The Ultimate Singletrack Experience (BCBR) proudly welcomes back Chris Sheppard riding for Rocky Mountain Bikes - our defending champion and fastest man over seven days! This year Chris, aka ‘Shep,’ is hunting for his third consecutive victory - or as we say in Canada - a hat trick!
BC Bike Race is now entering its sixth year as a super successful and stable event on the calendar. What has not been so certain over the years has been the ability of riders to cope with the incredible amount of singletrack and the stage race format. Top caliber Europeans have been few and far between and those brave enough to challenge themselves to BCBR were not up to the task of dethroning reigning champion Chris Sheppard.
Looking into cycling history books, we find road champions like Greg Lemond, Miguel Indurain and Lance Armstrong. Among mountain bike champions, names like Henrik Djernis, Roland Green and Sam Hill appear. The difficulty and quality it takes to win, not just once but multiple times, is in its self difficult to comprehend. On the eve of his title defense and ensuing battle we caught up with Chris for a few questions about the upcoming Race;How does it feel to wear the number#1 plate as you come to defend you title for 2012?
“I feel like I have a large target on my back! I love riding west coast single track, attacking and challenging myself so, if I'm feeling good my bike and body will stubbornly defend the Golden Fleece!” Will you change your game for the Enduro segments or focus on the Epic?
“Every minute of every stage is an Enduro segment to me. If I am feeling "on" I will let my bike run to test my competition or to gain time regardless of whether or not I am being timed.” You are going for a ‘hat-trick’ this year, can you tell us how hard it is to win 3 times and what it means for you?
“Stage racing is a tough beast no matter what your competitive level may be. To take down BCBR three times, a number of factors must occur: one must escape injury and mechanicals; have day to day recuperation and, in some cases, sheer luck! Anything can happen and has happened to me each year. I have never really stopped to think about what winning BCBR means but I do know I have a grand time, get to drink beer, pig out on good food, ride the best trails in the world on the best equipment amongst great friends - and if I win, then that is a bonus!”
This year is shaping up to be another battle royal because Jason Sager, team Jamis, returns to possibly climb the last step onto the podium after two years as the runner up. Barry Wicks, team Kona, has changed over from winning the Team category to contesting the Solo category and seems to be in great form so far this year. Two Germans will be in attendance representing European interests: Daniel Gasthof and Guido Thaler both come from team Craft-Rocky Mountain. They have a lot of marathon and stage race experience and they hope this will see them in the mix for overall victory.
On the Women’s side we have a number of exceptional athletes: two former BCBR champions Wendy Simms, riding for team Kona and Megan Rose, riding in a co-ed team this year. Sandra Looney, team Ergon, is here for her BC Bike Race debut and also looking for success in the Solo Category. While dark horse rider Fanny Paquette, team Rocky Mountain, is known as a technical wizard. Stay tuned for BC Bike Race stories and results, July 1-7th, 2012 at www.bcbikerace.com
Other riders to watch for in the Gravity Enduro section:
Josh Carlson - 2nd All Mountain World Champion, Downville 2011, Enduro Specialist
Ross Schnell - All-Mountain World Champion, Downieville 2010, Enduro Specialist
Wade Simmons - The Godfather of Free Ride, Winner Redbull Rampage, Enduro Enthusiast
Other riders to watch in the overall Epic:
Colin Kerr – Team Rocky Mountain Bikes, BCBR Solo Champion 2009
Carter Hovey - Team Orbea, Trans Rockies Winner 2011
Cory Wallace - Team Kona, 2nd Mongolia Bike Challenge 2011, 2nd 24 hrs 2010
Benoit Simmard – Team Nativo Concept
Matt Hadley – Team Xpresso Bikes, Canada Cup Champion 2011Complete Racer List here