Posted by Editoress on 07/2/09
Day 4: Cumberland
Ah, Canada Day – the holiday where “you can do anything” for one day. Maybe that's not the holiday's real motto, but it is certainly the experience that BC Bike Race organizers would like to create on this day for their participants.
How's this for the start of the fourth day of epic mountain biking and a celebration of west coast Canada? A 4:30am wake-up call as pre-cursor to watching the remnants of a beautiful sunrise over the Georiga Straight while waiting to board the first BC Ferries crossing of the day. Then chowing on breakfast while admiring the view of the coastal areas off the bow.
A quick road transport to the next ferry terminal, Saltery Bay, leaves racers mingling with other racers as they grow comfortable with the riders in their own “pack” each day. One more scenic sailing down the coastal area ultimately leads to the final transfer destination for the day – Earls Cove ferry terminal – which is a popular and inspirational BC Bike Race start line...
For six BCBR participants whose shuttle driver accidentally missed the early morning ferry by 15 minutes, it might seem that BCBR really can do anything. In missing the ferry, those teams would not make the start line in time; however, their shuttle driver did treat them all to a very Canadian Tim Horton's breakfast to take the edge off. Meanwhile, Harbour Air, presenting sponsor of BC Bike Race, freed one charter floatplane and flew it to the Comox harbour to pick up the anxious racers and carry them directly to the Earls Cove start line ahead of the rest of the racers.
Once the ferry docked, riders arrived at the quaint landing in Earls Cove where the familiar Bear on Bike start/finish arch stood waiting, along with 360 bikes ready to ride. With racers seeded in the starting chute, the course director, Rod Camposano, shared trail insights and highlights. Those who know Rod knew it would be a relentlessly hilly day.
All eyes would be on Open Men local favourite Kris Sneddon and his partner Barry Wicks as well as the remaining top 3 teams, Jamis/Santa Cruz, DCM and Trek. With the history that these teams have built in just 3 days, they are creating a considerable buzz. However, the real focal point of today's battle is the fact that Sneddon grew up in this area and even helped to build some of the trail network that riders would experience. It was time to find out how much advantage knowing the trails like the back of your hand actually can bring.
For the majority of the race, Team Kona lead the group through all of the singletrack but always had Seamus McGrath and Chris Sheppard stuck on their rear wheels, even as they ripped through some incredible sections at 'mach chicken.' In the end, Team Kona would take the stage in 3:27:46 and retain their GC leade, with Team Jamis / Stanta Cruz right behind in 3:28:04.
A propos - homegrown Canadian boy wins stage at home on Canada Day.
South Africa's Team DCM, in the process of securing their third place position over Trek, is proving to be incredibly strong on the climbs, but less technically. Although they do claim to have observed an increase in technical accuracy as each day advances.
The big question at the finish line was what happened for Kona to gap out Seamus and Chris in the very last ten minutes of the race.
Sneddon recappped the competition, “Well it was mostly just givin'er as fast as we could in the singletrack. There are also a couple of corners where if you don't really know the course, then you are afraid to go too fast around. It's just too scary. We just got a little bit of a gap, and I think they probbly hit their brakes a little bit on stuff like that and we slowly spread it out a little bit. But trust me, we were going scary fast. It was sort of a chance we took and it would be pretty easy to go off the bike. We were full out, full throttle and you don't want to be breaking the bike. We don't really want to do it.”
The Solo Men's cat is heating up right now, too, as current GC leader, Colin Kerr, blasted across the Sechelt finish line in 3:43:13; unbeknownst to Colin, until too late, Ruedi Schnyer snuck up in stealth mode to close the gap and cross the finish line in 3:43:11. Next across was Kevin Calhoun, in 3:49:20, with early stage winner, Tony HOGG, crossing approximately seven minutes later. This will be a close contest throughout the remaining three stages this week.
With a few little change ups here and there, the finish board is starting to come to life!
Next up for these intrepid adventurers: Sechelt unto itself! Enjoy!
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