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Impressions of the BC Bike Race

Locals taking a free ride give their account of the experience
Michele Carr navigates the Jabberwocky trail. (Photo by Alan Carr)

Trevor Meyer’s innovative video and Michele Carr’s mountain biking promotion prowess put the two local riders into the BC Bike Race under special status.

Meyer of Chemainus won the BC Bike Race’s video contest for his Eat. Ride. Sleep. Repeat. magic formula for training that earned him a prize package valued at $13,000 that included free entry into the race, partly staged in Crofton.

Related story: Clever training formula lands Island rider top prize in BC Bike Race video contest

Cowichan’s Carr, 63, is a youth mountain biking instructor. She won the BC Bike Race Kazlaw Award for community support of cycling that also allowed for free entry into the BC Bike Race as part of her award.

Both had a monumental week of adventure with the other 600 race participants during racing in Crofton, Maple Bay, Nanaimo, Cumberland and Campbell River. Carr went all out to finish second in the women’s over 60 category.

Following are the impressions of both from this experience of a lifetime:

For Meyer, the race exceeded his expectations.

”The organization sure knows how to put on an event,” he praised. “The whole thing is impressive. The amount of work that goes into the set-up of the camps and races is huge. They have it dialed in for sure.”

At the same time, Meyer conceded the race was the hardest thing he’d ever done, with the heat playing a huge factor.

”Staying hydrated was the biggest thing,” he indicated. “I would drink four bottles of water with additives during each race. That’s three liters. And I would drink straight water from my hydration pack as well, totaling six liters per race. That’s a lot of water. It also takes a lot of food intake to stay energized. I was eating even when I didn’t want to.

“My new bike performed flawlessly. I didn’t have a single issue with it. They have on-site bike mechanics that were constantly busy working on bikes. The team does everything in its power to make sure every athlete makes it over the finish line.”

But sadly not everyone does, Meyer pointed out. “The rider list gets smaller with each stage. Injury is part of the sport and there was no shortage of crashes. I saw several throughout the week. I had a crash on Day 2. I made a silly mistake only one kilometre from the finish line on a trail I ride all the time. I was able to walk away with just a bruised hip and scraped elbow.”

Day 4 was the hardest day on the bike, Meyer noted. “It was the hottest day of the week reaching +30. The course in Nanaimo had a section of road climb with no shade. I didn’t see anyone ride their bikes up it. Every one was walking, which is not fun in cycling shoes.

“Day 6 was the opposite. It was in the shade all day with beautiful mossy forests and lakeside trails in Snowden Forest/Campbell River. It was the longest day at 45 kilometres but only had 775 meters of climbing.

“Day 7 was in Cumberland again. Things were going great. I was feeling fatigued, I guess that happens after riding 240 kilometres in seven days. With just a couple of kilometres to go, same as Day 2, I made a silly mistake and crashed again. This time it was more stylish. I flipped right over the handlebars. Again, I walked away with just a few scratches.”

Meyer remarked it was a great feeling to cross the finish line on Day 7 and get the belt buckle. “Some people get quite emotional.

“Everyone is there for different reasons. Some people are there to win. Most people are there just to try to finish. It was awesome to meet so many people from all over the world. People come from as far as Australia and New Zealand. I went around interviewing a few people for a little project. Everyone loved the trails in the Cowichan Valley and many want to come back. Cowichan has some of the world’s best biking trails, one of the reasons the bike race will be back next year.”

Meyer said he won’t be racing next year, but it’s a sure bet he’ll be involved somehow.

As for Carr of Dirt Groms Biking Ltd., she was surprised and honoured to receive the phone call from BC Bike Race officials about her nomination and then selection as the winner of the Kazlaw Community Award for her work and dedication to the local mountain bike community.

The board member of the Cowichan Trail Stewardship Society runs mountain bike programs for kids (starting at age five), youth and adults. Her company is responsible for teaching hundreds of people to mountain bike over the last six years as well as starting a race team for youth to take part in the Island Cup Series.

Dirt Groms participants take part in all the trail maintenance days and volunteer at local races, including the BC Bike Race. Carr had always wanted to do the race and thought she’d missed her chance at 63 years old. But she was definitely up for the challenge of the gruelling race.

Related story: BC Bike Race officials lay out the groundwork for Crofton stay

Here are some of Carr’s personal observations:

Day 1: This was a short day (13 km) on Maple Mountain and it was very fun being on our local trails and seeing so many kids and adults out cheering for me. I was pleasantly surprised to find out after the first day that I was the second female in the 60+ category, and therefore on the podium.

Day 2: Mt. Tzouhalem (35 km). I was looking forward to this day as I’m so familiar with all the trails but I didn’t anticipate the sudden heat increase for the day. I started feeling overheated after only 1.5 hours and knew I had such a long way to go with a lot of climbing. I did see our Dirt Team on the trail, who were waiting to cheer me on and just thought ‘I must keep pushing.’ I kept on, just watching the km go by and then at around 20 km, started cramping. I fell over once as my legs just cramped completely and I couldn’t pedal. I was able to get up and walk for a bit and just kept getting on my bike and trying some more. I was sure happy to cross the finish line at the bottom of Bumblebee! At the awards, I stayed in second place so that was good.

Day 3: Maple Mountain (25 km). I was concerned about cramping again so I went quite easy at the start. There was quite a bit of climbing before the black diamond descent of Upper Maple Syrup and Lower Maple Syrup so I was steady all the way up. Once I got to the top, I was in a good groove on these familiar trails and ended up having a long train of men following my lines down all the rock faces. It was fun and I felt great, especially compared to the day before. I kept my second place again. I loved starting and finishing in Crofton. The community was so great in embracing the race and all the participants, by volunteering their time and cheering for us all on the way out and back again.

Day 4: Nanaimo (32 km). I met up with the lady in third place (Val from Hawaii) and offered to lead her through these trails as I had done a pre-ride two weeks previously. We stayed together for the first half of the race but I pulled ahead on the long, road climb. It was very hot out in the open. Once we started descending, I really enjoyed the ride and was thinking about the swim in Westwood Lake where we finished – that felt amazing! I was starting to gain more confidence as the days went by.

Day 5: Cumberland (42 km and 1,419 meters of climbing). Val and I decided to ride together again as it was such a long, hard day and we could keep each other going. I was familiar with most of the trails we rode but it was a very hard day – six hours on the bike and all on blue and black rated trails, with lots of roots and rocks and so not a lot of flow – very slow going. Physically and mentally, this was the hardest day.

Day 6: Campbell River (44 km). I had pre-ridden the course so was confident that I could get through this day without too much trouble. All the trails were blue rated, with great flow so Val and I rode together for the day and felt so good, it almost felt like a day off! We had a 15-minute stop for a bear that refused to leave the trail. There was a huge lineup of riders waiting to start riding again.

Day 7: Cumberland (33 km and 1,027 meters of climbing). Although this final day was shorter in kilometers, it still seemed hard, with a seven-km road climb and lots of blue and black trails. I was wishing for road which as a mountain biker, you never do! I was watching the kilometers on my bike computer and when I had about four km to go, decided to really push it all the way to the finish. I kept my second place finish in the 60+ category for all the days and overall.

Although she had done one-day mountain bike races in the past, this was Carr’s first time for a stage race. “I feel very proud to have gotten through these seven days of riding and getting on the podium was a great bonus,” she noted.

Michele Carr on the course during the BC Bike Race. (Photo by Alan Carr)
Michele Carr on the podium, finishing second for 60+ women in the BC Bike Race. (Photo by Alan Carr)
Trevor Meyer, right, being interviewed by Brett Tippie, one of the BC Bike Race announcers. (BC Bike Race photo)
Trevor Meyer had a couple of crashes during the BC Bike Race, but came out of them relatively unscathed. (BC Bike Race photo)

Don Bodger

About the Author: Don Bodger

I've been a part of the newspaper industry since 1980 when I began on a part-time basis covering sports for the Ladysmith-Chemainus Chronicle.
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