BC Bike Race is well under way on the rugged west coast singletrack that has made the mountain bike stage race famous.

While the pre-race favourites are looking comfortable early on, a cast of new faces are shaking up the standings before Day 1 officially got under way.

BCBR Prologue 2019 BC Bike Race Katerina Nash
Katerina Nash works her way through field on the short Prologue day. Photo: Dave Silver
Day 0 – North Vancouver Prologue

New for 2019, the race started with a short prologue stage in North Vancouver. The teaser of trails to come helped sort out start order for the following days mass start Day 1 in the Cowichan Valley.

BCBR Prologue 2019 BC Bike Race
Kristin Ambrozy enjoying a small dates of the dark and moody singletrack on Vancouver’s North Shore during Day 0. Photo: Margus Riga

While short, it didn’t take long for new challengers to establish a presence in the race among the pre-race favourites.

Katerina Nash (Clif Pro Team) dominated the women’s race, kick starting her campaign for a fifth consequtive BCBR win. Behind her,Courtney McFadden (Pivot-Maxxis) and Jenna Greaser followed, within 10 seconds.

BCBR Prologue 2019 BC Bike Race Felix Burke
Felix Burke. Photo: Dave Silver

In the men’s race, though, it was Felix Burke (Rocky Mountain) who caught out veteran BC Bike Race winner Geoff Kabush (Yeti-Maxxis) to take the early lead.  Kerry Werner crossed the border from Washington State to calim third.

In the Open Mixed race, two American cyclocross racers from Cannondale were making themselves comfortable in new surroundings. Katlin Keogh and Stephen Hyde, moved into the early lead. “This is my first time in B.C.,” Keough said, “so I’m super excited.”

BCBR Prologue 2019 BC Bike Race
Volunteers and good spirits, BCBR is more than just a race. Photo: Margus Riga
BCBR Day 1 2019 BC Bike Race
Racer’s lined up ready for Day 1, two solid mountains in the Cowichan Valley. Photo: Margus Riga
Day 1 – Cowichan Valley

While Felix Burke looked fast in the Prologue, the first official, full day of racing would be a much bigger test for the young Rocky Mountain racer. A win in N. Vancouver meant Burke would be starting in the leaders jersey, along side women’s leader Katerina Nash.

Lining up with them on the front row were Payson McElveen (Orange Seal-Trek), U.S. Olympian Sam Schultz (Rocky Mountain), Kerry Werner (Rocky Mountain), Courtney McFadden (Pivot-Maxxis) and Jenna Greaser.

BCBR Day 1 2019 BC Bike Race Day 1
Kabush sampling perfect turns in the Cowichan Valley. Photo: Margus Riga

After a long dry spell on Vancouver Island, BCBR’s “Lucky Year” 13 was living up to it’s reputation early on. A light rain and cool conditions granted riders a break from the summer heat as they tackled Mount Tzouhalem and Maple Mountain in the first real stage of racing.

Racing on his home trails, Enduro World Series racer McKay Vezina (Giant Factory Off-Road Team) made a push to drop in first on Tzouhalem’s berm-y flow trail, Double D.

BCBR Day 1 2019 BC Bike Race McKay Vezina
Enduro racer McKay Vezina moonlighting as a cross country stage racer, and looking very comfortable on his home trails in the Cowichan Valley. Photo: Margus Riga

Soon, it was Burke back on the front, followed by Kabush, and Werner. They would cross the line in that order after a full serving of Maple Mountain singletrack. While he doesn’t add time to his lead, Burke stays in the leaders jersey going into Day 2’s racing in Cumberland, B.C.

Following close behind was Benjamin Sonntag (Clif Pro Team), Schultz and McElveen, in fourth and fifth and sixth.

BCBR Day 1 2019 BC Bike Race Day `
Benjamin Sonntag and Payson McElveen on Day 1. Margus Riga

Not far back, Katerina Nash was working her way through the men’s field as she tried to distance her chasers in the Solo Women’s category. The Clif Pro Team Olympian finished in 21st overall, well into the men’s field. McFadden followed in second, five minutes behind, and Greaser third.

BCBR Day 1 2019 BC Bike Race
Katerina Nash dropping in on Tzouhalem on Day 1. Photo: Dave Silver

Further back in the field, ex-British serviceman, and lower leg amputee Craig Howorth was engaged in his own personal challenge. The first-time BCBR racer, part of a group of four veterans taking part in the race, was working his way up the winding switchbacks of A Grand Traverse climbing trail.

BCBR Day 1 2019 BC Bike Race Tzouhalem
Craig Howorth – BLESMA, up high on Mt. Tzouhalem. Photo: Todd Weselake

Howarth is a member of BLESMA, a military charity for limbless veterans. Howorth is taking the B.C. singletrack challenge after hearing about it from fellow BLESMA member, Jez Scarratt, who is also back for another year of BCBR.

BCBR Day 1 2019 BC Bike Race
Dirt Divas, dressed in their hoser regalia, made for a very Canadian cheer zone on Day 1. Photo: Margus Riga

Day 1 Recap- Cowichan Valley

BCBR Prologue 2019 BC Bike Race
BCBR’s army of volunteers welcomes racers to “Lucky Year” 13 Photo: Dave Silver

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