the-wranglerjpg3At 10am sharp, the wait was over, the start gun fired and the pack worked its way up the 3 kilometer residential road climb up to the trailhead. The sight of mountain bikers is nothing new for inhabitants of this North Vancouver neighbourhood – they’re blessed with living within spitting distance of some of the best riding around, so cyclists come with the territory. Until today, though, residents hadn’t seen anywhere near this many riders spinning down their streets. It was an impressive site worthy of the onlookers’ applause and cheers.

And with the paved start conveniently spreading out the pack, the first riders dropped in to the much anticipated Mt Seymour singletrack. More climbs awaited as racers grunted up Old Buck and the Baden Powell trails to hit their first technical descent of the day – Severed Trail. Through the really technical sections, some racers found themselves running off their bike more than riding on, but with seven full days of riding ahead, it makes sense not to risk crashing on something outside their comfort zone.

From Severed, the course drew racers through Bridle Path and Bottle Top after which they made their way over to Fromme Mt. More leg burning climbs lead to the top of Pipeline trail – another local classic with plenty of stunning man-made bridges and berms that are incredibly flowy for those who are in the groove. The roots, rocks, bridges and drops of the North Vancouver mountains made for a helluva welcome carpet for the BCBR participants.

During Saturday’s press conference in Vancouver, the banter among the top three men’s teams hinted at the battle that was to come this week. Day One did not disappoint. Seamus McGrath and Chris Sheppard (Jamis/ Santa Cruz) said they were here for redemption and their aggressive attack on the North Shore course secured their first Stage win of the week in a mere 1:35:14.

Last year’s overall winners, Kris Sneddon and Barry Wicks (Kona), and year one winners Chris Eatough and Jeff Schalk (Trek/VW) rode practically within arm’s length of each other for much of the course as they put constant pressure on the lead team. More than halfway through, Trek/VW’s Schalk took a tough fall on the Pipeline trail for which he later required stitches in his top lip. That opened the door for the Kona team to put some time between them, as Kona finished in 1:36.29. A little over a minute apart from the leaders.

Other notable category highlights include favourites Georgia Gould and Ryan Trebon. This combo will be a tough match to beat. They came in the first stage of the race at 1:50:46.

Veterans 80+ winners, Normon Thibault and Peter Stevenson (Frontrunners-Experience Cycle) crossed the finish line with a 1:57:59 time. Thibault is last year’s runaway Open Mixed category winner, which he claimed with his wife, xc racer extraordinaire Wendy Simms. This year Thibault decided to make more of a mark on BC Bike Race by designing the new Stage 2 course that’s on tap for tomorrow.

Check in tomorrow for some more BCBR highlights.

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