Follow Mike Kennedy on his journey to tick the BC Bike race off his bucket list. Part one here.
The BC Bike Race is just that, it’s a race.
You sit astride your bike at the starting line. All the noise, the friendly banter from competitors, and your own mental chatter fades away. All that is left is the sound of your own breathing and a myopic view of that ribbon of dirt in front of you.
Welcome to mountain bike racing, the art of beating your mates!
‘It’s about beating the clock’, I hear you say. Bollocks! That fastest time at the last ride (race) was probably set by one of your mates and you’ll be damned if he or she is going to beat you again.
Ever since the first group of maniacs came screaming and whooping down Mount Tam on their klunkers in the mid seventies, mountain biking has been about racing. An upgrade here, a sneaky training ride there, even a little extra TLC for your 2 wheeled friend is all about one thing – going faster.
Why? You know why. [private]
We all have it in us. That instinct, that genetically predetermined “thing” where if we can beat someone else, even by a split second, we will give it a go.
There’s no use denying it. Even the mellow soul rider on a social ride will race you to the next corner if it gives them the perfect line into the next section. Hell, my daughter would race you to the corner shop for the last banana paddlepop!
It’s just the natural order of things, and I have a big, very big race to get ready for and you can bet I too want to beat my mates.
In preparation for the BC bike race I have been doing a few different things. As an example, over the last few months I have been going to a few Enduro style races and having an absolute blast. The basic premise of Enduro racing is doing timed runs on a gravity fed all-mountain/cross country track. A rocky roller coaster where you spend more time fanging down the hill than you do pedalling up…and we all like that!
Racing at these events normally means spending the morning riding and shuttling to the top of the course for as many practice runs as I can do. A quick lunch break to tinker with the bikes and catch up with old friends and have a laugh. Then its time to load up and head back to the top for showtime and 2 hot laps.
This style of racing has helped my training and preparation for the BC Bike Race so much. I’ve spent countless hours riding the local trails, nailing every line. Learning when to lift, when to pop, when to brake and when to let it roll. I’ve crashed, trashed and bled and loved every minute (except when I broke my toe – that just hurt). Even in distance riding, the skills I have gained from this type of racing will help.
Getting back into racing has been awesome fun, not only for the racing, but also because it gets me more pumped to spend more time on the bike. Yes, it may be for the training but it sure doesn’t feel like it and I’m feeling fitter and stronger than I have in ages. And best of all, I am enjoying the ride more.
As I sit here typing, patiently waiting for my new bike to arrive (not really patiently) I’m wondering if I can frankenstein my old bike into some sort of rideable condition for this afternoons informal local race. The forks are on the fritz, the rear wheel needs rebuilding and I really should replace those bearings instead of going for a ride.
But I really want to go, it’s a race.
No large cheques will be handed out, no conspicuous product placement or legions of adoring fans looking for autographs and schwag. Just a bunch of sweaty, dusty humans happy to throw themselves down the side of a hill as fast as they possibly can in a race where the only prize is a handshake from your mates, a cold beer and a warm glow.
I have the bug, and it’s working. I can feel myself getting ready to race the the BC Bike Race. And of course, I am not racing against the clock, it’s about going as fast as I can on a bike and racing my mates.