B.C. Bike Race offers an experience in ‘epicness’

Mountain bikers, from novice to Olympians, pay $2,250 to explore trails on Vancouver Island, Sunshine Coast and North Shore in seven-day trek

By Gary Kingston, Vancouver SunJune 26, 2009 9:25 AMIn cycling’s venerable B.C. Superweek, which will be slightly less super this year with no Tour de Gastown, the road racing through Delta and White Rock goes by such classic terms as prologue, criterium and hill climb.

But before some of North America’s best pavement scorchers take to the streets July 10-19, a whole other group of elite cyclists will be attacking some of B.C.’s most notoriously gnarly mountain bike trails.

They’ll be trying to stay upright on such handle-bar rattling tracks as Screamin Demon, Severed, Buggered Pig, Black Hole and Powerhouse Plunge.

It’s called simply B.C. Bike Race, a seven-day mountain bike stage race that starts Sunday on the North Shore and includes stages on Vancouver Island and the Sunshine Coast before winding up in Whistler.

B.C. Bike Race is in just its third year, but has quickly become one of the most well-regarded mountain bike stage races in the world, rivalling the Cape Epic in South Africa and the Trans Alps in Europe.

Close to 400 riders, from pros to recreational enthusiasts, have ponied up the $2,250 entry fee, which covers meals created by local caterers in each community, base camp tenting, B.C. Ferries transfers, secure bike storage, daily awards and more.

“It’s the only race in the world where ferry crossings are part of the event,” said media manager Dave Howells.

About 25 to 30 pro riders are expected to take part. While a solo division has been added this year, most of the pros will be riding as two-person teams.

Kris Sneddon of Sechelt, who races in North America for Team Kona, won the men’s event last year with Kona teammate Barry Wicks, an Oregon native.

“A lot of people want to come up and do it, just want to experience that sort of epicness,” said Sneddon. “[Wicks] had raced World Cups on Grouse, but he’d never been to Vancouver Island. Everywhere we went, he was pretty much blown away.”

The first two years, the race, also billed as ‘The Ultimate Single Track Experience,’ began on Vancouver Island. This year, for the first time, a stage will be held on the North Shore trails with a 30-kilometre trek along the trails of Mt. Seymour, Mt. Fromme and into the Lynn Valley.

“Guys are going to go crazy with the stuff on the North Shore,” said Sneddon. “They’ll be blown away how technical it is. I haven’t ridden [Stage 3] Cumberland, but I got a chance to go over this year’s Nanaimo stage and that blew me away. It’s fast and flowy and not ridiculously steep. It’s going to be super fun.”

Catharine Pendrel of Kamloops, who finished fourth at the Beijing Olympics, is making her B.C. Bike Race debut this year, partnering with Czech Olympian and Team Luna teammate Katrina Nash.

“Being a post-Olympic year, people are wanting to try something new. I know a lot of the trails, they’re just so amazing and this is something I really wanted to do.”

Pendrel is competing even though the event concludes just a week before the mountain bike nationals in Quebec, which are followed by two World Cup stops in that province.

“It’s a little closer to nationals than is ideal and not having done one of these before, I don’t know if my legs will feel totally flat or okay. It’s going to make it hard to be at 100 per cent at nationals, but hopefully for three weeks later at the World Cup, I’ll be in incredible shape.”

As a team of two, Pendrel and Nash have to remain within two minutes of each other during each stage.

“Some days one of you will be feeling stronger than the other and I’m sure that will reverse, so a lot of it is helping each other with pacing, giving each other a push.”

And trying to stay civil.

“Last year, a couple of teams had little arguments and break downs in the race,” said Sneddon. “It was sort of comical watching it happen. ‘Geez guys, get along.'”


© Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun

City wants to map out Snowden Forest trails

The Snowden forest contains 100 kilometres of unmapped hiking and biking trails, and the city figures they should be more publicly accessible.

“The Snowden Demonstration Forest, located within 15 minutes of Campbell River, contains a large network…of single-track trails used by hikers, trail runners and mountain bikers,” says a report to council. “Unfortunately, there are currently very few trailhead signs in place and very little information available in the form of maps and information brochures for distribution to promote this incredible, recreational feature to both tourists and Campbell River locals.”

The city is considering using over $10,000 of grant money to properly map out the forest using GPS data and trail mapping, to create trailhead kiosks and to create brochures promoting the trails.

“The proposed improvements to the available information for the Snowden Forest will greatly improve the recreational experience for runners, walkers and mountain bikers in the Campbell River region,” says the report.

The money was provided by the Union of B.C. Municipalities, specifically to promote tourism. Originally, it was earmarked for Rivercorp to use to develop a “Spirit of Campbell River” festival, approved by council in a November in camera meeting. However, Rivercorp suggested the money be used for something else.

The report suggests mapping out the forest would also create increase tourism opportunities for local trail guides and tourism businesses, help encourage people to live more healthy lifestyles and create jobs.

Note: The trails have actually been mapped a number of years ago by the Riding Fools own Jeremy Grasby…

New mountain bike trails planned for the Beaver Lodge Forest Lands

Campbell River Mirror

Published: June 23, 2009 3:00 PM

Mountain biking has grown into one of the most popular summer activities in British Columbia, and Greenways Land Trust is working with the community of Campbell River to develop a trail network for riders to enjoy.

Greenways Land Trust is responsible for the maintenance and conservation of several natural areas in Campbell River, including the Beaver Lodge Forest Lands (BLFL). There are numerous unauthorized mountain bike jumps and trails being constructed in the BLFL. These structures are a cause for concern because they can have a negative impact on the forest.

They can also interfere with forestry research, and are unsafe for the public.

The Beaver Lodge Forest Lands is a land trust that is protected by provincial legislation. Any structures and trails built without permission will be removed.

But the Campbell River Forest District, with Greenways Land Trust and River City Cycle Club, are working with volunteers and mountain bikers to develop a designated trail system within the BLFL. The new designated trails will be monitored and maintained to provide a safe, easily accessible place for bikers to use. They will also help to minimize the impact of mountain biking in other areas.

If you are interested in volunteering with this exciting new project, please contact Patricia Gooch of Greenways Land Trust at (250) 287-3785, or greenways@greenways.ca. To get involved with the River City Cycle Club, contact Geoff Payne at mtb@rivercitycycle.ca.

For general information about the Beaver Lodge Forest Lands, please contact Paul Nuttall of the Campbell River Forest District at Paul.Nuttall@gov.bc.ca.

For more information about the Beaver Lodge Forest Lands, visit http://www.for.gov.bc.ca/dcr/blflfolder/index.html or www.greenwaystrust.ca

Beaver Lodge Forest Lands Quick Facts:

n This area was logged by railway in the 1920’s. In 1931, 1028 acres of land was donated to the province of British Columbia by the Elk River Timber Company. This land was given in trust to be used for experimental work in reforestation and forest management. In 1993 the Beaver Lodge Forest Trust Renewal Act (Bill 52) was passed, legally protecting this provincial gift for its intended use.

n To develop a management plan for the BLFL, the Ministry of Forests struck the Beaver Lodge Forest Trust Committee, of which the Simms Creek Stewardship Society and Greenways Land Trust are active members. In 2006, Greenways Land Trust became responsible for stewardship of the lands in partnership with the B.C. Forest Service.

Mount Washington Bike Park opens Saturday

Mount Washington opens their Bike Park this Saturday and for the first time in three years, snow didn’t need to be shoveled off the trails to get it ready for opening day!  As a result, this Saturday’s opening promises to be one of the best in recent years.

“We’ve made significant improvements to our Bike Park over the last month,” explains Slopes Supervisor Chuck Perowne.  “The dry, warm weather has enabled us to get a head start on the season.  We’ve brought in literally truckloads of dirt across the mountain to improve berms and get the jumps dialed in for opening day.”

All of Mount Washington’s 20 trails will be ready for opening day this Saturday with the exception of Scratch and Sniff, which may be closed due to minor infrastructure upgrades.  The Bike Park is open daily from 11am to 7:30pm from June 27th to September 7th.  The hours of operation change on September 8th from noon to 6:30pm and this continues until the Bike Park’s closing day on September 20th.

Idyllic early season conditions will help showcase some new additions to the Bike Park on Vancouver Island.   The latest expert trail Back In Black is a freeride masterpiece featuring perfectly sculpted dirt jumps with flowy lines and burly wooden stunts.

Mount Washington’s long-term plans for the Bike Park include the addition of more entry-level mountain bike trails.  The Dirty Marmot, Mount Washington’s newest beginner trail development off the top of the Hawk Chair, opens its first phase on bike park opening day.  The DM is a wide open, buffed out, non-intimidating trail for those new to the sport.

In addition to these new trail developments, riders will notice significant improvements right across the park.  Wizard and lower MMT received a healthy dose of dirt, which beefed up the berms to increase flow and maintain riding speed.  On top of that good news, three new wall rides exist; two gracing the flank of Timewarp and an additional wall was added to the top of the Wizard.

If you’re looking for great bike events to attend this summer, Mount Washington has another strong lineup on offer plus two brand-spanking new events.

The first event is Roots, Rocky, Reggae and it takes place on July 11-12th.  Roots, Rocky, Reggae offers Rocky Mountain Bike owners a free day of riding on the Saturday and regardless of what bike you’re riding, you get a 2 for 1 Bike Park ticket if you’re hanging out with a Rocky rider on the Sunday.  Rocky staff will be on hand with demos all weekend long and the godfather of freeriding, Wade Simmons, will also be in attendance.  The delicious scent of BBQ and the sweet sounds of reggae will fill the air so mark July 11-12th in your calendars!

The second new event is the Race Face Women’s Weekend on July 18-19th.  This weekend offers an enhanced version of the mountain’s Women’s Day Escapes that run every Tuesday.  The Race Face weekend includes post-riding wine and cheese tastings.  Over a bottle of wine, Mount Washington’s guides will demo Race Face’s latest women’s apparel and the bike techs will perform custom bike fittings and go over essentials for good bike maintenance.

Other highlights of the 2009 event calendar include the Rocky Learn to Ride Week from July 6-10th, BC Cup Provincial XC and DH race on August 1-2nd, the beloved Lucky DH Race Series every Thursday in August, and the Courtenay Toyota Jump Jam, with host Jordie Lunn, on September 13th.

Mount Washington’s Bike Park is supported this season by Rocky Mountain Performance Bikes, whose Flatline Park Edition will be gracing the resort’s rental fleet.  The Park is also partnering with Race Face, Dakine, and Maxxis to make 2009 a summer of kick-ass riding on Vancouver Island!

Mount Washington Alpine Resort Bike Park opens Saturday, June 27th.  Bike Park Season Passes are on sale at early bird rates until Wednesday, June 24th.  To book the buy one night, get the second night free accommodation deal, which runs to July 16th, call Mount Washington Alpine Resort at 1-888-231-1499 toll-free or locally at 250-338-1386.  Surf to mountwashington.ca for additional information including the live mountain cam.

For more information and additional images, please contact:

Brent Curtain – Public Relations and Promotions
Mount Washington Alpine Resort
1 Strathcona Parkway
Mount Washington BC V9J 1L0


Old-growth forests fall in tough economy

Firms face clashes in Island towns as they struggle to make profits

By Judith Lavoie, Times ColonistMarch 7, 2009 www.timescolonist.com

From 2007: Environmentalist Jessi Junkin in an old growth grove on the Koksilah River surrounded by areas where selected logging was slated to occur. Photograph by: Darren Stone, Times Colonist

Cash-strapped forest companies are aiming their chainsaws at patches of old-growth trees in easily accessible areas as they struggle to keep costs down while harvesting high-value trees.

The decision is leading to more clashes with communities, as companies log in areas close to towns that have often been left alone for generations and are widely used for recreation.

Many of the biggest and best trees on the Island have already been logged off valley bottoms and slopes, leaving the companies with two sources of valuable old-growth trees, the kind of trees they say they need to log to make money: remote, steep areas that require significant resources to get timber out, or forests near existing communities where trees had previously been left behind to prevent protests.

“The old-growth stands are more and more marginal or more and more controversial,” said Ken Wu of Western Canada Wilderness Committee.

In Gold River, 90 kilometres west of Campbell River, a fight is brewing over a plan by Western Forest Products to log old-growth stands adjacent to the town in areas that have long been used for hiking and biking.

Mark Kenny, the company’s West Island regional manager, said the tough economy has driven WFP to look at the old-growth blocks it owns, because they contain Douglas fir, “which is attractive to our customers.”

“We had stayed away from there, but they are mature trees and this is the time,” he added, noting that many forestry companies are in survival mode as mills shut down and markets dry up around the world.

Duncan Kerr, WFP chief operations officer, said the cost of getting logs out of the forest is a key part of the economic equation.

“We have to keep distances down,” Kerr said, explaining why companies are looking at areas closer to existing roads and infrastructure.

A similar situation is unfolding near Parksville, where Island Timberlands is logging near the boundary with Englishman River Falls provincial park. Many residents were outraged when the company used helicopters to log a small island in the Englishman River, a source of drinking water, and then logged along the park boundary. The company owns both parcels of land.

Rick Jeffery, CEO of Coast Forest Products Association, said that in this “impaired” market, companies have to keep down costs and find the right log and right mill for specialty markets.

“The markets are small and higher on the value chain and, quite often, they demand the characteristics you find in old growth — tight knots and tight growing wood,” he said.

That makes it worth heli-logging areas such as the Englishman River, Jeffery said. But environmental groups and those who have used the forest for recreation say the forest companies are being short-sighted.

“The companies are just doing whatever they can to get out the cream of the crop,” said Maurita Prato of the Dogwood Initiative, a Victoria-based environmental group. “They are ignoring the fact that these are high biodiversity areas which people love and use. Because of the economic situation it’s a quick in-and-out scenario, but it’s not a long-term strategy either economically or environmentally.”

Kerr said Western Forest Products allows the public to use private lands, but people have to remember the trees will, one day, be harvested. “We think it is a socially better choice to let communities use the land between rotations. The alternative, which I don’t like, is closing the land to public use so people don’t develop expectations.”