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BC Bike Race is seven days for a reason. All seven days matter. Anything can happen in stage racing, on any day. From Geoff Kabush’s flat tire in the Prologue to the wild drama of Stage 7, being at the top of a podium after a week racing on technical B.C. singletrack requires a rare mix of skill, endurance and, to be honest, a bit of luck.

In the top 10 alone, Sunday’s grand finale in Cumberland saw race leader Maghalie Rochette, Catharine Pendrel, Carter Nieuwesteeg and Cody Cupp get serious flats while Cory Wallace had a run in with a tree and Evelyn Dong struggled to race through some stomach issues. The Ultimate Singletrack Experience is a test of bodies and bikes and few roll through the week unscathed.

While some racer’s luck ran out in Cumberland, others were just rolling into form. Haley Smith, Hannah Simms and Tyler Clark were all building momentum right up until the final day. Changing terrain met with changing fortunes, good days and bad days, to make this one of the most thrilling BC Bike Races to date.

Sean Fincham celebrates a big week of battling with a stacked pro men’s field

Men’s race 

Two riders that thrived on Vancouver Island’s singletrack were Sean Fincham and Andrew L’Esperance. The pair are teammates on Maxxis Factory Racing and, after a strong challenge from Tyler Clark on Stage 7, finished 1-2 in the 2024 BC Bike Race.

Sean Fincham, in his first BC Bike Race, earned the stage win in Cumberland, two days after crossing the finish line alongside L’Esperance in the same town. A late kick into the final descent created some separation, though L’Espy pulled back time to finish just 5.9 seconds back. After seven days of racing, only 38 seconds separate the two.

The Maxxis duo led most of the week, but it sure wasn’t easy

Tyler Clark fought to stay with the leaders every single day.

Geoff Kabush fought hard, but came up 11 seconds short of a top five finish

“It was a good week. A hard week for sure. L’Espy didn’t make it easy. Every day we just pushed each other to the limit. There was just nothing into it the whole week. I managed to get a couple seconds here or there, but it felt like we were so evenly matched so it was kind of cool to battle all the way to the last day.”

The two weren’t just fast. They were two of the rare few to escape the week without a bad day or bad mechanical luck.

“Yeah, there were no problems for L’Espy or I, which is pretty amazing. We’re riding the line of going fast but also trying to manage the equipment each day. You’re not on a trail bike, so you can’t just smash. You gotta be careful.”

Maghalie Rochette went out hard in Cumberland

A most dramatic finale

This year’s women’s pro field brought significant depth to the 2024 BC Bike Race, and the exciting racing that follows. After constant lead changes all week, Sunday’s finale in Cumberland was as grand and dramatic as the rest of the week.

Maghalie Rochette flew out on the attack early on, putting pressure on Evelyn Dong and the rest of the field to respond. The Canyon racer only worked her way back into the leader’s jersey on Day 6 after a flat tire in Nanaimo on Day 4.

“The last few days I was trying to make up time that I’d lost. Today I had a minute and a half lead but I knew Evelyn would be charging and knew this was maybe not enough. So I started really fast again. I thought I’d try increase the gap as much as I could to have a buffer.”

That proved to be a wise strategy. As Rochette rocketed down That Dam Trail, she again had that sinking feeling of a tire going flat, before coming fully off the rim.

“At 5 km to go, I thought, Ok, now I can just ride easy. As I thought that, “ping” there goes my wheel. I tried to fix it, and it worked for a km, and I tried again and it worked for another km. But it wasn’t working. Then, with 2km, my husband caught up again and said “What the fuck, again?” and offered his wheel. I wasn’t sure what to do , to be honest, but I took it. In the end, the results say I have the overall, but I don’t know how I feel about it. It’s within the rules, it’s legit to take a wheel from someone else, but I know it influenced the result.”

Evelyn Dong, who was enjoying a beverage with the two of them in the shade of the Vancouver Island Brewing beer garden when they were interrupted for an interview, was quick to jump in, saying “I fully support it.” Since her husband is racing, usually riding in the mid-20s in the men’s field, it doesn’t count as external support and is within the rules. The Canadian, though, found BCBR delivered an experience that transcended the specifics of a results sheet.

A dramatic end takes its physical and emotional toll

Haley Smith earns her first stage win of 2024 BC Bike Race

“To me, I loved the riding, I enjoyed the challenge of fighting for this overall spot with Evelyn all week,” Rochette adds. “At the end of the week, that’s all that counts. It was a really fun battle and a really fun race.”

When Rochette did flat, the first rider to fly past was a resurgent Haley Smith. After a hard day in Cumberland on Day 5, the Canadian marathon national champion was on the move in the finale. Smith takes the final stage win of this year’s BC Bike Race and, with that, cements her third overall in the pro women’s race.

Rochette, it turns out, needn’t have attacked the stage so hard. Her challenger for the overall, Evelyn Dong, spent Sunday fighting through the after effects of food poisoning.

“Yeah, I had a little bit of a rough night. But you know, everyone’s run down at the end of a stage race. This shit happens. So I just gave it a good shot. “

The U.S. racer fought admirably to finish fifth,  just 95 seconds behind Rochette. How did the veteran Juliana racer manage illness alongside seven days of fatigue?

“Ooh, I didn’t have much of a strategy. Warming up I knew couldn’t go at all. I tried to hang in off the start and once I knew I wasn’t going to be able to even hang on the road, i just backed off and tried to ride my pace.”

A hard fought week, but respect between competitors

Hannah Simms earned a stage podium in Cumberland

With the two leader’s working through rough days on the iconic Cumberland trails, the door was left open for riders that were fighting to keep up. A resurgent Katerina Nash finished second. Hannah Simms chased Catharine Pendrel catching her on Vanilla and hanging on until Pendrel had a flat of her own. That landed Simms first BC Bike Race stage podium.

“It was super fun to see Catharine for the climb and to catch her on the descent. We had this awesome train the whole way down, it was super flowy and fun, just ripping,” says Simms of riding with the Canadian mountain bike legend. As for feeling strongest at the end of seven grueling days? “I felt weirdly good today. I think I just stayed really consistent.”

Simms has a simple secret to staying strong through to Day 7:

“Recover so hard. Naps were a big thing every day.”

Not surprising Max McCulloch has speed. But it still came down to 0.6 seconds for the Fox Timed Downhill win

Fox Timed Downhill champions come down to the wire: 

2024 saw BC BIke Race bring back a separate, Fox Timed Downhill competition alongside the stage and overall races. Each day, course directors identified the very best, most premiere descent of the day’s racing. Riders were timed on that section and the results tallied up over the week. The results came down to the wire, down to tenths of a second in the men’s race, and champion descenders were crowned.

A champion re-focuses 

On the women’s side, that was Catharine Pendrel. While her flat tire on Day 7 may have cost her a stage result in her battle against Simms, it happened after the epic descent down Mumbo Jumbo, Lost Wood and Blockhead that made up the final Fox Timed Downhill. Pendrel finished the week just 11.3 seconds ahead of iconic gravity racer Tracy Moseley.

Pendrel, who recently retired after a long World Cup XCO career, enjoyed the added challenge of the timed descents. She was also enjoying racing against old teammates and competitors.

“It’s been great. When you decide to come back to racing after retirement you have to be ready for a mental shift that if you’re not training like a pro your’re not going to race like one. It’s been a cool week where I’ve gotten to race at various times with everybody. It’s super nice to be able to ride with Katerina for a couple of days, and to hang with Hannah and Kasey. I’ve just been enjoying getting to race where I’m at. The Timed Downhill adds a fun element where you’re able to race within the race.”

While retirement’s changed Pendrel’s approach to BCBR, a race she won a decade ago as a team of two with this year’s winner, Maghalie Rochette, she admits the competitive edge came creeping back in once out on course.

“It’s very easy for me to turn back into race brain. When you’re a racer, it’s just part of who you are. But at the same time, when you race once or twice a year, you havent’ trained your brain to push hard for all that time, let alone your body. I was happy with how mentally and physically I was able to push this week.”

Pendrel’s flat tire did have a small silver lining. She fixed her flat tire just as her husband Kieth Wilson caught up to her on course.

“We got to ride in together, it was a nice way to finish the week,” says Pendrel, adding that, after following her down the day’s  final descents, Wilson’s first question was “Have you been riding the trails this fast all week?!”

The competitive fires are still burning, it seems.

Cody Cupp also found airtime on Jabberwocky

A fierce battle for local’s bragging rights 

The men’s Fox Timed Downhill racing was even closer. That could be because two Island locals, both extremely accomplished mountain bikers, were fighting for the win all week. In the end, filmmaker and racer Max McCulloch takes the win over XC Olympian Peter Disera.

The difference? Just 0.6 seconds. After seven days of racing, it’s a staggeringly slim margin.

“It came down to the line. I had I think 23 seconds coming into the last day, but Peter Disera was flying all week and I knew he was coming for me. I couldn’t have gone any faster, and he got me by 10 seconds. I don’t know how he did it. I don’t think the guys on enduro bikes when Canadian enduro came through here were riding as fast as he was,” McCulloch adds. Shots fired? “Ha ha, I think it was raining when the enduro was here, yeah,” McCulloch added, backtracking a little. Though he was third at that race, so he should know.

McCulloch’s main focus was the overall, where he targeted a top 10. On the last day, he moved past Carter Nieuwesteeg to take seventh overall behind Canadian mountain bike legend, Geoff Kabush.

“That was the big goal the entire year. I got a coach, Michael van den Ham. It’s always nice to  learn from the best. And it all came together in the end.”

Reconnecting with the love of sport at BC Bike Race

It’s not just the pros vying for leader’s jersey’s at BCBR. In the women’s 40+ winner and former Ironman racer Magali Tisseyre found speed, but she also shared that mountain biking’s helped her reconnect with her love of racing.

“Honestly, when I was in triathlon at the end it was my job and I did it for a long time. When I stopped I was saturated with sport in general and had to take some time off. Mountain biking got me back into it. I need to be having fun, so this was perfect.  And it was hard! It was challenging! It was everything!

Fun also proved to be fast, with Tisseyre claiming the leader’s jersey in the Prologue. Did pulling on the yellow jersey reignite the racing spirit?

“Yeah! I didn’t expect this, it kind of brought back the competitive edge with some fun. It was good for me, the best therapy for a retired athlete.”

Like many, Tisseyre’s first BC BIke Race was still about the experience as much as the result.

“It was so incredible. I discovered so many trails! Usually when you travel you have to explore yourself, you can never get into a flow. I loved it.”

France and Colombia celebrating together

Tomas Misser (yes, that Tomas Misser) and his son Max travelled from Spain and rode together all week

The German Team of 2 quartet were still going strong at the end of the week

Riders from around the world to finding and otherworldly experience 

While the top 10 is often crowded with Canadians and B.C. local pros, riders travel from around the world for the Ultimate Singletrack Experience. For Otto Bolanos, a Specialized ambassador from Mosquera, Colombia, BCBR was an immersion education in technical riding.

“It’s a one week training camp! A beautiful experience. I think it is the best in the world. The BC Bike Race is on another planet!”

Bolanos, who finished 32nd in the pro men’s field, also found Campbell River a favourite stage.

“Climbing and punchy, easy downs. That’s my terrain. My strength.”

One of the many Spanish-speaking racers making the journey from South America and Europe, Bolanos added a few words in his own tongue.

“BC Bike Race es uma experiencia impresionante para nosotros los latinoamericanos amantes Del mtb, es Una immersion total y real a lo que es sin Duda el deporte mas Lindo del Mundo, Los senderos de bc son una locura se nota el Trabajo y el amor que le ponen todos Los que hacen parte de la logistics de lo que es sin Duda una de las majores Carreras Del mundo, vava BCBR THANKS!”

One of 20 Team Mexico racers summarized the BCBR in slightly more blunt terms on the finish line. .

“It’s beautiful! Hellish, but beautiful.”

After two BCBR’s, will he be back for a third?

“Maybe. But maybe ask me tomorrow!”

The hardest of the hard

BC Bike Race is hard no matter whether you are racing for first, fiftieth of four hundredth. But, for some riders, the challenge of finishing the race isn’t enough. Kosei Nakano arrived from Japan armed with a rigid, alloy race bike. Oh yeah, and just one gear. And he biked, and boated, from Vancouver airport to the race start in Victoria.

“I had a really nice time,” Nakano says of the experience, adding, after a new friend rolled by shouting rather emphatic congratulations, “I actually made a lot of friends. Because of this bike!”

A rigid singlespeed presents its own distinct set of challenges. For Nakano, being thrown into the deep end of B.C. gnar during the Prologue’s descent down 90s Jank was a rough start to the week. He persisted, and thrived later in the week. “The best day was Campbell River!”

If you’re wondering, no, Nakano doesn’t have to bike back to Vancouver tomorrow. One of those new friends is driving him to the airport in Burnaby.

2025 BC Bike Super Race Early Bird Registration

If you want to be here, riding and celebrating with us next year, don’t hesitate. Registration for the 2025 BC Bike Race opens Tuesday, July 9 at Noon PST.

Day 7 Results

Open Women
1st. Haley Smith 1:49:25.9
2nd. Katerina Nash 1:50:06.9 (0:41.0)
3rd.  Hannah Simms 1:51:22.5 (+1:56.6)
4th. Maghalie Rochette 1:51:50.7 (+2:24.8)
5th. Evelyn Dong 1:53:25.7 (+3:59.8)

Open Men

1st.  Sean Fincham 1:29:20.3
2nd. Andrew L’Esperance 1:29:26.2 (+0:05.9)
3rd. Tyler Clark 1:29:27.4 (+0:07.1)
4th. Peter Disera 1:30:06.7 (+0:46.4)
5th. Geoff Kabush 1:32:13.0 (+2:52.7)

2024 BC Bike Race: Overall Standings

Open Women
1st. Maghalie Rochette 13:02:51.1
2nd. Evelyn Dong 13:05:54.7 (+3:03.6)
3rd.  Haley Smith 13:14:41.7 (+11:50.6)
4th. Katerina Nash 13:19:57.0 (+17:05.9)
5th. Catharine Pendrel 13:44:27.6 (+41:36.5)

Open Men
1st. Sean Fincham 10:41:53.8
2nd. Andrew L’Esperance 10:42:32.1 (+0:38.3)
3rd. Peter Disera 10:54:05.4 (+12:11.6)
4th. Tyler Clark 10:54:39.4 (+12:45.6)
5th. Quinton Disera 11:10:30.1 (+28:36.3)

Full Results

Fox Timed Downhill Cumberland: Mumbo Jumbo/Lost Wood/Blockhead

1st. Katerina Nash 7:09.8
2nd. Catharine Pendrel 7:19.0
3rd. Evelyn Dong 7:21.5

1st. Peter Disera 6:03.5
2nd. Max McCulloch 6:12.1
3rd. Tyler Clark 6:23.5

Fox Timed Downhill: Overall

1st. Max McCulloch 23:44.7
2nd. Peter Disera 23:45.3 (+0.6)
3rd. Tyler Clark 24:32.4 (+47.7)

1st. Catharine Pendrel 27:35.4
2nd. Tracy Moseley 27:46.7 (+11.3)
3rd. Katerina Nash 27:48.6 (+13.2)