Race Report: BC Bike Race Final Stage - Naramata

Sep 23, 2022
by BC Bike Race  

16th BC Bike Race wraps up Okanagan adventure with dramatic finale in Naramata

BC Bike Race is a seven day race and every single day counts. There are no freebies. Day 7’s tour through Naramata’s Three Blind Mice network was no victory lap, with challenging terrain and tactical battles delivering fireworks on the final day. Peter Disera and Sandra Walter held onto their leads, but not without some drama on course.
This year’s course was one of the most exciting, and physically demanding courses in BC Bike Race’s 16 year history. Throughout the field, racers emerged from the Naramata woods showing signs of battle. Sweat, dust and the occasional streak of blood were only the visible marks of the week’s racing. As soon as riders crossed the line, the competition turned to camaraderie. High fives, even some sweaty hugs between new and old friends celebrated completing a massive week on the bike.

Start & Finish in Naramata

Okanagan Lake was the backdrop for todays stage.
With some tech mixed in.

Women - friends, rivals and friendly rivalries

At the front of the women’s race, two long-time friends ended their week in the Okanagan with a day of friendly competition. Sandra Walter and Catharine Pendrel rolled into Stage 6 solidly in first and second place. They’ve also spent a decade training together. After a week of racing for the BCBR lead, the tour of Three Blind Mice was a rare chance to race together.

bigquotesToday was super fun.We ride together all the time, so we can follow close and have a good time. I mostly stayed on her wheel.Sandra Walter

“We chatted about it before, riding together. We had a good, hard race out there and then pushed on the last downhill,” the two-time world champion said. But friendly rivalries are still rivalries. “I was going to let some guys behind us by, then Sandra went by instead. ‘Ok,’ I thought, ‘It’s On.’”

“I did put in one little attack before the last descent,” Walter said at the finish. “I ended up blowing a corner right after though, and she led from there on.”

One of many fun descents.

Pendrel takes the final stage win but, after a blistering first five days of consecutive wins, Walter takes the win at the 2022 BC Bike Race.

“I won the first five days by riding steady and climbing strong. I know Catharine tends to come on strong and I tend to fade, so I went harder at the start of the week. I thought I might as well go for it while I have it.”

Lauren Cantwell also rocketed off the line in Kelowna seven days ago but, with a deep women’s field chasing, had to fight to hold her position.

bigquotesI had a really strong first few days. I’ve known Kaysee for a long time and knew she’s an amazing technical rider, specifically descending. Her legs came around the last three days and I’ll admit I was nervous. I was doing all I could to hang on to that lead.Lauren Cantwell

“I had a really strong first few days. I’ve known Kaysee for a long time and knew she’s an amazing technical rider, specifically descending. Her legs came around the last three days and I’ll admit I was nervous. I was doing all I could to hang on to that lead.”

She had good reason to be worried. Kaysee Armstrong was coming on strong, landing four podiums in the final four BC Bike Race stages.

“I don’t know what happened inside of me to make up so much at the end, but all of a sudden I was racing really fast,” says the Tennessee rider. It wasn’t quite enough to catch Cantwell but, for a return from mid-season knee surgery, it was a positive week for the Liv racer.

bigquotesI think I was just getting comfortable on the bike after two months off. The first day, I was walking stuff. By the end, I was like ‘whatever, let's do this!’ I was pretty stoked to get third on the stages four times. I really enjoyed it.Kaysee Armstrong

The 2022 Women's BCBR podium.

Pro Men’s race - fierce competition and camaraderie

With one of the most exciting and dynamic men’s fields in the history of the event, Friday’s ride was a more business-like affair. Five riders had a shot at the podium going into Stage 7, so racing was full-on the minute they crossed the start mat.
Rob Britton led early on, chased by Peter Disera, Carter Nieuwesteeg and Luke Vrouwenvelder. As the group started an epic descent back to the beach, Disera led with Nieuwesteeg right on his wheel. Burke was pushing hard to catch Britton.

For Carter Nieuwesteeg, sitting second overall coming into Stage 6, just ahead of Vrouwenvelder, the pressure was on.

bigquotesAt one point, Luke was catching on. That was stressful, but Pete and Geoff were encouraging me to keep going, which was pretty awesome.Carter Nieuwesteeg

Nieuwesteeg kept the hard-charging Rob Britton in his sights on the climbs, then made the pass to take second on the day and second overall at the 2022 BC Bike Race. It wraps up a busy end-of-season run for the Santa Cruz racer, with 13 races in 17 days. That’s quite the effort to manage, let alone walk away with a win and a BCBR silver.

Geoff Kabush put the hammer down day after day and didn't make it easy for the young guns.

Giant Factory Off-Road Team coming in hot..
Peter Disera on his way to winning the 2022 BC Bike Race.

“My goal with all these stage races is to be consistent. It’s always a war of attrition. If you can avoid crashing, bonking or mechanicals, you’ll usually be ok,” Nieuwesteeg said before the podium, adding “But I’m ready for a beer.”

While BCBR is a race, sportsmanship ultimately trumps competition. Luke Vrouwenvelder was in a heated battle for second place in Naramata. He’d traded leads with Peter Disera early in the week and, after slipping into third behind Carter Nieuwesteeg on Stage 5, was working hard to make up time on the final day. But, when Felix Burke crashed in front of him on a rowdier section of the descent, Vrouwenvelder set aside his podium ambitions to make sure his fellow rider got off the course safely.

bigquotesIt was a split-second decision, but there was no decision, really. There was no question I was going to stop. Obviously the GC is a big takeaway for me this week, and it would be sweet to be on the podium, but you gotta look out for the guys you’re racing with, first and foremost.Luke Vrouwenvelder

Felix Burke rode very consistent all week, and was looking strong today. Heal up quickly!

At the finish line, officials and racers agreed with Vrouwenvelder's call to stop and help out and the Giant Factory Racing rider retained his third place in the overall.

bigquotesLuke stopping to help Felix, that’s pretty cool when second is on the line, Kudos to him.Carter Nieuwesteeg

While a very dramatic race for positions played out behind, Peter Disera put his shaky start to the week behind and put himself on the front of the race. After trading leads with Vrouwenvelder the first few days, Disera won the final four race stages in the Okanagan.

“I think I just had such a nervous, excited Stage 1 and, coupled with good legs, went well over my head.” After winning Stage 1, Disera dropped 10 minutes on Stage 2 in Salmon Arm. “I think I could have mitigated my losses there a bit better. After Silver Star, I realized I might be still in it and went all-in in Vernon.”
The Canadian Olympian didn’t falter once after that. Even a flat tire at Apex couldn’t keep him off the top podium step. Disera won five of the week’s seven stages on his way to winning the 16th BC Bike Race.

The 2022 Men's BCBR podium.

Your 2022 BCBR winners, Sandra Walter & Peter Disera.

Working together to get through a big week

BC Bike Race doesn’t pretend to be easy. With this year’s course being amongst the hardest in the event’s long history, even the pros were leaning on each other to make it through the week. Deeper in the field, a helping hand and a little inspiration was essential to making it across the final finish line.

bigquotesI’m so happy I was able to finish, I had a great time and met a lot of great people.Maximiliano Smolkin

“Those climbs, I never would have done it if there wasn’t such a great group of people riding them in front of me,” says Maximiliano Smolkin, originally from Argentina

Valerie and Alan Terada traveled together from Hawaii and crossed the finish line together in Naramata.

“It was a challenge, but we made it!” says Valerie. While they raced in individual categories, getting through the week was a team effort. “He’s a really strong rider, he was like my pace bunny. He’d go ahead but wait and give me gels and food on the trail.”



Crossing the finish line was about more than just riding mountain bikes.

“It was a big trial, we learned a lot about ourselves and about each other,” Alan said. “It was a big trial and it was fun riding together. We’re glad to be finished with smiles on our faces.”
Everyone learns something about themselves over seven days of racing, whether it's the first BCBR or, say, their 16th. Graeme Fitch has raced every stage, every year, since 2007.

“This year has been great, and really hard. The hardest year, I think. Not the longest, but the hardest.”
What keeps him coming back?
“It’s the best week on a bike. There are always new trails, you just have to get out and enjoy it!”
While there are riders that are taking home awards, every rider who finishes BC Bike Race has accomplished an impressive feat.

Heather Cook was the second last rider across the line, just 31 seconds ahead of the Lantern Rouge after five hours of racing. The retired firefighter from Oakland, California summed up her BC Bike Race strategy quite simply.

bigquotesThere will be chaos. Keep pedaling!”Heather Cook

Cook was inspired to race BCBR by Dan Robertson. The two went through firefighting training together over three decades ago. “It’s been a bucket list event for me forever,” says Robertson. “When she retired, I convinced her to sign up. After the first day, I thought she hated me.”

Shimano, sponsor of the day. Thanks for the on course tech support all week!

Moniera Khan, Race Relations Manager.
2022 trophies

The two were both smiling at the finish line though. For Robertson, thinking of the sweet singletrack reward helped him through the long climbs.
“On one of the days, when I was really suffering, I thought to myself ‘this is like going to an all-you-can-eat smorgasbord and eating until you can’t anymore. But you still want more.”

If you’re inspired to race, registration for the 2023 BC Bike Race opens at noon PST on Tuesday, September 27

Results Stage 6

Open Women’s Results

1st. Sandra Walter - 1:59:21
2nd. Catharine Pendrel - 1:59:21
3rd. Kaysee Armstrong - 2:09:24

Open Men’s Results

1st. Peter Disera - 1:37:51
2nd. Carter Nieuwesteeg - 1:38:06
3rd. Rob Britton - 1:39:45

Results Overall

Open Women’s Results Overall

1st. Sandra Walter - 16:26:00
2nd. Catharine Pendrel - 16:52:02
3rd. Lauren Cantwell - 18:11:27

Open Men’s Results Overall

1st. Peter Disera - 13:33:30
2nd. Carter Nieuwesteeg - 13:38:09
3rd. Luke Vrouwenvelder - 13:42:26

See you next year!


MENTIONS: Dave Silver / Chris Stenberg / BC Bike Race

Author Info:
BCBR avatar

Member since Nov 3, 2011
148 articles

  • 26 0
 As cool as it is to see the top riders crushing it.....the rest of the field is what makes BCBR the event it is. I raced it in 2019, was super focused on getting a podium in 40+, didn't happen and lost sight a bit of why I was there.

My buddy was racing along with his 60 year old dad who was literally the last person over the finish line, struggled every day but made it through thick and thin, he got the biggest claps and cheers over the finish line, everybody super stoked for him, he was soo excited to finish and Brett Tippie was going nuts cheering him across the line.....I kind of had an "aha" moment there
  • 4 0
 I feel this man! My first year doing it this year, it's been a goal of mine to be fit enough to race it for over a decade. I got pretty bummed out as I started to fall out of the top 20, but then reassessed and realized just how awesome it was to be at the event. It was an incredible experience, and sooo hard. I'm stoked to have finished, met some rad people, and had a great time. It's worth finding the balance between trying hard and having fun at this one!
  • 13 0
 did you guys do any bike checks? it would be awesome to see the bikes people are running on this race!
  • 2 1
 Especially since “BC Bike Race ready” has become the journalist’s way of describing a bike as “downcountry” without actually saying, “downcountry”. I wonder how many bikes here are essentially DC bikes…
  • 3 0
 I saw a lot of XC bikes billed as downcountry near the pointy end of the race. Quite a few Rocky Mountain Elements, Santa Cruz Blurs, Transition Spurs, Epic EVO's, etc. To be fair, there were some Trek Supercalibers up there, too. The fastest 50+ rider (who was within the top 20 overall) was high posting a non-EVO Epic. Legend.

I landed within the top 25% of finishers on my 2019 Blur. Most of the descents were things I would have ridden my Megatower on without a second thought if I was just going out to ride them. There was a lot more spice than I thought there would be. Cushcore XC inserts probably saved me at least once each day. Commitment was the word of the seven days on an XC bike.

On the non-pointy end of the race there were a lot more enduro bikes. My friend riding it did it on a Bronson and was near the bottom for climbing but did manage a top 3 on some of the Strava descent segments. Don't ask him about the climbs.
  • 2 0
 Congrats Sandra! In Snowshoe 2021 I watched first hand how hard she pushed. Lap after lap moving up from the back of the field with blood streaming down her leg, she never gave up. I knew she had crashed somewhere early but had no idea how bad it was until I saw the replay that night (Laurie Arsenault clipped the fence at the start and Sandra endo'd over her on the pavement). Watching her dig for every position near the back of the field in real life was pretty freaking cool and she became one of my favorites that day.
  • 4 2
 Less than five minutes after 13+ hours of racing is insane! I’m interested to hear what the riders thought of the Mice, these are my local trails!
  • 1 0
 They were a ton of fun, the drops and slabs and speed was sweet. It was a rough, harsh ending to the week though!
  • 2 0
 There are few moments in life as rewarding as crossing the stage 7 finish line intact. Congrats to all.
  • 1 0
 Registration for 2023 is tomorrow but for the life of me I can’t find the dates for the race. Anybody know as it’s not on the BCBR website?

Copyright © 2000 - 2023. Pinkbike.com. All rights reserved.
dv65 0.041285
Mobile Version of Website