Race Report: BC Bike Race Stage 1 - Kelowna

Sep 18, 2022
by BC Bike Race  

Canyon views and Gnarly descents in Kelowna

After a taster sample of Kelowa’s Crawford trails during yesterday’s prologue, Stage 1 of 2022 BC Bike Race dove in for the full meal deal. After a hint of rain overnight, trails were in all-time conditions for a full 40.5 km tour on the local classics.

All the colors the Okanagan has to offer.

After a quick loop to wake up the legs, racers worked their way up an 8km rolling climb towards the days first big descent. Vapour is a gnarly local classic, with big rock bluffs, roots and endless corners delivering some real pucker moments and the week’s first sample of B.C. technical riding. After a full kilometre descent, the days second climb was a leg-draining 6.5 km of singletrack and occasional double track. The reward was a ripping, high speed descent along the valley edge of Crawford Canyon. Sweeping corners and stunning vistas took the sting out of the day’s climbing as riders plummeted towards the valley below. A few rolling kilometres through the regrowth of a historic burn added some atmosphere to finish off the day. Like the forest around them, riders' legs now have a day to recover, and also relocate to Salmon Arm for Stage 2.

Tough climbs.
Followed by fast descents.
All the views.

After the first long day, racers are starting to find their pace. Barry Landau travelled up to the Okanagan with a group of six physicians that work and ride together in Bellingham, Washington. The BC Bike Race is a change in terrain and pace for the crew of PNW residents. As are the long days in the saddle.”

“When we decided to do this a year ago, it was a big project to get in shape enough to make it through. We kept it under control today, we know it’s a long week. It’s been on the bucket list a long time and we wanted to get it done before we’re too old.”

That saddle time is part of the attraction for the group.

bigquotesI’m really looking forward to the mindset that you get into riding day after day. You have to be so totally focused while mountain biking that you can’t think about anything else. You can’t think about work or other stresses, you have to be totally into it. After a few days, your mindset really starts to change.Barry Landau
Then, there’s the singletrack.

“I really enjoyed that first descent from the aid station,” Landau says. Being from Bellingham, our specialty is wet roots. But we’re really having a good time on these trails.”

Loose and fast

A new leader and a long-awaited return

After testing the legs and the competition with a short prologue, Saturday was the first real test of who could contest for this year’s win. While it’s a long week on unfamiliar trails, early leaders emerged.

At the front of the women’s race Catharine Pendrel set the pace early on. The recently retired world champion put herself on the front up Stage 1’s opening climb, but with Sandra Walter locked to her wheel.

“Yesterday, I went all out. I thought if I could get time from the gun, that would be good,” Walter said of adjusting to the longer day after her blistering time in the prologue. “Catharine [Pendrel] actually led it out today, and was going really hard.”

By the time they hit the Stage’s high point, Walter was on the front. By the finish line, she’d amassed an advantage in excess of eight minutes.

“You always have to manage your effort, but I’m still going to race. For me, there’s no point in holding back, you have to go for it,” Walter said of her strategy this week. “Anything can happen. If I get a mechanical I could lose a lot of time. You want to make sure you have a buffer.”

Sandra Walter - Goal in sight.
Chloe Cross
Catharine Pendrel sending

Walter’s back at BC Bike Race for the first time in a decade. The Coquitlam rider first contested the third edition back in 2009 in the mixed team category. That year, Pendrel won the women’s race with Lun Chix teammate Katerina Nash. A lot has changed in the decade since. Stages are shorter and much more singletrack-heavy.

bigquotesHonestly, I’ve been looking forward to this all season. It’s my reward.Sandra Walter

“In my personal view, it’s more fun than suffering through longer distances,” Walter said of the change. The Canadian chose BCBR to end her season on. “Honestly, I’ve been looking forward to this all season. It’s my reward. I love racing World Cups, but it takes a lot of effort and mental energy. Racing this, is a celebration of my season. I’m trying to be more relaxed about it, but I still want to win.”
Chloe Cross lands her first BCBR podium of 2022, in third. But Lauren Cantwell and Amity Rockwell followed, spaced out a minute apart each setting up a solid battle for podium positions.

A new leader emerged in the men’s competition. After finishing two seconds behind Luke Vrouwenvelder in Friday’s Prologe, Canadian national champion Peter Disera went on the attack early on Stage 1. The Norco rider crested the first major climb alone, off the front, and never looked back. By the finish line, Disera had 1:31 over the next closest rider.

Peter Disera heading for the W.
Luke Vrouwenvelder and Rob Britton battling it out.
Carter Nieuwesteeg pointing it down.

Vrouwenvelder made a sharp pass down a rock roll to get ahead of World Tour road racer-turned-mountain biker Rob Britton, using the clear trail to solidify his second place on the day. Britton held off a hard charging Carter Nieuwesteeg for the second climb, but couldn’t keep him behind on the high speed descent to the finish. Nieuwesteeg, a Fernie, B.C. local, crushed the final descent to close to within 30 seconds of Vrouwenvelder, taking third on the day. Britton finished fourth with BCBR veteran Geoff Kabush lurking not far behind in sixth.

After two solid days on Kelowna’s singletrack, BC Bike Race says farewell to Crawford and moves on to Salmon Arm. Stage 2 is set to be a proper epic and one of two Queen stages this week. It could also be one of the longest days in BC Bike Race’s 16 year history. 52 km of racing, and a staggering 2,000m of climbing, await racers in the South Canoe, Larch Hills and Rubberhead Trails.

Open Women’s Results

1st. Sandra Walter - 2:18:23
2nd. Catharine Pendrel - 2:25:41
3rd. Chloe Cross - 2:25:47

Open Men’s Results

1st. Peter Disera - 1:52:30
2nd. Luke Vrouwenvelder - 1:54:12
3rd. Carter Nieuwesteeg - 1:54:42

Volunteers crushing it at the aid stations.
Tough to decide with a selection like this.

See you tomorrow!


MENTIONS: Dave Silver / Chris Stenberg / BC Bike Race

Author Info:
BCBR avatar

Member since Nov 3, 2011
148 articles

  • 11 0
 I participated in 2018, there were lots of XC bikes, FS\HT, including my own scalpel, no hiking was required on my part. Keep in mind the 10,000m total climb during the week, the bike should be capable to handle both directions.
Extremely recommended, fun and well organized event if you like the technical stuff.
  • 5 0
 I rode (not raced ) BCBR in 2017 on a ‘14 Giant Trance which was probably the ideal bike (although the North Shore stage would’ve benefited from another couple inches travel!)

The course that year could’ve been custom made for me, it was just amazing. I’m a reasonable rider and it pushed my limits at times but never got too techy, it was more about flow. I had to get off a couple of times for steep features that looked beyond me. My abiding memory was of the sheer grip available in that BC dirt. Not like the UK
  • 7 1
 The Okanagan trails are not known for their sheer grip… lol. Salmon Arm and the Apex stage will have great dirt, but any lower in the valley and you can expect loose and dusty, with plenty of rock. If it rains though… the dirt turns to Velcro.
  • 4 0
 @letsgoridebikes18: The Okanagan, especially Kal park and Ellison and Sovereign can be prime dirt in the fall! As a local, I can confirm this is true.
  • 1 0
 @prmtb04: I haven’t ridden there, to be fair. Things further south of you are suuuuuper dry right now. With a bit of rain things can improve quickly though! Unfortunately it looks like it’s going to be dry this week.
  • 1 0
 @letsgoridebikes18: two wheel drifts till it hooks again. That’s Kelowna.
  • 1 0
 @mikedk: do you even drift bro? Penticton is the same right now!
  • 1 0
 @letsgoridebikes18: Ya. I wasn't sure what part of the Okanagan you were referring to as you didn't specify. The rain is definitely helping with the dust!
  • 6 0
 Would love to see some bike checks!
  • 8 0
 We need Chapetta and Tom to do a 'daily drivers of the BCBR'
  • 2 1
 Just out of curiosity:
How good would you have to be to ride those trails on a 2016 Rocky Mountain Vertex (rather oldschool xc-geometry hardtail, 70.5° hta) without having to get off and hike down the descents? Is that possible for an average rider, or do you need something more descend-focussed, to not die on the downhills? Smile
  • 8 0
 I have no dog in this fight as I'm not you and it's unlikely I'll ever be in shape enough to race BCBR, but I would say if you're entering to test yourself and not the podium: run what you brung. You wouldn't be the only hardtail, and those trails have likely been raced on worse bikes than yours. If you have the engine and can make the entry, get it done...as the comments always say, it's the rider, not the bike.
  • 3 0
 You'll be fine. I would just watch as many BCBR videos as you can and ride trails that you can reach locally that have similar levels of features/tech so you get to practice on that bike. If you are feeling it you can most likely drop a Works Component angle adjust headset into that bike and make it a bit slacker should you want to tweak the geo. My other advice is don't go too race-y on the tires. You want to feel confident. If you are feeling sketchy you'll be slower even though you are running faster rubber.
  • 8 0

Todays race was rode on trails that where all built in the 90’s you would be fine on your Rocky Mountain. Rode ever single one of those trails on a 1998 Rocky Mountain Hammer.
  • 3 1
 @drifter: Completely unrelated, I got my first "real" mountain bike back in 1988, a Rocky Mountain Fusion (when the Fusion was considered a real, usable mountain bike, u-brake, rigid and all) in the teal w/white fork. Always wanted a Hammer Race. RM was the schiznizzle back then for me.
  • 2 0
 Thanks for the answers Smile
It’s not like I‘m going to enter in the foreseeable future (I‘m just a university student from europe, I‘m not flying around half of the world…and surely not with my bike), I was only curious
  • 5 0
 @lejake: Well, that's disappointing. I think your use of "out of curiosity" coupled with some specific questions and a happy face led several of us to more enthusiastic conclusions for you.

Enjoy your local trails on your perfectly fine mountain bike.
  • 2 0
 Have ridden here for over two decades on ALL sorts of bikes and always had a blast. If that’s the bike you are accustomed to then, as the saying goes ‘ run what ya brung’.
  • 3 1
 I wonder how the crowds are in the Okanagan for these compared to the coast. And why they made the change?
  • 4 1
 Considering the sh!tshow BC Ferries has become, with delayed and/or cancelled sailings, I'd put my money on that being the single biggest contributing factor. Also, a change of scenery would be welcome for the numerous returning entrants.
  • 2 0
 trails were in all-time conditions

  • 1 0
 Have had some patches of rain recently but ya, it’s still dry out there.
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