2014 BCBR Day 2 – Cumberland recap | Video by Connor Macleod, Max Berkowitz, Chris Fisher, Roland Choe, Air Reel Cinema
Words by Harlan Price
Photos by Margus Riga, Dave Silver, Erik Peterson, Todd Weselake
The third stage of the British Columbia Bike Race, presented by Lululemon Athletica, eased into the isolated town of Powell River on the Sunshine coast. Although it's not an island, the geographical boundaries and some of the world's deepest fjords make this small community accessible only by ferry.
Deep forests with an extensive and still growing network of trails, Powell River is evolving gracefully with the BCBR.
This stage was flatter than the two previous stages, but the trails were loamy and technical. Not as many rocks, but the roots presented many challenges. It was a physical course that required riders to keep pedaling out of the saddle whenever in the woods.
The descents, such as Death Rattle, had organic berms and pockets. The flow along the entire course required constant pumping–let the bike move away, drop in, load a corner and let the tires slide off a wet corner.
After two days of courses that were new, the Powell River trail stayed pretty true to it's historic course. There was a new piece of singletrack, Aloha, that cut out a disliked eroded road climb. Aloha eventually crossed a new bridge that became a great cheer-zone with a makeshift Tiki bar.
Powell River is an isolated community that still has strong ties to its days as a world leader in paper production. Never a huge population due to the difficulty of access, the economy of Powell River has seen a steady decline as the world market forced the closure of 9 of 12 of the area's paper mills. Though the mills have been downsizing, the mountain bike trail-production is on the rise. Like many areas of British Columbia, tourism is the new economy.
The combination of a growing network of trails, a beachside campsite, and a community that supports biking, are key reasons the BCBR continues to return to the Sunshine Coast.
Lea Davison (Specialized Bikes) and Wendy Simms (Kona Racing) exchanged stage victories today, with Davison finally dropping Simms on the gravel and singletrack climbs coming out of aid station 2. It was a tenuous lead with only 39 seconds at the finish.
"It was back and forth a lot today. I started in the lead, then Wendy and Sonya caught me on the road section," Davidson said. "Once we hit the singletrack, Wendy and I put some distance on Sonya. I just hung on for the ride. Wendy is giving me a singletrack clinic. She is so fast and so good. Eventually I was able to drop her in the singletrack climbs after aid station 2."
After a tough stage yesterday that put Sonya Looney (Topeak-Ergon) in a rare funk, she returned to stage three looking for redemption. She escaped mechanicals and rode strong to the finish, securing a third place finish for the second time out of three stages.
Wendy Simms now has a 1:55 lead over Davidson, while Looney and Kim Hurst are within a minute of each other for third.
Three different men have stood on the top podium spot in as many days. Race veteran Jason Sager (Backcountry Bikes) used his knowledge of the stage from previous years to plan an attack. When Spencer Paxson (Kona Racing) made an early break, Sager went with the move and the two of them escaped together all the way to the bottom of the enduro section. He managed to drop Paxson not too long after.
"I took the lead on one of the false flat bumpy sections and started to pedal just a little bit harder, seeing if I could force an mistake," Sager said. "He just came off my wheel."
Currently Kona is holding onto the top three podium spots for the overall: Sneddon, Wicks, and Paxson, respectively.
Rocky Mountain riders Greg Day and Quinn Molberg added time to their lead with a solid performance free of problems. Joerg Franke (Switzerland) and Ruben Wey took second. The Rocky Mountain team of Christian Gauvin and Ian Carbonneau is in third.
LUNA Chix teammates Maghalie Rochette and Catharine Pendrel continued their rolling-thunder, putting themselves over an hour ahead of second place TaG Team riders Lesley Tomlinson and Gretchen Reeves.
Previous 2014 BCBR days: