SEQUIM — The first time Powell Jones heard about the BC Bike Race, he knew it was something that he had to do.
“For me BCBR [the BC Bike Race] represented challenging myself physically and mentally in a sport I absolutely love on some of the world’s most renowned mountain bike trails,” Jones said.
Jones will tell about his experience at 7 p.m. Thursday at Guy Cole Event Center, 202 N. Blake Ave., during the next installment of Traveler’s Journal, a series of local adventurers sharing stories and photos hosted by the Peninsula Trails Coalition.
Admission to “The Ultimate Single Track Experience” is a suggested donation of $5 for adults; youths 18 and under will be admitted free. All of the money raised is used to buy project supplies and food for the volunteers working on the Olympic Discovery Trail.
One selected photo enlargement of the trail will be given each week as a door prize.
BC Bike Race — a seven-day mountain bike stage race in British Columbia — is described as the “ultimate single track experience.”
In 2018, it featured 600-plus racers from 40 countries racing over 200 miles with more than 80 percent of the course being single track and with 31,000 feet of climbing.
Racers are transported, or ride, between communities on Vancouver Island and the mainland to experience some of the best trails that each community have to offer.
According to Jones, BCBR is located in a mecca for not only riding, but for trails specifically designed for mountain bikers.
“BC trails are a measuring stick for all other trails in the Pacific Northwest. As an aspiring trail builder I had to not only ride BCBR, I had to see and experience the trail building for myself,” he said.
“There are harder mountain bike races, but many of them require an element of self sufficiency that I am not prepared to take on just yet. I just want to go fast and not think about the logistics of getting to the next ride.”
Racers are well taken care of off the bike with locally-sourced meals, medical staff, and tents even being erected for racers each night.
But BC Bike Race represents some unique challenges. Keeping the body fueled, sleeping well for eight days in a tent and keeping the bike well maintained and running are just a few.
“One of the hardest parts for me was fitting all of my racing gear into the provided duffle bag” Jones joked.
The staff at BCBR do everything they can to keep racers going, he said.
“Mountain biking is unforgiving to people who overestimate their abilities, push beyond their limits or begin to think about other things while riding,” Jones said.
It’s the required focus of biking that makes it one of Jones’s favorite activities.
“I have a very busy and sometimes cluttered mind. Mountain biking lets me release almost all thoughts beyond the present moment,” he said.
Though the mental part of biking is his favorite of the activity, Jones admitted that racing for seven days makes it the biggest challenge as well.
“Preparing your mind every day to ride technical trails is difficult, but necessary,” he said. “It is one thing to ride trails fast recreationally but when I race I can’t help but push myself harder which requires mental preparation”
To add even one more challenging dimension to this adventure, Powell decided to compete at BCBR on a single speed bike.
“I love single speeding because it reduces both the noise and what I have to think about when riding … it is the simplicity of it all that I love,” he said.
Of the 625-competitor field, just one other rider raced on a single speed.
“I was asked a lot during the race why I made the choice to race on a single speed,” Jones said. “I always told them that it brought in the uncertainty of whether I would be able to finish the race … really it is because shifting is just too much for me to think about while racing.”
Beyond family and his job as the director of the Dungeness River Audubon Center, Powell said he enjoys casually getting lost and finding himself on familiar or unfamiliar pieces of single track. He said he has a passion for all things related to two wheels and dirt.
Racing, building trails, advocacy, and even camps for youth, his passion for mountain biking runs deep.
He travels with his bike to find new terrain, epic trails and to challenge his hidden — but extremely competitive — spirit.