Cumberland has a notable mountain biking culture and every year hosts the first stop of the BC Bike Race, a world famous 7 day mountain bike race that travels the southern coast of BC, ending in Whistler. I think about 600 bike enthusiasts participate annually, and they stay in tents so the Village Park had a city of tents and trucks in it overnight. One minute the main street was all sleepy, hot and subdued, and then busses rolled in and, what seemed like instantly, about 700 sportsers, racers and facilitators, rushed the village and all the businesses there. Added bonus: they really like beer.
I’m not sure how it works, but the race the next day had a cultural aspect to it which consisted of Comox Valley’s Poet laureate Captain Thunderpants*, reciting a poem he wrote entitled “I am a Mountain Biker” from the top of a ladder, and also Cathy and Anne Marie dressed up like a Black Raven and a White Owl, and popped up at various points of the track to dance at the racers. I wanted to help out so I got up at the ungodly hour of 7am (on a Sunday!!!) and went to the start line with my trusty RebelXL to see if I could get some good documentation of the birds. Despite the fact that I snapped about 1000 pictures, I only got a few usable ones, so I am linking an amazing slo-mo iPhone video an official someone else took, and I urge you to view it because it really captured the spirit of the Owl and the Raven, plus it’s only 52 seconds long.
The single track took the racers from about 2 hours to all day. We ended up near the finish line and I watched a bunch of really dusty, sweaty mountain bikers shower in the water park, which I guess was more appealing than the portable showers provided. The next morning, all traces of them were gone, as they had all moved on to the next leg in Powell River, and later in the week the mountain bike trails were closed, because of the extreme drought conditions here in the valley. The mountain bikers are sad, but we are all afraid the woods will catch on fire from the friction of their wheels.
*Captain Thunderpants is also know as Kevin Flesher