The Tour of British Columbia presents an “in-your-face” ultra endurance cycling challenge for any and all cyclists willing and able to ride over 5,100 kilometers and climb over 48,000 meters. (approximately 5 times up Mt. Everest) Designed to challenge the world’s very best ultra-endurance cyclists, the Tour de British Columbia (also known as the Tour de BC) simultaneously provides less experienced riders an opportunity to find out just exactly how far they can go.
Primarily contested on the roads of the Canadian Provinces of British Columbia and Alberta, cyclists will ride through some of the most breathtaking scenery in North America as they strive to become official finishers. To do so, each rider must contest with the obvious physical and mental rigours and additionally manage the logistical and strategic demands necessary to effectively execute their race plan.
The Tour of British Columbia starts and finishes near the shores of the North Pacific Ocean in White Rock, BC. While this may sound idyllic it is a long way from easy as riders encounter 4 category 1 climbs on their first day. In fact the first category 1 climb will significantly spread out the field; being 16 kilometers long, this is our way of saying, “Welcome to British Columbia”.
Riders and their escort crews will travel through Manning Provincial Park, up over Copper Mountain to Princeton, BC, to Peachland, BC and then south along the 135 kilometer long shoreline of Okanagan Lake(said by some to be home to a giant serpent-like creature named Ogopogo) past Summerland and into Penticton, BC.
From Penticton, cyclists head into a seriously “hilly” challenge as they now come face-to-face with a collection of 4 category 1 climbs and 8,600 meters of total climbing over the next 515 km of riding on their way to Elko, BC.
From Elko to Sparwood, BC and into the Province of Alberta through Kananaskis Country and Banff National Park the course levels out in high Alpine terrain as riders constantly encounter summits of approximately 2 kilometers in the sky. This section is absolutely beautiful. Riders should expect to not only see ancient glaciers, they will feel and smell the cool winds that constantly swirl and soar atop the ice formations. Bears, elk, mountain goats, eagles, deer and moose populate the mountainous rain forests and without a doubt riders will see all of them and quite possibly other wild animals.
Leaving Banff National Park, riders head directly into Jasper National Park where they will encounter more natural beauty in the high Alpine although the descent has begun as the route returns to about the one kilometer high level. Staying in the Province of Alberta riders now head to Grande Cache, AB.
North to Grande Prairie, AB and then returning to the Province of British Columbia riders strive to reach Dawson Creek; the start of the fabled Alaskan Highway. North is the thrust here as riders then travel to Ft. St. John and British Columbia’s true north country. This is isolated and densely populated terrain where riders follow Highway 97 into Kobes, BC up towards Pink Mountain. While the northern section of the route contains lessor climbs they are nonetheless always present; on average, an approximate 1,000 meters of climbing for every 100 km of riding.
Continuing north, riders encounter Fort Nelson, BC, the tip of Stone Mountain Provincial Park as they ride directly into Muncho Lake Provincial Park and the Liard River Corridor, Provincial Park and protected area.
Closing in on the Yukon Territory now, riders continue northwest along Highway 97 into Watson Lake, Yukon, the furthermost northern point of their journey. Here riders travel just outside of the tiny northern community and head south on obscure and very less traveled roads. Rolling hills, stunning natural beauty, wild animals and oxygen so fresh it acts like s supercharger for riders and crew. This is extremely remote country and while there are fuel stations almost every 100 kilometers they have short operational hours and crews must be careful to monitor their supplies to avoid unnecessary delays.
This is also the region where the road surface turns to gravel for some very short stretches. Along the Stewart-Cassiar Hwy riders cycle through Boya Lake Provincial Park and Jade City, (population 12) along their way to Porter Landing and the beginning and end of Dease Lake. The awe inspiring scenery provides a magnificent backdrop for riders to attempt to catch their breath in a region with constant rolling hills. Over 3,000 kilometers into the race riders will either soar over these hills or lose significant time to those that are better rested. This region contains 15 category 5 climbs but no category 1 or 2 rated climbs.
Maintaining a southerly heading, competitors ride all the way to Kitwanga and Smithers, BC while cycling parallel with the American State of Alaska which protects riders from the cold winds of the Gulf of Alaska. Elevation in this area is primarily on the decline however there are climbs, including 4 category 1 ascents.
From Smithers, the route travels via Highway 16 through the tourist destinations of Burns and Fraser Lakes and into Prince George, BC. This area involves moderate climbing allowing riders to recover before heading along highway 97 and its seemingly endless rollers (18 cat 5 climbs) on their way to Quesnel, Williams Lake, 100 Mile House, Clinton and into Lillooet, BC.
From Lillooet the Tour de BC visits the world famous ski-resort of Whistler. Then they continue down Highway 99 into Squamish and Vancouver and back to where it all started in White Rock, BC. The ride to the finish line an almost endless series of moderate climbs, but there is one last, short category 1 on route to test riders.