BC Bike Race experiences? Maybe do something else?

So I’m primarily a triathlete and had a few halves and my first full-distance Ironman planned for this summer. I was also hoping to get more into mountain biking and maybe try some XC, XCM, or a stage race like Pisgah. Obviously, everything was canceled and now I’m trying to figure out what I want to do next year.

Currently, I have a full Ironman in May and a half in August, but that’s it. I’ll be moving/taking a 1+ month vacation in late June through July, and am trying to find something slightly stupid (i.e. lots of fun and suffering) to do during that time period. The BC Bike Race looks pretty awesome, fits perfectly in my schedule, and we love that part of the country (moved from the Seattle area last spring). I hoping (fingers crossed) to be moving to southern California around that time next year which would put me on the right coast…if things don’t go as planned, I will probably end up in Boston, Chicago, or another major city but could still make the trip.

Long story short, I can figure out my training plan and stuff like that. I’m just looking for any community input on:

  • How is the race? Who has done it? I’ve watched a bunch of youtube vlogs but I’m interested in what the average joe’s experience is like.
  • Is there anything else that would be worth doing (or doing instead) during that timeframe?
  • If I do this, I’d probably be riding my Santa Cruz Tallboy 4. From what I’ve seen, it looks to have the right amount of travel. Can you think of any recommended/necessary modifications? I’ll certainly need to lighten it up a bit (around 30lbs right now).
  • Is anyone else planning on racing this?

I live on the BC coast and have ridden most of the route, so I can at least speak to the trail character.

BCBR is quite unique for XCM races. Coastal bc trails are steep, fast, and technical, and can get very unpredictable in the rain. The BCBR trails are no exception. BCBR is very expensive, I would only recommend you do this race if you think you would enjoy that type of riding. If you wanted something cheaper that is on more aggressive trails, single track 6 is the ticket.

Most riders are on bigger bikes than a typical xc race, I think the tall boy is a great bike choice. I would recommend a 30t up front for the climbs, which are long and at times steep.

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I haven’t raced BCBR (yet) but I have supported a rider twice and ridden a fair amount of the trails/courses used in 2013/2014. There are some long, steep fire road climbs but there is a lot of technical singletrack and that is pretty much the attraction. I did 4 days of ST6 in 2016 and in my experience, BCBR is more technical. I’m a technical rider with a competitive XC background so did all of this on a pure XC rig (29er hardtail/27.5 fully). I find the XC rig perfect for it, and it’s certainly what the fastest riders have usually been on, although I haven’t followed the last couple of years. Most of the field are on trail set ups though. I think it’s less a matter of horses for courses and more about the horse preferred by the rider.

I’m planning on doing BCBR myself in 2022, and ST6 again at some stage (and finish it - my back seized on me last time as I was poorly conditioned going in to it and should only have ever done the 3).

Everyone I know who has done BCBR has loved it. They really look after the riders and make it a really amazing experience. Personally I can’t wait to get there and would probably have gone this year or next but, y’know, Covid.

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I’ve done it twice, 2015 and 2019. It’s great, and I will probably do it again some time. The organization is top notch, but it really needs to be given all of the changes of location. Depending on where you are finishing, there can be lines for the bathrooms, showers, etc. One thing about this year - I think they are changing the route up. I saw an instagram post that it’s not going to Powell River, and with the addition of a “Vanlife” option, I suspect it might be all sea-to-sky region and not on the island or Sunshine Coast - not sure about that as they haven’t announced it yet. That would actually be super cool - there are so many good riding areas (eg. Vedder Mountain). If they do this, it will be technically harder than the typical year.

The BCPOV video series is actually a decent way to know what you’re getting into - I like how for long stretches its just you and the trail. He also shows some of the outside the race stuff. Watch those (on the trainer) if you haven’t already.

Tallboy is a good choice for the race - most people will be on similar other than the pros who can do it on 100mm travel and Aspens. I’ve done it both times on Nobby Nic / Racing Ralph and one had one flat in two years of the race.

I’m not doing the race next year - ST6 instead. Who knows with Covid if any of these are even happening. It is a lot of money, and if you really know an area I suspect you can have lots of fun just doing your own stage race week, but the organization, trail selection, support (on and off the bike) make it much easier unless you are a local.

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I had planned on doing it this year but of course have had to postpone to at least next year , if Covid doesn’t reduce and I can’t get a flight from New Zealand then in 2022.

I have done a lot of research and have ridden Whistler a number of times and Squamish. From looking at the trails most are up to BC Blue / grade 3 maybe a 3+ for in comparison to most places. I am technically proficient and better at down than up and am planning on using a Revolver FS120 so 120/120. I can’t wait and it will be fun and looking at the entrants that is a huge range of abilities.

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Thanks for all the insight. I ended up registering for the race! Now just lots of planning and training to do. I’m sure my bike fitness will be :fire: :fire: :fire: at that point since I’ll just have finished training for a full ironman and will be training for a half in Boulder in August. I will certainly need to spend a lot of time working on my technique, though!

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Enjoy Fernie! I ride there a fair amount, so reach out if you have any trail-specific questions.

Yes, Fernie is fantastic. We’ve rented a house there for 2-3 weeks in the summer a few times. Trails in all directions from the town that you can just ride to from where you’re staying.

Hello all, first time posting here ^_^.

In a nutshell: no you shouldn’t do anything else, you should do BCBR if you can. It’s a tremendous experience and superbly executed (and: I have done other ultras). That said, read on for caveats.

I have two BCBRs under my belt, missed '19 of course and I’m signed up for 2021. I’m your “average joe”, referring to the OP (but of course, we’re all superstars just for being here ^_^). That is, while I have been riding technical MTB for almost 30 years (yay) I don’t possess “racing” fitness (boo - but almost 50, I’m training more seriously now). Traditionally I like long technical outings (à la BCBR) but I often stop to smell the flowers.

Depending on what you want to get out of BCBR (really: the fun vs fast balance), and how your expectations match reality, you will either have a wonderful time, or you feel embarrased and curse the whole week.

Technically, BCBR is polarizing: riders who aren’t technically capable seem to suffer quite a bit, based on the amount of complaining I hear. At the end of day one, people are either high-fiving and gushing or they are complaining and (often) banged up. Day one is technical and does a lot of expectation setting.

If your North Shore skills are up to scratch you will be elated at the end of each day, because the trails are technically marvellous (of course! it’s the best of BC). There is quite a high percentile of technical singletrack (80%+) and the few roads/fireroads just link up the awesomeness (and are in superb settings anyway: a chance to look up and around).

What do you normally wear? I’m not being funny: The lycra-set often smoke the baggy-crowd on the climbs, but when it comes time to point the bike down, the baggy-crowd gets lycra berms: they seem to part like The Great Sea. These riders lacking technical chops curse and manually side-slip down rock rolls etc and fall off bridges: I even yanked a rider out of a river last year who crasshed navigating a wet wooden bridge.

Bike? Get a light, tough 29er with a HUGE granny gear. Increase the travel to have more fun downhill and less fun uphill (weight). Decrease travel/weight to be faster uphill but have less fun on the way down. Honestly I aim for something in the middle (now: Knolly Fugitive LT, after Knolly Delirium first year: too heavy!).

Training? I use Sweet Spot Base, General Power Build and XC Marathon which has worked out well for me when I stick with it ^_^. I finished 71st percentile in '18 and 61st in '19. The first time was my first ultra ever and I made every mistake in the book. I will be 50 for BCBR '21 and I hope to crack the top half. Huzzah!

Finally: I recommend that your goal be to have a great week riding and forget about your result. Ride at 75% of your maximum effort to have 120% fun: Your goal should be to get there only as fit as necessary (at a minimum) so that the long, multiple days in the saddle are a pleasure.

Good luck!

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