After an extended absence, we are pleased to present a legitimate piece of mountain bike journalism! Enjoy!

Yesterday was Canada Day. It was also day 2 of the Tour de France, where Canadian hopeful, and Island local Ryder Hesjedal represents the greatest hope Canada has had in many years for a Tour win. Here in the sleepy Comox Valley, it was also Day 1 of another great bicycle race - the BC Bike Race!

It may not be as old an affair as the Tour, nor as long. Nor do all of the world's top pro mountain bikers flock to the event...yet. What the BCBR does offer is a made in BC, world class, destination event that brings over 500 mountain bikers from all over the world to sample some of Coastal BC's best single track.

Like the sign says, single track ahead

My day started early, with the volunteer briefing at 7 am. After that, it was off to set up "Bike Race in Progress Signs" and the "Single Track Ahead" sign you see above, and then help with one of the major crossings in the early part of the race. At about 9:30 am the racers were off from the centre of Cumberland in a staged start - all 525 of them.

This is the start line - right smack dab in the heart of Dodge!

This is probably the third of four waves of riders heading out on course. They came in waves of human competitiveness!

The Cumberland stage sent all of the racers to the top of Forbidden Plateau on a route that mixed some paved road, gravel roads and single track. The descent from the top was pure, sweet Island single track. Then, they headed back to the Village with the Challenge level riders getting off early, and the Epic level riders heading up to one of the best rips in town - Tea Pot to Crafty Butcher. Lucky them! I changed positions from warning the flaggers at the intersection of Comox Lake Logging Road and Bevan Road to the point where, after conquering Forbidden Plateau, the racers headed into single track for the return to the Village.

Here's the finish line

This is the tent city that racers call home for seven days. All included with the entry fee.

By the time I see the racers again, they are no longer in the tight waves that they started the day in. Spread out in singles, pairs and the occasional knot of 5 or 6, they look more tired, but as they have been riding some of the best trails in the world, they appear elevated. Even crossing the finish line, 5 hours after starting, you can see the happiness burning through the pain. This truly is a remarkable event, and we are very lucky that it calls in at the Comox Valley.

If you love mountain biking, and have some wanderlust in you, and a reasonable level of fitness, give the BCBR a try.  Just be sure to sign up early, it sells out pretty fast!