BC Bike Race: The Day(s) After

5 07 2010

The Thrill of Victory

Mother Hubbard went to the Cupboard: Sunday morning: It was great to finish the BC Bike Race yesterday, and the banquet afterwards was a blast. But somewhere that evening, my body checked out. You’re on your own now, I’m done.” And so began a slow spiral of deteriorating health.

Sunday afternoon: Basically, I feel like crap. I haven’t felt this bad since, well, I can’t remember. I think this is what they call ‘viremia’: I have a headache, a backache… I have no energy; I am dizzy. I could fall asleep at any moment. I have no appetite and frankly, I don’t give a damn. I have done everything I can think of. I’m hydrating, taking vitamins, took a hot-tub, had a massage, went to bed early….I guess mother Hubbard went to the cupboard and the cupboard was bare. I’m going to take it easy for the rest of the week, and hope for the best.

Goodbye to good friends: Sunday evening, Lobby of the Chateau Whistler: Seven days and at least seven good friends. I’ve got phone numbers, business cards, emails, home addresses too. We have a lot in common. It will be sad to part ways with these troopers. And, I’m actually going to follow up this time. Who knows? I might even make a road-trip to Dawson Creek

Back to the real world (really?) Monday morning: Feeling slightly better, had good sweat last night, napped in the car on the way down from Whistler. Actually made it to work today and I’m on task.

Tuesday afternoon: I’m so tired that I had to take time off work today. It’s a rare occurrence for me, but, I still feel like I have been hit by a truck…  I have to get back in the game.

Tuesday evening: I still have a headache but I must be getting better now because I did watch a bit of the soccer and I did check to see if that beer in the corner of the fridge was still cold…So, I must be starting to turn the corner.

Wednesday: I seemto have a bit more spring in my step. I got the kids off to school without a hitch. I even remembered their hats and sunscreen. That’s progress. Today, as I walked down I took the first deep breath in a long time…. (just after crossing the finish line, I started hacking up a lung) … and that was 4 days ago.

Why do we do it? Today after a healthy lunch of grilled mackerel and spinach, I wondered…”Why do we do these things? Why do we use up our precious vacation time only to return to the office, scraped, bruised, twisted and visibly ill? To whom would this seem normal?

After a little while, looking across Ambleside and out over the Lion’s Gate Bridge to Stanley Park, it came to me…

We do this to bolster what psychologists call ‘self-efficacy’. (our confidence in our ability to get things done)

We do this to support our ‘world view’ that we are strong, capable and competent.

We do it because it strengthens our belief that…”I can do it!”

And we do it so that…

at some other time, in some other place…

when the sky is dark and the wind is biting,

we will have the confidence

to follow the star of our desire

across that barren plain,

however far and however wide

to hold the one hand that belongs in ours….

and know that


That’s why we do it.

Anthony M. Ocana MD


BC Bike Race – Day 5: Sechelt to Langdale

2 07 2010

Girl Power: You can’t help but notice that amongst the massive, ripped, pit-bull like warriors are some pretty fresh-faced, lithe, bike chix. This should not surprise anyone, but it is worth noting, that despite their smaller frames and muscles, they are just as strong, just as fast, and just as courageous as any of the men. And frankly, if you got in their way, they would not hesitate to eat you for breakfast. You go, Girls!

Duelling Doctors: Is it a co-incidence or is there a reason that I have now met about 15 other doctors on this trail? Type A, check. Over-acheiver, check. Reward Seeking Personality, check. Get distracted by shiny things, check. No, it’s no co-0incidence. This race was made for us.

The play-by play – The day started relatively well, breakfast was a bit late, so felt a little bloated to start. I had good legs up the first climb as usual, but started to weaken as the insulin surge of breakfast hit me early into the first single track.

I did not panic, took my time, ate and drank diligently and did the water-down-the pants-thing at the first aid station. The cold water lowered my core body temperature quickly and my energy returned. I headed back into the woods with conviction, but got stuck in traffic with some less experienced riders and could not get any momentum. Every time I had the juice to get ahead,  I had to brake to avoid a collision at the next climb or obstacle. The I had to use precious resources to wind it up again. With all the stops and starts, my legs eventually turned to mush and by the second aid station, I was circling the drain, again.

Auto-rescuscitation: By the time I reached the second aid station, things were looking pretty grim. As I got off my bike, I could barely see straight. My knees were weak and my gait was wobbly. I reached out to grab the handle on the back of the Aid Station truck like an air sick passenger reaches for the bathroom door. Then, I lost control of my bladder. I’m a bit embarrassed about it, but physiology can often trump even the best manners, so I let it go, much to the horror of the aid-crew who were watching me like hawks, but in a good way. Again, I did not panic, because I had read about this in a cycling magazine recently and I knew what I needed to do. So, I calmly took one bottle after another and slowly poured them over my head, down my neck, down my pants and I was quite amazed by how quickly I felt better.

Rain Forest Romp

Then I slowly drank and ate my way back into fighting shape in what seemed like a half hour but was probably only 29 minutes… and set off for the last 400 m climb through the forest, before the sweet descent to the Ferry terminal in Langdale. This all went relatively well, although I did have to walk a significant amount, but I had the nerve and the guts to ride most of the slippery bridges and ladders that surely would have been my nemesis had I not taken the time to refocus and refuel.

Finding the Groove Again: The final descent was a spectacular series of buffed berms and bends and I felt that I rode it competently. As the trail snaked down the hillside, and the Red Bull shot seared through my circuits I found the groove again. Like driving a car, I sent the front wheel wide, visualized the apex, and squared my shoulders to the exit and down the next straightaway. Someday, I will do this automatically and effortlessly, but right now it’s still a series of mechanical tasks that need to be strung together consciously. I avoided any major heroics as I was not feeling like falling 10 feet into a creek. Moreover, I was getting bounced around quite a bit towards the bottom as my two year old shocks were starting to fail. Never the less, I arrived safely at the bottom in 5:35.

BC Bike Race – Day 4: Earls Cove to Sechelt

30 06 2010

Technical Challenges on Day 4

Trauma on the Trail: Touch wood. I have not had any major crashes. OK, my body is covered with scrapes and bruises of every size and colour of the rainbow. I have crushed both pinky fingers on passing tree trunks; I have had a handful of endos (short, for end over handle bars). And, I had a couple of good high-speed tumbles… but so far, all my injuries are “dermatological”. Crashes in cycling fall into four categories: dermatological vascular, orthopedic or neurosurgical. As I walk around our campsite every night, I see more and more people who had serious crashes, so I consider myself lucky. To be fair though, I’m also careful. I don’t go charging down the trail. I leave that to the thrill-seekers: I have kids and a mortgage. It never ceases to amaze me how fast some of these guys (and gals) go… it’s frightening, really. Having said that, these are not the guys who crash. It’s the tentative ones. In mountain-biking commitment is everything.  I’m not quite there yet, but I certainly had a lot of practice on Day 4. Off camber obstacles have often been the bane of my day. Today, I learned to power up and float, using my body positioning and leaning the bike into the turn to optimize traction… most importantly, I learned to keep my hands off the brakes, take on speed as necessary and look down the trail, sometimes looking around the corner, for a flatter, grippier section, where braking would not send me into a skid.

The Tyranny of Tenting: During the past 4 days we have been living in tents. In the evening, base camp becomes a veritable tent city with portable bathrooms and showers, etc. At night, we retitre to our small nylon homes which we share with a tent-mate. This is not necessarily bad. You get to meet an interesting person from another part of the world with whom you have a great deal in common, mostly biking, but often other interests and traits as well. It’s actually one of the best parts of this whole adventure. So far I have had two roomies, Frank from Sydney, Australia and Dirk, a South African psychiatrist who now lives in Dawson Creek, BC. The downside is that now that you have someone to talk to, you do, often late into the night. This cuts down on precious sleep time. You also sleep on the floor, which does not lend itslf well to recovery. It’s damp and depending on body chemistry and the digestive patterns of your roomie, it can also be a bit smelly.

The Play by Play – I pushed up into the ranks of the elites today on a long hilly stage. That worked for quite a while, but energy is not endless and enthusiasm has its perils. My mantra all day was, maintain position, maintain position. That worked for a while too, but all those burly descenders were soon upon me and the descents were tricky if not ominous, so I had to concede positions to my chagrin. At the second aid station my back was hurting… when I went to visit the bushes I saw my urine was dark yellow… I remebered what we were told in orientation, “every good mountaineer pees clear… so I drank about 2 l and poured another 2 L over my head and down my pants, even though we’re not supposed to do that. I figured it was better to pour that water on my head than to need it intravenously later. It sure helped. It gave me the energy to push up that nasty little climb and as I crested the next hill the cool breeze felt fantastic as it billowed through my soaking jersey. And then I felt my energy coming back. As the food and water from the last aid station started to enter by blood-stream, I felt my energy and confidence return.

The kindness of strangers:Minutes later, just after the aforementioned cool breeze, as I careened down the double track, the guy ahead of me hit the breaks and a cloud of dust obscured the apex of the turn. Suddenly a rock the size of a baby’s head appeared directly in front of me. With a flick of the wrist and a spring of the legs, I took to the air and over I went… however, this baby had a rather pointy head so as my back tire slammed into it, it caused my tire to ‘burp’. This, I am told is what happens when you hit a tubeless tire with great impact, breaking the seal of the tire with the rim, and letting out the aforementioned low pitched ‘burp’ sound. Luckily, I came to a safe stop and lost not too much time as another rider who could see I was a newbie, (I didn’t know how to put the tube into a tubeless tire, I didn’t even have a tube because I was assured I could not get a flat, and my Co2 inflator did not work) This fellow, from Endless Biking kindly stopped to lend a hand..and got me on my way. Thank God for the Good Samaritan..

Finding Flow on the Sunshine Coast

In Flow: We’re  going down. While it is certainly not my strength my descending skills have been improving all week. In the past, having always ridden a hard tail my tendency has been to find the path between big rocks and around the edges of deep grooves. That works sometimes. But sometimes the best line is the one over the rocks and into the groove. That’s where weight distribution and good shocks make the work into a game.  That is of course easier said than done. When you are scared, you lean forward, your back tire loses grip and the whole thing goes to hell in a hand-basket pretty quickly. It’s hard to believe that those rocky, dusty, steep and twisty bits are actually rideable. But they are… and it feels so amazing when you finally get it right.

This is what Mihalyi i (CHICK-zent-mi-high) calls flow. In his book Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience (1990) he described the flow state as one in which an athlete performs seemingly without effort, but with total concentration, feeling totally in control without thinking about it. Self-consciousness recedes into the background as total focus is upon present activity, such that someone might call you to dinner and you would not hear a thing.

To paraphrase Czikszentmihaly’s work, you get into flow when you find the sweet spot between challenge and reward. That means that the activity has to be difficult enough to engage all of one’s senses, yet easy enough that one can succeed and experience the reward of mastery.

I finished the rest of that day, thanks to the Good Samaritan, competently and in flow and arrived safely at base camp in Sechelt in 5:32.

BC Bike Race – Day 3: Powell River

29 06 2010

Finesse in the Forest

Day 3 – Fun in the Forest: OK I am caught up now and feel much better both physically and mentally… could it be a good night’s sleep?… All the great people, anti-inflammatories, Red Bull energy shot, a doule bowl of oatmeal… All of the above?

Race Relations… I’m not fond of people who bend the rules, in my business we call them boundary crossers…but… I guess I often find myself in that position where I would like someone to bend the rules for me. Anyway, here at BC bike Race, Michelle from Race Relations has made my day. We are only allowed one bag, our skookum new Dakine bag to be exact. I don’t really want to cram my new 17″ MacBook Pro into my race bag, so Michelle has been kind enough to carry my laptop with her, so I can blog while on the ferry. This precious time, usually in the morning, is the only time have energy and cognitive function to write anything, so I am very thankful.

Tent Mafia: It takes a special kind of person to yell at someone, first thing in the morning. I am not saying they are bad people… But only a special person can yell at the top of their lungs a t 6 am, “Anyone who is not out of their tent in 20 minutes does not get any coffee.” I don’t even drink coffee, but they sure had my attention. I suppose the ability to yell at people must have some surviuval value, because you find these special people everywhere: police officers, airport security people, nurses. I guess they are put on earth to help all us ADD survivors to get our shit together and stop procrastinating. Maybe their parents yelled at them. My parents never really did that, so I always find it somewhat abrasive (maybe I was just grumpy after having two shitty days). But, I guess that’s why it works.

Different Strokes: This is a long race.. 7 days and, to the trail designers credit, they have thrown in a wide variety of  geographical and technical elements to test both our fitness and bike handling skills. The first day was 67km and arduous. The second day was shorter but more brutish with a 10 km climb in the middle of the day and another nasty climb towards the end of the day. Today will shorter, only 53k, but it looks very choppy.

The Play by Play: We start the day with a long outbound double-track and I’m feeling strong…the local school kids have lined the trail and are cheering madly making me feel, for a minute, like I am Fabian Cancellara in the Tour de France. I am passing on the flat with confidence. I feel steady in the single track today… maintaining position behind my new friends, also riding under the Different Bikes banner, the husband and wife team of Marty and Frannie. It’s endearing listening to them chatter back and forth, supporting each other, making sure they are in sync. Now that’s attachment.

Physics Power: Meanwhile, I am adapting to the geometry of my new bike. It’s actually an old bike, but since I had my bike re-fit by my cycling coach, the indomitable, Larry Zimich, things are a bit different and I’m still getting used to it. Larry measured and tweaked my position in climbing, time trial and sprinting positions. He shortened my stem, trimmed my handle-bars, lowered my seat and moved it forward a smidge. The goal here is to be able to get as aerodynamic as possible, maintain power and optimize traction. The principle is that as you lower your torso, you decrease angle between you chest and your quad. That decreases wind resistance, which is 95% of what you are pushing against, but it also decreases power. So, by moving the seat a bit forward you open the angle and restore the power. Now, it’s time to use all this science to optimize energy transfer from mitochondria to pedal to where the rubber hits the loam. Sit back, pull back and scrape mud.

I also dropped the psi in my back tire to 30 from 45 and switched from Schwalbe Racing Rons to Nobby Nicks, which increases traction and allows me to roll over wet roots rather than spinning out or getting bounced around.

Colin Kerr of Bowen Island

There were Lots of stops and starts today, so I was trying to focus on consistency… Winding up my wheels, rather than pounding away at them. There’s more to this than meets the eye. After wind resistance and rolling resistance, there is rotational resistance. That is the force required to push the rotating parts through one revolution. As it turns out, the force is proportional to the weight of the rotating parts. So that is why weight weenies first obsession is the heft of their hoops. The lighter the wheels, tires, pedals and cranks, the less force required to push them around. The next factor is the friction at the level of the hub. The smoother the bearings, the less force it takes to push them around. So, as the sweetness of light wheels meets the blessing of smooth bearings you have a dream which gets better with each  revolution. Now, if you can increase the force on the cranks slow and smoothly, rather than fast and furiously, you expend less energy; And, if you can optimize your pedal stroke to deliver power evenly over the entire 360 revolution, you’re even more efficient. And, if you can maximize the transfer of power from your body to the bike by stabilizing your bum on the seat; And, if you can distribute the power output to a broader selection of fast twitch muscles by pulling back on the handle bars while pulling forward with your core; And you can optimize the oxygen transfer to your muscles by taking slow deep breaths; And you can make sure there is enough glucose going to your muscles to fuel aerobic metabolism… then you can really fly.

Very few open climbs today so just trying to maintain my position in the forest and pass on the double track. The open descent with wide turns and long straightaways played to my strength. So whenever I could, I tucked into TT position and cheated the wind… I had my best day yet. I took another 15 spots: 4:05 today, WOW… Now I’m 51st, vs.84th yesterday in Solo Masters Men . Beware the tortoise!

BC Bike Race – Day 2: Cumberland

29 06 2010

Day 2: I am determined to catch up on my blogging. A promise is a promise. And today I have decided to forego the usual waiting. So doing things in reverse order from everyone else means not standing in line to do what everyione else is doing.

OK, Day 2 was a bit more fun… I didn’t race out of the gate like usual, but then got stuck in traffic. I guess you can’t get around it. 500 mountainbikers is a lot of peple. The first part of the ride was the old kind of single track. Nothing too scary, actually it was what you would call flowy… That dumped us at the bottom of a long 10k climb. Like I said, I like climbing, so before I even started to climb, I tucked into my chocolate rice pudding concoction and had a smile on my face. Slowly, slowly I made my way up the hill. Happily passing people by using the European technique of cycle climbing. Focus on keeping your pedal cycle smooth.  Rather than just pushing the pedal down with your quad on every stroke.  You are scraping mud. Pulling back with your hamstring and up with your core hip flexor with each stroke saves your quads for power moves and means that you have a higher cadence and you are not losing energy by bobbing up and down. For a change, now and then I will click into a higher gear and stand on the pedals, using my core muscles to drive my knees forward while pulling back on the bars. That stretches the back and quads, allowing blood in and lactate to be cleared out.

The big climb

the nasty down hill

the bump and grind

Anthony Ocana

Bike Mechanical: Unfortunately, about 3 hours into the race, I heard an awful sound, the sound that every biker dreads. Looking down I saw my derailleur hanging upside down from my chain. Fortunately, I had an extra derailleur hanger in my bag, thanks to Cynthia from Different Bikes. Unfortunately, I could not get the old one off without a crescent wrench. Luckily, every person who passed me asked me what I needed. Unfortunatly, no one had a crescent wrench. Fortunately, the motorcycle guy, Stewart came along and he had one. Unfortunately, it took 30 minutes for him to show up. Fortunately, we got the new one on in a jizzy. Unfortunately, just as we were about to wrap up, he noticed that my chain was about to break. Fortunately, I had a extra chain link, that I got at Mountain Co-op for $3.50. Unfortunately, in all the commotion we seemed to have dropped the bushing that goes on the end of the skewer that locks the back wheel on. Fortunately, Stewart has better eyes than I do and we found it and I was on my way. Unfortunately, 50 m later on a steep, narrow, curving sandy track… I did an endo into the bushes. Fortunately, no one saw.

finding the line – At the second aid station… I got a bit more to eat and drink… I tried a HONEY STINGER from EN-R-G Foods…while it is basically just honey… it really hit the spot. I also took a couple of those RED BULL shots and put them in my water-bottle. Then for some reason, my biking started to improve, my speed increased, I stopped hearing the sound of the bike behind me. I compressed into my turns, I looked down the trial more, I started to see the line… and the corners of my mouth started turned up for the first time in this race. The line I’m talking about is the line between the rocks, over the roots, down the shoot and around the tree. That’s the difference between the beer and sausage riders and the good guys (and gals). Once you see the line, you lay off the brakes, allowing you to carry momentum that into the flatter sections… OK, now this is fun.

So, I was an hour slower than I should have been, but I finished.

the massage in the storm

finally found my appetite

still not in the flow

never say die

everything worth having is work

a lovely dinner

winners are something else

avoiding the tent mafia

BC Bike Race – Day 1: Nanaimo

28 06 2010

Andrew Handford of Different Bikes

The buses rolled out of Inter-river park at 7 am, BC FERRIES bound to Nanaimo. Inside, were nearly 500 riders on their way to the first day of an epic 7 days of riding the best single track, BC has to offer. As one of the organizers said, “it’s a whole summer’s worth of mountain biking in one week”.

I would certainly have to agree with that. Actually, it seems like a whole summer’s worth of single track in one day. Because as I write this, I am sitting in my tent, at the end of day two in Cumberland, blogging about day one, because I was too tired yesterday to move one extra muscle to blog about anything.

The United Nations of Cycling: Here at the BC Bike Race, you don’t have to stand or sit beside someone for more than a few seconds before they introduce themselves. I figure that by the end of the week I may know more than a hundred new people from all over the world, by name. That’s pretty rich. Today I met Jesse from Hong Kong, Chris from Thailand, Marco from Mexico, Carlos from Argentina, Morgan from Calgary and Karen from Victoria. That’s just between North Vancouver and Nanaimo.

Think about it. How many times have you passed someone at work or in your neighbourhood and you don’t know their name or a thing about them. It’s pretty common. So, from a human interaction point of view, this really is more like summer camp for mountain-bikers, than a seven day stage-race.

The Power Move: Today we started by climbing into the hills above Nanaimo, where the skill du jour is the “power move”. That means that in order to lift your bike over an obstacle: a root, a fallen tree, a rock, a sudden steep rise in the trail… you need to power up, and over it and to do that you have to be in  your middle ring (not your granny gear) And, yeah, we did that about a thousand times before the first aid station. Luckily, having spent most of last year climbing hills in my middle ring, this was not beyond me, and I was having fun.

West Coast Special:  The next major activity of the day was the rooty, rocky, twisty, sudden drop-off into the abyss, single track. This is a west coast special. And, the guys and gals around here are very, very good at it. Me, not so much…and so at this point, I was not having so much fun. I can do it, just not fast and not for hours in a row. These elite cyclists, or elites as I call them are figure skaters in the Olympics. They make it look easy, except you and I know, it isn’t.

AID STATION ERROR: One of the reasons I wasn’t having much fun as the afternoon wore on, was probably because I did not eat enough at the first Aid Station. This is a typical newbie error. You think, “wow, here are all the people who just passed me; standing around. I think I will just pass them back.” DUMB, dumber, dumbest. They are not standing around they are refuelling. And, if you think that is a minor consideration, you will soon see their backs as they speed by you.

Besides being nervous and not sleeping well the night before, I didn’t eat much for breakfast, or during the first part of the race. Then I skipped the aforementioned refuelling, so eventually about 5 k before the second aid station, I bonked.

Carbs are the Remedy: Luckily, I had my secret weapon (rice pudding and chocolate milk shake). So after I downed that, my brain and then my muscles started to work again. And, lo and behold, we have got ourselves a race after all.  Carbohydrate is essential for mountain -biking fun because it increases brain serotonin levels. It is essential for maintaining concentration too because rapid rises in glucose stimulate dopamine release. Carbs are essential for performance because they keep your muscles from going into lactic acidosis, which means you don’t hurt as much as you are grinding up that hill before the big drop. When your on the BC BIKE RACE and your into your third, fourth or fifth hour. Carbs are not just a factor. They are the Remedy!

Love it or Hate it: The third element of mountain biking is the fire road. Flat or uphill, most real mountain-bikers hate it. Me, I’m a more of a roadie, so I love it. This is where I slowly move ahead, only to have the same guys I passed on the way up, barge past me again on the way down. Oh well. I guess it all comes out in the wash.

So, Day 1 ended in the middle of Nanaimo Stadium. My time was 5:28, nothing to write home about, but not the worst either. I waited for a cold shower, had a heavenly massage, washed my bike and my water bottles, waited to eat a pretty tasteless plate of pasta, then crashed in my tent at 9 pm.

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