Day 2: Cumberland -
Day two of the BC Bike Race returned to its annual stop in the village of Cumberland for a new 48km coursed. Taking up most of the small main street, 600 racers launched at the start. Once called Dodge City in the tumultuous wake of its mining industry's departure, the modern economy of Cumberland has established mountain biking as its new natural resource. The BCBR and Cumberland’s mountain biking have co-evolved over the last eight years and it can be argued that the innovative thinking of this mountain biking mecca lead to the evolution of today's modern mountain bike stage race, driving the BCBR to be one of the most progressive races in the world.
The course in Cumberland was designed by Jeremy Grasby after a vision in a dream about how to connect two pieces of singletrack that had never been in the BCBR. Grasby felt that the trails Blue Collar and Further Burger were too good to not be put into the race but it took a magic eye squint from a dream state to let the route emerge. Balanced by two major climbs, each plunge from the top delivered riders deep into the dark forests before winding through old clearcuts that are blooming into alpine meadows full of purple flowers. Front tires pushing through loamy corners while old tree stumps acting as gratuitous launching pads highlighted the stage. There are trails that feel like work, but the trails that keep you on your toes and make the bike dance below you are the ones that Cumberland excels at, the ones where riders grab the bars like a partners waist and get their best swing on.
It may be a dance but it’s still a competition, and the top solo men took it to the line for another sprint finish. Last year’s winner Kris Sneddon officially has a challenger.
A group of five emerged from the first descent off of Further Burger the sounds of their tires coming down the gravel road before aid station 2 and dropping into the trail Bucket of Blood contained an intensity that was mirrored in the body language of each rider as they jostled their way into the woods. As the trail narrowed from old jeep road to singletrack there was no coasting and every corner was cut to be as short as possible.
The second loop out from basecamp and into the Blue Collar singletrack couldn’t shake them down and the group who emerged from the trail 50 to 1 consisted of Tristan Uhl (787 Racing), Kris Sneddon, Spencer Paxson and Barry Wicks of Kona Factory Racing. Uhl who looks to be the lightweight of the bunch found a burst of power you wouldn’t expect from his frame and took his first stage win.
Two days in and Sneddon’s status as captain of the BC Bike Race is getting a solid challenge from Uhl. It will be interesting to see how team Kona plays its tactics to keep the yellow jersey.
Today Lea Davison (Specialized Bicycles) missed the top spot and the "Queen of Lean" Simms returned to the place she is most familiar with. On the third spot was last year's main challenger Kim Hurst (Mud Cycles). In her first year at BCBR, Hurst came with a hardtail but made the transition to a dual suspension and added a dropper post to get her bike BC ready. Missing from the podium was Sonya Looney, who lost time on the overall.
At the front of the women’s duo field is mix of young and old with previous world champion Catharine Pendrel showing her moves to her up-and-comer Luna Chix teammate Maghalie Rochette from Quebec. Pendrel and Rochette have been running from the other super-star duo of Olympian Leslie Tomlison and Gretchen Reeves. It might be an unnecessary flight since Tomlison and Reeves seem to be enjoying a more casual ride than a stressful race.
The men’s category has Rocky Mountain Bike team veteran Greg Day leading freshman Quinn Molberg on his first BC Bike Race adventure. A flat early in the stage put Day and Molberg on the defensive, but they managed to return to the front of the category before the finish line. "We were hoping to stay with the faster riders of the day, but the flat put us off our game. We definitely pushed ourselves to get back into position."
Results not available due to organizer technical issues.
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