with rivals Alison Sydor and Lea Davison (RockyMountain) almost 8 minutes behind. Oak Bay Bikes’ Lisa Ludwig and Dawn Anderson rounded out the top three in 2:11:11.
"Katerina and I are both competent descenders so we knew we could gain some ground there. We didn’t want to kill ourselves on the first day, but we had pre-ridden Severed, which helped. Pipeline was completely new for both of us, but I have a fearless teammate. We just pushed forward and started picking off the guys—it was a lot of fun," Pendrel said.
There might well be another tight battle underway out in the field this week. While Colin Kerr (Team Kerr) posted a blistering 1:39:46 to take top Solo Open Men, Kevin Calhoun (RMB—Different Bikes), Tony Hogg (Hoggy R&R Sport NZ) and Andreas Hestler (Team Hestler) battled hard for the next three spots. Calhoun came in at 1:43:00 with Hodd and Hestler 2 and 5 seconds behind him.
Other notable category highlights include favorites Georgia Gould and Ryan Trebone (Team Gould) nabbing top spot in the Open Mixed category posting a 1:50:46 for the day. North Vancouver local, Megan Rose (Team Rose) claimed the yellow jersey for Solo Open Women with a solid 2:12:52. Roger Bartels (Norcal Bike Sport) secured top spot in Solo Men 40+ with 1:49:38 for the day and the women’s equivalent going to Lisa McBain (Power to Be) in 2:51:17.
Veterans 80+ winners, Normon Thibault and Peter Stevenson (Frontrunners-Experience Cycle) crossed the finish line with a 1:57:59 time. Thibault is last year’s runaway Open Mixed category winner, which he claimed with his wife, XC racer extraordinaire Wendy Simms. This year Thibault decided to make more of a mark on BC Bike Race by designing the new Stage 2 course that’s on tap for tomorrow.
Finally, rounding out the day’s results is Veterans 100+ winners, Francois Amyot and Daniel Auclair (Zootallures) with a solid lead in 2:13:39 and Team of 3 or more going to Chris Brown, Scott Darling, Bill Darling and Francis Sutherland (Sports Insurance) in 2:53:13.
Next up Stage Two: Nanaimo to Parksville. Riders will be treated to a BC Ferries crossing from the mainland to Vancouver Island, where they will gear up and hop on their bikes to race from the Nanaimo ferry terminal to the Parksville beachfront.