Monday, July 25, 2011

Single Track Love!

The Gearjammer is another fabulous event part of the Hells of a Series in the Sea to Sky Corridor. This is the event that started it all for me…! Friends have been telling me about mountain bike racing and fun it is and back in 2008, I decided to enter my first ever mountain bike race. I did not start with the easiest one that’s for sure since the Gearjammer is a point-to-point 47 kms race (now 52 kms point-to-point). What makes it event more special is the fact that the milage is mainly covered on single tracks!!! YAAA now that’s what I’m talking about!

Since 2008, religiously it seems, I've been following the tradition and making yet an other trip to the Coast to get a “Gearjammer” fix. Crankworx was also a great reason to go on a road trip and be part of the excitement.

The weather on the Coast has been the same as here in Revelstoke, rainy, cold and wet. Fortunately, to day of the race the sky was blue and the sun was shining. At around 10 am, racers started to show up at the start area near Alice Lake Provincial Park. It seemed like the attendance was lower this year then in previous years. After racing at the Test with 800 fellow mountain bikers, 250 seems slightly quiet… I’m still wondering why is it that the Test is more popular the Gearjammer but that another matter altogether! The race started at a slower pace, which was quite surprising. This race has just the perfect start, from the Highway, racers made their way up the pavement all the way to a double track. From there, there are en

dless opportunities to pass and be pass. The double track goes back to logging road, where, if you are a slow starter, you can start hammering and if you are someone who explode from the start and quickly die, by that point you already fall back. The endless single track goodness start after about 20 minutes of wide road and keeps you going till the end! Some of the trails were Ed’s bypass, Dead End Loop, Bob MacKintosh’s fast descent, Mike’s Loop, Track from Hell, Then back up to Rock & Roll and connecting to Skookum & Power Smart. With all the rain, Skookum and Power Smart were a bit challenging but it was nothing compares to Recycle!!! By that point, the body is starting to feel tired and more then adequate balance was required in order to conserve energy for the remaining of the race! Amazing Pseudo Tsuga was next, wow the work that got put in this trail is just amazing! It’s a nice flowy descent with great burms, a few jumps and technical sections! Wow! Then back on the FSR to climb up to the ever so slippery Plunge. Still alive and on survival mode, we climbed into Crumpet woods for some steady climbing. To our surprise, we took an early right before the powerline climb into a new single-track section that was pretty challenging. By that point, the legs are just about to give in and when looking up, that only thing I could see was more and more climbing… of well. First thing we knew, we were on top of the powerline, and connecting to the last section of the racecourse. A fast rip through the subdivision and down the climbing area brought us to cross the finish line at Rose Park.

Congrats to all the races who completed the event in difficult trail conditions. Thank you to all the volunteers and to my favorite waterboy ever; Michael who gave me an extra bottle full of magic fuel.

As for the results, well check out the following links:

Picture credit: Simon Chester Fotographique

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Larch Hill Traverse

This one 38 kms epic has been on the checklist for a while! Each year, Skookum Cycle does an organized a group ride in the fall but for some reason, it never really worked out in the schedule. Last weekend, we decided to go down to Salmon Arm and add a check mark next to the Larch Hill Traverse. We started the traverse from Salmon Arm in the South Canoe trail network. We decided to ride some of the single track on our way up to the Radio tower just to make for an even longer ride. The trails were in amazing shape with just enough moisture to allow for good gripping! Out of the single tracks, we climbed up to the top of the active logging road to meet up with the Larch Cross Country Trails. From there, we biked along double tracks for a while connecting the different Cross-Country trails all the way to the warming shack. From there, we covered a bit more of logging road before getting out on some single tracks again. We broke out of the forest on some twisty trail through cut blocks. We had to stop and take a break since the

views looking down the valley at Shuswap Lake were amazing. A thunderstorm made us accelerate the travel pace… (wow thunderstorm… what a surprise…). We kept on following the undulating single tracks on slightly overgrown forest. Some trails section were definitively more flowy then others. The traverse took us on different bits and pieces of single track. Towards the end, there were great viewpoints looking down on either side of the ridge at Mara Lake and Shuswap Lake. The final descent is really what made the traverse. We dropped down 400m of twisty single track with tricky switchbacks. The dirt was gripping just enough and we giggled our way back down to the highway… we were laughing a bit less when we ended up hitch hiking for about an hour under the rain on the side of the highway before getting picked up. Oh well, it was part of the whole experience! I’d say, the traverse is a really fun way to connect Salmon Arm and Sicamous. The trails are fun but sometimes have a bit of a hard rhythm to follow so you have to keep the head up! There are a lot of little descents with sudden steep short climbs, which breaks a bit the flow of the ride. Also, I’m sure with local knowledge of the cross country trails, there is potential to skip some of the logging road riding to make for an extended ride on double or single tracks. In all, it was a fun day and a great opportunity to explore a new trail really close from home!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Local Action!

Last Sunday was one even of the season we all look forward and apprehend a bit; the Skookum Stoked to Get Spanked. I have to say it is always refreshing not to have to travel for an event and being able to sleep in your own bed the night before is also priceless. Everyone who has done this race before know that this is far from being a piece of cake. Even if the milage is not the most impressive of all, there is no rest on this action pack course. The race course was a bit different this year with a variation at the start, a climb including Stimulus and a descent on Berm Donor. A windstorm on Thursday night called for some last minute chainsaw operation in order to get the trails ready. With a wet few days prior to the event, on Sunday morning, the trails we nice and grassy just enough to allow for some fabulous riding. For once, the temps were not +35 with 110% humidity, which made the race slightly easier. In any case, we were out for a bit of suffering and enjoyed the ride. At 10 am, more then 100 riders from the area lined up racing in the different categories (1 lap=sport, 2 laps= Elite, U15 & Lill spank). The course took us down on a fast 2 km rip on Mike’s Loop, than there was a bit of a traffic jam getting on Stimulus. The freight train zigzagged to the top of the switchbacks and back on the main loop, the pack started to spread. As we climbed up Spaceman, people were passing and getting pass a bit but it was way less congested then in previous years! We went down TNT which is a classic really, then onto Break a leg, then up to Dusty Beaver, down Berm Donor , only SLIPPERY Root Canal, and up TNT to Black Forest and to the finish line at the Macpherson Parking Lot… AND we did it all again for a total of 34 kms.

Congrats to Lyndsay Corrigan who was racing for the first time I believe and won her category! Way to go! Also Carol Prince had a great race doing two laps on that challenging course. Don also did very well in his category. On my side, I had a great race compare to last year, just feeling overall better on the bicycle! Congrats to everyone who competed in the race since it was, to my knowledge one of the most challenging race in the BC grassroots circuit. Thank you to Skookum for organizing yet a great event!

For complete Results, go to :

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Rundle's Revenge Report

Last weekend, we traveled to Canmore, Alberta for a girl Road-Trip and a bit of racing as the organizer of the Trans Rockies put together a 2 days event at the Nordic Center; The Rundle’s Revenge. It was the first edition of the race and as expected from the TR group, the event was very well organized. The event was divided in many categories as racers could pick from entering only the “Kick Ass “ Mountain Bike Race (100km, 50km or 25 km). Then on the Sunday, runners could enter the “Mountain Mule” trail run (50 km, 25 km or 12.5 km). For people that wanted to push it a bit more, it was possible to enter the “Full Donkey”: 100 km mountain bike, 50 km trail run, the “Half Donkey” 50 km and 25 km run and the “Lite Donkey” 25 km bike & 12.5 km run. People could also team up in order to race in either or both events.

The course was the same on both days with a great mix of not so technical trails around the Nordic Center. Event if the riding was not technically challenging, it was still quite hard for the lungs and the legs.

After a long four and a half hour of sleep, we woke up just after 5:30 am in order to make our way to the race start. The weather was great even if a bit cold and the trails were in great shape. A quick warm up lap led me to think that it would be a hard event. About 80 racers lined up at the start/ finish area (20 for the 100km, 40 for the 50 km and 20 for the 25 km). At 8:00 am we were on our way around the 12.5 km loop. The pack spread out nicely half way into the 1st lap. It was a bit hard to tell how hard to race since racers had no clue who to race against so it came down to how the legs felt, keeping in mind the 25 km run the following day… not a good idea to go all out! My friend Audray did not race the mountain bike but she sure was a great support crew! Thx girl! After a relaxing afternoon, lots of hydration and food and a longer sleep, we woke up to a really wet and cold day for the run. Over 100 racers lined up at the star/ finish area. Being on the course the previous day, the expectation of pain was there but again, you just need to put the head down, put one foot in front of the other and go with it.

Congrats to Audray, it was her first trail race event ever and she finished 4th of her category out of 14 racers. I was so proud and happy for her! Sweet little Bee just killing it! Way to go!

As far as things went for me, I completed the 50 km mtb race in second place, being pass by a local rider half way in the last lap. Keeping some leg straight for the following day, I did not want to fight too hard plus Margie was looking very strong when she flew pass me. Great work! Then, I completed the 25km run in 3rd place overall just behind some really fast ladies. There was just a few people competing in the half donkey category unfortunately so I finished 1st & last all at once!… Nevertheless, it was a super fun weekend but pretty demanding.

Thx to all the organizer! The swag was awesome with some great gear from The North Face. Thx to Audray for the company, to Steve, Deb, Anna & Christie for the hospitality.

Next event, the Local Stoke to Get Spanked in Revelstoke!

Full Results of the event: