My action-packed summer continued with a smile-inducing series of singletrack, the 36km Just Another Bike Race (JABR) in Squamish on August 18, the fourth and final event of the Hell of a Series. I raced JABR last year and loved it. This year, the route was almost completely different, and I loved it even more! I had a great race, marking local favourite Brandi for the first long portion of fire road and then sneaked by her on the coattails of a guy who she allowed to pass in the first singletrack – Word of Mouth. I think Word of Mouth is my favourite trail in Squamish, but there are so many great trails and I’m constantly finding new ones….I was glad to have Brandi to pace off of in the beginning, because a 30-minute delay in starting left my legs feeling a bit heavy. It would have been so easy to back off if I hadn’t had someone motivating me to go hard. Once I got into the fun trails, motivation was a no-brainer. Yeah singletrack!
Local Ride had a big crew of racers representing, including Rich, who was attempting his first-ever mountain bike race! Way to pick an “easy” one, Rich! No, JABR is definitely not easy, and Rich’s fourth place was very respectable. Ryan won his category – WOOHOO! Steve, Jeanine, Paul, and Carsten all had solid days as well. I was stoked to log a top 10 overall and first in the elite women’s competition. I also secured the timed climb, which earned me the polkadot bra prize. I came up a little short on the timed DH section and the top prize went to Anna Schappert with her mad skillz! Thanks to organizers for putting on such a fun event. The post-race pulled pork BBQ was delish!
Two days after JABR, Ryan and I hit the road and headed north along the Ski to Sky. Destination: The Chilcotins for some sweet backcountry mountain biking with even sweeter people. Kika, Keith, Matt, Catherine, Ryan and I camped on the shores of Tyaughten Lake and explored the stunning alpine terrain of the Chilcotin mountains. The four days offered a much-needed back-to-the-basics feeling for all of us.
Fearless leader Keith took us into some amazing backcountry scenery and over daunting passes. It’s hard to describe the riding there. I think what struck me most was the terrain we were able to access on two wheels. Almost everything was rideable, whereas all the other times I’ve been in similar alpine terrain, it was only accessible via hiking trails, which are much too technical to ride with their zig-zag switchbacks and big, rooty step-ups. Because the hundreds of kilometres of singletrack in the Chilcotins were made by horses, they are pretty much all do-able on a bike! Another highlight of the trip was the huge palette of wildflowers we encountered as we made the climb each day from our base at the lake at around 1,000 metres, up to where the trails topped out at 2,200 metres. I definitely will be back in the Chilcotins with my bike – probably even next summer!
Mine and Ryan’s adventure did not, by any means, end with our return home from the Chilcotins. We arrived back at Ryan’s on Thursday night, yanked all of our camping gear out of the car, did laundry, and jumped back in the car the next morning and caught the ferry to Nanaimo. From there we drove up to Mt. Washington, located our rented log chalet, and hopped on course for a pre-ride of the BC Cup MTB Finals/BC Championships. My legs felt absolutely fried after all the big rides we had done in the previous four days coupled with the travel. Ryan dropped me without trying. The course was super fun, but I was actually kind of glad Coach Keith had discouraged me from racing. Later that evening, Rich, Jeanine, Steve, Marie, and Leroy pulled up and we had a very enjoyable evening.
Next day was race day and Marie and I were stationed in the feed zone while our racers attacked the course. A very enthusiastic live announcer was tasked with commentating on the race, but it was soon evident that he wasn’t overly familiar with the cross-country discipline. He was definitely a keener and had the gift of the gab, but there was a bit of info lacking in his commentary. With the encouragement of Marie and some fellow feed zoners, I approached the announcer and offered my services as an expert in the discipline. I soon discovered I was co-commentating with the legendary freerider Brett Tippie! Getting to commentate at the BC Cup Finals/BC Championships was a blast, especially as the sidekick of such a fun and crazy guy! For me, the race flew by very quickly and I got to give some insider information to the crowd and I even had the opportunity to interview some of the racers! I think Brett and I should submit a demo to Redbull.TV – we could do some amazing World Cup commentating, I think!
The race was a success for the team as well, with Rich taking home the BC Championship title in only his second mountain bike race, Jeanine securing both the BC Cup and the BC Championship titles, and Ryan and Steve each sewing up the BC Cup series titles in their respective categories. Congrats guys!
That afternoon, we soaked up the sunshine on our gorgeous mountainview deck and sipped some cold bevvies. Chelsea and Steve, along with their dogs Quinn and Snoopy, joined us later for a very satisfying burrito dinner. The next day, we packed up and hit the fantastic mountain bike trails in Cumberland. Wow! I’d only been to Cumberland once before during BC Bike Race, but I knew I needed to go back. Our short ride on Sunday solidified that feeling – I need to go back again, and for longer next time! Because of our Cumberland detour, we got to the ferry terminal at around 3:30 p.m. and hit the rush off the Island at its highest point, resulting in a two-sailing wait. We killed time as best we could, but it was pretty late by the time we got back home. It was a super fun nine days of action-packed adventure, however, and I was okay with being a bit tired out afterwards….