Tuesday, July 26, 2016

BC Bike Race tips and advice

Here's some tips on surviving the BC Bike Race. Locations and plans were all for 2016, your race may have different venues/timing.


You get a rolling piece of luggage that holds about 80 liters of stuff. and a small cheap day bag to put stuff in immediately after the race. Bring some bright ribbon to tie to the handle of the rolling luggage so you can find it easily. The rolling luggage has two end compartments and a big middle section.
put everything in 4 black plastic bags, bring spare bags. I put the camping stuff and odds and ends in one section. My sleeping bag, pad and spare shoes and pillow in the other end. In the main section I had two black bags, one with riding clothes and one with regular clothes. Dirty laundry went in the luggage outside of these bin bags. I used a heavy weight fleece as my pillow with a regular small travel pillow on top. I wish I had used some space to bring a real soft pillow to use. bring your spare shoes in sealable a shoe bag, it'll be useful in your day bag and keep your luggage cleaner

bring lots of shorts, outer shorts, socks and gloves. It's probably going to rain and you're going to get wet. It wasn't that cold for us and a long sleeve jersey was perfect every day for our riding. A light rain shell while waiting at the line if it was raining was really nice.

shower gel, shampoo provided, bring a scrubbie in a plastic bag to scrub the dirt off.

flip flops for post shower - dry socks/shoes and the shower trucks don't mix well.

pack towel

emergency supplies, site says you MUST have them, it's a good idea. I don't know anyone who was actually asked to prove they had a whistle or matches. - DO bring steristrips to seal up cuts on the trail.

clothes line and clothes pegs
usb battery pack - usb power charger 2A output is critical for both of these for quick charging.
camp chair - optional, but probably really useful - put it in your day bag so you have it after the race.
sleeping mat, (summit to sea are noisy)
down sleeping bag (to get it small)
sleeping bag liner or pajamas
Tylenol and Ibuprofen - keep them DRY
Allergy medicine if you need it. Wasp stings were really common! And it can help you sleep.

Bob adds the following specific items that he liked:  sleeping bag, bubble chair, camp chair.

Here's Lauren's tips on packing: I put things in waterproof ziplock bags in categories (and labeled, which helped me find things in the cavernous red bag) - one ziplock for each: shorts, jerseys,gloves/warmers, jackets/vests, pre-race food/sunscreen/chamois cream. And a big black garbage bag for the wet clothes.

Peter packed each day's bike clothes (chamois, jersey, socks, tank top) in a large zip lock bag (7 of them), then would return the dirty clothes back to the same ziplock once each day's race was over.  I also had a bag for gloves and head-wraps/sweat bands. I brought three small packing pouches from Ikea where I kept other categories of clothing (underwear, socks, t-shirts/shorts).  Always knowing where to find stuff made my life a lot easier.  Our race was unusually wet (which made for truly amazing conditions!), but it was a huge pain in the ass when it came to dealing with wet clothes and shoes.  An extra clothesline is a good idea just in case - as would be a couple extra small microfiber towels that you could use to wick moisture out of your shoes, or other sopping wet items.

Getting There

Drive - bay area to Portland 11 hours, Portland to North Vancouver another 7 hours. Leave Monday morning, arrive Tuesday afternoon just in time for registration. You might be able to go for a little bike ride after registration and then hand your bike in as late as possible but it's probably not worth it.

Boxing up your bike to fly is a total pain and some bikes got damaged on the plane. West Jet only charges you for a piece of luggage for a bike so that's good. Peter's take on flying vs driving: "despite my bike getting damaged on the plane (which was totally my fault, but didn't affect my race), flying with bikes was actually relatively quick and easy (assuming you have or can borrow a good bike bag/case), and in my opinion, a much better use of my time vs. driving (e.g., getting out for two rides in North Vancouver before the race, and riding for 2 days after the race in Whistler is not something I'd trade for driving up there). "

Stay at the Holiday Inn North Vancouver (free parking while you are racing) it's right by registration.
pick up car when you get back to North Vancouver, drive yourself to Squamish and whistler.

Book a condo in whistler for the day before the whistler stage, if you have your car you can avoid an extra camping night in Squamish and sleep in luxury in your condo. Paying for the meal plan means you'll either leave after the meal or just have to miss it.

While you are under the race's powers, they shuttle you around in yellow school busses. Make sure you're not sat with no rom for your legs on a wheel well. The back seats were singles, but pretty bouncy and movey around, but at least had leg-room. Aisle seats are best after that. They cram everyone on the busses so it's unlikely you'll get a double seat to yourself.

Star all the places linked to below on Google Maps. Then download offline versions of all these places. It will be VERY useful.


My friend and I opted NOT to get the meal plan. I'm a picky eater, It was a good decision for us, it worked out a LOT cheaper and I felt like we ate better than I would have on the meail plan. There were two times when it was a pain and we really missed out.

If you don't want to think and will eat whatever is put in front of you getting the meal plan is probably a good choice. Get the 'A' plan to eat first, you can always show up late. Many of the people who were with our group did get the meal plan and said the food was great and would choose it again. "Tons of vegetables, super tasty, and all the desserts you could fit in!" "the food provided with the meal plan was excellent and plentiful, overall, and definitely a good value for what you get.  The variety at every meal was extensive"

James adds: the meal plan is worth the expense and in some towns where finding food effortlessly a necessity in my opinion.  Plan A is highly sought after because it is earliest.  I was on Plan C (latest) which I found to be beneficial as I didn't have to force myself to eat breakfast too early.  Nore was dinner to close to bedtime. Additionally, only a few times during the event did meal time occur closer than optimal to start time.  The most helpful planning strategy around food was to purchase a good amount of snack/bulk food in Vancouver at the Canadian Super Store before leaving for Cumberland.  This food came in very handy between provided meals and during down time be it on the ferries, bus or chillin' at camp.  You will be hungry like you have never been before and not going hungry is a good feeling.


Picking a tent: edge is good. Look for what might be lit up all night long, bring a face mask to cover your eyes if you're sensitive to that. They have ear plugs for you to use. the green tents were the newest, there were other tents that had holes in the side to pull a section through the fly, avoid those, they'll leak at the side for sure.

staking out the tent - do this every night, tie the guy lines to the tents next door and behind you too (free lines to dry clothes on!). keep that fly off the inner tent to increase your chances of staying dry. Ask for towels to wipe out inside the tent if it is wet or keep a travel towel to do this with. check the roof, ask for duct tape to plug up any visible holes (there were lots!), even better bring your own duct tape!

You won't have access to your bike, you'll pretty much check it in after the days race and get it first thing in the morning ready to race.

Try to get good sleep, try really hard. Some days, you might be able to nap during the day, do that!


I rode Maxxis Ardent 27.5 x 2.2 tires on derby wide rims and they worked great for me.

James adds: If the conditions are anything like they were this year (wet, greasy, moist, damp...) the combination of a Magic Mary 2.35 up front and High roller II, 2.3 out back where perfect.  If the conditions trend towards dry as they where 2015 many of the locals told me the Maxxis  IKON in a 2.2 is the tire of choice.

You might want to bring a few spare tires, a few people got slits or cuts in theirs and needed to buy replacements.


race like hell in the first day to get a good seeding, get to the line 30 minutes before the start to get in your seeding group. opt to start off in 1 group ahead of where you think you might be. I opted for group 3, but ended up in group 2. Had I started in group 2 I might have been seeded in group 1. If you have a bad first day don't worry, you can ask to be moved up a group, or even just peel the sticker off your plate and start in a different group. I suspect they only care for the first, maybe second seeded group. Seeded groups go in colors of the rainbow; red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple.

pinch flats were common, really common, even for some tubeless people. be prepared with CO2 (which you can bring easily if you drove).

aid stations? I never stopped at an aid station. they have mechanics, parts, medical and some fruit and drinks I guess.

Make sure your number plate is vertical and you have one on your back (for photos!). The pro-photos are great you will want some, if they can see your number it'll be easy to see you photos.

Each stage has a sticker showing the profile of the course, you stick this on your top tube and it's super helpful. If you can... bring some fine sharpies and annotate the sticker. I found myself wanting to know how much of each section was road or fire road (you can find this from the online course maps or the racer book). Convert your bike computer to Km so you can follow along with the stickers.

I also made a google calendar with the race schedule on it, where we were sleeping (with a link to google maps), when bike check opened and closed, luggage check, race start etc. this was super helpful. each day was an all day event with the distance and elevation change for that stage and links to the course etc... BCBR provides a race booklet, it is really essential and covers everything one needs to be at the right place at the right time.

On the mornings we take a ferry before racing, bring a little extra food with you on the ferry. Breakfast and 'go' time are several hours apart on those days.

After a day's Race

After the race wash your bike as quickly as possible, lube it and get it checked in. There are scout troops sometimes offering to wash the bike for a donation. Do that, but be warned someone might use a power washer on  your bike. expect to rebuild your pivots etc after this race.

Put something distinctive on your seat (yellow ribbon or something) finding your bike will be a lot easier when you're looking at the rows and rows of black seats. This will drastically make your life better, do it.

Also, have your recovery drink powder in your camelbak (if you use one) so you can mix it up before you go searching for your bag.

Then shower as quickly as possible then you can relax. Have your shower stuff ready in your day bag, even if you are staying two nights.

Then head to the Bears Den (inflatable tent) and drop off your USB battery pack for charging. Upload your Strava. It's about the only time the shitty wifi is somewhat usable (5 mobile access points with passwords that change daily). Don't expect to do any kind of useful stuff with the provided wifi. Wifi phone calling was pretty much impossible.

There are a team of mechanics working ALL NIGHT on bikes if you pay them $90/hour + parts. They are tired and only have the little bit of paper written down what you want to happen. Some people had bad experiences with the work they did. I would avoid having anyone work on your bike if at all possible. There is time after you shower, or even before a race for little tweaks.


Here's what I can remember about each camping location and food advice


You spend most of the first day (day 0) traveling here so no riding and no access to your bike.

The Cumberland Brewing Company was the best meal we had all trip. I drank too much beer and was peeing all night so try not to do that ;) The beer is so nice that might be a problem.

Breakfast was a REAL problem. Only the teeny little Cumberland Grind was open, the hot chocolate was good, the rice crispy treat and cookie were dry and unsatisfying.

Call ahead and try and persuade "Mars on main" to open early, they open at 8 and the race starts at 8:30 so that's a no go.

Powell river

The BEST location. The whole town shows up to welcome you off the ferry! Twice! Try and get on the early ferry otherwise it'll be a really late arrival. Camping at Willingdon Beach Park.

There is a bike park up the hill at the rec center and a downhill/flow trail to camp. If you can, go check it out it's AMAZING. It'll have to be right after the days racing there and you'll likely be tired, but it's worth it. Or walk up and just look at how magnificent it is.

shops/restaurants along the street you walk down from the ferry (pretty bleak).
strip mall section quite a bit further up the hill inland, but much more selection of stores but too much chain restaurants.

There is fish and chips right at the campsite which was pretty good and the folks there super nice.

The second day we had dinner at Snickers, it was good and the view over the bay was epic. Try and call to make a reservation, they like that. They fit us in anyway.

Breakfast at Base Camp Coffee was great both days. And their wifi was great too.

If you get the meal plan, they needed to shuttle you to the school to have food.

Leaving: The Ferry to Earls Cove does NOT leave from the place where the ferry that brought you there is. You need to get back to camp to get a bus to the school to get another bus to the ferry.


Sechelt (pronounced sea-shell(t)), Camping was at Kinnikinnick Park which is quite a ways out of town. You even had to walk pretty far for the meal plan food.

Get the bus into town. Transit directions don't work on google maps offline, so print out the time table. The #3 bus is your friend. Maybe get a taxi?

The Old Boot Eatery was solid food. Recommend. It was about here that I worked out Ginger Ale was a great recovery drink.

Breakfast was a solid problem because town was so far away, we just brought milk and cereal from the super market and ate that the next morning. There may be food at the golf club early enough, call ahead. Super markets close early here!

North Vancouver

Finally back to a bigger city! Camping is at Parkgate Park which is quite far away from your car at the Vancouver Holiday Inn! If possible find a support crew that is driving and get a ride with them to the Holiday Inn. You only need ONE person to do this and you won't have any gear, your bike and red luggage will be waiting for you at the park. Otherwise you'll have to get a taxi or the bus. Do this as SOON as you arrive. Park on Banff Court. Collect up all the laundry you need doing (and that of your friends too). and head straight to  the Rainbow Bright Laundromat they close at 7PM so time is critical! two loads of laundry, they'll want you to do the bike stuff in the front loaders towards the back. REMEMBER to check pockets for bars, gels and blocks! Also remember to bring laundry detergent and drier sheets and have them in your car. While laundry is happening you can eat at Browns Social House while you check on laundry and move it into the driers. The wifi at the Rec Center is good.

Now you have access to a car, go to Tommy's for breakfast they open at 8AM so it's a little tight, but not too bad. Tommy's was my favorite breakfast all trip (no wifi). Buy some art from the walls. They moved the start of the race back an hour for some reason and that was super nice.

They do an even more broken out start to the race so make sure you are at the start of your seed block. The tails are the most technical, but not terrifying, you can do this, don't worry about it. I freaked myself out hearing how technical it was, but it wasn't too bad at all. All the lines are rideable if you commit and do them. You will ride stuff you never expected to do, that's cool.

Leave as soon as you can to get up to Squamish, check your bike and luggage with the BCBR folks.


Another great camping spot at Brennan Park Arena. The wifi is great, but you only get 500Megs for free, so make sure you use it wisely. There is a pool here so you can chill in that or the hot tub.

For Lunch/dinner, if you like crunchy hippy food Zephyr Cafe got good reviews. Chef Big D's popped up a lot when I was looking, but was closed due to staffing illness when we were there. Just along the road is The Coppor Coil and I liked that place a lot. I only ate a huge late lunch and then napped the rest of the day. I didn't have dinner.

Breakfast at the Timberwolf Lodge was good even though it was just a restaurant hooked up to a hotel.

Squamish trails are great, much less rooty than elsewhere and it was dry for us. My favorite stage and the climbing didn't seem so bad.

If you have a car and a condo booked at Whistler, leave town asap to head up to whistler. Check your bike in, but NOT your red bag. Buy pasta and food at a super market on your way up (food in whistler is a little more spendy).


Almost done now!

Try and get a condo close to the village if at all possible. You can eat your feast here the first night you get there while the suckers are camping in Squamish. Your condo may have laundry, expect the drier to suck. We didn't do a condo and regretted it, we stayed at the Adara hotel which was really conveniently located and nice.

The start the next day is miles away at Bayly Park get there early, parking will be a problem.

The Whistler riding is great too, this is hella fun stuff.

After the race enjoy the food hanging out and bask in the glory of what you have done.

Then it's a pretty flat short ride to the village and then a bus back to get your car. Traffic will SUCK, it's a crazy busy weekend of music in town and the roads are insane, especially going north, suck it up.

Dinner at Stonesedge Kitchen was great. But most people are going to the banquet. People said the food was good, but I didn't hear anything that made me think it was $70 (plus fees) good. We snuck in after the food was over to hear the speeches and see the video, but even that wasn't all that so just meet people after the banquet for more booze at Stonesedge just across the way.

Breakfast at Ingrid's is good. Eat at Garibaldi Lift Co to watch the people coming downhill.

Stay a few extra days, the condos really open up if you book them for 5 nights so do that.

We did the start of this ride which was great, some of the same stuff you rode on the course (Danimal) but really showed off the fun stuff you've been riding past all week 3 birds, 99er, A Rockwork Orange, Korova Milk Bar especially.  Get the Trail Forks app for your phone, it's a life saver there.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Wheel Building: spoke insertion tool

I'm building my first set of carbon wheels (Chris King ISO SD 100mm front hub, ISO B 148mm boost rear hub, Derby AM 40mm 27.5" Carbon rims, 32 hole 3 cross 14/15 double butted spokes to 14mm brass nipples).

Dropping a nipple into the rim is a pain, it's difficult and annoying to jiggle it out and it only gets harder as more and more spokes are inserted.

I made this handy tool from an old spoke.

Put the head of the nipple on with a couple of turns and you can easily guide the nipple through the rim and connect with the spoke you are inserting on the other side. Then you can grab the nipple, unscrew the tool and insert your nipple driver to screw the nipple onto the spoke. Easy peasy.

For my second wheel I realized I didn't need any torque at all and spinning the tool was the most important thing. I came up with this which is even simpler. The grip is made from gaffer (stage) tape wrapped around the spoke a few times. It worked really well.

Saturday, March 07, 2015

Trail etiquette

  1. If you are riding downhill and meet someone riding uphill; the person working harder riding uphill has right of way, you should yield to them. Yield means make sure they have room to ride past you, if that means you have to stop, then stop.
  2. When riding in a group, all you have to do is make sure the person behind you takes the right turn at trail junctions. If someone gets lost it's the fault of the person that was in front of them. Riding like this allows you to go longer periods without needing to regroup and really keeps the flow going. 
  3. When stopped, make sure the trail is clear so people can ride through. Be especially careful that you are not blocking or confusing the area around any sweet jumps. 
  4. Ride it don't slide it. no skids! 
  5. Don't ride when it's muddy. I usually wait 12 hours. If it hasn't rained in a while the trails can soak up 2 inches of rain in almost no time. If the ground is already pretty wet it can take a long time to dry out. 
  6. Trail maintenance doesn't have to be a whole Saturday on a crew. you can clean deadfall, dig a drain to clear a puddle during your regular rides. 
  7. Pick up trash, especially bike related trash. 
  8. Say hello to everyone! 
any more to add?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Gas mileage and roof racks

In the old days I used to drive over the hill every day with my bike on the roof. My roof rack was a Thule with two side arms, a fairing and an old velo vice in the middle. My little Toyota Corolla Matrix (AWD) used to get around 21-22 mpg. Recently I've been lucky enough to be able to ride from my house and so I was only driving over the hill with an empty rack on and my mileage shot up to 24-25 miles to the gallon. Well since I wasn't really using the rack much and my daughter now fits in one of those easily moveable booster seats so I can put the seats down if I need to get a bike in the car I took the rack off and now I'm getting 28 mpg. Something worth thinking about.

I always wanted a trailer hitch (Thule T2) for this car, in fact I have one, but it's the 2" version for the truck and you can't get a 2" hitch for the Matrix. I contacted Thule about getting just the smaller hitch connector, or the hitch and bit the trays connect to and not a whole T2 so I can put it in a 1&1/4" hitch but they don't sell them. One day I saw a matrix with a 2" hitch, I followed it until it parked and asked the owner where he got it, he looked at me smugly and said, "I made it!" Sigh, he wasn't willing to make one for me. Yup, I could have got a 1.25" to 2" converter but it would have made the rack stick out even more and I think hitch racks have too much torsional force to introduce any more play into the situation.

I wonder if I would have broken even if I'd bought the 1.25" hitch and new T2 and what kind of gas mileage I would have got with that? It sure would be easier to take on and off.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Turkey Day Ride!

We posted the flyer, we might as well post the pictures! We all met at Epicenter Cycling at 8:00AM sharp and some of us enjoyed the free coffee and I picked up my daughter's Christmas present (ssshhhhh, don't tell her!) and we began the climb up to sand point.

It was literally freezing cold on the climb up, frozen water on the puddles and condensing breath as we hoofed the 9 miles to the top. We were rewarded with crystal clear views of the Monterey Bay and the beautiful woods below.

On the way up we saw a few groups of people who had made it up to the top even earlier and were on their way down, some in fancy dress, one with a huge turkey head on her helmet.

The pot luck part of the ride was well represented. Shawn provided turkey sandwiches and Daryl brought a party platter. Some genius brought chocolate chip cookies which went down great.

As you can see there was quite the crowd and we even picked up some more people who just happened to be riding by.

The ride down was much less cold and lots of fun. A great event, the best annual Epicenter Cycling turkey ride ever!

Looking forward to next year!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Epicenter Cycling Turkey Day Ride 8am!

Since they don't have it on their site, I thought I'd pimp it here a bit.

Epicenter Cycling are having a Turkey Day Ride!

Thursday November 25th 2010 at 8AM at the shop

Free Coffee at the shop and a pot luck at Sand point if you feel like bringing some food!

See you there!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


Epicenter Cycling presents

Life Cycles

Thursday October 28th 2010

Aptos Cinema 7pm

Tickets are $10 at Epicenter Cycling or $12 at the door.