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Day 2 — Cumberland

July 19, 2010

The theme of the week would establish itself.  Up before 6, pack up bags, load them up, stand in the breakfast line, then bus or ferry or both.  This time, about an hour bus ride later, we landed in the small town of Cumberland, BC.  A former coal mining town its population had dwindled to around 3000.   We would be encouraged to buy beer later that day to help save the trail Space Nugget.   Apparently we are lacking in interesting trail names back home.

Luckily for me a bus or two had broken down and the race start was delayed.   After retrieving my bike from turning it in yesterday to get the travel adjust shifter fixed, I discovered my fork was from planet Pluto (can I still say that?).  It apparently had decided that — really, you only need about 100mm of sluggish travel and 40mm of squishy sag is lovely!  Loam is fun, but that sinking feeling is not what you want in your fork.  Maybe a month of break-in on my Magura Thor was not enough.  The guys at Obsession Bikes loaned me a shock pump and I loaded it up to 80, which wasn’t right but somewhat better.  It made for a less than ideal front end and I would have to turn the bike in at the end of the day.  I don’t want to know how much it cost, but they will do what it takes to get you going … for a price.

Life at the back of a 500 person race brings unexpected bonuses, such as being able to converse with the people around you as you endure or embrace a 45 minute off the bike conga line at the beginning of the single track.   I was so blitzed out from the experience that I missed a turn in the next section off the gravel road where everything finally unlocked. Luckily it didn’t cost the three of us (Debra, Suzanne, and me) too much time and our new friend David was there to make sure someone was sent after us if I we didn’t realize our error.  David had done the full Epic ride yesterday and that was enough for him thank you very much.  We were glad to have him around.

The singletrack sections here were great – so totally great.  We started off in a section of rollercoaster fun and then proceeded into even more flowy trail.  All you could do was whoop and wish it never ended.   We had formed a loose team, Team Chill.  Suzanne from Australia/Vancouver, Liana from S. Africa, David from Albuquerque and Debra and myself from Texas.  We also had Ginger from N. Carolina for company once and a while as well as Melissa and Jacque from Wisconsin.  Later in the week we would enjoy the company of Nick from London.  That’s the thing about a race like this you made a lot of friends over the week and it’s hard to let them go.  Good thing we have Facebook and email.

Then it happened, we’re spit out onto a dirt road.  That’s ok.  But we soon learn, the pros are coming.   It turns out our days would be this way from now on, except for Day 5 and Day 7 when we do the same route as Epic.  We take a shortcut and then are fed back into the mail trail, which means we get to see some 100-300+ people pass us!  This is not so much fun for either party.

Hopping off the bike so often was miserable and for that reason I hesitate to recommend the Challenge to anyone except fast people or people who don’t get nervous or pushed around easily.   There was more than one bad wreck when an Epic rider ran a Challenge rider off the trail after not calling a pass or not waiting (and at this point we’re talking midpackers) for someone to get out of the way and believe me we hustled to do so, not wanting to screw up anyone’s race.  This was the real black spot on a great event and I’ll try not to mention it again.  I don’t think the organizers (it was the first year they had tried this) really knew what a problem it was.   I am pretty confident and not easily pushed around and could go fast enough in most sections I didn’t have a problem, so I was lucky there.   Although there were times it felt like a cruise missile was bearing down on me and I barely escaped some sort of horrible encounter on a downhill.

We cruised down some logging road, watched the front of the race go by us, and arrived at the world’s most beautiful aid station right next to a lake.   Soon after we did our major climb for the day at around 225m.   It was dirt road and I felt great nailing the whole thing and then being able to stop and enjoy the view.

The rest of the trail was pretty fun and mostly downhill as we eased into camp.   They always had some snacks out for us, enough to tide you over to dinner.  Then it was time to: get your bike washed and onto the truck or washed and over to the repair shop.   Somewhere in there you’d grab a shower hopefully, get set up in the tent (which they put up for you) and look forward to dinner.  This night, unlike all the others, we got to eat in a restaurant.  It was buffet style and really good.  Cumberland was a cute town and I enjoyed our evening there, nestled down and surrounded by mountains that still had snow.   Right next to the field we were camped on was yet another BMX track full of little boys and girls out ripping it up.   No wonder people here ride so well.  They start young.

One Comment leave one →
  1. December 1, 2010 10:55 pm

    Hey Jen, great blog!

    We wanted to say once again congratulations on completing the BC Bike Race this year! Also, thanks for the comments on the issues experienced by Challenge Competitors when being passed by Epic Competitors. We had not anticipated this to be as much of a problem but can now learn from our experience. Your thoughts here are helping us to remodel our routes to avoid this problem in the future.

    Thanks for joining us in the inaugural year of the BC Bike Race Challenge and we hope you can join us again in the future!

    Tom Skinner
    BC Bike Race

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