On the fifth day of a massive effort like the BC Bike race, competitors are really starting to feel the weight of a cumulative effort. There was no reprieve to be found on the Sunshine Coast, however.
Instead, racers woke to a 60 km point-to-point journey from Earl’s Cove to Sechelt. Along the way was loamy singletrack and 1,663 m of elevation gain.
Yesterday’s stage winner in Powell River, Payson McElveen (Orange Seal – Trek) looks to be setting in to the BCBR pace. By mid-day, the American marathon XC national champion had formed a gap with race leader Felix Burke (Rocky Mountain).
The duo were putting the pressure on veteran, and defending champion Geoff Kabush (Yeti-Maxxis). Kabush, just three seconds back of Burke in the overall, was chasing with Benjamin Sontag (Clif Pro Team), who was also looking to defend his podium position from the hard-charging McElveen.
Solo Women Stage 5 – Establishing order
In the women’s race, it was Katerina Nash (Clif Pro Team) off the front again, with Courtenay McFadden (Pivot-Maxxis) doing what she could to minimize the Czech Olympians advantage.
Third place in solo women, Jena Greaser admitted she had little chance of overcoming Nash’s sizable lead. But, after splitting her focus beteween enduro and xc marathon, the Fernie, B.C.-based rider is happy to be riding solidly in third.
“It’s next level in intensity. Today’s stage was a point-to point and that’s pretty cool,” Greaser said. “This race has been on my to-do list for awhile.”
Solo Men Stage 5 – Confusion and camaraderie
As the exhaustion of five days of intense racing began to set in, the pressure was starting to show on the trail.
Geoff Kabush crashed on some rain-slicked woodwork, while Kerry Werner (7Mesh-Kona) was leading the chase.
“I bonked on Frogger and I went sideways on a root on another trail,” Werner said. “I had some ups and downs today.”
Up front, Burke and McElveen were having their own problems. While the BCBR bike patrol and moto teams put massive effort to make sure course markings are clear, there is a limit to their abilities. Unknown individuals appear to have intentionally removed course marking on the 60 km Day 5 course. As the first riders to the missing markers, McElveen and Burke off course, erasing the small gap they had created.
In a commendable display of sportsmanship, Burke, McElveen and Kabush agreed together that this misfortune was no way to decide the race. Especially after so many days of close racing. Burke and McElveen were given a time credit, essentially re-setting the clock to where it was a the start of the day.
Kabush wins the stage, but Burke retains yellow by his slim three second margin.
Trail tails and intense category battles
Solo men wasn’t the only hotly contested category on Day 5 at BC Bike Race. In Team of 2 (Veteran 80+) four riders were locked in a days long grudge match.
“It’s turning into a real dog fight out there,” said Graeme Martindale and Norm Thibault (TNA-Frontrunner,) who have been fighting hard to claw back time lost on North Vancouver team Cahilty Racing early in the week.
Thibault suffered a flat first for TNA-Frontrunner. That advantage was wiped when Cahilty’s Micke Rauch suffered his own loss of tire pressure.
TNA-Frontrunner’s duo crossed the line first today, taking the Stage 5 stage win. But, with Cahilty right on their wheels, the Vancouver Island duo are still on the hunt for the yellow jersey.
In Team of 2, Veteran 100+, ra etired NYPD police officer is quickly becoming part of the B.C. mountain biking tribe. Hailing from Staten Island, Tom Corcione had never ridden a mountain bike. After a trip to Moab on a friends advice, rented a bike, and was hooked.
This year, Corcione is racing with his buddy Gerard Stanford, and loving the B.C. singletrack.
“When I go home my friends are going to ask me ‘How did you get so f***g fit?’ I’ll tell them go ride in BC for a week.” he said, while crushing some post-race lagers. “This is the real deal up here.”
Day 6 is another point-to-point stage, carrying riders from Sechelt to Langdale. The final day of racing on the Sunshine Coast is a doozy, too. 1,400 m of elevation gain over 50 km will wear out tired legs for BC Bike Race’s finale in Squamish. It’s not all work, though. The day ends with a 7 km descent down the trail Highway 102 to finish at Langdale Ferry Terminal.