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Amped up: Mega Volt super charges second year

Emtb festival returns bigger and better on Vancouver island

Photo by: Dave Silver

When Mega Volt first landed in the Cowichan Valley last fall, it was North America’s first multi-day eMTB event. Less than a year later, BCBR’s electric mountain bike festival is returned with a new Spring spot on the calendar and nearly twice as many riders. That’s a big change in just a few months and clearly shows Mega Volt is onto something. Turns out eMTB riders, like all other mountain bikers, like to meet other riders and maybe even do some racing.

BCBR Mega Volt 2022
“Mega VOOOOOOLT” Photo: Dave Silver

Charging community

The first Mega Volt, with its relatively small field, definitely had more of a group ride vibe than a full-on race. That’s in part due to the format, with organizers forging a new path instead of just hosting an XC or Enduro race with extra batteries. Over the three days, riders competed against each other but also had the chance to hang out and ride with different people over the course of the weekend.

This year, many of those racers returned for a second round. Most of them brought friends, too. That helped boost the race numbers to nearly double the 2021 stats. There were also more women this time around, with the inaugural Mega Volt grand champion, Elladee Brown, joined by three more women on the start line.

Word spreads fast and the opportunity to race eMTB with other electric riders, which is one of the big draws of this event, drew entries from as far away as California and Washington State. While that’s a serious drive, one rider decreed the trip was worth it after only the first stage.

2022 Mega Volt
Unseasonably late Spring meant lush, west coast ferns all weekend. And the occasional greasy root. Photo: Dave Silver

The Mega Volt – Three days of electric action

MegVolt follows its own distinct format. Instead of just copying a cross country or enduro race and pasting in a motor, BCBR organizers thought about how to create a race that actually suits the potential of eMTBs. The result is four stages over three days, mixing different terrain and scoring styles.

Rhythm is the Key

Stage 1 is a consistency enduro. Borrowed from motorcycles, this stage is not about raw speed or extreme skills. It’s just about who can put in the best repeat effort. Over five laps, you add up the difference between lap times instead of raw time.

While Brian Lopes won the Open Men’s event, it was Brent Hill, racing in 50+ Men’s, that had the best result of any category. Emily Ng Jarman finished second behind 2021 overall champ (and mountain bike icon) Elladee Brown.

“What an incredible experience for both my husband and I. Fun times riding hard and fast with a great group; enjoying the best of trails with none of the suffering. Each day was celebrated with new friends over a beer. We look forward to more of these experiences.” – Emily Ng Jarmin

Tech and Flow

Saturday brought two stages of more traditional, mass start racing. With riders more evenly matched on the climbs, both the “tech-gnar” and “flow shred” stages came down to riding ability. Danica Fife made the cross-border journey from Washington worth it, winning the women’s tech-gnar stage, while Vancouver Island local Dave Vunic won the men’s stage. In the afternoon, Elladee Brown and Brian Lopes took wins on Maple Mountain’s new flow trail.

With the points tallied up, Elladee Brown and Brian Lopes roll away from the Mega Volt with the overall titles for 2022.

More Mega Volt: Bonus day!

Mega Volt is three days of riding, but only two days of racing. The final day gives riders a chance to mix it up without worrying about the clock. Matt Grossnickle, of the local bike shop Cycle Therapy and a huge help in setting the previous day’s stages, led a guided tour of Mount Tzouhalem. With a more casual pace, it was easy to chat and ride with people you hadn’t met yet over the weekend. This kind of relaxed not-a-race stage should, honestly, be part of more weekends. It was a great time to solidify friendships while shredding the best selection of local trails. Oh, and pick up a hard-earned BCBR Mega Volt finisher’s belt buckle!

BCBR Mega Volt 2022
Clear skies and singletrack. Photo: Dave Silver

eMTB appropriate adventure

Electric mountain bikes are, as the name suggests, mountain bikes. But, like cross country and downhill mountain bikes require different courses, eMTB riders benefit most from an event tailored to the bike they’re riding. The quick growth of the Mega Volt, and the number of return riders between the first and second year, show the benefit of creating an event for eMTB riders.

BCBR has tapped into the sense of common community that, like any other mountain bike event, brings riders together. Perhaps more than other races have. The Enduro World Series EWS-E race on the same weekend only had 42 entries. More important than entry numbers is, of course, that the Mega Volt is a well-organized and fun weekend. Because, whether it’s fully charged or 100 per cent human-powered, that’s what mountain biking is all about: having fun in the woods. On that front, the Volt delivers in spades.