The BC Bike Race is exactly as billed - the ultimate singletrack experience. You will ride an amazing variety of trails in a short period of time in a wide variety of locations. It is hands down an amazing event that you must experience if you are a serious mountain biker. The Epic race is probably the most concentrated week of riding you will ever do unless you somehow get paid to ride. The organization and volunteers that host this event are off the charts.
How I Prepared
I live in Whitehorse. The roads aren't rideable until April and the trails aren't rideable until early May. I cross country skied to get cardio and endurance. My main push came about 4 months before the race. I rode my road bike A LOT. I tried to use the Time Crunched Cyclist method of training but didn't enjoy it so I relied on intervals and distance rides to get my fix. I worked on the assumption, correctly, that I would be doing 3-4hr rides and trained to that duration. I practiced technical features. I rode in the rain. I tried to learn to eat and ride (still not very good at this).
Our weather was a perfect BC mix - even though I hated the rain on Day 2. Learn to ride in the rain. Learn to ride on roots. Day 1 was a bit of a circus as riders from other parts of the world experience slippery wet trails and slick roots for the first time.
I found that the trails we rode in BC had similar difficulty to the trails in Whitehorse - exceptions being the machine built jump lines. Riding Carcross (Montana Mtn) prepared me for the big descents. I only had to become accustomed to riding on wet roots - which I am mostly comfortable with to begin with.
What I Took
I took too much stuff. I didn't need the extra casual clothes as I usually wore the same shorts/long sleeved shirt each night.
Lots of socks
4 chamois - wish I had more early in the race when it was wet
3 cycling short sleeves - wanted more for the wet
2 long sleeve - about perfect amount
rain pants - didn't need them - too warm, I just wore knee warmers and got wet.
2 pairs of cycling shoes - only needed one and the second pair never dried out after Day 2
I also brought a seat post (in case my KS dropper post broke - it never showed any sign of wear!). An extra tire and spare tubes.
I rode my Trance X 26"er to very happy results. It's an amazing bike for this terrain. I never felt under biked (well, maybe in the Whistler bike park but that was also a skill issue!). I run a 2x10 (11-36, 24/36) setup. I was only undergeared for the road/fire road sections. I have a KS-900r dropper post - absolutely critical piece of equipment - and it worked like a charm in the muck and wet. I made a significant upgrade to XTR trail wheels that I ran tubeless with a Nobby Nic on the front and a Racing Ralph on the back. I ran them ~20-22psi depending on road ride distance. I can't express how much better these wheels made my bike, my ride and my experience. They are straight as an arrow after many hundreds of hard training and racing with barely a loss in spoke tension.
I saw a LOT of 29'ers at this race. I saw a LOT of carbon frames/wheels at this race. There were some silly expensive bikes at the BCBR. I was faster than some riders and slower than other riders. It's about the rider, less the bike.
It is not an inexpensive event to participate in but if you consider the logistical circus that you are only vaguely aware of while you are only riding your bike then it is well worth it. The trails are awesome - technical, flat and fast, steep, everything. The scenery is outstanding as only coastal BC can be. The camping locations are prime. Your bike is always well cared for. The people who run and volunteer for this race are OUTSTANDING.
Aid stations during the race are well stocked and well spaced. I used gels mostly at first but found better results from eating peanut butter, jam and banana sandwiches with lots of fluids. I probably ate too much and lost time at aid stations but I felt good at the end of each day. After my bonk on Day 2 I avoided energy drinks and stuck to "real foods and fluids".
The meal plan that is available (if you get, and I HIGHLY recommend you do) is outstanding, plentiful and nutritious. In many of the smaller towns you visit there really are no food options available at the time you wake up. I also found that the sheer VOLUME of food that I ate while doing this race was off the chart. Simply put, you will eat a LOT of food and the meal plan provides a great option - if you are vegetarian you may find the food a bit less desirable and any other food restricted diets may be harder to accommodate.
The bike shop that travels with the race is quick, competent and always busy. Prices were reasonable considering what they could charge.
The race is a VERY well run machine. The amount of movement, setup, tear-down, etc that occurs every day is just unbelievable. That said there are some things to be aware of - LINES. There are always lines for showers, bathrooms (particularly toilets), and bike wash. These are simply the constrained resources of the race. It would be hard to fix any of these issues as it introduces more cost and/or complexity.
The bike wash line will moves slower on wet/muddy days - there are some VERY expensive bikes and their owners take pride in making them clean. The line moves quite a bit faster on the sunny days. The core issue of 500 people finishing a race and wanting to clean their bike will never go away.
The shower line will move slowly (cold/wet riders take longer showers). On Day 2 I skipped a post-ride shower, dried off quickly and shivered in my sleeping bag. Luckily I had access to a shower through a friend at a nearby hotel. I showered at odd hours to miss this line.
The toilet line will always move slowly. All that food that is being eaten has to go somewhere. I feel like this is the biggest issue in the race: insufficient toilets. I felt like I was always in a line for the toilet.
I now realize how spoiled I am in Whitehorse. We have nearly the same variety of trails here that I rode in the BCBR. The difference being our trails are, in general, a bit faster/more flow, have less people on them, and most importantly, 5 minutes from my front door.