The BC Bike Race wrapped up its 10th installment in Whistler last Wednesday (July 13), with 600 mountain bikers crossing the finish line in Rainbow Park after seven days spent riding northwards on B.C.’s trails.
“It went super smoothly, especially considering it was the wettest year we’ve ever had,” said Andreas Hestler, director of marketing for BC Bike Race. “This year’s group was quite fit, and quite engaged in technical riding on B.C. singletrack. The weather did not deter them or damage their spirits at all, everyone just really enjoyed it.”
Over the past decade, the race has become a popular draw for cyclists from around the world. This year’s event saw riders from 36 different countries show up to take on B.C.’s singletrack. Each year, participants depart from Cumberland, B.C. and complete a seven-stage tour of B.C.’s bike trails before ending the race in Whistler.
This year’s Whistler leg, the final stage, was a new course for the race. “It was a neat showcasing of Whistler’s style and terrain,” said Hestler. “Finishing at Rainbow Park was absolutely awesome. People were just stoked about that.”
Whistler resident and race participant Graeme Fitch said he enjoyed the course. “I thought it worked very well and flowed very well,” he said. “I think the only wrinkle may have been a bit of a train crossing issue for some people that had to wait. Hats off to Grant Lamont and his team for putting it together.”
The event was an extra-special celebration of the race’s 10th anniversary not only for BC Bike Race organizers, but for Fitch as well. The Whistler local is the only person to have completed every kilometre of every stage, every year the race has been held.
“He’s a bit of a legend in our books,” said Hestler.
“It’s a good excuse to get out and ride for seven days,” said Fitch. “I call it the BC Bike Ride … I figure if you’re not in the top 10, it’s BC Bike ‘Ride.’ Just go out and have fun and have a good time on the trails, with people from all over the world.”
Fitch and Hestler agree that Whistler is the ideal place for the epic, week-long event to end, especially considering the high proportion of out-of-towners that participate. Many often stick around after crossing the finish line to take advantage of Whistler’s impressive trails.
“I think for a lot of people Whistler is mountain biking mecca,” said Fitch. “I think everyone’s always happy to come to a place that has such a wide variety, and just a huge inventory of trails.”
“Everyone always seems to enjoy the Whistler routes that we’ve had over the past few years,” he added. “You finish and everyone says, ‘Man, you’re lucky to live here.’”
There are a few advantages to being a local, according to Fitch. “I think the big support is the number of friends out there that are cheering me on,” he said.
His wife, Maridee, also travels with the racers, and “keeps us going with hamburgers and cold beers at the end of every stage.”
Most of all, Fitch said he’s thankful for the volunteers that come out to every stage, particularly the Whistler leg. “(The event) would not happen without them,” he said.
Registration for next year’s BC Bike Race is already full, after selling out in only one day. To get a spot on the waitlist, go to bcbikerace.com.