BC Bike Race Diary: Wrapping it up in Whistler

A bitter sweet end to an amazing adventure - the BC Bike Race.

Race Coverage
The BC Bike Race is an adventure that should be on any purist mountain bike racer's bucket list.

The BC Bike Race is an adventure that should be on any purist mountain bike racer’s bucket list.

Editor’s Note: This article is part of a series of contributions by MTBR guest writer and Cat 1 Pro Alex Kramer who hails from Los Gatos, CA and works as an instructor at De Anza College. Kramer has been racing 10 years, but has been riding since he was 12 years old when he received a 1988 Rockhopper as a Christmas present. He is also a long standing, active member of the MTBR forums. He recently won his age category at the Sea Otter Classic this year in the Cat 1 division. To read the first installment of his BC Bike Race Diary – (Better than a midlife crisis!) click here.

With a world-class bike park and miles of scenic, challenging trails, Whistler has become a bit of a Mecca for mountain bikers, making it only fitting that this is where the final stage of the BC Bike Race takes place.

Our wake-up call on the final morning was another early one, as we would need to board buses at 7am to make the 45 minute drive North from Squamish. After 4 days of hard riding, I could feel the miles in my legs, and the fact that this would be a shorter stage was bit of a relief, although the realization that this would be my last day of riding in Canada was also a touch bittersweet. There are so many more trails that I would love to ride, but sadly it will have to wait for another trip.

On the agenda for the day would be more punchy steep climbs, with flowy singletrack and the usual roots and rocks that we’d grown to love. Like the previous day in Squamish, my goal was to ride hard at the front of the group and enjoy tackling the singletrack in the company of some of the stronger riders in the race.

The race organizers warned us that this wouldn’t be a parade lap final stage, and they weren’t kidding, as several of the climbs were among the steepest and nastiest of the whole week. Luckily the downhills were equally memorable, including some of the more well-known trails outside of the bike park, such as Tunnel Vision and Danimal North.

After a bit under 2 hours of racing we ended up in Rainbow Park and crossed under the banner one final time. I had to wait a bit for Harold to roll in, as he had an untimely flat right after the start, but luckily he was able to make a quick repair and enjoy the rest of the stage. With lots of cheering friends and family present at the finish line, it was a very festive end to a long week of racing.

Enjoying a final post-race refreshment in the lounge.

Enjoying a final post-race refreshment in the lounge.

Later that evening, after a long shower and relaxing afternoon in Whistler Village, we attended the final banquet, which provided some opportunity to reflect on the week. Of course I wish I had never become sick with a nasty stomach bug, as it definitely made for a tough first few days, but luckily I was able to enjoy the final 5 stages of the race.

The weather was also less than ideal, at least for us sun loving Californians, but in a sense it was only appropriate to have experienced some rain and mud, as this is what BC locals are used to and the trails held up remarkably well. Seeing photos of the racers in such epic conditions only helped to reinforce that this is part of what makes BC such a beautiful and special place.

Reflecting on the event itself, I want to tip my hat to the race organizers for doing an impressive job with the logistics. Sure, we had to wait in line a fair amount and everyone’s patience was tested a bit, but that’s only normal when being part of such a large event. Taking care of the needs of 600 people is never easy, but having to do it in the context of a multi-day stage race is simply an insane task, and all the staff and volunteers deserve a round of applause.

This is what 600 race bikes looks like.

This is what 600 race bikes looks like.

Before I forget, I should also share a few final thoughts about the bike. Overall, I really enjoyed my time aboard the Thunderbolt BC Edition, as it truly is a responsive, versatile bike that could be used for everything from traditional XC racing to even an Enduro race. If I was a top level rider gunning for a podium spot at BCBR, I’d probably choose a short travel 29er, such as the new 2017 Element that Rocky Mountain just launched a few weeks ago. It was no surprise to see quite a few podium finishers on an Element.

For someone riding unfamiliar terrain, though, some of which was really quite gnarly, having a more versatile bike like the Thunderbolt really helped me enjoy the trails. The Thunderbolt is about as good a one-quiver bike as I’ve ridden, and for anyone looking to buy just one bike and ride it everywhere, I would highly recommend taking one for a test ride.

Photo Thumbnails (click to enlarge)

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