The Perfect Mountain Bike Drift Track: Mind the Gap Episode 4

Ep. 4 of Mind the Gap: The Making of unReal takes us into British Columbia’s dusty interior with World Cup downhill racers Stevie Smith and Brook Macdonald. For years, Stevie has dreamed of riding a wide-open track where he could drift into corners at full speed. For Brook and Stevie, this one-of-a-kind track is what mountain bike dreams are made of.

Sony presents unReal with Shimano & Trek, a new film produced by Teton Gravity Research & Anthill Films starring Brandon Semenuk, Brett Rheeder, Cam McCaul, Graham Agassiz, Steve Smith, Tom van Steenbergen & Thomas Vanderham, with Brook Macdonald, Finn Isles, Ian Morrison, James Doerfling & Matty Miles.

Written, directed and edited by Anthill Films. Art direction and additional writing by Good Fortune Collective. Additional support from Bike Magazine, Evoc, Knolly, Pinkbike.com, Rocky Mountain, Western Digital & Whistler Mountain Bike Park.

Video: One of the most inspiring trails in existence

If you only spend five minutes on the ‘net today, make sure it’s spent watching this. This has to be one of the most incredible trails we’ve ever seen, and the riding is amazing too.

What does your dream trail look like? Does it include loam-filled forests, steep terrain, huge rock slabs, and mountains all set against a beautiful ocean backdrop? In this episode of In the Dirt watch Pat Foster navigate one of the world’s most inspiring trails, hidden in the great Howe Sound of British Columbia. The filmmakers are calling it the Natural Line and it’s a screamer. Pat Foster Rides One Of The World’s Most Inspiring Trails | In the Dirt, Ep.

Video: Segments Trailer – Summer of Summit

Featuring some of the best riding in the Sea to Sky area, along with some gems of British Columbia’s great interior terrain. Everything from from the renowned shores of North Vancouver to the deep dusty Kamloops Bike Ranch, I think we have covered it all in this one!

Segments Trailer from Mitch Gulliver on Vimeo.

BC Bike Race 2013: Day 5

If yesterday was holding court with the Queen Stage, Day Five Presented by Rocky Mountain Bicycles was a chance to dance with the Jester. What better way to lighten the mood than to give riders an 12km descent  to the finish at the BC Ferries Terminal in Langdale.

HWY 103 and it's pick-up sticks.
HWY 103 and it’s pick-up sticks.

Every ounce of British Columbia spirit was built into this section of trails. Grab a partner, make a train, go it solo, silent passes, gap roots, double the double, pump the berms, roost some loam, cook a tight left with a soft drift right. These are the moments of a day on trails like HWY 102, Sidewinder, and Sprokids. Standing in the woods watching for riders, the first thing you’ll hear is a chorus of whoops echoing through the trees before the bikes slide bye with a grin floating above. This is the gold people come to the BC BIke Race to find.

Jonas Vuille of Switzerland came to the race alone, riding a hardtail, wearing no socks. He currently sits tenth in the Open Solo Men. When asked what motivated him to come here it was because he “wanted a bike holiday, and someone told me there was a lot of singletrack here and it was true. I enjoy this race because I have my time I ride as fast as I care, but no stress. Sometimes I kill myself to follow someone, sometimes on singletrack I’m alone, no one in front nobody behind, and I get really lazy and I only follow the flow and it’s really nice to do it like that.”

A little fun in the Sprokids trail.
A little fun in the Sprokids trail.

The Sunshine Coast bid farewell to the racers with one last departing gift in the form of the shortest stage of the week so far and some of the most consistently voted favorite trails of the race. New trails on the climb were still soft from the most recent work getting ready for race day. All the 1300m of climbing was done by the 28km mark and the first enduro commenced at 7km down of HWY 102. Trees with thick bark and dense moss watched over racers as they swooped in and out of the beautifully cut trails. Some rocks, a few roots and lots of directional changes made the flow easy to find but a challenge to steer straight and not overcook the corners of the trails.

Getting elevated.
Getting elevated.

The Race: Open Women

It was a day for racers and riders to push their limits for fun and overall positions on the general classification. It’s no surprise by now that Wendy Simms (Kona) held onto her stage winning streak. Kim Hurst (Mud Cycles) put in multiple attacks but the singletrack descents were too frequent and Simms trail skills always brought her back in touch. “She was charging hard up every single hill and dropping me and I kept catching her on the downhills or the technical, and one time it was a rocky downhill and she just pulled aside and stopped. She’s pulling plays out of my book that she just figured out a couple days ago she’s definitely pulling them out and smacking them down at me. She’s a quick learner and a great competitor.” Simms. “It’s always good to see someone with heart not giving up despite having odds against them. There are still two days left and if she keeps playing the game to win, her day might be sooner than later. ”

Two corners at speed. Can you guess how different the front of the pack looks going through this versus the mid-pack riders?
Two corners at speed. Can you guess how different the front of the pack looks going through this versus the mid-pack riders?

Canadian Trish Grajczyk (Deadgoat Racing) is still sitting in a relatively comfortable third, but Annke Bergman of the Craft Rocky MOuntain Team from Switzerland has to keep her eye on Kari Bratveit (TVK) of Norway who is only 10 minutes behind.

Open Men

The last two days of the race are heading to the home trails of Neil Kindree (Specialized Corsa) and that’s where last year’s BCBR winner really put his stamp on the race. That fact isn’t lost on race leader Kris Sneddon (Kona) and he took the opportunity to take another 15 seconds out of Kindree within the last two kilometers after being alone together since the halfway point. In a similar fashion to yesterday’s ending Sneddon attacked on a 100 yard section of eroded jeep road with baby head sized rocks obscuring any real line. “I think I’m good at plowing through the nasty, not fun, you can’t really pick an actual good line, sport of bike riding.” Sneddon said with a little laugh. This rider has been dropping in behind the leaders on the enduro stages and can say he is good at riding all pieces of trail. “It was a tough day. He attacked fully. He attacks properly, he has a nice snap.” From watching Kindree in the past it will be interesting to see how the race unfolds tomorrow. Expect to see more punches from Kindree.

What if you rode through the wood with the hands at the hub like Tron?
What if you rode through the wood with the hands at the hub like Tron?

Despite the close race between the top two spots the only podium positions actually changing hands are the third through five places. Today Spencer Paxson (Kona) took back a third position he lost yesterday and Erik Skovgaard (Racing29ers) stayed in fourth but is only 2:27 back and has already proven that he can beat Paxson. This will be a battle to watch in the last two days of racing.

Early morning light was pretty ethereal today. Clouds drifting through the forest.
Early morning light was pretty ethereal today. Clouds drifting through the forest.

Enduro

Last year’s enduro winner Andreas Hestler (Rocky Mountain BIcycles) finally found his legs today after a week long stint acting as racer, media coordinator, and general race cheerleader. He wrestled both enduros to the ground on the freshly released Rocky Mountain Instinct that was released the day before the start of the BC Bike race. With 130mm of rear wheel travel he smoked the longest enduro stages of the week. I asked why he would ride a bigger travel bike for a week of racing not centered around enduro when an Element would probably be easier and lighter. “I really wanted to highlight the enduros in the race this year and it seemed like a good idea to ride a bike that could get me to the special stages comfortably even if it was a little heavier, just to have the right machine when needed. I rode cross country rims and tires but the extra suspension really made it fun.”  On enduro two of the day Sneddon and Eric Goss (East Infection 2) tied for second behind Hestler and now Goss sits third overall behind Sneddon and Kindree in the overall.

What happens when you return from the wooden forks in the woods?
What happens when you return from the wooden forks in the woods?

In the women’s department Wendy Simms won’t put the top spot back on the rack for someone else to take. Jacalyn Schapel (Liv/Giant Australia) was left with the second spot both times but only six seconds behind in the last enduro of the day. Third place spots were exchanged between Adrienne MIller who took third in the first section while Claire Garcia-Webb (RCBC) grabbed third in the last section.

Open Men Duo

Kevin Calhoun and Greg Day of Rocky Mountain Cycles have returned to the race with hammers in both hands after two initial stages of hardship they now have a 32 minute lead over the Craft Rocky Mountain Team from Germany, Christoff LIstman  and Michael Anthes. Paul Newnham and Oliver Young of CLIF Bar UK took the second place podium spot for the day in a solid effort on the short stage.

Gotta have some arms to reach across and highfive your friends on this one.
Gotta have some arms to reach across and highfive your friends on this one.

Solo Masters Men

Only 23 seconds separates Peter Knoop (Motor Mile Racing) and Matt Shandro in the Solo Master’s category. Each day the two exchange leads and this race is gonna be taken all the way to Whistler. Ian Smith (MIVA) was number two on the day and only a second up on Knoop as they sprinted for the line. Keeping it this tight into day five is probably a lot more stress than anyone expected but it it’s always fun to have a fight worth scrapping for.

Solo Masters Women

Cary Mark of Steed Cycles has a grip on first while last year’s challenge winner Jenn Mcrae (787 Racing) has stepped up to the Epic Category with style. A second place step is only two days away if she can keep her body and mind healthy. Third place is firmly being held by Susan Prater of New Zealand.

Go green on Rocky Mountain Day.
Go green on Rocky Mountain Day.

Day 6

Squamish hosts Day Six presented by Shimano. At 48km and 1783m of climbing it’s sure to test the stamina of a few riders. Fortunately the rewards come in the form of trails like the now world-renown Half Nelson, a purpose built trail like none other. It’s Kindree’s home town and he will have had a good nights sleep so expect him to charge hard to defend his title from last year. Despite it’s length, Squamish is often tied with Whistler as the riders favorites.

Women's leader Wendy Simms can handle some tall trees.
Women’s leader Wendy Simms can handle some tall trees.

BC Bike Race 2013: Day 2

The BC Bike Race takes Canada Day Seriously and showed the world through it’s international riders what they Canadian’s have to be proud about. A trail network that seems boundless.

Day Two of the BC Bike Race Presented by CLIF Bar rolled into the town of Campbell River with its merry travelers after an early departure from the quite streets of Cumberland. Originally renowned for it’s Salmon fishing, the trails of the now famous Snowden Demonstration Forest surrounding the town saw a different type of angling as riders got hooked on a new trail experience. Less climbing and more speed had riders pumping and flowing their way back to base camp at Willow Point Park. For Day Two the sun continued to shine on the race but the old growth forest kept racers cool beneath it’s verdant canopies. With trails like Lost Frog, Mudhoney Pass and Boxed Lunch, it seems British Columbia’s most vibrant industry is the production of trails worth traveling the world to ride.

EPP-07.01.2013 - BCBR 2-21
Canada Day is well represented at the BCBR. Ryder’s Eyewear passed out sunglasses with the colors of multiple nations to make it one big celebration.

There are no separate courses for elite riders or for the weekend adventurers. Some finish and look at their times while others say they don’t care, but, curiosity usually gets the best of them and they sneak a peek “Just to know”. To see an almost five hour gap between the first rider and the last is proof that it’s doable for many levels. It’s worth marveling at the perseverance at the back of the pack and the strength at the front.

EPP-07.01.2013 - BCBR 2-40

Despite the percentage of people who claim they are not racing there is still a serious cut-throat battle happening at the front. For the second year in a row a stage finished in a three-man sprint between the current race leader and those vying to take control. Essentially tying, Kris Snedden (Kona) and Neil Kindree (Specialized/ Corsa Cycles) sprinted across the line for the same time after a drag-strip show of power over a wheel sucking stretch of grass. Spencer Paxson (Kona) held the wheels of the two riders till almost the end but finished a second behind the dueling duo. Matt Hadley riding for Xprezo pulled in seven seconds behind and the red-bearded Dane, Erik Skovgaard (Racing29ers), held tight all day and even lead through sections of the trail Mudhoney, only to fade 45 seconds in the end.

The men’s race really shifted to team tactics when race leader Snedden burped a tire. His teammates Cory Wallace and Paxson were in the group with Skovgaard, Hadley, and last years champion Kindree. When it was apparent Snedden was catching back up, Wallace waited for Snedden and proved his brass by working to bring him back towards the lead group for 15 or 20 minutes to the start of the first Enduro Stage. Snedden gapped wallace and made his way back to his main adversaries. Paxson, Wallace and Snedden played a classic “Zone Defense” according to the American Paxson. “Cory Drilled it probably harder than I would have gone by myself.” Kindree is definitely continuing to be a marked man.

DS_BCBR13_2_056
Kris Snedden of Kona is maintaining a slim margin as race leader.

Wendy Simms brought Kona their third podium of the day with a Kim Hurst (Mud Cycles) and Trish Grajczyk (Deadgoat Racing) trailing in five and 11 minutes back. Simms switched back to her dual suspension for the rest of the week after thinking her lack of training would be boosted by a hardtail on day one. It’s the Women’s race that represents the most countries in the top five with riders from New Zealand, Switzerland, Norway and Canada showing how international the BC Bike Race has become.

MRP_3634
More cheers and apparently trombones are making their way to the trails this year with the addition of a cheer zone at several stages.

Tomorrow the race visits Powell River for the the fourth time in BCBR history. Situated on the banks of the Georgia Straight, this stage has become one of the riders favorites. Last year racers were greeted with bagpipes and the town ringing cowbells as they departed the BC Ferries and walked to camp. Andreas Hestler, BCBR’s Media captain sees Powell River as another jewel in the week for the riders “The community is really into it, the trails are amazing, and it’s an incredible base camp sitting right on the beach. It’s the triangle of power.” It’ll be a full body workout despite the deceptively small amount of climbing on the course profile. No matter how the day goes for racers they’ll have an opportunity to rest their legs and minds while watching the sun set from their tents.

MRP_3496
Brett Tippie will be leading the charge to keep on trail spirits up.

Feature: The Bucket List Part 4 – Final Preparations

Mike Kennedy is an ordinary guy doing something extraordinary – he is going to race the BC Bike Race in Canada in just a few short weeks. Mike has been documenting his adventures for Flow and you can catch up with the first 3 parts of his journey here: 1, 2, 3.

Now, with only weeks left until the big day, Mike contemplates what is ahead and if he has done enough to prepare.


Where am I at now?

Over the weekend I was doing what has become my regular training ride. A mashup of a few local trails connected by short sections on the road which, all combined, add up to about 55 km and 1100 metres of climbing. I felt great. It’s not a very technical loop but after the last couple of months where I have gone from one gumby stack to the next. The one thing I’m happy to do is sit back, pedal and keep the rubber side down.

Anyway 55 kms and feeling good. I even felt I could do more, which I guess is handy because this will be my average day during the BC Bike Race. Repeated 7 times…Yikes! To get a feeling for what’s ahead of me here’s a video from the 2012 race and some stats about the 2013 journey.

Day 1- Cumberland
Distance 53.4km
Elev Gain 1200m

Day 2 – Campbell River
Distance 50.7km
Elev Gain 1005m

Day 3- Powell River
Distance 48km
Elev Gain 1070m

Day 4- Earls Cove to Sechelt
Distance 65km
Elev Gain 2110m…This one’s gonna leave a mark!

Day 5 – Sechelt to Langdale
Distance 40km
Elev Gain 1420m

Day 6 – Squamish
Distance 48km
Elev Gain 1660m

Day 7 – Whistler
Distance 26km
Elev Gain 860m

The weekend also marked 4 weeks to go till the start of the race and my riding has become more fitness training than just out and out razzing around with the boys. I still do that too, but I would definitely say that I’m way more conservative as I get closer to the big day.

Time on the bike is all it’s about now. Sometimes fun, sometimes lonely, and sometimes boring.

Avoiding injuries is one thing, but managing them is another thing altogether! Lets just say I have kept my physio gainfully employed. A few silly crashes and the niggly little injuries quickly stack up. We’ve all done it. You are just riding along, somewhere you’ve ridden a million times and splat, ”what the hell just happened?” This has been a recurring theme for me lately. Weekly physio, stretching, and a good supply of anti-inflammatory drugs has helped. I think I’m pretty much back on track.

At the moment I average 5 rides and 150 km per week but still feel I need to do more. Now I know I said I wanted to do all of my training “off road”, which in hindsight was a very idealistic concept. I have mostly stuck to the plan, but with a few injuries, some crappy weather and less and less time, I have come to the realization that time spinning the cranks is better than not training at all.

Enter the stationary trainer. An evil invention clearly designed during the dark ages to dole out punishment and boredom in equal quantities. Sadly we are set to become very well acquainted over the final few weeks. The only upside is that there is zero chance of injuring yourself, unless you count the strange desire to self harm induced by sessions on trainers.

And it’s not only me who needs to get that final bit of preparation done, so too does my bike. Today I took my bike down to my local bike store, Manly Cycles, who along with Specialized Australia have really stepped up to support me and my team mate Mark Wrightson. They’ve all be super in helping me thorough out my race prep & service on the trusty Stumpjumper before I leave for Canada late next week.

With only a few weeks to go you guys know where I’ll be in the meantime. I may be punching out endless kilometres on the evil trainer but my mind will be elsewhere – deep in the lush forests of BC.

There’s still time to have fun with the camera though.