Even though the 5,100-kilometre Tour of British Columbia ultra-endurance cycling race is a year away, organizer Perry Stone is determined to put on the longest ultra cycling marathon in the world.
Surpassing the 4,800-km Race Across America and the 3,700-km Tour de France, the Tour of BC is an exhausting 10-day ride through the province, pushing cyclists to their mental and physical limits.
"It's an amazing race in an amazing place, contested by amazing people," said Stone, the tour's organizer and a cycling enthusiast.
He noted the route has 47,000 metres of uphill cycling. "It's like climbing Everest five times," he said.
Stone got into riding years ago when he quit his stressful job as a stockbroker, sold most of his belongings and cycled down to California. He partnered with a "wild man from California" and joined the Race Across America, becoming the marathon's first twoperson team.
Since then, he's cycled all around the world, including a record-breaking stint around Australia, and now he's challenging elite riders to come to the northwest to push themselves.
"This is the longest ultra-endurance race on earth - I didn't plan it to be like that," he said. "When I plotted the course, it just turned out to be that way when you go around British Columbia.
"It's a bit of a calling card factor, so we're using it."
The race was originally scheduled to start this week in White Rock, but was postponed to allow more time to better develop the contest and make it bigger in time for next year's start on Aug. 4, 2013.
Stone called it an evolution of the BC 5000, a race he worked on a few years ago. That race was also postponed when his mother, aunt and brother all passed away from cancer within three months while Stone was organizing the event.
"I couldn't carry on with promoting the race," he said. "You've got to be an up, positive guy."
Since overcoming the loss of those family members, Stone got back to organizing the ride and renamed it the Tour of British Columbia.
"Naming it the BC 5000 was a problem because every time you used the freaking search engine, it would come up with something about prehistoric times," he said with a laugh.
With the event now years in the making, he hopes the Tour of BC will attract avid cyclists from around the world.
Joan Deitchman, a professional cyclist from Alberta, has committed to riding the Tour of BC and is looking forward to racing in Canada as a break from the U.S. circuits.
"A lot of people ask why you do this and it is something intangible," she said. "It's a different kind of adrenaline compared to what you'd get from skydiving or a rollercoaster."
She got into ultra cycling after participating in triathlons in university.
"Cycling was what I enjoyed the most," she said. "I love riding, I love getting out there away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and just being out in nature.
"In a lot of ways, it is a lifestyle. It's not just one thing you do for one week in a year, it's everything leading up to it and following it."
The Tour of BC is open to relay teams of two, four and eight riders, as well as solo athletes.
"A world-class soloist will ride, if you can believe this, 22 hours a day or more during the event every single day to win the race," he said.
Despite the toll it takes on riders, Stone stresses that even teams of weekend warriors can finish the race, as long as they have the bike-handling skills.
"You need to be an experienced bike rider, but you don't need to be an Olympic athlete," he said.
There'll be a podium at the end, but there won't be cash prizes. The winner will receive a trophy made of recycled hockey sticks and anyone who finishes will get a plaque. But Stone said the feeling of personal accomplishment when they cross the finish line is the real reward.
Registration is currently open, with balances and fees due by April 5, 2013. The event supports the Canadian Cancer Society, with partial proceeds from Tour de BC clothing going to the CCS. Riders are encouraged to raise funds for the society and Stone said he hopes sponsors will match donations.
For more information, visit tourdebc.com.