By Brice Minnigh
Organizers of the popular BC Bike Race have announced changes to their 2010 event, in an effort to streamline the seven-day stage race to include as much singletrack as realistically possible.
Taking into account feedback from participants in the first three years of the event, course designers have added more singletrack and simplified some of the travel logistics to make the race a more laid-back, enjoyable affair.
"We know that we have a race going on, but for a lot of participants it's really just a tour of amazing singletrack, and we want to keep that in mind to make it as fun as possible for everyone—even those who are not racing, such as support people, family and friends," says the race's marketing director Andreas "Dre" Hestler, who makes it a point to race with the field each year and get to know the riders.
In keeping with the race's promise to deliver more singletrack than any mountain bike stage race on the planet, course designers have altered some sections of the route, particularly for the third day, which will now include a new stretch of little-known singletrack around the Powell River community. Rather than having an eye-rubbing 5 a.m. start to the third stage—as was necessary this year to cover the distance by ferry and bike—the third day will have a more leisurely start with a breakfast ferry cruise to the Powell River community.
"We'll get to dock and just start the stage straight off of the boat," says Hestler. "After the stage, we'll spend the night on the beach and then take another 30-minute ferry ride the next morning and start the fourth stage straight off the boat again."
Organizers have also decided to tweak the beginning of the race to allow riders to ease themselves into the experience. While the 2009 race started with a full stage on Vancouver's legendary North Shore—delivering a fierce opening round for the top racers—some less-experienced riders found it to be a daunting introduction to the week. To ameliorate these concerns, course designers have altered the start to include a short two-mile "prologue" on the more technical North Shore singletrack to take place on registration day. This is intended to give racers a feel for North Shore tech without burning them out at the very beginning of the weeklong event.
"We don't want it to be long," says Hestler. "We're just showing riders a nice area, a nice route to let everyone get a taste of the North Shore. It will allow everyone to get the pre-race jitters out, make sure their bikes are running and they're ready to start their trip."
To make the event fun for observers and the many support people on hand, the 2010 race will feature shorter guided rides designed to allow support crew to sample some local singletrack while waiting for their riders to reach feed zones, and may also offer some kids' rides. Organizers are also expecting greater involvement from local communities along the way, including more entertainment at the end of each stage.
"We want to make it more fun off the bike as well as on the bike," explains Hestler. "It's more than just a bike race—it's a moving event with a festival in each place."
Registration for the race, which will cover a maximum of 236 miles (380 kilometers) of trail from Vancouver to Whistler, B.C., is already open. For more information, visit bcbikerace.com
For 2010 video teasers, go to http://www.bcbikerace.com/media/video_gallery/