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BC BIKE RACE

A bike race like no other. By François Bailly-maître.

“The ultimate single-track experience”

How to get ready for a 7-day bike race?

How it all started…

As a former XC rider, I’ve always wanted to attend the BCBR. It had been on my to do list for long! I’ve always heard incredible things about the Canadian singletracks and I was very excited to finally have the opportunity to be there myself.

I had no special expectation for the race. I just wanted to ride my bike in one of the world’s most iconic places for biking. I’ve received my brand new Blur CC from Santa Cruz just a few days before leaving for Canada – I was all geared up and ready to go for the adventure!

As a competitor, I’ve always wanted to give my best on the races. I knew I could ride at a good level on such an event, but looking at all the names on the start list, I was a bit afraid and I wasn’t sure what to expect from the race pace.

The event

BCBR is a 7 days race. You can race solo or by team of 2.
600 riders coming from 40 different countries, 360 kms, mostly on single trails. (BC BIKE RACE 2019 Stages Overview)

Most of the riders stays at the traveling camp, all facilities moving from one camp to another every day.

My bike

Shimano equipment

My Blur CC is fully equipped by Shimano MTB:
    - XTR Di2;
    - XTR brakes;
    - XTR cranks;
    - XTR pedals;
    - 34 tooth chainring and
    - 11- 42 cassette.

Fork/Shock: Fox 34 - 120mm travel / Float Evol 100mm
Wheels: Santa Cruz Reserve 27mm
Saddle: Fizik
Tires: Schwalbe

Before the race

A 7-day race isn’t something you can attend without a proper training if you want to enjoy it & be at your best. Enduro races themselves already are a really good training, since there’s always a minimum of 2 days of training and 2 days of racing. This gives you the fitness and the endurance you need for the 7 days. I would recommend you to attend at least 2 or 3 two-day enduro races before heading to BCBR, ideally several months prior to the event. Basically, it will be your spring and early summer training.

Those enduro races will also give you some extra skills for the technical features on BCBR. I can’t tell you how much time I saved in the downhill sections but at the end of the week, all together it must be quite a lot.

Something I didn’t plan was the strain on the body & low back. Riding full gas and pulling hard on the pedals for several hours a day is something your body isn’t used to. Especially when the trails are rooty and technical. I especially remember some flat sections where I struggled with my low back. It was kind of a flat section with very little terrain movement, a lots of roots and rocks. There you can’t properly pedal, you always have to release the weight on your saddle…

Most of the time, you can’t just stand on the pedals to relax or just seat on your saddle. Having strong lumbar muscles can help a lot. That’s also why a full suspension bike is truly recommended.

In order to be able to be competitive with the high pace of a XC race, I did some interval trainings. This allows your body to recover more quickly and better eliminate the lactates produced by your body. This has to be done closer to the event, e.g. from 1,5 month to Day 5 prior to the event.

Extract from Polar Flow

During the race

You’ll feel the excitement of being at the start of such a race. Everything is big, well organised, riders looks fit and impressive.

Don’t be worried, just remember why you’re here. This is all about fun and probably the very best week you’ll have on your bike!

Race

The start is normally quite slow: that allows you to catch the spot you think you could hold. The trails are quite narrow, so it’s hard to overtake. If you want to perform, you’d better be in the top positions when the race enters the first single trail. And if you were too optimistic, the other riders pass.

Compared to the enduro races I’m doing now, the very good point is that the race is 2 hours per day and the start is pretty early, so it gives you a lot of time to enjoy the rest of your day and recover. Hydration and adequate nutrition are very important for the following days. Also the yoga session, organised by Lululemon, was a highlight, I felt much better after the yoga every days.

My personal advice for the race. Have a smooth and clean ride in the technical parts, that will make you win a lot of time and save a lot of energy. It pays off at the end of the week, trust me!

Recovery, food and hydration: 7 days of MTB racing puts a high strain on the body, you’ll feel it by the end of the week. Don’t hesitate to get some massages as well, you deserve it.
The food at BCBR is incredibly good, enjoy it, it’s part of the trip.

My suggestions to choose your bike

Take a bike you feel comfortable on, don’t look at the performance first. A XC full suspension bike is still the best option if you want to perform. A little all-mountain bike (130 mm 29er) could be a very good choice too, if you want to enjoy the downhill in particular.

My choice was the new Blur CC with a 120mm fox fork. This gives me more comfort and confidence for the technical features.

Tires: I have chosen tires with a decent volume, decent lateral spikes because even if it’s dry, you’ll need to feel confident on your bike. Compared to the other riders, my tire choice was very “enduro” specific, but it seems that it paid off.

What do I take with me

  • 2 tires kits (1 dry Nobby Nic / Rock Razor and 1 wet in case of heavy rain. I choose Magic Mary front, Nobby Nic rear.) + sealant;
  • In 2018, I used the rock razor for rear and Nobby Nic for front, which was a good choice I guess. The Nobby Nic is pretty big for a XC tire but on the dry turns, it gives more confidence;
  • Some extra Shimano parts (derailleur, chain, quick link);
  • My own race nutrition;
  • A pillow / Sleeping bag / Easy to dry towel / Metal Water bottle / 1 book;
  • 1 foam roll for your recovery (you can get one at the Lululemon tent);
  • 1 warm jacket because you’re in BC and a rain jacket isn’t a bad idea.

Technical support

You also have external assistance if your bike needs some work.
Make sure to control your bike every day, a nice technical crew is on site to help you!

Final Results

Overall

Day by day available here.

"I was very excited to finally have the opportunity to be there myself!"