The B.C. Bike Race has a simple name. The event itself is anything but.
Six Whitehorse mountain bikers took part in the seven-day, seven-stage race in the solo men’s Epic division, riding about 50 kilometres of trail a day.
All six finished in the top half of the 131-rider field and two finished in the top 25 in the race that saw over 30 countries represented.
Jonah Clark topped the list of Whitehorse riders, placing 14th out of 119 finishers. It was Clark’s first time in the race, but he has competed in the similar TranRockies race twice before.
“This one is definitely a way more enjoyable race,” said Clark. “The TransRockies features a lot of riding long distances on gravel roads and quad trails. The B.C. Bike Race revolves around getting everyone to do as much good singletrack in each place that we’re in.
“There’s way more trail riding, which is what I like to do.”
Clark, who won last year’s Yukon Mountain Bike Championship, placed 12th in two of the seven stages but bottomed out with 25th on the last day.
“I really didn’t have much left,” said Clark. “The next guy behind me in the overall (standings) was like 16 minutes behind me, so there was no way he was catching me. So I didn’t max myself out on the climbing portion and then just had fun with the downhill part.”
Clark had some local competition on the last stage in Whistler. Nipping at his heels were Whitehorse riders James Minifie and Paul Burbidge.
Minifie finished one spot behind Clark on Stage 7 and placed 24th overall for the week.
“It was great, actually,” said Minifie, who won the two-person men’s division with Clark in the Kluane Chilkat International Bike Relay last month. “It was a little more difficult than I expected. I’ve done things like this before, but the riding was a lot more technical than what I expected. Besides that, it was amazing; it was a great event.”
Burbidge finished 29th overall, finishing the final stage in 28th after taking a spill.
“Jonah, Paul and myself were really battling it out for that (last) stage – the Yukon contingent,” said Minifie. “In the last two kilometres Paul went down pretty hard and Jonah and I just kept riding. We felt a bit guilty afterwards, but Paul ended up finishing bloodied and beaten.”
“I was thinking, ‘It’s fun that we’re all riding in a line together after all these days of racing,’” said Clark. After Burbidge fell, “He jumped up on his feet and I asked him if he was fine,” said Clark.
It was tough going throughout the race. Snapped bike chains and broken derailleurs are common enough, but Minifie actually snapped his handlebars in two during the second stage.
“I’ve never done that before,” said Minifie. “I ended up riding 18 kilometres with only one side of my handlebars. So that was a bit of a longer stage – I think it was the longer ones that were more memorable than the faster ones.”
Other Whitehorse cyclists included Ross Phillips in 33rd, taking 20th in the final stage for his strongest placement; Evan Wise in 54th; and Doug Terry in 64th.
Minifie found Terry’s performance to be “inspirational”.
“He’s actually only been mountain biking for less than a year,” said Minifie. “He bought a bike last fall and started getting into it this spring. He signed up for the B.C. Bike Race – there’s two lengths: the Challenge course that’s half the distances and the Epic, which is the big race. He was signed up for the Challenge course and with three weeks to go he decided to do the big one.
“He had some pretty long days on the bike, but he finished every day and ended up doing quite well.”
The B.C. Bike Race, which calls itself “the ultimate singletrack experience,” began June 29 in Cumberland, then moved to Campbell River, then Powell River, then Earl’s Cove to Sechelt, then Sechelt to Langdale, then Squamish and finished on Saturday in Whistler. Participants were bussed and ferried between race locations.
“I’ve mountain biked around North America and it’s definitely some of the nicest singletrack,” said Minifie. “I’m from Fernie (B.C.) originally, but now I’ve been up here for five years. We have a lot of great stuff (in the Yukon) too, but I think the variety is what really made the race great. It had everything from super routey, technical days that were drenched in rain to rock slabs out in Whistler.”
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