Check Out: BC Bike Race Edition

Jul 12, 2023 at 17:02
by Mike Kazimer  

Last week I travelled to Vancouver Island, British Columbia, for the BC Bike Race. For those who aren't familiar, the BCBR is a week-long stage race, where riders take on a different cross-country course each day. This year, the race days were in the 20 mile range, with 2,500 to 4,000 vertical feet of elevation gain. Those numbers aren't as large as they were in some of the race's previous years, so the actual time on the bike was a little shorter, but the pace was that much higher.

In preparation for the race I gathered up a smattering of components and apparel that was a little different from what I typically wear out on the trail. The knee pads were left behind, I found a helmet without a visor, and an Orbea Oiz was called in for race duty. I can't show the full bike quite yet, since there are a few components that haven't been launched - the race also served as a chance to get in some additional testing time.

With minimal preparation other than just riding my bike a lot, I put on most of the items mentioned below and headed out for a week of racing against 600 other mostly spandex-clad riders.

Fox FlexAir Ascent Shorts & Jersey

This is my "Is it lunchtime yet? look.



Ascent Shorts
• TruDri fabrics
• Ratcheting waist closure
• 9.75" inseam
• Colors: black, dirt brown, blue, nutmeg brown
• Sizes: 28 - 40
• $119.95 USD
Ascent Jersey
• Colors: black, slate blue, cordovan red
• Sizes: S, M, L, XL, 2X
• Recycled polyester fabric
• $69.95 USD

bigquotesFull spandex is the preferred costume for the BC Bike Race, but my days of donning a skinsuit are well in the past, even more so since I stopped wearing a chamois. Still, I didn't want to stand out too much, so I went with Fox's new FlexAir Ascent Shorts. With a 9.75” inseam these are very short shorts, and they're definitely designed to be worn without knee pads.

The material is light and quick drying (I wore the same pair all week, rinsing them off occasionally and letting them dry in the sun so they'd be ready for the next day), and the ratcheting buckle means there's no velcro to wear out. A small pocket on the right side has just enough room for a phone, and that's about it. I don't have any complaints about the fit – the shorts are snug where they should be while still providing enough freedom of movement to avoid any unwanted constriction.

On some of the days I paired the shorts with Fox's FlexAir Ascent jersey. Once again, a snug fit and lightweight material is the name of the game here. There were some seriously hot race days (at least for the Pacific Northwest), and even when it was soaked with sweat the fabric remained comfortable. The only small grip I have about the jersey is that it's so tight that getting it off can be a bit of a struggle, sort of like removing a wetsuit.

Overall, Fox's Ascent collection makes a lot of sense for riders heading out for XC or gravel adventures that don't want to go the full spando route, and who also don't want to look like they just finished taking laps in the bike park.

Sweet Protection Memento Rig Sunglasses




• Multiple frame and lens options
• Sweet Protection RIG lens technology
• Includes hard case, microbag, 3 nose pieces
• Weight: 32 grams
• $130 USD

bigquotesConditions were extra dry for the entire race, and most days involved a fair bit of riding semi-blind through clouds of dust. I typically bring clear glasses with me on rides, sticking them in my helmet for the climbs and then donning them for the descents, but I decided to take a little different route for the race, since I'd be riding with large groups of riders and wouldn't have as many chances to fuss with my glasses.

I went with Sweet Protection's Memento Rig glasses due to their large amount of coverage and the moderate lens tint – that meant I could I could keep them on in the trees, and still have some protection from the harsh light reflecting off the logging roads snaking through clear cuts.

The Memento glasses did a great job of keeping dust and other debris out of my eyes, and the optics were excellent. I did struggle at times when the sweat off my forehead would drip onto the lens. On some of the days I did a pretty good job at keeping the lenses smear-free, but there were a few occasions when I just gave up and stuck them into my helmet. That's more of a testament to the conditions rather than a mark against the glasses – for more normal rides, once where you're not constantly trying to go as fast as possible, getting sweat on the lens will be less of an issue.

The price isn't exorbitant either, at least compared to other high-end sport sunglasses in this category. 

Rab Cinder Phantom Jacket




• Pertex Shield waterproof / breathable fabric
• Tailored bike fit
• Under helmet hood
• Weight: 92 grams
• $225 USD

bigquotesIt didn't rain at all during the BCBR, not even a little bit. Personally, I would have rather had grey, rainy conditions instead of sweating away under a blazing sun, but I'm still working on figuring out how to control the weather. In any case, the Rab Cinder Phantom jacket that I brought along remained in my duffle bag for the whole week. The reason the Rab earned a spot in my bag is its light weight (it's only 92 grams) and ability to pack down to the size of a tennis ball.

I may not have used the jacket during the race, but I was able to get out on a bunch of rainy rides with it beforehand. As a just-in-case layer, something to wear when the weather can't make up its mind, the Cinder Phantom is excellent. It's waterproof and quite breathable, although, like all rain jackets, it will eventually start getting saturated if it's raining hard and you're working even harder. Still, for riders in the Pacific Northwest or similar climates I'd say it's an ideal layer - it barely takes up any room, and work well when it's needed. The fit was designed with biking in mind, which means the arms and back are a little longer to keep the jacket from riding up. The hood fits well underneath a helmet, and a small carrying sack is included that can be used to attach the jacket to your frame or handlebar.

Fizik Vento Ferox Carbon Shoes




• Woven mesh over a PU laminated upper
• Li2 Boa dial
• X1 carbon outsole
• Sizes: 36 - 48
• $299.95 USD

bigquotesMight as well finish things off with some fancy purple shoes, right? The Vento Ferox Carbon's are Fizik's stiffest MTB or gravel shoes, with a stiffness rating of 10 out of 10.

I'm usually a size 45 for most cycling shoes, but if I had to do it again I'd probably go down a ½ size with the Vento's. My feet weren't swimming, but the fit was a little roomier than I would have preferred around my toes. As always, it's best to try a pair on before you buy them. Luckily the large velcro strap and Boa closure make it possible to really lock things down, keeping my feet securely in place even with that extra room. The width of the rest of the shoe was ideal, close-fitting without being uncomfortable.

I'd put the Vento's into the 'seriously stiff' category – there's minimal flex from the carbon plate underfoot, ensuring that there's no power lost while pedaling. That stiffness does create some heel lift when walking, but realistically most XC riders aren't going to be spending much time trouncing around off the bike. If it does become necessary to walk, the sole provides a decent amount of grip, at least for this style of shoe. Again, they're made for bike not hiking.

There's something to be said about equipment that makes you feel fast, and the Vento shoes certainly tick that box - they're a very good option for riders looking for a high-end, well constructed cross-country shoe.


Title image: Margus Riga. Action shot: Dave Silver

Author Info:
mikekazimer avatar

Member since Feb 1, 2009
1,697 articles

  • 56 9
 Cue all the people whining about price and claims that $10 safety glasses are the best thing they have ever used for eye protection. Sweet kit Kaz, hope you liked our trail ls in cumby!
  • 28 2
 Dude bro! You know Home Depot has a special right now on safety glasses AND work gloves that aren't great for riding but cost half as much as the tubolito I strap to my enduro bike that I'll probably never use.
  • 16 26
flag ksilvey10 (Jul 13, 2023 at 13:38) (Below Threshold)
 Until it ceases to be true, there's no reason not to say it
  • 78 1
 @tbubier: I only use oven mitts for riding that I get at the dollar store and I put saran wrap over my eyes for protection.

-every cheap jackass on PB
  • 7 11
flag iamamodel (Jul 14, 2023 at 4:03) (Below Threshold)
 We looked at my bike spending only last night. Nearly $20k AUD over the last two years on a new enduro bike, a new xc bike, the latter's carbon wheels, abd other upgrades and consumables...

...and about $20 on a six pack of DeWalt safety glasses. I'm not cheap; just smart.
  • 10 0

Wish I could afford DeWalt....I could only go for the Black and Decker
  • 1 0
 @enis: PowerFist - you practically wear them for free!
  • 31 0
 I'm very much down with the shorter length shorts. The past-the-knee offerings make me feel like a Juggalo. Give me that Larry Bird fit!
  • 3 0
 That short, you made need Abba playing on your Walkman.
  • 1 0
 @omegalung: Not everyone is a bipedal giraffe
  • 1 1
 Juggalo - bout lost my beverage on that one. Watch out man, they'll come after you for that! For full on Juggalo laughs tho, check out their mindblowing world-of-wonder "Miracles" video.

"Mag-nets... how does dey work???" That's a quote. Powerful stuff here man, powerful stuff...
  • 1 0
 Whoop whoop! Do some Whippits and ride.
  • 25 0
 How did you do in the race Kaz?

Also you know Levy is really gone when Kaz is the XC racer on the PB staff.
  • 59 0
 @FatTonyNJ, I finished 40th. There were so many fast riders out there - it was really fun trying to remember how to race XC again.
  • 8 1
 @mikekazimer: did you race the spur?
  • 10 0
 @Nickledime69: yea, let's get a bike check
  • 15 0
 @Nickledime69: Second paragraph says he didn't. Also says why there's no bike check.
  • 3 0
 @Nickledime69: Right at the beginning of the article " Orbea Oiz was called in for race duty."
  • 9 0
 @rarerider: damn, y’all read the article? I got distracted by schoolboy Kaz in the first pic
  • 3 2
 wtf I didn't know he was gone. Frown
  • 6 0
 @mikekazimer: outstanding result
  • 3 0
 @arcatern: it’s deeply speculative at this point still
  • 1 0
 @Grady-Harris: He's still on the masthead, for what that's worth.
  • 1 0
 @mikekazimer: nice result dude!
  • 4 0
 Levy isn't gone. He is tied up at Pivot designing the Grim Donut 3 so that it can debut and win at hardline.
  • 1 0
 @mikekazimer: 40th is a great result! What happened to Levy, I thought he was entered too??
  • 1 0
 @mikekazimer: no chamois? So...what do you have on under a set of plastic shorts to ride 20 miles a day for that long?
  • 1 0
 @mikekazimer: Congrats!
  • 2 0
 @blowmyfuse, synthetic boxer briefs from SAXX or Knobby.
  • 1 0
 @mikekazimer: you want me to google "Knobby underwear"?

This has got to be a trick.
  • 1 0
 @mikekazimer: Congrats! You were a sight to behold on the techy climbs, must have been the shoes ;-)
  • 17 1
 Ratchet buckles on clothing seems excessive to me.
  • 6 0
 I find that velcro waist adjusters lose their grip before the rest of the shorts wear out, plus velcro damages anything delicate that's in the washing machine at the same time. So I'd certainly take shorts with a ratchet, all else being equal
  • 14 1
 The gear probably looks a lot better in motion, but I feel for models who have to stand there in Resting Dork Bod for the photos.
  • 1 0
 The boring designs and terrible colour coordination won't get better in motion though.
  • 7 0
 Its lycra not spandex and they are cooler than baggies once your moving. I look like 20lbs of potatoes in a 10 pound sack racing xc and gravel riding in them bit at least im not overheating. Also looks weird wearing a roadie high flow helmet with baggies too.
  • 1 0
 Baggies = peaked helmet. Hard to find decent XC helmets with a peak these days.
  • 36 29
 These prices are almost as disgusting as the products themselves.
  • 4 2
 prices are disgusting, 300 hunch for a plastic cover that will be destroyed if you fall. Besides the fact that all that plastic is so bad compared to what basic wool feels like.
  • 7 0
 $7000 + for a mountain bike is disgusting, but here we are.
  • 3 0
 @kwl1: I guess it's not the bike industry's fault for the fact that our dollar is now worth less than used toilet paper
  • 1 0
 @sdaly: I don't know where you shop, but the where I shop I don't think they'd take used toilet paper to pay for a purchase. But then again, I don't think I'd try.
  • 6 0
 It’s always lunch time somewhere
  • 1 0
 I just picked these shorts up for gravel riding 3 weeks ago and they're literally the best fitting shorts I've ever worn, period. And I mean all shorts, not just bike shorts. I think properly tailored is a good way to describe them. They're not straight cut. Not skin tight, but just loose enough to not be a lycra power ranger if that's not your jam. Photos don't do them justice. Fit and that unique fabric are easily worth that coin. Zipper pockets and adjustable waist is perfect. Well done Fox design team.
  • 2 0
 These clothes look great, quite subtle looking.
These would be perfect for me. I want to race but i don’t want to look like a racer.
  • 1 0
 There's nothing subtle about mismatching colours so badly. Dirt shorts, dull blue, and purple tinted glasses?
  • 3 0
 Trying out a new SID perhaps?
  • 1 0
 You put down some seriously impressive times! I was a couple hundred spots behind you but still having a great time! Totally blown away by the speed at the front of the race.
  • 3 1
 The Fox shorts are at least a reasonable (ish) price.
  • 4 3
 You look like a geography teacher who cycles to work.
  • 1 0
 Over the line, man, over the line!
  • 9 0
 I was thinking more like Calvin's dad, from the Calvin & Hobbes comics.
  • 1 0
 Those shoes remind me of the Nike NGUBA's from the 90's
  • 1 0
 nice work
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