Day three of the BC Bike Race is the Queen Stage. As in, it's the going to be the boss stage and send the worker-bees on a mission to climb more than any other day and then expect them to dance their way through technical trail carved out of dark woods and old lumber cuts. Riders who save energy early in the day are rewarded with enough pop to enjoy the final descents, but those who attack the early climbing pay dearly with rubber arms and slow reflexes in the finishing stretches of the pedal-and-pump style of trails.
As one of the last stages that have retained the original format of sending racers point-to-point, Day 3 is a nostalgic throwback that has been with the BCBR in general form if not in original trails. In the past 11 years, the amount of trail of the area has exploded and each year the race manages to incorporate a newer piece of trail that blends the new into the old. As the BCBR has helped build the tourism traffic in the community there has been a strengthening of the relationship between the local mountain bike community and the land managers who can't deny the positive economic impact of mountain biking in the area.
This year two local trail advocates who have been with the event since year one, day one, are transitioning to new levels of engagement with the race. Rod Camposano and Bob Stanhope are two of the most dedicated advocates of the local mountain biking organization and each feels a deep passion for the trails and what mountain biking means to them.
BCBR 2017 – Stage 3 Presented by CLIF Bar
Earls Cove to Sechelt
Featured Trail: Frogger
This is the last year for Camposano as the course director for Stages 3 and 4, a job he has held for 11 years now. A recent move to Revelstoke has him leaving behind trails he has a deep engagement with. You can feel his worry for the future of the trails in a place who's trail-bed has absorbed countless amounts of sweat and blood from his labors.
"I see family on the trails after the race and they say they were here for the race,” said Camposano. “I think it's great that the world gets to see it. It's been a great experience, do I want to go? Not really. But I can't do the work I used to without being here and being a part of the daily developments in the forest."
The other local who has poured his time into trail and cycling advocacy in the region is Bob Stanhope. After working to grow the trail network and the culture of riders in the area, he got a call one day that let him know that those same people in his community had an entry into the BC Bike Race. Despite working with the event since the beginning he had never gotten to actually race it and this year he is seeing the event and his community from a different set of eyes.
"I'm loving the experience. I'm middle of the pack and when I used to sweep there is a whole other life back there. Whole other attitude. Everyone here has a story."
Bob's story is that 25 years ago he weighed 360lbs and he is quick to tell you that he was saved by mountain biking. A major life change was initiated by mountain biking and the aura of his appreciation for a sport he credits as leading him down a path towards a healthier body and mind is practically visible.
"I'm soaking it all in. I came here for the experience. I'm here because of the journey. I spent a lot of time getting to the point that I could do the BC Bike race and I'm quite proud of that. It was a 25 year process," said Stanhope.
The progress of any mountain bike community requires dedicated individuals who are driven by a passion that overcomes the desire to sleep in or just ride what exists. These advocates or stewards are individuals driven enough to engage in the politics of access, to build new trails, and pay forward the rewards of mountain biking they feel have meant so much for their lives.
Day three is when riders begin to gain that particularly unique extra layer of life that only multiple days of hard work in the woods gives to the skin. The sun and dirt harden the lines on faces and hands. Tans lines are gaining greater definition, even if you can't tell if that sock line is etched in by sun, dirt, or scratches.
Fortunately an early cloud cover saved riders from a full day of sunshine and allowed them to stay cooler till later in the day. With the most climbing and miles of the week, this was the day for the endurance specialist to shine as they are able to stay strong later into the day when the shorter distance riders begin to fade.
Special attention should be given to the team at Obsession Bicycles. They truly work through the night and in shifts as they are the crew that takes care of the bikes for the riders every day. 600 bikes do not get through a day of the BC Bike Race unscathed and between the daily tune-ups they preform and the dozens of repairs they do each evening they are saving peoples races on the regular. Having been with the race for it's entire life they are the owls who tinker into the night, doing things to bikes that only a fully stocked shop can do, but they bring their best game to a new town each day.
Today's longer stage saw a slight shuffle in the finishing order as riders came across the line at Kinnikinnick Park in Sechelt. With an early stretch of dual track climbing that lead then into a variety of trail punctuated by more climbing, the group was split early into similar faces at the front. It wasn't until the section they call "The Wall" that the separations of the lead group really began. Geoff Kabush (Scott Sport/ Maxxis) and Stephen Ettinger (Focus/ Shimano) put in a small attack as a rider bobbled behind. Sam Schultz (Rocky Mountain/ Kitsbow) saw the move happening and decided he had an answer to their efforts.
"I saw Ettinger and Kabush get away and I thought I had a little pop and I thought those guys looked like they might get away, so I thought it would be good to catch them. We opened a pretty decent gap," said Shultz.
Together they pressed their feet deeper into their pedals to put time on the riders behind them. The next separation for the lead group was on the climb up Frogger where the power meter of Kabush and Ettinger had an extra zone that Schultz couldn't match.
Ettinger eventually won a sprint finish against Kabush to take his first win of the BCBR, while the 2012 Olympian Schultz waltzed in with his shoulder length hair and mustache 3:30 minutes back. It should be noted that Schultz is the first baggy wearing rider to make the Men's Solo Podium in the history of the race. Cory Wallace (Kona Bicycles) and Tim Johnson (VW/ Cannondale/ Mavic/ Lululemon) rounded out the top five for the day. It was Johnson's first stage cracking the top 5 as the lower top ten men shuffled positions.
Once again it was a dynamic battle between the two CLIF Bar Pro riders today. Katerina Nash and Maghalie Rochette duked it out until the top of Frogger Trail when Nash began to put the pressure on her teammate in the false-flat trail of VFR. What seemed like it should be a descent feels more like a series of short grunts when your strength is sapped by the early efforts of the day. Staying cool and efficient in trails like VFR is a combination of fitness and finesse which Nash has an abundance of. Maghalie lost contact and couldn't draw Nash back to her. By the finish line she had lost just over a minute to Nash.
Heilke Elferink (Rocky Mountain) rode strong today and had no need to make a late surge to snag herself another 3rd place while 4th place was filled by the new face of Australian Briony Mattocks. Fifth was rounded out by Carey Mark, one spot behind her last two placings.
Frogger was today's featured trail and the only one of the week that is a climbing trail. The key aspects that make this trail worth bringing attention to are the views it gets of Halfmoon Bay and the dynamics of a growing positive partnership with the Sechelt Community Forest managers. When the Old Frogger trail was logged a few years ago, locals like Rob Camposano did a walk of the freshly logged area, they asked if it would be possible to run the trail to the top instead of leaving the finishing climb on road. The Community Forest manager agreed and even put money behind the project. The result is a new climbing trail that will have a long life and is a benchmark in the level of the club and the land manager's partnership.
Day 4 Preview
The Sechelt to Langdale stage is no slouch and will again test what riders have left from the previous day's efforts. The good news is that the day ends with one of the funnest descents of the week as riders drop down almost 12 km to the finish line at Langdale Ferry Terminal for their last ferry ride of the week.