British Columbia is famous for its mountains, and for its mountain bike races.
This race, featuring specifically designed trails interlinked with roads and ferries, has riders averaging 50 km a day and a total of 1500 meters of elevation gain.
Somebody told Chris Benson, ‘Go west, my son’, and go west he did. In 2013, Benson entered his first multi-day race, the Trans Rockies. He then signed up for the BC Bike Race the very next year.
“In 2014, after my first year of dedicated training, I placed 13th overall,” says Benson. “I thoroughly enjoyed the event, and signed up for the 2015 edition before I arrived home.”
This year he placed a stalwart eighth overall for this grueling challenge.
Chris Benson’s exceptionally talented father exposed him to the sport of mountain bike racing. His dad competed in the Trans Rockies three times, and in the Trans Alp Challenge in 2008 – both events are multi-day cross-country racing adventures.
“As a teenager our family supported my dad as he competed,” says Benson. “Being exposed to multi-day events at a young age stuck with me as I grew older and searched for the ultimate adventure.”
Benson grew up in the Canadian Shield in the eastern part of the Manitoba where he trained. Growing up in this environment allowed him to capitalize on other riders during one of the BC Bike Race stages.
“We then headed to North Vancouver, where we’d face the race’s most technical trails,” Benson reflects. “Infested with roots and rocks, my Canadian Shield pedigree was able to shine through. Another seventh place and I was able to slot into eighth overall.”
Benson finished the Squamish stage in fifth place, his best stage finish to date, riding in concert with a pro rider, and crossed the final finish line in Whistler with an unbelievable eighth place overall.
“I had one of the most memorable weeks of my life. Sharing grimaces and smiles, and every facial expression in between with 600 cyclists from across the globe – what more could you ask for?” he says.
“Safe to say I’ll be back next year!”
In addition to his regular training, Benson prepared this year for the BC Bike Race by participating in four local mountain bike events in Manitoba.
For more information on these races, including the Manitoba Provincial Mountain Bike Championships, scheduled for Sun. Aug. 23, see mbcycling.ca