BC Bike Race – Day 0: North Vancouver

27 06 2010

BC Bike Race

The fourth running of the BC Bike race got off the ground today. Throughout the infield the sounds of comraderie, co-operation and connection were in the air as old friendships were rekindled and new friendships bloomed like the flowers on the surrounding blackberry bushes. It took about ten seconds, before Stu, the long and lanky guy ahead of me in line, and I were chatting and getting to know each other. Before long, I was in a scrum of about 8 people, laughing, sharing stories and offering words of wisdom. I also met big Bruce, the guy with whom I rode up to the start line. He invited me to stay at his place in Georgia (the state, not the country) and Nick, an somewhat pasty and slightly overweight expat who lives in London, UK who kindly held my bike while I visited the blackberry bushes. Then he let me start ahead of him, because I guess, by the way men communicate, I gave him the impression that I might be overtaking him as soon as I had a chance.

The reason, for all this friendliness is also the down-side of the day… all the time we stood around waiting. I think I spent nearly 2 hours getting through registration and at least an hour waiting in what could have been sun-stroke weather, at the start line. Why not do all the registering on line, verify with one signature on-site, and have the other information taken/ or services offered by people with clipboards or mobile phones. As far as the prologue start. We could have “started” in groups of 10-15 at base camp and used the ride up to the timing mat to thin the pack so that we still entered the single track one-by one.

A Massive Undertaking: I don’t want to come across as a complainer… because, to be fair, this is a massive undertaking. Organizing 500 mountain-bikers through registration and a prologue, before sitting them all down for an hour-long briefing, and then loading the whole show into trucks and buses and moving it to Nanaimo for the next day, must be a logistical nightmare. So, with all that in mind, I’d say it definitely cleared the end of the runway and yes, “Houston, We have Lift Off”.

It was a perfect day for mountain-biking… not too hot, with a signature North Shore breeze and cloud cover to keep things cool. The general vibe was warm… there was a circus-like feel with music, food vendors, sponsors and the big tent forming the periphery of the base camp.

Swish Swag: Thanks for the bitchin’ shades from RYDERS, the fab gear bag (on rollers) from DAKINE, the black socks (essential for mud bunnies) from SOCK GUY, a black BC BIKE RACE T-shirt and a top drawer BC BIKE RACE cycling jersey.

Catherine Pendrell - winner of the women's prologue

Rip and Hammer: And, it was over nearly as soon as it started. The brief rip and hammer through the North Shore woods was as adrenaline packed as any you could imagine. After a quick spin up a gravel path, a little twist and turn through the meadow, we rode along a rocky, rooty ridge, then dropped into granny gear for the not-too technical, but anaerobic micro grind… and finally down a choice section of old school single-track with just enough edge to test the mettle of our technical riding skills. All that in about ten minutes…Phew!

From the bike geek perspective, it was wise to pull a few psi out of the front-tire in order to avoid being bounced around too much, and you had to keep your head up to see the best lines, but otherwise, there was no particular technical adjustment or bike style that would have given one bike an advantage over any other. Ditto for nutrition.

Different Shapes and Sizes: Athletic events make for interesting people watching. As a physician, I am in the noticing business, so my comments are not meant as judgements, just observations. Bikers have a certain look… As a rule they are not too tall, lean, maybe a bit anemic. Most of them have short hair (to avoid overheating in their skid-lids). They are muscular: wiry, rather than beefy… and they have fantastic calves. You never saw such beautiful, sculpted, legs in your life.. and veins. These legs have veins in places, you never even thought there were places. Oh, and did I mention, shaved smoooooth, to within a hair of their life. So, if you want to see great legs, this is the place. Oh and that’s just the guys. The women are attractive in a different way. Fresh faced, yes. But their bodies are hard and shall we say under-estrogenized, but hey, that’s what it takes. This is not the Moulin Rouge! On Day 0, I also saw a lot of bodies that, well… just didn’t seem to fit… There were pot bellies, saggy bottoms and jiggly thighs. Who knew? So, if you thinbk you have to have a perfect body to be a mountain biker, you are wrong.

The last order of business, the racer briefing was actually one of the high-points of the day. The race executives: Dean Payne, Andreas Hestler and James from OBSESSION: BIKES  educated and entertained us. In the process, we all had a few good belly laughs and all that waiting was forgotten. PS. How do you tell a brown bear from a grizzly bear? The grizzly bear scat has bear-bells in it. How do you escape a grizzly bear if it is chasing you and your partner? Trip your partner. See you tomorrow in Nanaimo… and don’t be last.

Anthony M Ocana MD