Video: Jared Graves in The Kootenays

There are core experiences that define a mountain biker. Like venturing into unfamiliar mountains to find amazing trails chiseled into the landscape, and then pushing your limits, against all common sense for the pure thrill of it. These experiences are woven into the psyche of every mountain biker. Jared Graves is not an ordinary rider. The reigning Enduro World Series champion is considered one of the most versatile mountain bikers in the world and when not racing, he’s all about having good times on the bike. “It’s all about going out in the bush with your mates and riding natural terrain, whatever you can find really and just having fun.” Following his victory at the Whistler EWS, Jared traveled deep into the Kootenay region of British Columbia.

Proven Here. The Kootenays x SB6 Carbon.

 

Video: The best of Crankworx Whistler 2013

Where else in the world can you stand amongst an adrenaline-soaked crowd to cheer on the world’s best mountain bikers right after you’ve competed in the very same event?

Crankworx Whistler. With less than six months until the heavy-hitting mountain bike spectacle returns to the Whistler Mountain Bike Park, we look back at what was our tenth anniversary in 2013 and prepare to step up our game August 8-17, 2014.

Feel the impact. Embrace the amplitude. Experience the awe that is Crankworx Whistler.

Video: Instinct in the Monashees

The plan was to head to the Monashee Mountains near Revelstoke, British Columbia with Wade Simmons and Kevin Calhoun to shoot an autumn alpine video for our new Instinct MSL.

We wanted to showcase the bike’s versatility under two very different riders—Kevin is an XC racer on our Factory Team, while Wade’s contributions to freeride mountain biking need no introduction—.

Of course sometimes Mother Nature doesn’t play nice, and an early cold snap provided on-and-off snowfall throughout our adventure.

Despite the challenging weather, we knew we had an opportunity to capture a unique aspect of the changing seasons. From Kevin’s dawn patrol ascent to Wade charging snowy trail features, the rapidly changing conditions ended up being the perfect way to showcase the Instinct’s versatility.

We’d like to thank the crew at the Sol Mountain Lodge for all their help with this project. Their lodge was a great base-camp and their trails were a blast even in the snow. We’ll be back again in warmer weather.

Video: The Narrows | SRAM X01 | All For One

I had barely even had a chance to catch my breath from a contest trip in the U.S. when I got back to the Sunshine Coast and met up with my good friends from the Coastal Crew.

They were getting ready to leave for Narrows Inlet that same evening, on a trip that would be one of the most unforgettable experiences of their lives. Norbs gave me all the details – they had picked out this insane location in a secluded ocean inlet. Barges and boats were all lined up for bikes, dirt bikes, their truck, and five days worth of food and beer. It sounded unbelievable and I couldn’t help but be jealous of this adventure they were about to embark on.

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Next thing I knew, Norbs added that there was an extra spot available on the trip and it had my name all over it. The boat was leaving in three hours and I went straight into scramble mode. I enjoy a hectic lifestyle filled with unexpected adventures and it was a rush to pick the pieces up and pull them together so quickly. Coming off my last trip and heading straight onto a boat destined for the BC wilderness with the best crew ever, our bikes and a thirst for an adventure that would end up delivering memories sure to a last a lifetime was the best possible scenario for me to recharge. I couldn’t wait to see what was in store for us over the next few days.

The Coast always seems to surprise and this day is no different. Today finds us exploring just one small fork in the road but has us realize how far the land and the sea can take us. Standing on the bridge between these two mystery worlds gives a true feeling of what-if and what’s next. We witness a little of the unknown everyday and in our case you can never get to the end, all we can do is open our arms and take it in. Finding a balance in what the dark, vast ocean inlet can give you, and the gargantuan rain forest (we call home) can offer – Endless adventure.

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I grew up on the water, swimming, fishing or just boating around. I have this strong connection with water – a curiosity of what is lying beneath the dark glassy surface. The inlet was no exception.  Art, owner of Tooznie Outdoor Adventures Lodge, could see my love for fishing and was nice enough to take me out one morning. Art is one of a kind; he is a hard working, good guy with the best sense of humor. He would always set the mood right by cracking off jokes first thing every morning. It was the final day of the trip, when we got up bright and early to hopefully hunt down a lunker. Art has the best knowledge of the area and I was spoiled to get the goods on our twenty-minute boat ride in the first mornings’ light.

When we arrived at Art’s honey hole, I was giddy with excitement. I was given the low down on how to get the big ones in the boat. Art explained it wasn’t about brute strength, but more a game of finesse. The boat was sitting in a hundred feet deep or more when Art let me know, this was the spot. I dropped my live shiner with a four-ounce weight down to the depths. Once my rig got to the bottom it was only two seconds before I felt that familiar bite on the end of my line. When I set the hook, instantly I knew it was big and the look on my face alerted Art of the same. I played the finesse game all the way to the top. Gaining line, to have the fish just take it back. Slowly but surely I worked him to the surface where Art gaffed the big Lingcod and dragged it aboard. My jaw dropped when I finally got my eyes on the fish, followed by that satisfying fish slimy handshake with Art.

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When we dropped-in to the deep dark depths of the lush forest, we could only begin to see what has been saved for a lucky few. We slowly massaged, and in some cases – violently shaped some of the most natural flowing terrain into one of the most exciting trails to-date. We pushed our trail bikes into a perpetually perfect speed to carve berms and make those tranny’s we could see in the distance. The words from the boat stayed with me… “It’s not about brute strength it’s about finesse.” So, I tried damn hard not to over think our adventure and keep it simple. I think the boys did too and all week we just pushed further and took full advantage of being out there, in the wild making new unforgettable memories that would last a lifetime.    – Logan Peat

We can push, we can try, but knowing we will never-ever get to the end of this unique and mysterious landscape keeps us unsatisfied and wondering how far we can wander.

What you will see in the video and photos is the account of an unforgettable trip, a unique combination of amazing days of riding, searching, exploring, fishing and soaking every bit of life in.

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Video: Desert Sun

Mike Hopkins and James Doerfling are two of the biggest names in big mountain freeriding.

This summer, Mike and I headed up to Williams Lake to sample some of James’ hometown terrain and test out some lines in a big mountain rider’s dream area. The only hitch in our plan was the heat; starting our trip at the end of June, we bore the brunt of summer’s anger, and the desert sun was our primary antagonist. The only thing to be done was try to build early in the mornings and ride as the sun began to set; this made for some good light while shooting, and some long days digging and hiking on the hottest days of the year.

Desert Sun from Absolute Zero on Vimeo.

Video: The Coast Gravity Park

2013 has been very busy for us, some of you may think that we have be solely focused on producing our new film ARRIVAL – You couldn’t be more wrong. And now, finally we can tell the world. Let us introduce you to our next project – Coast Gravity Park.

An Introduction to Coast Gravity Park from The Coastal Crew on Vimeo.

Over the years we have built countless trails and signature features for several pro riders and high end films. These trails have made the coast a destination recognized across the globe. Historically we have kept these trails very private, but we are humbled by the demand. Now we have the opportunity to create our own lift access bike park.

We are confident we can continue to build the best trails out there. Our goal is to share our creative passion with you and bring you into our world. Since our inception in 2009 our fans have celebrated our vision. We appreciate the passion and loyalty of all of our supporters. We couldn’t do what we do today without them. This is the opportunity for us to give back and we hope you will be a part of making it a reality.

Help us reach our goal, please share our campaign. The more trails the better!

igg.me/at/coastgravitypark/x/3734435

Video: Mike Hopkins, Homecoming Trail Riding | Over the Edge, Ep. 2

For the second video episode of Over the Edge, we follow professional mountain bike athlete Mike Hopkins as he returns to his hometown of Rossland, British Columbia to mountain bike on his home trails.

Being a professional MTB athlete brings with it the rare opportunity to see the world. We’re always pushing and searching for that new adventure, but eventually if you chase that horizon long enough, it will always bring you back full-circle to what’s familiar.

Video: Mike Hopkins, Homecoming Trail Riding | Over the Edge, Ep. 2

For the second video episode of Over the Edge, we follow professional mountain bike athlete Mike Hopkins as he returns to his hometown of Rossland, British Columbia to mountain bike on his home trails.

Being a professional MTB athlete brings with it the rare opportunity to see the world. We’re always pushing and searching for that new adventure, but eventually if you chase that horizon long enough, it will always bring you back full-circle to what’s familiar.

Video: The ARRIVAL – Official Trailer

ARRIVAL will bring viewers into the reality of a new generation of freeriders and racers. Starring Steve Smith, Logan Peat, Mitch Ropelato, Ryan Howard, Matty Miles, Bernardo Cruz, Kyle Norbraten, Dylan Dunkerton and Curtis Robinson.

Presented by RockShox, in Association with Specialized, Clif Bar and Pinkbike.com, and with support from Trek, Whistler Mountain Bike Park, Devinci, and Evoc.

Written, directed and edited by the Coastal Crew, ARRIVAL also features the talents of a new breed of mountain bike filmmakers and photographers – including Nic Genovese, Matt Miles, Matt Dennison and Haruki “Harookz” Negochi.

There will be a free online premiere of ARRIVAL on November 7, 2013, and it will also be available on DVD+BluRay Combo Pack and iTunes at that time.

ARRIVAL – Official Trailer from The Coastal Crew on Vimeo.

Video: Deep Six

Setting out on this journey, we left the dock with a rough idea of what to expect; fishing, exploring by boat, bush-whacking with bikes while burdened with camera packs, camping, and possibly a bear or two.

After a week at sea we learned the hardships and enjoyment of balancing a lifestyle of sustenance, exploration and documenting the journey.

Deep Six from Derek Dix on Vimeo.

Video: The Staycation: A Vancouver Island Adventure

Rocky Mountain’s athletes enjoy traveling all over the world to ride their bikes in unique, beautiful locations.

Everywhere they go—from the backcountry of Argentina to the Great Wall of China and countless places in between—they hear people share their dreams of one day riding on our home turf in British Columbia. That’s why this year Thomas Vanderham, Brett Tippie, Geoff Gulevich, Wade Simmons, and Andreas Hestler decided to reinvigorate their love for home by exploring Vancouver Island, just a short ferry ride from our North Vancouver headquarters.

The Staycation: A Vancouver Island Adventure from Rocky Mountain Bicycles on Vimeo.

Video: Richie Schley Earns his Mountain Bike Descent

Watch as Mountain Bike legend Rickie Schley goes through what it means to be a mountain biker and to him there is one rule…you need to earn your descent!

In its second year, the GoPro Dirt Diaries is a video contest between six mountain bike athletes. Each rider partners with a videographer to create a 4 to 6-minute video. Teams had seven weeks to prepare their moving image story before each entry was screened in front of a live audience and an expert panel of judges at Whistler’s Olympic Plaza during Crankworx.

Smith Holds The Crown as King of Crankworx

Whistler’s tenth anniversary of Crankworx came to a close yesterday with Canada’s own Steve Smith taking a third consecutive win in the Canadian Open DH.

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Smith, having won the Air DH just day’s prior and the World Cup in Mont Saint Anne on the previous weekend entered the final race of the festival with serious momentum and confidence. Having won the title as King of Crankworx in 2012, Smith was favored to win the event and would carry the heaviest weight going into the race to close the week of events.

With overnight showers and a dark gloomy sky the notoriously rough and technical Canadian Open DH course would become much more dangerous as the riders would push their limits racing from high atop the Whistler mountain on the hunt for the win. As the field of racers navigated down the treacherous course, Sam Blenkinsop (Lapierre Gravity Republic) would set the quickest time down late in the race as the fastest riders attacked the course. Being the defending champion, Steve Smith would be the last man on course attempting to better Blenkinsop’s time. The crowd was charged and electric awaiting Smith’s arrival at the bottom of the hill as he blasted into the Whistler mountain Boneyard approaching the finish. By the closest of margins Smith would inch past Blenkinsop by only 0.09 seconds to reclaim the Canadian Open DH and overall King of Crankworx titles.

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In the Women’s field, Emmeline Ragot (Lapierre Gravity Republic), also fresh off a World Cup win in Mont Saint Anne and a victory in the Garbanzo DH in Crankworx’s opening day’s, would take the win over Whistler local Claire Buchar.

Results

King of Crankworx – Steve Smith

Canadian Open DH

Men’s

1st – Steve Smith (Devinci Global Racing – SRAM X0 DH, RockShox BoXXer and Vivid, Avid X0 Trail, TRUVATIV BlackBox bar)

2nd – Sam Blenkinsop (Lapierre Gravity Republic – SRAM X0 DH, RockShox Boxxer and Vivid, Avid X0 Trail)

Women’s

1st – Emmeline Ragot (Lapierre Gravity Republic – SRAM X0 DH, RockShox Boxxer and Vivid, Avid Code)

Video: The Making of Coastal Crew’s New Movie ARRIVAL – Ep. 1

ARRIVAL will bring viewers into the reality of a new generation of freeriders and racers. Starring Stevie Smith, Logan Peat, Mitch Ropelato, Ryan Howard, Matty Miles, Kyle Norbraten, Dylan Dunkerton and Curtis Robinson.

Written, directed and edited by the Coastal Crew, ARRIVAL also features the talents of a new breed of mountain bike filmmakers and photographers – including Nic Genovese, Matt Miles, Matt Dennison and Haruki “Harookz” Noguchi. Available on BluRay + DVD combo pack and iTunes Fall 2013.

The Making of Coastal Crew’s New Movie ARRIVAL – Ep. 1 from The Coastal Crew on Vimeo.

Video: The Making of Coastal Crew's New Movie ARRIVAL – Ep. 1

ARRIVAL will bring viewers into the reality of a new generation of freeriders and racers. Starring Stevie Smith, Logan Peat, Mitch Ropelato, Ryan Howard, Matty Miles, Kyle Norbraten, Dylan Dunkerton and Curtis Robinson.

Written, directed and edited by the Coastal Crew, ARRIVAL also features the talents of a new breed of mountain bike filmmakers and photographers – including Nic Genovese, Matt Miles, Matt Dennison and Haruki “Harookz” Noguchi. Available on BluRay + DVD combo pack and iTunes Fall 2013.

The Making of Coastal Crew’s New Movie ARRIVAL – Ep. 1 from The Coastal Crew on Vimeo.

BC Bike Race 2013: Day 7

The BC Bike Race caravan squeezed out of the Squamish bubble this morning and headed north on the Sea to Sky Highway for it’s final stop at Whistler. A week of camping in tents, eating communal meals, sharing trails, cleaning bikes, adjusting shifting, riding on BC Ferries, and asking for advice about the next stage are over.

Riders, BCBR crew, and spectators  took over the Whistler Olympic Plaza for the last day of the BC Bike Race under perfect skies and only an occasional cloud as the event helicopter buzzed overhead. It seems fitting that the race would end in the place that is probably pushing the modern boundaries of mountain biking further than any other place in the world. The BCBR is also challenging so many different realms of the mountain bike racing experience. The level of care for every rider and their experience questions the idea of what a mountain bike race should be. Is this a race or a guided tour? Is it normal to call your racers “customers” and treat them like friends, with respect and deliver a product that is a challenge to them without insulting their personal experience?

The initial climb out of Whistler Village was long and steep. Just another day in the BC Bike Race.
The initial climb out of Whistler Village was long and steep. Just another day in the BC Bike Race.

Andreas Hestler Marketing Director of the BCBR “We enjoy the race at the front but in the end it’s not about the finish position of the rider, it’s about the progression of that individual as a rider and a person. The BC Bike Race has taken a lot of people to new levels of riding even if only for the need to survive to ride another day.”

The BC Bike Race says “here is the best singletrack stage race in the world” and then a hand is offered in the form of guided support but no one is going to ride the bike for you. The BCBR is a nurturing environment and throughout the week the transition the riders went through manifested in multiple ways. From gaining confidence riding bridges, rocks and roots, to figuring out how to accept that the person who keeps falling behind on the climb is going to catch you on the descents. A one day race rarely gives riders the time to recognize the others around them and see everyone for their strengths and weaknesses. Throughout the week the BC Bike Race simultaneously increases many people’s confidence and humility in themselves.

Hugo Bardou (Xprezo) makes bikes and knows how to use them.
Hugo Bardou (Xprezo) makes bikes and knows how to use them.

“It was the best week of my life on the bike. I was so frightened of the length of the race that I just had to train very hard before the race back in Mexico. I was expecting so much pain but it was pure reward. The organization was fantastic. I exceded all kinds of expectations of myself.” Bernardo Martinez-Negrete, Mexico. Bernardo’s experience was retold in multiple languages on the finish line.

B.O.B aka Bear On Bike, the BCBR logo, leads the way for all riders.
B.O.B aka Bear On Bike, the BCBR logo, leads the way for all riders.

The Races

Open Men
The BC Bike Race has no prize money yet it annually brings in some of the best professionals in the world dedicated to races that are on singletrack and challenging. This year’s podiums were full of riders from other countries looking for the opportunity to test their trail riding abilities. 2013 was shaping up to be an epic battle for the winner Kris Sneddon (Kona) before last year’s champion pulled out from a stomach bug. Sneddon showed poise in the face of the challenge but when he was left facing an easy win with two days to go he immediately switched to supporting another member of his team, American Spencer Paxson.

Paxson won the stage with Skovgaard in second and the overall champion in third a second back. Paxson finally got a stage win to add to his four third place finished and secured 2nd overall. “I’m thrilled, it feels so good to affirm that I can do this kind of riding now, and to add another discipline to the quiver.”  When asked about the final sprint he said he had scouted the finish thinking a sprint was highly possible. As predicted the three came towards the final turn to the finish and Skovgaard got caught on the outside and overshot the turn into the finish line.

One of many wooden structures in the Lost Lake Trails.
One of many wooden structures in the Lost Lake Trails.

Open Women

The overall was taken by Wendy Simms (Kona) for the second year in a row, but her antagonist of the week New Zealander Kim Hurst (Mud Cycles) finally had the day she fought for in the previous stages while securing second place overall. Whistler provided a course that Hurst could create a gap on the climbs that couldn’t be reeled back in by Simms.

“I just didn’t have enough downhill real-estate to catch up. She took off really hard up the hill. I told her it was a really good day for her, but she earned every inch of it.” Simms

Third overall went to Trish Grajczyk (Deadgoat Racing) but she was second on the Whistler stage.

Women's Whistler stage winners. Kim Hurst finally got her top step.
Women’s Whistler stage winners. Kim Hurst finally got her top step.

Open Men Duo

Rocky Mountain Bicycle riders Greg Day and Kevin Calhoun took home their first BCBR wins as a team after overcoming issues early in the week. Between Greg being sick for three days and Calhoun ripping off a derailleur it was work to bring it all back together. As locals they had a pretty good idea what they were getting themselves into. It was the first time at BCBR for the team from Craft Rocky Mountain who had to fly blind into every corner. “The fourth day was probably the hardest with the steep climbs under the power lines, but that’s what mountain biking is all about. You have to adapt to the conditions.” Christoff Listmann. For his teammate Michael Anthes “The BC Bike Race is great because it has a taste of everything you can do on a mountain bike. Including the bike park today which was awesome.”

Third place overall went to the Ska/Zia/Trek team of Nick Gould and Miles Venzara from the USA.

Enduro

Women

Behind by 1:59 on the GC a with only one enduro stage in Whistler it was going to be virtually impossible for Jaclyn Schapel (Liv/Giant Austrailia) to secure an overall win today. Unfortunately the tighter racing created more of a traffic jam than in previous stages and she ended up crashing trying to pass a rider who went left when she called right. Calling lines and passing cleanly in a race with all the international riders gets difficult when there are many different languages and accents. Schapel’s first experience with the BCBR has had a strong effect on her. “It was amazing, it’s been fantastic the whole week. It’s a great thing to be part of. I’ve really enjoyed the Enduro sections everyday. It’s pretty much like a boot camp, there is no alcohol [you can get it, BCBR just doesn’t provide it], you can’t go to sleep late, and you work all day.” She laughed.
Simms ended up winning the day and the overall by 2:21 after 13 stages. Schapel was only down by 22 seconds on the day despite being taken out by another racer and getting run over. She also secured second place overall, while Adrienne Miller (Team Adrienne) finished third on the week. Annika Bergman (Craft Rocky Mountain) was third today on the stage.

A whirly-bird's eye view.
A whirly-bird’s eye view.

Men

Kris Sneddons’ attempts to drop Neil Kindree combined with his local knowledge on many of the trails early in the week resulted in him securing first place overall on the men’s enduro podium. Second in the GC was Eric Goss (East Infection 2) who concentrated all week on the enduro’s and seemed to care less about the overall. On the third step overall was everyone’s favorite bearded man from Denmark, Erik Skovgaard (Racing29er). Over the week we got to see Skovgaard, like many riders, find his “A” game in the singletrack and by the last two days he was catching Paxson and Sneddon on the descents. “We had gapped him on the climb and held him off on the first descent and up the second climb but he caught back up to us on the singletrack which is amazing, earlier in the week he wasn’t riding as strong on the trails but now he has fully learned how to ride them.” Paxson

There are no official teams of three but you might end up making it one if you jive right.
There are no official teams of three but you might end up making it one if you jive right.

Another rider who embraced the enduro stages as the week progressed included South African, Oliver Munnik (White Knuckle Pinners). With a stage win in Squamish, Munnik really had the heat turned on. Without a few misfortunes in a couple stages he might have finished closer to the overall.

Today’s Whistler stage went to last year’s enduro winner Andreas Hestler (Rocky Mountain Bicycles). Skovgaard’s hunt for the Kona boys boosted him to a second place finish seven seconds back of Hestler. Paxson took third while doing his own big game hunt for the top podium spot.

Danielle Baker of racer relations hugging it out at an emotional finish line in Whistler.
Danielle Baker of racer relations hugging it out at an emotional finish line in Whistler.

Closing Ceremonies

The awards banquet was full of freshly cleaned and scrubbed racers in the Whistler Conference Center and awards were given during the final group dinner with photos and videos presented by the BC Bike Race media team. Riders mingled and enjoyed the last opportunity to see each other for at least another year if ever, but strong bonds have been formed during the week of shared experiences and the banquet provided the perfect opportunity to have a last goodbye. The emotional highs and lows were already fading but the overall memory of an incredible experience will carry on for the rest of their lives. “There was life before BCBR and there is life after. It’s changed how we approach the world.” Erik and Dominic from Denmark.

If you can't hug your partner at the end of the seven days then you did not have a good week.
If you can’t hug your partner at the end of the seven days then you did not have a good week.
Enduro Champions of the 2013 BC Bike Race. The biggest shredders of the week.
Enduro Champions of the 2013 BC Bike Race. The biggest shredders of the week.

Video: Curtis Keene Shreds Some of BC’s Best MTB Trails

Mountain bike racer Curtis Keene hits British Columbia to bomb some trails on his 29er.

On a break between Enduro World Series races, Santa Monica-based Curtis Keene took a trip up to western Canada with his Enduro 29 for a sampling of the area’s well-known trails. Watch him rip down some of BC’s mountainous landscape in the video above.

Keene explored the local scenes in Vancouver, Squamish and Whistler, while traveling along the “Sea to Sky Corridor” following highway 99.

Video: Curtis Keene Shreds Some of BC's Best MTB Trails

Mountain bike racer Curtis Keene hits British Columbia to bomb some trails on his 29er.

On a break between Enduro World Series races, Santa Monica-based Curtis Keene took a trip up to western Canada with his Enduro 29 for a sampling of the area’s well-known trails. Watch him rip down some of BC’s mountainous landscape in the video above.

Keene explored the local scenes in Vancouver, Squamish and Whistler, while traveling along the “Sea to Sky Corridor” following highway 99.

BC Bike Race 2013: Day 6

The sixth stage of the BC Bike Race presented by Shimano was Industry Day and riding anonymously amongst the riders were Olympians, bicycle industry insiders who make the products that people are riding, and young talent, all given a chance to enjoy the most popular stage with the racers.

Race starts under BOB the Bear.
Race starts under BOB the Bear.

At the finish line the festival atmosphere was high with a Kids Race presented by Shimano and cheers were erupting for the 2-10 year-old kids 115 deep on one side, the racers on the other, and Brett Tippie telling jokes while holding random contests to give away Shimano components. Squamish has become one of the riders’ favorite days of the BCBR with it’s amazing network of trails and the high standard the town sets to achieve what a mountain bike town can be. Nestled below forested peaks, granite walls, and showered in sunshine with thermal winds being pulled up from the sea towards Whistler, base camp of the BCBR is a perfect place to enjoy some peace or a party before the finish in Whistler.

Hailey. Looks like she's ready to rip some legs off. The Kids Race by Shimano had 115 kids 2-10 years old.
Hailey. Looks like she’s ready to rip some legs off. The Kids Race by Shimano had 115 kids 2-10 years old.
Sonke Wegner, Carter Hovey. Sonke and Hovey on the rocks.
Sonke Wegner, Carter Hovey. Sonke and Hovey on the rocks.

Open Men’s
Hadely Wins, Sneddon Defends, Kindree Sick

It was a day of breakthrough riding and upsetting finishes as Matt Hadley (Xprezo) took his first stage of the week while Neil Kindree (Specialized Corsa) left the race with a stomach bug that started the night before. Today’s weather was warm at 26c but the cool breeze and low humidity kept riders comfortable throughout the day. Kindree made the first attack on the opening road climbs and only Kris Sneddon (Kona) could follow the two accelerations initially. A small group of riders including Hadely, Spencer Paxson (Kona), Erik Skovgaard (Racing29ers), Guido Thaler (Craft Rocky Mountain), and Michael Robinson (Peak2Peak Racing) bridged back up on the next climb. On the climb to Half Nelson, Neil and Kindree separated again and dropped into the most famous trail of Squamish with a 30 second lead on the group. Hadley took the opportunity to attack and caught both riders before the bottom.
On the next climb towards the first enduro stage Hadley attacked again to get into the trail first and never looked back. He had 30 seconds by the bottom and never saw another rider on the day.

“Today was awesome. It’s so much fun out there. There is a ton of technical singletrack and that’s why I like to ride my bike.” Hadley

For Kris Sneddon it was kind of a let down to not have the excitement of a close race to enjoy. “It’s a shame he had to drop out. I hate to win or lose to mechanicals of the bike or body.” It was a good race and both racers had shown a lot of heart matching each other’s accelerations over five days.

Of note was Spencer Paxson’s fourth 3rd place place finish of the race. With Kindree out he now moves up to 2nd overall on the podium while Skovgaard now holds onto the third position after starting the week with a 7th place. Both riders have shown incredible perseverance going into the final day.

These lines have corners.
These lines have corners.

Women’s Open

How long will Kim Hurst (Mud Cycles) ache over the repeated days of loosing by two or three minutes knowing that probably the only thing holding her back from the top step was another year of technical riding practice. Every climb she was able to challenge or drop Wendy Simms (Kona) the day’s winner only to be chased down in the trails. It’s a testament to Simms’ consistency to have no long mechanicals in six days of racing. Trish Grajczyk (Deadgoat Racing) also had minimal gaps each day that could have been erased with a burped tire or broken chain. All three riders had incredibly consistent rides up to Squamish. Whistler is another day but it’s short enough to generally have minimal effect on the overall.

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Men’s Open Duo

Kevin Calhoun and Greg Day of Rocky Mountain Bicycles left no doubt to their dominance over Greg’s home trails. “We were racing on all the trails I train on. The power house plunge, we had a couple guys on our tails,  the second we were in there they were gone. It’s not that technical, but knowing the lines in that trail is so helpful. Today we rode right by my house.”

Tech support from Shimano and Fox Shox

Bike Ambassadors do this a lot during the race days.
Bike Ambassadors do this a lot during the race days.

Not everyone has the good fortune of escaping mechanicals during the race and on course were several resources for riders to turn towards. Bike Ambassadors were on the trails and Fox Shox was with the race for the first time this year but it was Shimano who brought neutral support for the 4th year in a row. They have been a long time sponsor of the race but this year is the first time their North American Sports Marketing Manager, Greg Hammond has seen what happens on the ground at the BCBR. “I’m just amazed at the logistical marvel the BC Bike Race is, I mean the vibe is cool, the racing is spectacular, everybody around here is smiling, people are happy. This is a world class event. It rivals any event in the world.” Shimano has been coming to the race for years with neutral support and every stage they have been set up at Aid Station 2 saving the racers with mechanical support and even a fleet of neutral bikes to get people to finish. “People have spent so much time and money getting here we want to make sure they get a second chance if something goes wrong.” Ben Pye, Shimano Regional Rep.

Bacon in Hood in the Woods. Bear bait...
Bacon in Hood in the Woods. Bear bait…

Darren Garrison of Fox Racing Shox is here for the first time with support for the racers and he was blown away by the event. “It’s impressive. How all the logistics are organized, ferries, setup and tear down. It’s smoother than I would have expected it to go. Next year we will bring two people. I’m swamped.”

This year was also the first year for the BCBR Bike Ambassadors. A team of 11 dressed in the red BCBR Enduro jersey and wearing Red POC Helmets were on course every day to assist riders with everything from derailleurs to hugs or to take care of any medical issues. They split up between waves and worked in teams. Some riders were treated to on-course skills work from Endless Biking owners Darren Butler and Kelli Sherbinin, or motivation from race co-founder Dean Payne. “Each member of the team probably saved on average three peoples rides a day. That’s over 30 riders a day we help have a good day that might have otherwise been ruined.” Butler.

Yoga on the Lululemon Lawn

Ryan Leech leading one of the daily Yoga sessions presented by Lululemon
Ryan Leech leading one of the daily Yoga sessions presented by Lululemon

Another new addition to this year’s BC Bike Race was legendary trials rider Ryan Leech leading yoga sessions sponsored by Lululemon at the end of each day. Over 240 people showed on day one to take a moment to recover after long days in the saddle. Sessions were usually held in the shade on the periphery of base camp each afternoon but a couple were organized on ferry rides.

Leech also rode the race to increase his understanding of what the riders would be going through each day. “I actually had no idea physically how beat up I’d feel doing the races and where my energy levels would be at. I’m trying to offer everyone an experience that get’s them out of the race mode, the “what’s next” mode, because this whole week is very much about what’s next. This pace is exhausting, even the post ride can be tiring if we’re not careful. If we can just kinda press the reset button for half an hour to allow recovery to happen, the bodies will repair and recover just a little more easily.”

Finishing under the Chief in Squamish.
Finishing under the Chief in Squamish.

Whistler

The final day at Whistler is short at  25km but it still packs a punch with 775m of climbing. A big opening climb takes riders to the top of Crank it Up in the Whistler Bike Park, a true bike park style course with big berms and jumps if riders have the energy to take them. The race will move into some of the less well known trails of the town before finishing up in the Olympic village. If riders are in a tight race for GC this is their last chance to make a move stick.

Corners are better with a friend.
Corners are better with a friend.

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 4

Day Four Presented by Ryders Eyewear of the BC Bike Race has rounded it’s corner while continuing to soften the hard edges of the riders. The BC Bike Race woke early for breakfast and a transition to the Saltery Bay BC Ferries Terminal where most riders jumped on a ferry to Earl’s Cove.

The ferry that runs from Saltery Bay is too small to move the entire race so some riders split off to take water taxis or the seaplane provided by Harbour Air. The plane flys over the deep fjords that lie between the racers and the southern Sunshine Coast delivering them to the start. The plane ride was on an aircraft that took off and landed on water which is entertaining in itself without the bonus of a view as the pilot banks across the water through the mountains. Today was a kick in the pants for anyone who thought it was going to be a promenade to the finish line. Rider’s got a bonus 500m of climbing on top of the 1500m due to a mistake in the final profile of the Racers Bible. It didn’t seem to dampen peoples’ spirits and as a spontaneous bonus Shimano gave a pair of XT Disc Brakes to the last rider if they made it in before 8:30pm. Tracy Kendrick came in at 8:28:27 followed by Brett Tippie, his bullhorn and the sweep motorcycle.

Tree harvesting on the coast.
Tree harvesting on the coast.
I usually think of a staircase for going up.
I usually think of a staircase for going up.

As much as the BC Bike Race likes to promote the ride and not concentrate purely on the racing it’s been hard to ignore the very competitive nature of the event at the front of the pack this year. In many categories there are good battles happening amongst riders who are enjoying having the opportunity to push their limits against not only the terrain but each other. Racers from around the world are coming together and sharing the competitive spirit that results from spending time with friends who can push each other without actually resorting to shoving each other.

Women’s Open

Wendy Simms (Kona) might have won the stage today but she had to work hard to shake her New Zealand pursuer Kim Hurst (Mud Cycles). Hurst held tight enough to only be back by 1:25 at the end of the almost four hour day. Simms still has 12:37 on Hurst going into the last three stages so it’s looking to be a tough challenge ahead if Hurst has any hope of making it happen. Maybe a stage win is in her future.

“Kim went out super hard, really hard. I’m pretty sure she wanted the stage win.  I tried to keep her in view but didn’t catch her until about 22k, then I tried to drop her in the single track and she’d catch me on the hills. She came back from the dead like five times. I only managed to shake her after the two enduros. She’s really fun to ride with.” Simms

Maybe we can get a "Tippie Tandem Challenge" for next year?
Maybe we can get a “Tippie Tandem Challenge” for next year?

Open Men

In the Open Solo Men’s category the trade of blows from yesterday was continued today as Kris Sneddon (Kona) returned Neil Kindree’s (Specialized/ Corsa Cyles) right hook from stage three. Sneddon kept the pressure high early to prevent Kindree from attacking at any opportune moment.

“I went hard before the singletrack Cabin Fever, because it’s pretty steep, it’s pretty rooty and it’s technical. I thought that like 9 times out of ten he would want to be the first person in there and put in an effort. I had to ride hard enough he wouldn’t want to come around me. Kinda had to gut myself.” Sneddon

It was the day to go it alone as he left his Kona support team behind. At the top of the climb before the first Enduro stage of the day Sneddon led with his jersey open trying to stay cool as he punched it up the steep gravel sections. Unable to really push it after such a hard effort both riders stayed together until the second Enduro another 5 km down the trail. This time Sneddon took advantage of the more technical terrain and not only put a sizable 1:07 gap on Kindree by the line but he took the win for the enduro stage too.

It's not a triathalon. Watch out for what's just around that corner.
It’s not a triathalon. Watch out for what’s just around that corner.
Leaders of the Men's 80+ Duo and Ted Russo, Veterans Leader
Leaders of the Men’s 80+ Duo and Ted Russo, Veterans Leader

The lack of course knowledge and a little dehydration might have done Kindree in.  “I cracked pretty hard there at the end, I had not enough water I guess. Was feeling a little dizzy and woozey. ” Kindree ended up with an IV at the end of the day. The Squamish native might have better luck on days five and six when the race returns to trails and a community closer to him.

Erik Skovgaard of Denmark and Racing29ers, battled back for a third after a fall into the bushes that resulted in him being a little disoriented and he got back on the bike going the wrong direction for a minute before he realized what he had done. He had to chase hard from the Cabin Fever Trail to the stage two Enduro.  Again Skovgaard proves to be a tough competitor taking the third podium step and at the end of the day he also earned the third spot in the general classification.

Solo Masters

Solo Masters Men saw a big shakeup today when MIVA rider Ian Smith of Canada took the win but it is Peter Knoop (Motor Mile Racing) of the USA who’s second place earned him a first place in the overall. Previous leader Matt Shandro (Team Matt) lost seven minutes on the day and will be pushed back to second overall. The gap between the two riders is now a slim 1:32 after four days of racing.

BOB is along for every ride.
BOB is along for every ride.
There are a couple left turns in the BCBR.
There are a couple left turns in the BCBR.
If I said it looks like it could be Pennsylvania, would I be wrong? Either way I'm a fan.
If I said it looks like it could be Pennsylvania, would I be wrong? Either way I’m a fan.

Team of Two Duo Open Men

The Rocky Mountain Duo team of Kevin Calhoun and Greg Day pulled back into the lead of the Team of Two Duo category by over 12 minutes today. It was a stamp of authority over a race Calhoun is not shy of saying they came to win. The team has overcome many obstacles so far and their frustration at how the race had been unfolding for them was turned into a motivated, successful attack on the queen stage of the race.

Teams of Two Open Mixed

Anke Dannowski and Felix Breske (kivel:o) who are leading the Teams of two Open Mixed suffered two flats and a broken chain today but still managed to take the win. Veterans of three Trans-Alps and two Cape Epic stage races this duo has a pretty dominant lock on the overall.

“Two punctures and the chain got into the spokes. Always we catch them and then the next technical. But in the end we always caught them.” Anke
Olivier Blain and Sophie Poirier (Ours Prudent) are doing their first stage race together and seem to be enjoying the challenge of the competition.

Teams of Two 100+ and 80+

Teams of two 100+ has a battle going for second and third place. First place team Tam Bikes (Den Satake/ Chris Urban) have a comfortable but not certain lead of 26 minutes over second place team Happy 50th (John Vipiana/ Doug Ott) and Cento Uno (Dwayne Brown/ Eric Trouillot) who only have four minutes separating them.

Teams of Two 80+ also has a constantly shifting podium with team R&R (Martin Roos/ Doug Richards) and Team Joe Bob (Joe Murray/ Robert Woerne) constantly shuffling the deck for the second and third podium spots.

The Enduro

Sneddon and Eric Goss are still exchanging Enduro wins, with Goss taking the first  of the day while Sneddon used the second to motivate an attack on Kindree. In the Women’s Category Wendy Simms and Jaclyn Schapel (LiveGiant Austrailia) exchanged stages also. Jaclyn took the first and Simms was in the front on the second. We can speculate the extra climbing in the second stages gave the benefit to the XC leaders. Or we can think they are both excellent riders!

Wendy Simms (Kona) holds the Solo and Enduro overall. Jaclyn Shapel (Liv/Giant Austrailia) is closing in after today at 1:27 back.
Wendy Simms (Kona) holds the Solo and Enduro overall. Jaclyn Shapel (Liv/Giant Austrailia) is closing in after today at 1:27 back.

Stage Five Sechelt to Langdale

Another day of big climbing is in store for the racers tomorrow with 1,328m of ascending in a relatively short 36km. Some of the most popular trails of the race like Hwy 102 will be begging riders to feel their flow before the final 8 km descent into the Langdale Ferry Terminal. Riders will end their day with the last ferry ride of the race. The evening will end in the town of Squamish at the Brennan Park Rec Center underneath The Chief, a solid wall of granite that overlooks the town and plays a large part in the lore and outdoor lifestyles of the community.

They still have beer in Canada.
They still have beer in Canada.

BC Bike Race 2013: Day 3

Day Three presented by Harbor Air, the founding sponsor of the BC Bike Race, has officially landed on the Sunshine Coast.

Even though the host town Powell River is technically connected to the mainland, only a boat or seaplane is gonna get the race here due to the rugged terrain and two deep fjords. Once home to the largest pulp mill in the world, Powell River today played host to 550 of the worlds most adventurous mountain bikers. Stage three introduced riders to a complete study of that decomposed mixture of vegetation and dirt called loam. With only 755m of climbing riders had an opportunity to rest the legs for the ascents coming in the later stages, but it was the upper bodies and a rider’s line choice that were tested by the unique style of trails hidden in these dark forests.

Powell river and it's beach are a highlight of the race.
Powell river and it’s beach are a highlight of the race.
Find a moment to rest when you can. The ferry ride to Powell River.
Find a moment to rest when you can. The ferry ride to Powell River.
Car wash through the BC bush.
Car wash through the BC bush.

Some people are on a riding vacation, but today’s winner Neil Kindree (Specialized/ Corsa Cycles) isn’t concerned about the scenery. This is a race for proof of local dominance. He finally got a stage win by putting in a late attack that stuck. He only managed to pull back 29 seconds from overall race leader Kris Senddon (Kona), on a 58 second deficit. A place like British Columbia proves that trail skills and an engine are important and both riders have each quality in spades. “Kris strung it out in the first enduro, but I managed to get a gap on the fire road. When I saw I had about 20 seconds I decided to just keep going for it.” was how Kindree described his move. The stoicism of Kindree can make it hard to gauge his level of excitement but he is known to keep his game plans close to his chest. An attempt to learn more about his day and how he sees the race progressing was met with a quick “It’s confidential” and a smile.

Neil Kindree took the stage win today.
Neil Kindree took the stage win today.

One standout rider in the solo men’s category today was Erik Skovgaard (Racing29er) of Denmark who sprinted to take Sneddon at the line for 2nd place. Despite his homeland being relatively flat he is quickly adapting to the roots, rocks, and loam of the BC Bike Race. It turns out his loss of time in stage two was due more to a soft rear tire than a low tank. If Skovgaard keeps this pace up he might soon be sitting much closer to the podium than anyone thought. Overall the men’s top five shuffled quite a bit today with third, fourth, and fifth moving around. Matt Hadley of team Xprezo put himself in third with a strong ride today while Skovgaard’s effort pulled him up to fourth. Spencer Paxson drifted back to fifth after loosing some momentum later in the race despite hanging with the leaders through RedBull Enduro 1.

In the women’s open category Wendy Simms (Kona) continues to curate a cautious dominance from the front. The second place and cheerful New Zealander Kim Hurst (Mud Cycles) hasn’t let the time back bother her and her love for the trails is showing through. Hurst was just under four minutes back today while third place finisher Trish Grajczyk (Deadgoat Racing) keeps her time behind Hurst at a minor threat level of only a couple more minutes. A misstep by any of these women could quickly erase any time cushion they have slowly been building over the past three days.

A sick partner and some mechanicals have held back Rocky Mountain duo team riders Kevin Calhoun and Greg Day.
A sick partner and some mechanicals have held back Rocky Mountain duo team riders Kevin Calhoun and Greg Day.

One category that has a long history of hard fought battles is in the Team of Two Open men. The BC Bike Race was originally conceived of as a team event and the first few years you had to have a partner to do the race. Today was won by Rocky Mountain Bicycles riders Greg Day and Kevin Calhoun and in the process they earned back over four minutes of their 9 minute deficit to German BIke Magazine riders Christoph Listmann and Michael Anthes. Last year Day and Calhoun were on different Rocky Mountain teams fighting for the same podium steps. For 2013 they have been struggling together to have a stage without mishaps. Greg started the BCBR with a stomach virus and spent most of stage two being sick in the bushes, but it was Kevin’s destroyed derailleur hanger towards the end of that stage that really put them in a deficit to the current overall leaders. Despite being less than 100%, Day and Calhoun have started chipping away at the lead of the two Germans today. A major element of success at a stage race is to keep the mind and body healthy and to try and do that with a teammate makes the team’s success twice as difficult. It’s part of the bonding experience; to watch yourself or your partner suffering and to either have to be the caregiver or taker. It’s one thing to quietly absorb your own lows and difficulties but to do that for a partner isn’t easy on either teammate. Calhoun and Day have known each other for years and it shows in their teamwork in every stage.

This is the third year of the RedBull Enduro “Race within the race” at the BC Bike Race. Designed to give riders with a different skill-set an opportunity to show-off a little to their fellow competitors who crush them on the climbs but are weak in the technical. The Enduro is drawing out new riders and changing some of the bike set-ups that are brought to the race. Last year maybe 10-20% of bikes were equipped with dropper posts while a quick walk around the bike pits this year reveals a split much closer to half. Fox Racing Shox showed up this year with a van and a load of their dropper posts to lend out to riders who are looking to try one. With bikes designed more for enduros it’s only natural that riders are arriving with the skills suited to the race.

MRP_4931

Austrailian Jacalyn Schapel (LiveGiant Austrailia) who was leading the women’s enduro category going into today’s stage isn’t even on the radar for the women’s overall. An enduro and super-d specialist in her home country, Schapel came to BC because of the reputation of the stage race for having excellent trail. “Having the enduro in the stage gave me something to look forward to and breaks it up and it is good to have a carrot to chase.” We hope to see Schapel rip up the enduro stages all the way to Whistler.

In the men’s category Kris Sneddon is holding on to the top spot but it is riders like Eric Goss (East Infection 2) who is in 5th place on the enduro category but 37th in the general classification that are fully embracing the opportunities the enduro category is providing. As the week rolls on and new friendships develop, the enduro gives riders an extra opportunity for some friendly competition. It’s another topic for conversation to fill the afternoon while recovering for the upcoming stage.

Sonke Wegner, this isn't the Black Forest.
Sonke Wegner, this isn’t the Black Forest.

Day Four Presented by Ryders Eyewear leaves from Earls Cove after an early ferry ride. At 61km it’s the longest stage of the race and it has climbing to match. Fortunately the Klein Lake and Ruby Lake Trail Networks will keep the riders minds entertained. Some lengthy enduro stages are coming up so expect to see a lot of shifting in categories at the end of the day. Beautiful weather is in the forecast and the groove of the BC BIke Race is kicking into high gear as the racers are finding their comfort zone in the traveling circus that has invaded the Sunshine Coast. The race is nearing it’s halfway point and riders are starting to understand the reality of what this new world is they have thrown themselves into.

Those mountains in the background help isolate the seaside community of Powell River.
Those mountains in the background help isolate the seaside community of Powell River.

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.

BC Bike Race 2013: Day 1

“Tropical hot!” weather has smothered the racers on the opening day of the 2013 BC Bike Race Presented by Harbour Air, BC Ferries and Shimano.

With temperatures pushing 28 celcius (90º) and the humidity soaring, race co-founder Dean Payne describes day one of the BCBR as the hottest and most humid on record. “The past two weeks of rain saturated the ground and now the moisture is just rising out of the ground. I’ve never sweated so much in my life.” It’s a stark contrast to the 2012 edition of the race that saw the wettest weather of the the race’s history. From the smiles stuck to the racers faces at the finish line, the sunshine and heat are the preferred conditions for riding the technical singletrack the BCBR is famous for.

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It was a stage for regional riders Kris Snedden (Kona) and Neil Kindree (Specialized/Corsa Cycles) who took first and second after a day of a three man Kona tag-team that worked over last years winner, Kindree. Kona rider Spencer Paxson managed to overcome an early crash to earn a step up onto the third step, but it was Cory Wallace (Kona) who added to the already sweltering heat with an early attack that put Kindree on the defensive. The Kona team tactics probably shouldn’t have been a surprise to last years champion after he played it safe in 2012 and waited till late in the race week to show his true cards. There will be no rest for the foxy strategist this year.

Day one also proved to be full of early fireworks in the Open Women’s race as last years winner Wendy Simms of Kona had no chance to catch a moment in the shade with Kim Hurst (Mud Cycles) of New Zealand hungry for a chance to unseat the Queen of Lean. Hurst had Simms against the ropes on the initial climbs up to the Forbidden Plateau before getting bested in the singletrack. Unfortunately a directional misstep put Hurst back at the finish line 2 minutes coming into the finish line. Simms should take note and prepare herself for the game Hurst is ready to play. “I’m really looking forward to a long hard week of riding.” Apparently Hurst is no stranger to competition and 2013 is her second comeback after being Junior National Champion of Great Britian in 1995, 96 and 97. In 2006 she returned to racing and managed 3rd at Britian’s Elite National Championships before giving up mountain biking again for five years. Third place finisher Trish Grajczyk of Deadgoat Cycling finished another five minutes back to take the third podium spot.

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As usual there are a cast of characters searching for the legendary “Ultimate Singletrack Experience”. Mountain Bike Hall of Fame Inductee Joe Murray and his teammate  Robert Woerne took the second spot on the podium in the Team of two 80 Veterans category. Sitting a solid nine minutes above second is the winners of Mafia Racing, Andy Rigel and Jeff Beltramini. Rocky Mountain Rider Wade Simmons and his partner, the winner of Wade’s Excellent Adventure, Carlos Zavarce, finished with Wade sprinting and high fives.

Last year’s Enduro winner Andreas Hestler (Rocky Mountain Bicycles) suffered a flat on stage one and Kris Snedden managed to take the overall on the day despite losing Stage 1 of the Redbull Enduro to Eric Goss (East Infection 2). Goss might have his eye on the Enduro overall since he seemed to use a proven strategy for domination by relaxing a little in between the enduro stages. Day one gives little away but as the week unfolds and riders acclimate to the singletrack riding, anything can happen. The story is in the progress of the days and the many factors each rider has to deal with.

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A new feature of the BC BIke Race this year is the addition of a Cheer Zone at special sections of the course. Spectators will be shuttled to watch, cheer, and egg on tired racers and front runners come through the forest. The Cheer Zone also gives an inside look at how other people handle trails they might ride all the time. With music and Brett Tippie at the mic every cheer zone is gonna shatter the silence of the forest and add a boost to legs looking for the finish line.

Today’s introduction to the trails of the BC Bike Race might of been hot but it had to be a relief to finally start the journey after the amount of preparation and sacrifices every racer endured to get to the start line. Day Zero had a calming effect on everyone’s nerves after a smooth registration process at the Argyle Secondary School in North Vancouver, located at the base of Mount Fromme, home of the famous North Shore trails. Riders had an opportunity to be distracted from the upcoming race while sitting in the shade with perfect skies watching 120 of the regions young groms racing in the Adera Kids Race. Mountain Bike legend Brett Tippie called the kids race like an auctioneer announcing the Kentucky Derby. Tippie will be with the event for the rest of the week keeping people’s energy high as the days and exhaustion build.

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The first of four ferry rides over the Pacific Ocean to Vancouver Island gave riders a feel for the world of water and mountains that British Columbia is famous for. After departing from the BC Ferries boat the final bus ride to the open arms of the town of Cumberland is a welcoming opportunity to rest in a true island town. With a mainstreet short enough to walk in ten minutes and Dodge City Cyles smack in the center of town under the legendary Riding Fool Hostel, Cumberland is truly a rider’s town. If it wasn’t for Cumberland’s distinctive minning history, the fresh local food and good coffee shops of the small downtown could fool someone into thinking they were in a european village.

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The BCBR and North Shore experience has to be an eye opener to the 85% of racers who have never touched their tires to the singletrack of the BC Bike Race. As usual countries from around the world are well represented with over 26 different nationalities. Possibly the most amazing coincidence in the history of the BCBR are the 126 riders from Mexico who have stormed the race. Completely without a central organizing force, somehow the bug hit Mexico and groups from Guadalajara, Tabasco, and Mexico city are finding themselves with a lot more native speakers than they expected in a country far away. A full 20% of the race is Spanish speaking this year but the laughter rising from these groups is a universal sound and they are bringing a great vibe to the 2013 edition.

Despite the heat and the journey ahead racers have full support to help them cross the finish line in Whistler on the final day. An addition to this years event to help racers make the finish line is Yoga with Ryan Leech. Every afternoon he will be holding a cycling specific session and as evidenced by the 240 participants who showed up to be lead by the trials riding legend on Day One, it’s a welcome inclusion.

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Stay tuned for day two which moves early in the morning to Campbell River for more singletrack with less climbing. The heat is expected to continue to rise and riders will need to stay within their limits to keep themselves flowing through the trails. The adventure has just started and how it plays out won’t really come into focus until midweek when the racers training and stamina starts to shine through. Welcome to the adventure that is the BC Bike Race.

 

Video: AVID Chasing Trail | Kenny Smith

Kenny Smith does things on a mountain bike that no one else does. He finds possibilities in places where no one else even looks. Bigger, steeper, faster—that’s his style.

By Kenny’s own estimation, a lack of fear is both his biggest strength and his biggest weakness. There have been times when he has paid the price—but that drive to push things further makes him one of the most electrifying riders to watch. On his home trails in Whistler, British Columbia, he loves inventing creative new ways to ride the same trails.

Kenny is particular about how his brakes perform. He has to be. To pull this off, it takes trust—in himself and in his equipment. When he’s teetering on the edge of a cliff and getting ready to drop a new line, he knows exactly how his Avid brakes will perform. Powerful, smooth, trustworthy.

Video: AVID Chasing Trail | Kenny Smith

Kenny Smith does things on a mountain bike that no one else does. He finds possibilities in places where no one else even looks. Bigger, steeper, faster—that’s his style.

By Kenny’s own estimation, a lack of fear is both his biggest strength and his biggest weakness. There have been times when he has paid the price—but that drive to push things further makes him one of the most electrifying riders to watch. On his home trails in Whistler, British Columbia, he loves inventing creative new ways to ride the same trails.

Kenny is particular about how his brakes perform. He has to be. To pull this off, it takes trust—in himself and in his equipment. When he’s teetering on the edge of a cliff and getting ready to drop a new line, he knows exactly how his Avid brakes will perform. Powerful, smooth, trustworthy.

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.

 

 

The Escape

In BC, when winter descends upon us with its icy blanket, all the riding closes down…

the escape from Union Production Co. on Vimeo.

Determined to escape the grasp of winter and shake off its snowy shackles, our two riders will set forth from Whistler to circumnavigate the Strait of Georgia.

The route will be completed by bicycle and with the riders towing all their supplies. Traveling by mountain bike – less suited for the roads but tailored to the gems of off-road trails – should enable them to link up exquisite trails networks and riding communities that exist throughout British Columbia.

Each town in British Columbia seems to offer better singletrack than the last one visited. To prove what’s out there Dave Roth and Seb Kemp cycled, on mountain bikes, from Whistler around the Strait of Georgia, stopping in Squamish, the Sunshine Coast, Powell River, Cumberland, Hornby Island, Parksville, Duncan and Saturna Island.

This trip is about the pleasure of the road and the thrill of the trails. We want to show everyone that, yes, nothing is easy, but the rewards of seeking soothe all hardship.

We want to remind the world that adventure is on your own doorstep, if only you get off the couch to seek it. It is about celebrating the world we ride within. It is also about the communities and individuals that dare imagine, build, and nourish so that mountain biking can flourish.

Knolly Endorphin

Knolly are as Canadian as pancakes with bacon and maple syrup. And like the aforementioned delicious breakfast, we highly recommend giving them a try.

The Knolly brand has its roots in Vancouver’s North Shore and their bikes have always reflected this; big hucks and scary, slippery root-infested trails need solid bikes to tame them and the brand bills itself as ‘a high-end manufacturer of freeride and downhill bikes.’ But the Endorphin, a relatively recent addition to the Knolly stable, is a machine that’s far more relevant to the masses, yet doesn’t stray too far from the brand’s home turf too.

We first clapped eyes on the high-vis yellow Endorphin at a gravity enduro race and locked it in for testing straight away. We wanted to make sure it lived it up to the showy appearance. With 140mm rear travel (paired to a 150mm fork), a kicked-back head angle of 67 degrees and boxy construction, the Endorphin looked ready to fight its way through rough trails. We had a medium-sized bike on our doorstep from importer Endless Flow Cycles within days.

A FOX 34 leads the charge. The extra stiffness of this fork when compared to a 32mm-legged fork is inspiring.

Kitted out with a premium build kit, the Endorphin gave us plenty to admire; FOX 34 fork, CTD dampers front and rear, Hope hubs, Raceface Next carbon cranks, SRAM XX drivetrain, Thomson stem, Maxxis Minion rubber and the highly rated KS LEV adjustable post with a massive 150mm of adjustment. This build kit needs little tweaking in our opinion, though we envisage the narrow DT rims requiring a bit of spoke key love over time with the kind of punishing riding this bike is capable of. Our test bike tipped the scales at a fair 12.8kg, certainly weightier than many other premium-level trail bikes, but not excessively so.

All hail the LEV! Could this be the finest dropper post on the market? 150mm of adjustment at the push of a silky smooth button.

The really eye catching element of the bike’s construction is the ‘Four by 4’ suspension linkage – kind of a link-on-a-link setup. Practically, it’s actually pretty simple; there’s your traditional four-bar linkage arrangement to control the bike’s axle path, and the second linkage controls the shock rate. Before the advent of dropper posts, the system also had the advantage of allowing a full-length seat tube too, so you could get your saddle out of the way. The bike’s rear ends with surprisingly narrow dropouts clamping a 142x12mm axle, which requires a 5mm Allen key for removal, and a tapered head tube up front

Knolly’s Four by 4 linkage is a twist on the standard four-bar configuration. It performed best when ridden hard and fast, not feeling terribly supple at slow speed.

This isn’t a bike for ticking off big kays on fireroad trails. The Endorphin carries the same hunger for technical riding as the rest of the Knolly range, just in a lighter more efficient package, and the bike’s sizing reflects this. With a stocky 17” seat tube and upright riding position, the whole bike feels super compact. Short stays (425mm) mean that even with though the head angle is slack, the overall wheelbase is quite short.

Consequently, you’re really centred over the bike, and it’s very easy to pick and choose exactly where you want to place the wheels. It’s most adept when the trails require lots of body language; the short reach, dropped top tube and compact rear end make it easy to twist yourself all over the bike as you rip it over and around technical trails.

Just right. The combination of a 70mm stem, 725mm-wide bar and robust fork never left you wondering about the front end’s ability to hold a line.

You can slam the big FOX 34 fork into just about anything and it won’t complain, leading the way for you to start looking for more and more nasty rocks or drops to fly off. We had absolute confidence in the front end, finding the cockpit ideal, and feeling very connected to the grippy Minion front tyre. On board the Endorphin we tackled some steep, rocky rollers that we’ve been avoiding on other bikes recently. The kind of obstacles where you need to hit the line just-so or risk going over the bars became fun challenges, rather than terrifying.

We spent a lot of time on this bike with the seat post lowered, out of the saddle, playing with the trail. We ran the rear shock in Trail mode generally, which added to the bike’s responsiveness, making it easy to pick up the front wheel or wheelie-drop off ledges. Hard landings didn’t worry the Knolly, and even though we bottomed-out the suspension with a clunk on a few occasions, the bike didn’t flinch or get out of shape. In fact, the bigger, faster hits really seemed to suit Endorphin. The Four by 4 suspension system isn’t particularly supple, feeling a little choppy over repeated small hits. The rear end performed best when you showed no mercy, hammering over the rocks fast, or slamming back to earth off drops.

While the SRAM XX derailleur shifts brilliantly, we’d still have preferred an X0 derailleur with the new Type 2 clutch mechanism to reduce chainslap and chain derailment.

Fast riding did reveal one hole in the Knolly’s spec, that being the absence of either a clutch derailleur or some kind of chain retention device, and we bounced the chain off a few times. It’s funny how quickly we’ve come to take the great chain retention afforded by clutch derailleurs for granted. The frame is equipped with ISCG mounts so, installing a chain guide (either single ring or dual ring) is hassle free should you wish to go that route.

Raceface’s Next carbon cranks are gorgeous. Unfortunately we dropped the chain and it scratched the finish of the crank arms badly! Yet another reason to run a clutch derailleur or some kind of chain device.

The drawbacks of the upright riding position come when climbing or sprinting. The short reach cramps your style a little if you’re out of the saddle. The best approach for technical uphills was to hit them hard and fast, or alternatively to sit and spin. Grinding out of the saddle didn’t suit the Knolly and tended to set the suspension bobbing. Sprinting was a little awkward on the Endorphin too, the saddle tended to get in the way. Again, the KS LEV dropper post came to the rescue – we really love this seat post, it’s superb. You could fit a longer stem to open up the top tube a little, but this would sacrifice performance in terms of responsiveness. The best bet is try out a couple of frame sizes if possible, and consider going a size bigger than usual. It all depends on your trails and your riding priorities.

Admittedly, the Knolly isn’t quite as versatile as some other 140/150mm trail bikes, which may out-climb the Endorphin or weigh in a little lighter. But the Knolly knows its niche and nails it. It rewards the rider for whom technical trails aren’t a challenge to be negotiated but a playground to be explored and unlike some of the featherweights of this category, we’re sure it’ll be faithfully dependable for years to come.

The Escape – Trailer

Let’s get one thing straight, this film is not really about us or our journey. It’s about the people and places that your mountain bike can show you.

Mountain biking is brilliant in its scope and variety; there is no right or wrong way to enjoy it. However, mountain biking, to us, is about adventure and exploration, fun and games, and understanding a little bit more about the world, the people around us, and in the long run, about ourselves.

On February 6, 2013, the Union crew set out from snowy Whistler to seek out some of the rumored snow free trails around BC. Their route took them on a circular journey around the Georgia Strait (or Salish Sea) between Vancouver’s lower mainland and Vancouver Island – where they found clusters of communities that elude the snow line all winter, leaving the ribbons of crafted dirt free for all to ride.

They rode mountain bikes the whole way, towing their kit in trailers for the long road stretches and then dumping them when the riding turned to dirt. Thirteen days and over 800 km later they closed the loop on their ride. Perhaps you already caught some of the story online (the-escape.ca) but in March 2013 Union Production Co. will be releasing a video of the trip. Here is the teaser to the grand presentation.

This video is about bringing the pleasure of the road and the thrill of the trails. We want to reach out to the rider who is told they are getting old but still feels young and who still gets recharged with youthful thrills. We want to reach out to the person working in a cubicle and reunite them with that long lost wanderlust. We want to show everyone that, yes, nothing is easy, but the rewards of seeking soothes all hardship.

More so, although the video’s backdrop is the backroads of British Columbia, we want to remind the world that adventure can be found on your own doorstep, you just need to get off the couch to seek it. Mountain biking shows us all somewhere new and personal, whether that’s at the end of a long road, a piece of remote singletrack, or the woods at the bottom of your own backyard.

This video is about celebrating the world, that as mountain bikers, we ride within. It is also about the communities and individuals that dare imagine, build and provide nourishment so that mountain biking can flourish.

The Loam Factory

The project involved a week-long trip to Mike Hopkin’s home base of Rossland, British Columbia where he has been working in what he dubs the “Loam Factory.”

The loose soil is the mountain biking equivalent of a powder day, but before Mike can slash his trail to bits, it’s time to prove that the freerider can hold his own on the streets…

The Bucket List – An Ordinary Guy's Journey Towards The 2013 BC Bike Race

**Join Mike Kennedy each month right here on Flow on his journey to the BC Bike Race

 

We all love to dream of living the life; railing endless berms of hero dirt, smooth flowing lines through lush forests, jumps, transitions, roost coming off the back wheel, bike and body in harmony. But as wise man once said “In dreams begin responsibilities” and it’s time for me to wake up and start living those dreams.

Now I’m no superhero, just your average weekend warrior. I love getting out with my mates for a blast around the local. I’m happy going on solo missions too – just me and that relentless training partner Strava! Night rides, 24 hour races with the four man wolf pack, downhill races, beers and BBQ at the local pumptrack challenge. I’ve had some great times. But somehow I never managed to make it to Mecca, the holy grail, the heart of darkness. Canada.

I’ve watched all the movies and always said, “that’s on the list…one day for sure”. Then earlier this year I pressed the button. The opportunity came to go Queenstown and ride with a couple of mates for a week. It was awesome. Not just regular awesome, super freaking awesome. Soon after came a quick trip to the redwoods of Rotorua. It may stink but it is so much fun nobody cares! The sweet trails lit a new fire in me, and I wanted more.

Mike Kennedy getting some training in on this way to becoming less than an ordinary guy.

Inspired by my mate Mark who just sold up and moved to Whistler, I came to the realisation that it’s now or never for Canada. The clock keeps ticking – it was time to buy a ticket and go.

I’ve done a handful of races over the years; the Mont24, the Scott24, the Polaris, some downhill, some cross country and lately some endures, all of it awesome fun. Then I heard about the BC Bike Race. It’s a seven-day stage race through the heart of British Columbia, a true test of mind, body and equipment. When I saw the footage and the endless ribbon of singletrack I knew I had to do it, this was what I had been looking for, seven days in an all you can eat singletrack buffet!

It wasn’t too hard to convince Mark that we should do it so into the diary it went and as soon as registration opened for 2013 we locked it in. Holy crap…it just got real.

So here I am, less than 300 days till I’m standing next to my buddy on the starting line in beautiful BC, staring down the barrel of 50-60km a day for seven days, gulp.

Now I’m pretty competitive kind of bloke and I want to enjoy the race and do well so 50-60 clicks a day means I need to start training now. I have a plan, which is to build some base fitness by doing about 100km a week and I want to do almost all of it on dirt. This training will evolve throughout the year and as I move into the final phase I plan to follow the 12 week training program of Canadian legend, Andreas Hestler. Currently I’m only averaging 57km per week so it’s time to pull my finger out get pedaling.

I hope that you guys and girls out there will follow me and my exploits throughout the year. I’ll need your support, feedback and encouragement as I head towards my goal.
You can follow my progress** on Flow every month as I show the body who’s boss and live the dream!

Mike Kennedy – wrong side of 40, right side of his Specialized Enduro.

The Bucket List – An Ordinary Guy’s Journey Towards The 2013 BC Bike Race

**Join Mike Kennedy each month right here on Flow on his journey to the BC Bike Race

 

We all love to dream of living the life; railing endless berms of hero dirt, smooth flowing lines through lush forests, jumps, transitions, roost coming off the back wheel, bike and body in harmony. But as wise man once said “In dreams begin responsibilities” and it’s time for me to wake up and start living those dreams.

Now I’m no superhero, just your average weekend warrior. I love getting out with my mates for a blast around the local. I’m happy going on solo missions too – just me and that relentless training partner Strava! Night rides, 24 hour races with the four man wolf pack, downhill races, beers and BBQ at the local pumptrack challenge. I’ve had some great times. But somehow I never managed to make it to Mecca, the holy grail, the heart of darkness. Canada.

I’ve watched all the movies and always said, “that’s on the list…one day for sure”. Then earlier this year I pressed the button. The opportunity came to go Queenstown and ride with a couple of mates for a week. It was awesome. Not just regular awesome, super freaking awesome. Soon after came a quick trip to the redwoods of Rotorua. It may stink but it is so much fun nobody cares! The sweet trails lit a new fire in me, and I wanted more.

Mike Kennedy getting some training in on this way to becoming less than an ordinary guy.

Inspired by my mate Mark who just sold up and moved to Whistler, I came to the realisation that it’s now or never for Canada. The clock keeps ticking – it was time to buy a ticket and go.

I’ve done a handful of races over the years; the Mont24, the Scott24, the Polaris, some downhill, some cross country and lately some endures, all of it awesome fun. Then I heard about the BC Bike Race. It’s a seven-day stage race through the heart of British Columbia, a true test of mind, body and equipment. When I saw the footage and the endless ribbon of singletrack I knew I had to do it, this was what I had been looking for, seven days in an all you can eat singletrack buffet!

It wasn’t too hard to convince Mark that we should do it so into the diary it went and as soon as registration opened for 2013 we locked it in. Holy crap…it just got real.

So here I am, less than 300 days till I’m standing next to my buddy on the starting line in beautiful BC, staring down the barrel of 50-60km a day for seven days, gulp.

Now I’m pretty competitive kind of bloke and I want to enjoy the race and do well so 50-60 clicks a day means I need to start training now. I have a plan, which is to build some base fitness by doing about 100km a week and I want to do almost all of it on dirt. This training will evolve throughout the year and as I move into the final phase I plan to follow the 12 week training program of Canadian legend, Andreas Hestler. Currently I’m only averaging 57km per week so it’s time to pull my finger out get pedaling.

I hope that you guys and girls out there will follow me and my exploits throughout the year. I’ll need your support, feedback and encouragement as I head towards my goal.
You can follow my progress** on Flow every month as I show the body who’s boss and live the dream!

Mike Kennedy – wrong side of 40, right side of his Specialized Enduro.