PACIFIC TRAVERSE: STAGE 7

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B.C. Bike Race: The Pacific Traverse
Stage 7: Whistler Time Trial

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On yet another glorious sun-splashed day in British Columbia, the inaugural BC Bike Race: The Pacific Traverse came to an end on July 7, 2007.

Once again top stage honors went to the Trek-Volkswagen duo of Chris Eatough and Jeff Schalk, who after zipping along at 100kph on a Skyline cable ride, zipped around the singletrack-laden Whistler time trial course in 1:29:51.

It was their seventh straight stage win, giving the pair of American east coasters a clean sweep in this race that started a week ago in Sooke on Vancouver Island, and finished Saturday in the shadows of the towering Coastal Mountain Range.

Hot on their heels was Rocky Mountain-Haywood Securities (Andreas Hestler and Kevin Calhoun), who clocked a 1:37:29 on the course that featured famed technical Whistler cross-country trails such as Kill Me Thrill Me, North Secret, Zappa and Comfortably Numb.

Third place on the day went to Jason First and Manuel Prado (La Ruta de los Conquistadores), who crossed the line in 1:39:44.

The order of results were the same in the men’s overall standings, with Trek posting a cumulative time of 25:02:50, Rocky Mountain carding a 25:45:03, and La Ruta rolling home in 26:28:52.

“If we had all been racing solo, maybe it would have been different,” said Hestler, who did double duty all week, racing and filling his role as race spokesperson. “But that’s not what this race is about. It’s a team event and it will always be a team event.”

In the women’s two-person category, Team North Shore Girls Don’t Cry (Cynthia Young and Michelle Newton) scored their sixth stage win, stopping the clock in 2:32:33. The North Shore Girls also won the overall title, with a cumulative time of 35:19:15.

“We thought we could get on the podium, but we didn’t come here thinking about winning,” said Newton, a homeopath and mother of three. “We spent 55 minutes on the side of the trail with a mechanical on stage 5, but came back and only ended up losing 17 minutes. Just to finish all seven days is an amazing accomplishment.”

Second place overall in the women’s category was locked down by the two Jenns, Keefer and Sawrenko (The Jennerators) who finished with a cumulative mark of 36:31:03. Team Tunnel Vision (Emma Smith and Sarah O’Byrne) were third overall, in 37:52:26. Smith and O’Byrne met last summer in Whistler, the same time they both started mountain biking.

“It took us a few stages to learn how to work together,” admitted O’Byrne. “But we figured it out. We were constantly just asking each other, ‘You good?’ and if the other person didn’t answer you knew there was a problem. Thankfully that didn’t happen very often.”

Stage 7’s mixed category win went to Team BC’s Lesley Clements and Matt Bodkin, who wound their way around the technical Grant Lamont-designed course in 2:11:45.

In the mixed overall there was a big shake-up at the top, after the previously unbeaten duo of David Harris and Lynda Wallenfels had to drop out when Harris tumbled off a bridge, smacked his head and injured his ankle. Harris was briefly knocked unconscious, and was taken off the course on a backboard as a precautionary measure.

But later in the day, the Durango, Colorado rider was spotted at the Meadow Park Base Camp, and outside of an unexpected ambulance bill, he said he was feeling okay and would definitely live to ride another day.

Harris’ mishap opened the door for Team Crystal Mountain Hotels (Hillary Harrison and Ryan Watts) who jumped from first to second overall, posting a seven-day time of 32:16:20. Second place went to Clements and Bodkin (33:50:36), with San Diego Trek’s Greg Norombaba and Lisa Riehl in third (35:14:01).

In the veterans 80-plus category it was Rod Dagneau and Mike Charuk (West Coast Racing to Team Whistler) taking the stage in 1:48:56. The pair of locals was second overall (29:14:25), with first going to Randy Richmond and Sandy Mitchell (Gerick-Nelson) who covered the 500-plus kilometer trek in 28:38:35. Third in the 80-plus was Team Spike Shooter (David Overstreet and Mark Thompson) in 29:57:05.

The final stage win went to the dominant duo of Doug Nottebrock and Con Diamond (Kootenay-Okanagan Cooperative) who finished the Whistler TT in 2:35:11, and had a seven-day time of 34:53:55. Second in the stage and overall went to the only other official 100-plus finishers, Clive Rubens and Leo Groenewoud (Geopsyclos). Their cumulative time was 45:09:32.

Overall, 69 two-person teams completed all seven stages of the first BC Bike Race. There were also two four-person squads that made it all the way to Whistler, plus six solo finishers who lost teammates to injuries or illness somewhere along the way.

Possibly the most impressive feat of all was turned in by the husband and wife duo of Jochen and Diane Faber. The couple drove more than 2000 miles from Ann Arbor, Michigan, then battled hard everyday on their way to an honorable seven-day total of 50:13:36. It was the slowest mark of any official finisher — and more than double Trek-VW’s time — but maybe that means they had twice the fun.

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