BC Bike Race “Lucky Year” 13 is shaping up to be quite the battle. It’s still early going, but its also still young gun Felix Burke in the leader’s jersey.
The Rocky Mountain athlete leads veteran Canadian cross country campaigner Geoff Kabush (Yeti-Maxxis) by just a handful of seconds after three days of racing. Behind them, a close pack of American’s and Canadian cyclocross national champion Michael van den Ham are vying for the podium.
On the women’s side, multiple-sport Olympian Katerina Nash (Clif Pro Team) continues to lead, but not by as much as usual. The four time BCBR winner is being chased by American cyclocross racer Courtney McFadden (Pivot Maxxis) and Jena Greaser.
BCBR 2019 Day 2 – Soggy Furtherburger and fast sprints in Cumberland
It’s the 13th year BC Bike Race has traversed the singletrack on Canada’s west coast, so organizers have decided it will be the race’s “Lucky Year.” That luck continued in Cumberland, depending on your perspective. Overnight rain meant racers got the full Cumberland experience: greasy roots and slick rocks are how locals ride the technical trails above town most of the year. The damp weather made for a spicy experience for many racers as they navigated Furtherburger’s off camber roots and the technical rock features on Blockhead.
“I heard this race was technical but it’s more than I expected,” said Paysen McElveen (Team Orange Seal-Trek,) who narrowly missed a Solo Mens podium finish today, under a minute back and charging hard.
BCBR 2019 Day 2 – Challenging the Queen
Katerina Nash rolled into BCBR with an impressive four-year winning streak. So far, the multiple-time Olympian is on track to extend that run, but not without a challenge. Courtney McFadden and Fernie’s Jena Greaser have hung in close so far. While the margins are wider than the men’s, they minutes Nash has over her chasers aren’t anywhere near what could be considered “safe” in the unpredictable world of mountain bike stage racing.
In Cumberland, it was almost as close as the first two days. Nash crossed the line first, again. McFadden, followed 1:24 behind, with Greaser crossing six minutes off the lead.
If Nash wants to make it five consecutive BCBR titles, she’ll have to stay on her A game all week.
BCBR 2019: Dodge City Showdown
Geoff Kabush, like Nash in the women’s race, arrives at BCBR 2019 as the defending champion. It’s looking like he’ll need all that experience to hold off the hard-charging Felix Burke. The 2018 Canada Cup series winner, Burke has shown his speed is matched by his technical chops. Racing on the Comox-Valley trails where Kabush learned to ride, Burke was able to hold on to sprint for the win.
“These trails are really suited to me,” Burke said after the first day of racing in Cumberland. “Racing against Geoff is like a dream come true.”
Burke has five more days to match up against the Canadian cross country Olympian before he can claim the leaders jersey for good. While the young Rocky Mountain racer has speed, Kabush is no stranger racing multi-day events in this position.
“It’s a long race. I would have had to take some risks to make any big gains today,” Kabush said about the spicy trail conditions. “I’m hoping my experience will pull through.”
After covering 40 km, 1,200 m of elevation gain through slick Cumberland trails, Kabush and Burke were still locked together, wheel-to-wheel. The pair had covered the distance in an incredible 1:59.50, with Kabush conceeding a single second in the sprint for the stage win.
Kerry Werner (7Mesh – Kona) chased hard all day to finish third, three minutes back of the leaders. Close behind, fellow American Payson McElveen finished just shy of the podium in fourth. It’s Clif Pro Team’s Benjamin Sonntag, though, who sits fourth overall after Day 2’s racing.
Teams of 2: Tight races and close friends
The pro men and women aren’t the only riders with eyes on the podium. Normon Thibault and Greame Martindale (TNA-Frontrunners) and Mike Rauch and Simon Blythe are locked in a tight race for the Team of 2 (Veteran 80-99) race.
Going through a seven day stage race will test any relationship. For team Syd and Macky, its business as usual. The globetrotting couple with a strong YouTube following travel around the world sharing their experiences racing together. In their first BCBR experience, they survived the slick Cumberland trails to land third on the podium in Team of 2 (Open Mixed). That race is still being led by Cannondale teammates Kailin Keough and Stephen Hyde.
For other teams, the event is more about building relationships than pushing the clock. Colorado Spring’s Joe Malenfant and Joe Stitt, Team Joe, partnered together at BCBR as a way to get over recently failed marriages. Together, they’re racing the Veterans 80-89 race to build something new.
“Signing up for BCBR was like a divorce present to ourselves,” Malenfant said, sporting a bloody right forearm and an ear-to-ear grin as he shredded rain-slicked Tea Pot. “I’ll definitely be back.”