Become a Member

Get access to more than 30 brands, premium video, exclusive content, events, mapping, and more.

Already have an account? Sign In

Become a Member

Get access to more than 30 brands, premium video, exclusive content, events, mapping, and more.

Already have an account? Sign In

Brands

Mountain

A Day in the Life of a BC Bike Race Team

Jason Hill and Peter Butt rolled out of their tent at 6 a.m. to see the sun slowly rising over the snow speckled peaks on the western coast of British Columbia. Hill and Butt — two of the 400 or so riders competing in this year’s BC Bike Race — had endured a restless night in the tent village, situated alongside the beach in the small town of Parksville. The wind howled for most of the night, and Hill, who had forgotten his sleeping bag at his home in Anchorage, Alaska, was using a store-bought fleece liner as a blanket.

Don't miss a moment from Paris-Roubaix and Unbound Gravel, to the Giro d’Italia, Tour de France, Vuelta a España, and everything in between when you join Outside+.

By Fred Dreier

Butt (right) and Jason Hill celebrate another day under their belts at the BC Bike Race.

Butt (right) and Jason Hill celebrate another day under their belts at the BC Bike Race.

Photo:

Jason Hill and Peter Butt rolled out of their tent at 6 a.m. to see the sun slowly rising over the snow speckled peaks on the western coast of British Columbia.

Hill and Butt — two of the 400 or so riders competing in this year’s BC Bike Race — had endured a restless night in the tent village, situated alongside the beach in the small town of Parksville. The wind howled for most of the night, and Hill, who had forgotten his sleeping bag at his home in Anchorage, Alaska, was using a store-bought fleece liner as a blanket.

“I was surprised how many people were already up and getting ready,” Hill said. “People didn’t even need a wakeup call.”

Living in the tent village is how most riders who participate in endurance stage races spend their off-the-bike time. The Cape Epic, TransRockies, Trans Alp Challenge and Trans Germany events all feature traveling tent cities. So does the BC Bike Race, which is running this June 28 through July 4.

Like their fellow riders, Hill and Butt had a lot on their plate before the race even began: breakfast, packing up, delivering bags to the transport trucks and simple bike maintenance, among other chores.

“We tried to get as much stuff done the night before. Fix and wash the bikes, do a bit of packing,” Butt explained. “Some stuff you just have to leave until that morning.”

The third stage headed into a tight section of singletrack early.

The third stage headed into a tight section of singletrack early.

Photo:

The morning of the third stage of the BC Bike Race called for riders to pile into school busses for an hour transport to nearby Cumberland, site of the day’s stage. Butt and Hill found their way into the “B” starting paddock, but the stage start was delayed after local pranksters tore down a number of course markings, forcing race officials to re mark the route.

But when Guns N’ Roses’ “Paradise City” began rolling (the official BCBR starting tune), Hill and Butt shot out of the starting line and began the day’s 70km loop.

Hill and Butt, who know each other from the local racing scene in Anchorage, are similar to many of the riders at this year’s BC Bike Race. Both work full time, race and ride on the weekends and have been looking forward to the event for months. Both men have purchased new mountain bikes within the last two years (from the brand Niner), and both men admit that the decision to sign up for BCBR took a major financial commitment.

The seven-day race across British Columbia is not cheap, after all. Registration costs nearly $2000 per person (depending on the package). Transportation, snacks and bike maintenance add another couple of hundred. Both men estimated they will spend between $2500-$3000 total on the trip.

“I don’t even want to think about what I’m spending,” said Butt, who bought a new bike for the race.

The third day's 70km of trail included plenty of speedy sections.

The third day’s 70km of trail included plenty of speedy sections.

Photo:

Both men were adamant that the race, so far, was worth the cost.

“It’s been killer. Just a ton of fun,” said Hill, who is a professional bike mechanic. “The riding, the swag, the food … it’s all good.”

But while the BC Bike Race tries to market itself as a fun singletrack adventure through coastal Canada — not a suffer fest at the level of Costa Rica’s La Ruta de los Conquistadores or the Cape Epic — Hill and Butt are adamant that the race is not easy. Riding technical singletrack all day, the men said, can be as physically demanding as La Ruta’s endless climbs.

And on the day 2 journey from Nanaimo to Parksville, the riders faced 65 kilometers of technical singletrack.

“I was completely blown just past the second aid station,” Hill said. “I was so tired. My upper body was worked.”

Mutual pain is part of the benefit of riding in a two-man team. Hill said Butt helped him through the rough moment, and the two were able to pace off of each other on a dirt road descent to make it to the finish line.

The teamwork paid off on Day 3, as Butt and Hill sped out of the start, onto a section of doubletrack and into a fast, swooping singletrack descent. The two men paced off each other up the day’s primary obstacle, a 100-foot climb on fireroad, then chased their peers down the ensuing descent. The trail undulated between buff hardpack and tight, rooty singletrack as it plunged further into the semi arid desert, which felt more like Colorado than British Columbia.

Hill and Butt finished the journey in just more than four hours.

At the finish line, the two men had time to swap war stories with their peers, grab some food and a shower. Then they had to seek out an open tent in the village, and get in some bike maintenance. With four days of the BC Bike Race remaining, the two had plenty to do.

Photo Gallery