What a great experience racing the BC Epic 1000! Thanks to Lennard Pretorius for putting together such an amazing route through central BC. This race brought some new challenges I had never faced before. The Monday before the race start on Saturday, June 24th, 2017, I started to feel a sick feeling in the back of my throat. Not a nervous feeling, but an actual cold or something. I tried to ignore it and take some extra vitamins, but I was getting sicker and sicker as the week went on. Being my stubborn self, this had no influence whether I was going to start the race. I was going to ride no matter what.
I planned as usual and got my gear ready for the race. I rode my single speed Kona Unit and picked a bit harder gear ratio of 34:18 due to the trail being mostly on rail grades. This worked out really well. I was able to keep a decent cadence on most of the climbs and still have a decent spinning speed on the flatter sections. I made sure I had my Mike Hall bracelet strapped on my seat bag as a tribute to his legacy.
BC Epic 1000: Day 1
Merritt to outside of Penticton
Daily distance: 256 km (159 mi)
Riding Time: 16h
Standing: 2nd place
The whole family drove down to Merritt for the start. We got to Rotary Park about an hour before the start and I began putting my bags on my bike. With the group photo, small chat with the reporter from the local paper, I was scrambling a bit to be ready on time. I had just enough time to chug back my coffee from McDonalds and packed my BLT bagel for later. In my haste, I forgot my cheap little lock on the bumper of the Pilot. We rolled out of town and before I knew it we were racing. The start was on pavement and I was able to keep a decent pace near the front of the pack. The sore throat I had didn’t seem to be much of a factor at this point.
|Neutral start out of Merritt|
I started getting into the habit of following the rider in front of me and then I saw him turn around. We both went off route a little bit. Not too far, but our turn around resulted in us being in the last group of riders. Then the gravel started. I rode with Dace for a while on the gravel and I was glad I did. There was one section where we had to push our bikes up the side of a ditch to continue on course. He was familiar with this so he was helping me with where to go. We settled into a nice pace and that’s when the ride really felt like the race started. Nice, steady gravel for miles. The day started getting hotter and I started thinking about when I needed to stop. Coalmont came into view, but the General Store looked like it was closed. I was about to ride on, but noticed I was out of water. I circled back and found a post office where I could fill up. Dace rolled up and I said we could get water here. While he was in the process of purchasing a pop, I packed up and kept rolling. My throat felt dry and I was losing my voice a bit, but I didn’t feel too bad. Maybe being sick wouldn’t be too much of a factor…I hope.
Before I knew it I was in Princeton. I just filled up with water so I was debating stopping. Then I saw a few bikes at the Subway. This was my chance to pass a few riders so I kept rolling through town. There was a steady climb out of town so I started grinding up the hill. Lennard rolled up, we chatted a bit, and then he started pulling away. The temperature started to get hotter and I started to run out of water. My desire to not stop resulted in the bad decision of passing by some surface water sources without filling up. I thought the Osprey Lake campground would have some water…nope. Before I knew it I was out of water and getting thirsty. I ran into Lennard and Ken and they just got some trail magic in the form of water so Lennard shared one bottle with me. I was incredibly thankful, but could not remember if I actually said thanks. That bugged me for a few days so I made sure I thanked him at the end of the race.
I kept grinding away slowly up the hill looking for a water source. Most of the time when I heard water, it was at the bottom of a steep slope. Then I found a nice rushing stream at the side of the trail. I finished my BLT bagel from the morning, washed up a bit and filled up with water. Now I had to wait 30min for the water purification tablets to work. Thirsty!! That water was great after the wait!
|Decommissioned rail trail|
The descent into Penticton was nice and smooth. I tried to keep eating and drinking lots as the town came into view. As I passed through Summerland, I even got a few cheers from a car. Nice morale boost! I came into Penticton and started riding through town. The route passed through some sort of festival so there were people and cars everywhere. It was a huge party zone. The road was pretty busy so I thought there should be a gas station up ahead. I climbed a steep hill and it looked like I was on my way out of town. I asked a guy on the street if there was a gas station up ahead – nope. Lennard pulled up and let me know that the best resupply was right at the start of town. Route knowledge certainly helps! I resigned myself to backtracking to the store and letting Lennard ride on. I croaked a goodbye (started losing my voice) and headed back into town. After resupply, spotting an Elvis getting some snacks, and riding through town again, I started climbing the hill out of Penticton at sunset. This was a start of a strange climb. It seemed secluded, then a car would drive by, and then another. Then I was riding through a crowd of happy drunks carrying coolers. Then there were other very happy (drunk or something else) cyclists riding toward me down the hill. I ran into Ken and we rode together for a short while until he decided to camp close to a picnic table and outhouse. I kept riding for a while and stopped about 11:30pm and set up camp behind a rock outcropping just off the trail. Just as I got comfy in my bivy, another group of very happy cyclists came coasting down the hill. I laid quietly as they loudly organised themselves and chose their playlist for the ride down the hill. Where were these cyclists coming from? My cough was getting worse so I dozed off between coughing fits into a nice sleep.
|Sunset in Penticton|