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Not a Race Review

Deniz Does the BCBR MegaVolt

Words Deniz Merdano
Photos Deniz Merdano - Unless noted
Date Jun 28, 2022
Reading time

Turn It On

BC Bike Race has a long standing reputation for putting on one of the most exciting and demanding races in North America. It's a multi-day event that hops from one amazing trail network to another with 400+ people ready to rip each other's legs off. It's a race for an elite few, a journey for most, and mad survival for some. We are riding in British Columbia after all. It is steep, it's janky, and most often wet, and it demands a special set of skills and fitness to have fun in a Race-like situation.

The Pandemic threw a few proverbial spoke-wrenches into the BCBR's 2020 and 2021 plans. The team has creativity in their blood to make things a little juicier for a wider crowd and now offers 3 different rides through the season; the original BC Bike Race, the BCBR Gravel Explorer, and the Megavolt.

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Event tents are back and bike riders are excited!

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Just like riding your bike, lean in and spot your exit. Photo: Dave Silver, BCBR

2022 BCBR MEGAVOLT

I try to be a spontaneous guy. It's not unusual to set up photoshoots with my fellow NSMBers in the minutes following our phone conversations. I sometimes pick unfamiliar items from the menu, and I love a good last minute road trip. My attendance to BCBR was of a similar nature but a little more annoying.

There hasn't been an opportunity to test an E-bike for me since joining the team at NSMB.com, but a visit to Sea Otter changed that dry spell and I was expecting a beauty of a machine just in time for Megavolt which made a lot of sense. Lets get a new bike for this race and shake it down! There should be plenty of great opportunities for failure and victory.

As it usually happens with any plan you've made and Murphy's opinion of the matter, the bike showed up minus the battery required to operate it at my door. So if you go around asking me If I'll be reviewing the Orbea Wild I borrowed from Obsession Bikes for the event, you'll get a big fat NOPE... But I will tell you if I got along with it after a 3 day E-Bike Loolapalooza.

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A couple of 2022 Orbea Wilds.. Mine, a budget build Large in the back, James Wilson's full Fox Factory build out front. Same Bosch motor and 750Wh batteries.

You are responsible for your own transportation and accommodation for the new generation of BCBR events. I glued myself to James and his 6 person Coleman tent and pitched it next to the touching RV awnings of Dean Payne (founder of BCBR) and Elladee Brown (intro not necessary).

We had a sweet athletes village setup for the 3 days we were Not Racing in the waterfront RV campground of Crofton, BC. Rain was in the forecast and for once they weren't wrong, making the E-Bike tent life a little challenging. Where is the AC plug on my tent wall, man????

That was the first smack on the back of the head for this trip; trying to figure out how to charge a power-hungry bike. I knew we should have brought the 2 strokes. We could have just refuelled and went on with the day out there.

It turns out you can only charge 2 bikes per RV when they are hooked up to a 20A power source. Most E-horses use 4-5A chargers to guzzle up the electro juices. Collectively we had 9 bikes to charge at our camp granados. So we had to get creative. Turns out those Hyundai generators are quiet and do a wicked job charging 2 bikes at a time. What? Did you just charge an Ebike with fossil fuels? F'in Eh we did. It's an electron zoo out there, man.

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Some had it more comfortable than others. I was the others...

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Remember to add generator costs to your cross continent road trips if you are planning to only ride your e-bike.

Not Racing

As we lined up for the first ride of the weekend, we got the talking to from Andreas Hestler. He is an ex-Olympian and was rocking quite the moustache between his sniffer and his talker. A second handlebar if you will. Naturally we listened to what he had to say. I was surrounded by the faces of Elladee Brown, Kelly Sherbinin, Joe Murray, Thomas Vanderham, Fraser Newton, Brian Lopes and Hestler himself..Friends and family alike but all with a pedigree of heavy duty racing under their belts. As I looked further into the crowd of 50, I noticed more diverse shapes and faces. I relaxed a little remembering that this was not a race. We were all here to ride our bikes, on wicked trails in the Cowichan Valley, a pro e-bike trail network that gave us a sampling of Maple and Tzouhalem Mountains.

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"So we'll stop for a couple of photos on the climb, and for some on the descent.. we'll have fun" - The clueless me

As our MC pulled the trigger, there were exactly zero riders who took on the opportunity to get a head start. I looked to my left and right for seniorities to move but they were looking at me like it was a Canadian Standoff... For 5 mins!

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You go, no you go! nooo way.. you go.

This first stage was to be a consistency race, as each one of your 5 laps needed to be as close to one another as possible. Laps were estimated to be 15-16 minutes each through some wicked blue square trails on Maple Mountain. As the gypsy caravan of me and a few others dropped in, our pedalling cadences started increasing rapidly. It was obvious we had no plan and no clue of where we were going. We were just pedalling as hard as we could up the hill on a fire road to the singletrack section. Following Joe Murray on a meat-powered bike is an exorcism on a good day, so being able to keep him in sight on the climb was a great joy. He was still pulling away from me on the similarly-powered Norco Range he was piloting. Even though the E-bike is the great equalizer, he was topping up what the bike could put out to increase his speed.

Not being a huge fan of Turbo/ Boost modes on these machines, I left mine in E-MTB mode that senses power input and caters the power to the chain accordingly. The whole 85Nm would be available I was willing to work for it. The beauty of the E-MTB mode is that the bike behaves more naturally in power delivery.

I'm not racing, you're racing

If you invite 2 racers to a non race, they'll find a way to make it a race. That's pretty much what the recipe was for the weekend. As soon as bikes were charged and the mic was dropped, we sprinted with all our power to take the lead and stay there as long as we could. The second day had 2 stages with a 4-hour charging break in between. The wet and soaked trails of Cowichan were begging for seated pedalling to generate as much traction as possible at the rear wheel. Climbing up what seemed like vertical walls with the 55-pound bike is a mesmerizing feat. The harder we pushed, the faster we climbed and I immediately regretted bringing a camera and keeping my bottle of water in my backpack. Sure there were plenty of opportunities to stop and take a picture and a sip of water. No doubt about that. But I got sucked into a cross-eyed zone of racing all my buddies. Because I was emotionally tricked!

Averaging 165 bpm, this was a full on wrestle with a bear until the bear's power runs out. An hour of max heart rate exercise. I thought e-bikes were supposed to make riding easier. The two stages of the day damn near killed us with the amount of energy it took to finish them. Both were around 25 km or so in length and had about 1200 meters of climbing. The real hero of the day was Lorenzo (fellow with the Cat on his shoulder) as his bike died on the uphill of stage 2, he finished the whole course with his dual-crowned Yeti turned off. Pedalling like a zombie back to the finish corral, he got a cheer from the entire crowd. What a beast!

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There was plenty of mud on bikes and clothes.. but there was also plenty of beers and food at the gravel pit we were gathering in

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The sun managed to show its pretty face every now and then to keep the spirits high. But we were all soaked by the end of the day. Photo: Dave Silver

As we receded to the comfort of our so-called camp grounds, we washed, lubed and checked our bikes. There were indeed casualties. The multiple day rain and hose soaked punishment we were dishing out was killing bikes left and right. There wasn't a clear winner as to which bike and motor system was superior but The Bosch-equipped Orbea Wild I was on didn't skip a beat. CushCore front and back at 15psi in the 2.6" Minions, resin brake pads, non Grip2 dampers and all; the bike lived and prospered.

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A sneaky drop that could have ended badly, but worked out quite nice. Photo: Dave Silver

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Some sort of heavy duty tire insert is a mandatory E-Bike upgrade. CushCore Pro, in this one. Photo: Dave Silver

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Crofton, BC

It was a unique experience racing but not racing e-bikes in Crofton. Once a mining town now survived by a pulp mill and a ferry terminal that connects Salt Spring Island to civilization. We felt like strangers at times. Lovely people were eager to make us great coffee at the local shop and chatty locals seemed to have the answers to why the Police chopper was circling us and preparing for landing. We swear we don't have any affiliation to the H.A. We are not the bikers you are looking for. Once the peace was restored to town, everybody went on with their lives. Boats rocked side to side, seagulls dropped another oyster onto the pavement and another e-bike stripped a freehub.

It was a zoo out there. It was a zoo where all the animals got along in a fable like story. We were there all on different agendas following the BCBR circus. Some to go fast, some to explore. But we all rode together. The difference between the fastest finisher and the slowest was not hours apart. It was barely minutes. It was the great equalizer that the bikes with assist brought to the table.

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Tailing Hestler, leading Murray... The super mountain biker sandwich.

We'll be back for the next BCBR MegaVolt event. I may even consider other e-bike events if they promise to be as laid back as this. The price of $500 is well worth the 3 days of riding you get to do with an awesome crew on the best trails in the world. And you get to yell MEEEEEEGAAAAAVOOOOOLLLTTTTTTTTT. A lot.

Learn more or register here for the 2023 BCBR Megavolt.

denomerdano
Deniz Merdano

Photographer and Story Teller

Lenticular Aesthetician

www.blackbirdworks.ca

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Comments

rwalters
Ryan Walters
1 month, 2 weeks ago
+7 Andy Eunson Kenny Jerry Willows Deniz Merdano Todd Hellinga Lu Kz Tim Coleman

Remember that time Hestler gave me serious grief for pedaling a 38lb Norco Range (no motor) with DD tires up and down only two of the three North Shore mountains in one day of 30+ degree July heat?

Now he's racing e-bikes.

#lol

Reply

LoamtoHome
Jerry Willows
1 month, 2 weeks ago
+3 Deniz Merdano Ryan Walters Tim Coleman

and riding moto's....

Reply

Timmigrant
Tim Coleman
1 month, 2 weeks ago
0

To be fair those are both fair servings.

Reply

Emailsucks98
Scott Smith
1 month, 2 weeks ago
+6 toddball Mammal Deniz Merdano Niels van Kampenhout finbarr goose8

Please NO on the generators! You’re losing like 40% of the power made converting to DC, no? 

I have a camper with 4x100w solar panels, and 2400w total batteries. It can easily recharge 2 eBikes daily and the camper batteries are 100% recharged via solar after we’re done riding. Without the camper you could fit all this gear in a car trunk.

Reply

Jotegir
Lu Kz
1 month, 2 weeks ago
+1 Timer

Honestly it seems like a major failure on the part of BCBR if they don't reserve a campground with adequate infrastructure to run a 3 day e-bike race. At the same time, 4 100w solar panels and 2400w of batteries is an insane amount of equipment on top of a bike to expect someone to show up to a race with, especially in the trunk of a car (this is a very funny thing to suggest, in fact). Sounds like you have a great setup, but you shouldn't expect others to have the same. Don't shift the onus to participants providing their own overlanding setup for a bike race. 

As is, the fact participants needed to haul their own gas generators there is embarrassing for the organizers.

Reply

denomerdano
Deniz Merdano
1 month, 2 weeks ago
0

There absolutely should have been charging stations at the gravel pit. No doubt. 

I hope it gets sorted out next year. Along with neutral mechanical service and food trucks...

Reply

denomerdano
Deniz Merdano
1 month, 2 weeks ago
0

I'd say no to the generators too. On a rainy weekend where 10+ bikes needed to be plugged into the RVs, the genny made sense. On a solo trip, i can charge an ebike off my van's house batteries with solar top up no problem.

Reply

kcy4130
kcy4130
1 month, 2 weeks ago
+3 Deniz Merdano Timer Pete Roggeman

That shirt is the best thing ever!

Reply

denomerdano
Deniz Merdano
1 month, 2 weeks ago
+3 Pete Roggeman Andrew Major PowellRiviera

That guy is the best thing ever

Reply

Timer
Timer
1 month, 2 weeks ago
+3 Mammal Rowdy 4Runner1

Neither the equipment, nor the event strike any chord with me, but that beach photo deserves an article all of its own!

Reply

denomerdano
Deniz Merdano
1 month, 2 weeks ago
+1 Timer

Totally fair! And i truly appreciate the comment!

Reply

lamar454
Peter Appleton
1 month, 2 weeks ago
+1 Deniz Merdano

will there be a 90's hill climb comp and log pull though?

Reply

denomerdano
Deniz Merdano
1 month, 2 weeks ago
0

I'm so on board for those!!!!!

Reply

velocipedestrian
Velocipedestrian
1 month, 2 weeks ago
+1 Deniz Merdano

I'm really glad I'd just swallowed my mouthful of coffee when I got to this line "rocking quite the moustache between his sniffer and his talker".

Reply

pete@nsmb.com
Pete Roggeman
1 month, 2 weeks ago
0

I liked that one as well.

Reply

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