It’s now nearly a year since I got home from riding in the BC Bike Race in Canada and the folks at Bicycle Superstore have asked me to offer my thoughts now that a bit of time has elapsed.
Well, one thing I can tell you is I didn’t spent a whole heap of time on the bike for a while after the race finished. In fact, for the first couple of months It hung on the stand in the garage and gathered dust.
There were a few reasons for that; firstly, my wife Jane’s injury which had stopped her at the very last minute (like the day before!) coming to the race was far from fixed. So her needs were paramount.
The good news there is we’re now over the worst of that.
There was also a heap of work that needed to be caught up on. How can 10 days away results in three solid months of weekend overtime?
And there was just the simple fact that after 18 months of intense effort – more really – I was not all that fired up about riding. I was more interested in rediscovering the taste of beer, chocolate and even the occasional packet of barbecue chips.
Mm chips, yum.
But that junk food itch was well and truly scratched by late 2018. Moving the belt out an extra notch (or two) was a reminder that I wasn’t as svelte (ha!) as I had been.
And so the Giant Trance started coming out of the shed. Just a few solo rides firstly, pretty basic, for an hour or two. I didn’t race, just hung local, riding once or twice a week when I could … not four or five times a week because I had to.
There was another reason the bike didn’t come out too often and I really only twigged to it 100 per cent when I was talking to a young mountain biker called Sam a while ago. Well, he’s young compared to me – he’d be late 20s maybe. I’m 55.
I was explaining to him I hadn’t done much riding since I can back from the BCBR and he looked at me with complete understanding: “You just don’t want to ride back here after experiencing those trails. They spoil you.”
And as unfair as it is to the thousands of mountain bikers around this country who bend their backs for gratis and build the great trails we ride, he was right.
The experience I had on those British Columbia trails just left me in exhilarated awe. Just so well built, so enjoyable, so brilliantly mixing tech and flow and exploiting to the max the incredible country they have to work with.
People ask me what the race was like. I tell them about the great people I met, the incredible organisation, the sheer intensity and exhausting hard work of it. But I always come back to the trails.
This moment sums it up. On day five the race finished at a ferry terminal right down on the water’s edge. We were then loaded up on a ferry and chugged out into the waterway headed for Vancouver.
I was sitting inside at the rear of the boat, watching the land recede, carb-loading and bench racing with a few other riders. I looked out every now and again. The land kept receding, but that mountain remained a sheer green wall disappearing out of view above the roof. Finally, after maybe 20 minutes, maybe even 30 minutes, the top was visible.
I could make out just below the peak where the treeline ended.
Then it hit me. A few hours earlier I’d arrived at that very treeline, pretty smashed after 40km and four hours of pretty constant climbing. I’d entered the singletrack where that treeline started and ridden all the all the way down that vast mountain on a network of trails so inviting, so frickin’ good it made all the effort to get there worthwhile.
There was rooty, narrow trail cut across the side of plunging ravines, bench cut flow sections of all-out speed, rocky tech, smooth BMX sections, woodwork over canyons and creeks and amazingly difficult rock-rolls … the latter thankfully roped off with yellow tape.
At one point a bloke went past me going that bit faster. I wanted to push and chase him, but I just didn’t have the energy. A few minutes later I approached a loose left over a crest and down to my right in the scrub tangled up in his bike, there he was. He gave me a smile and waved me on as if to say ‘don’t let me interrupt you’.
It’s that sort of trail.
It took me an hour to work my way down the face of that mountain. An hour!
There are so many rides like that in the BCBR. None better than that one, but so many that are similar.
It’s those trails I can’t get out of my head. I just want to ride them over and over again. Which is why I’m going back to race the BCBR again in 2020.
Yep, the training has started again. I am out there huffing and puffing over my local trails at Red Hill and beyond, building up the kays and the climbing metres. I’ve entered some races and even traded the wonderful Trance in for a fresh ride.
It’s hard work and hurts like hell. Love it!