Wow, the end of the Transrockies Epic 7 day Stage Race….my 6th year racing, and it was absolutely amazing yet again. I’ve raced the the coed 3 times, twice with the super fun Mr. Tubby Butt (aka Jeff Neilson), twice in the TR3 (3 day edition) and my final time in the solo 7 day….grabbing my 5th Transrockies win. Really sad to see it come to an end, but really excited for the 2014 Singletrack 6 that is being spawned from the race. New format, new venue and exciting new trails! It’s going to be so rad…I already can’t wait!!
The first 3 days were in the beautiful Fernie, BC, easily my favourite place to mountain bike in the world! TR3 racers started with us, and this was a stacked field, keeping the pace for the first 3 days really high for all us 7 day’ers too. Day 1, I had a tough battle with Jean Ann Berkenpas to the finish line, attacking on the last long climb and running scared for the 20 mins of downhill back into the finish, opening up a 28 second gap. Day 2, Pork Blue, is never a great day for me….the hour 45 climbing kicks my rear end every year!! I can hold on for about an hour, then I start to crack. Petra Tlamkova, the European climbing machine living in Whistler crushed the day, beating most of the men to the top! I limited my losses to around 4 minutes, making up some time on the steep downhill, and Jean Ann took the leaders plate. Day 3 started an finished up at the ski hill and encorporated some classic singletrack………love, love, love. Super steep climbing and very fast right singletrack descents. I had a great start, slotting in between some men into the first singletrack downhill and rocked it! I really enjoyed this day and was riding strong. My Cannondale Scalpel was climbing like the billy goat it is, and I was holding on for dear life on the descents…using the full power of the Magura brakes! The last looooooong, and I mean never ending climb, I looked over my shoulder to see Jean Ann working hard to close the gap. She caught and passed me as we laboured up the climbs….my legs burning, praying for the end of the climb. Hitting the Mega-Sore-Ass with 2 guys between myself and Jean Ann, I watched the first guy crash hard on the wet wooden bridge right at the start of the trail….great way to start a technical downhill. Cyclocrossing around him as he yelled is was okay, I hammered the downhill…wahoooooooooooooo, so fun, and crossed the line 2 seconds behind Jean Ann
Due to the major Kananaskis flooding, the route was drastically altered and we ended up staying 2 days in Blairmore…camped out beside the busy railway track. It’s been a number of years since I’ve ridden the Crowsnest and I was really excited to see what Crowsnest Coffee master, Troy Misseghers had in store for us. Day 4 was a short fast day, I had a great start, managing to stick with the guys on the long road start, which made for a world of difference through the single track. Once we hit the super long steep hike-a-bike to the back side of Pass Powderkeg, the local ski hill, all that was left was to enjoy the fun new switchbacks into town. I had a great day on the bike, putting in 3 mins on Jean Ann and taking back the leaders plate. Day 5 brought back some memories of the more classic Transrockies days….longer with lots of climbing, epic views, and wide open descents…….55 km our longest day of the week, which is about half of the typical long TR day…crazy!! (can’t believe I did those 100 plus km days back to back). I had another solid day, just staying out of reach of Jean Ann, just over the next hill and just around the next corner, surviving the gnarly loose sharp and moving babyhead rock field….thank you Stan’s NoTubes and Kenda tires for not flatting!!
Day 6 was a long day, long transfer in the morning to Kananaskis, and big climb backwards on some classic big mountain trails. Honestly, I’ve never even considered riding up Cox hill downhill…it’s such a fantastic downhill……and it ended up being a lot of hiking and slow steep climbing. I got dropped pretty quickly on the road into Cox hill, left my legs in the Crowsnest Pass, Petra was gone, but I managed to keep Jean Ann in sight. We ended up climbing a long time together, but I managed to slowly put a little gap between us. 1 hour to the top, with some refreshing cold mountain rain, I was really hurting at this point. Once you hit the top, there are still a couple really good hard climbs….which I never realized having always ridden in the opposite direction. Once I hit the downhill I was in no mans land the rest of the day, a sorry place to be when I hit the road. Again, due to flooding, there was a major reroute and we ended up having to finish on 8 km of road…..and it just so happened to be sleeting and hailing and raining and windy and miserable….and I suffered the whole way in. Petra put some good time on my, but I held onto the leading position for the night.
The final Day 7, from Deadman’s Flats to Canmore was TT style, with 20 second gaps. Starting with some tight slow singeltrack, it was a grind to get the legs moving on day 7. Really big climb to the highest point on the nordic centre followed by some Canada Cup/Nationals fast technical single track……sooooooo fun! Long rolling hills out to the last check point and the slow log back into town. I took the win on the day, securing my first 7 day solo victory!!
It’s funny, racer brain kicks in pretty quickly, just about when we are sitting around the table at the banquet watching the footage from the week….can’t wait for Singletrack 6!!
My recovery week has been more then a little off this year, heading straight out to the field for work, lugging equipment around the forest taking water samples in 30 degree heat….yes, it’s taking me a little longer then I was hoping to get my legs back. Planning on starting some cross intervals this week, it’s that time of year again!!!! So legs, hurry up!!!!!