By Harlan Price. Photos by Margus Riga, Dave Silver, Todd Weselake, and Erik Peterson
Day Three presented by Harbor Air, the founding sponsor of the BC Bike Race, takes riders to the Sunshine Coast. Even though the host town Powell River is technically connected to the mainland, only a boat or seaplane is going to get the race there due to the rugged terrain and two deep fjords. Once home to the largest pulp mill in the world, Powell River today played host to 550 of the worlds most adventurous mountain bikers.
Stage three introduced riders to a complete study of that decomposed mixture of vegetation and dirt called loam. With only 755m of climbing, riders had an opportunity to rest the legs for the ascents coming in the later stages, but it was the upper bodies and a rider’s line choice that were tested by the unique style of trails hidden in these dark forests.
Some people are on a riding vacation, but today’s winner Neil Kindree (Specialized/ Corsa Cycles, above) isn’t concerned about the scenery. He finally got a stage win by putting in a late attack that stuck. He only managed to pull back 29 seconds from overall race leader Kris Senddon (Kona), on a 58 second deficit.
One standout rider in the solo men’s category today was Erik Skovgaard (Racing29er) of Denmark who sprinted to take Sneddon at the line for 2nd place. Despite his homeland being relatively flat he is quickly adapting to the roots, rocks, and loam of the BC Bike Race.
Overall the men’s top five shuffled quite a bit today with third, fourth, and fifth moving around. Matt Hadley of team Xprezo put himself in third with a strong ride today while Skovgaard’s effort pulled him up to fourth. Spencer Paxson drifted back to fifth after loosing some momentum later in the race despite hanging with the leaders through RedBull Enduro 1.
In the women’s open category Wendy Simms (Kona) continues to curate a cautious dominance from the front. The second place and cheerful New Zealander Kim Hurst (Mud Cycles) hasn’t let the time back bother her and her love for the trails is showing through. Hurst was just under four minutes back today while third place finisher Trish Grajczyk (Deadgoat Racing) keeps her time behind Hurst at a minor threat level of only a couple more minutes. A misstep by any of these women could quickly erase any time cushion they have slowly been building over the past three days.
One category that has a long history of hard fought battles is in the Team of Two Open men. The BC Bike Race was originally conceived of as a team event and the first few years you had to have a partner to do the race. Stage 3 was won by Rocky Mountain Bicycles riders Greg Day and Kevin Calhoun and in the process they earned back over four minutes of their nine minute deficit to German bike magazine riders Christoph Listmann and Michael Anthes.
Austrailian Jacalyn Schapel (LiveGiant Austrailia) who was leading the women’s enduro category going into today’s stage isn’t even on the radar for the women’s overall. An enduro and super-D specialist in her home country, Schapel came to BC because of the reputation of the stage race for having excellent trail.
In the men’s category Kris Sneddon is holding on to the top spot but it is riders like Eric Goss (East Infection 2) who is in 5th place in the enduro category but 37th in the general classification that are fully embracing the opportunities the enduro category is providing.
Wednesday’s Day Four Presented by Ryders Eyewear leaves from Earls Cove after an early ferry ride. At 61km it’s the longest stage of the race and it has climbing to match. Fortunately the Klein Lake and Ruby Lake Trail Networks will keep the riders’ minds entertained. Some lengthy enduro stages are coming up so expect to see a lot of shifting in categories at the end of the day. Beautiful weather is in the forecast and the groove of the BC Bike Race is kicking into high gear as the racers are finding their comfort zone in the traveling circus that has invaded the Sunshine Coast.