Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Trans Rockies Experience

TR3 Report
If you are a mountain biker in BC or Alberta, you probably heard of the TransRockies. It’s a classic 7 days MTB stage race between Fernie and Canmore.  In the last few years, the organizers decided to also have a 3 days version and a 4 days version of the race.

Having never done a stage race on my bike before, I was quite excited to sign-in and was really looking forward to the event. Being a bit budget cautious, I decided that the TR3 would be in my price range.  I was not disappointed to say the least! 
Getting into Fernie on the Thursday before the event allowed for a nice mellow recon ride on the Friday. Already the town started to vibrate with tons of athletic dynamic people on the main strip enjoying the warm sunshine. 

Stage 1
Day one was a time trial stage from downtown and onto the trails on the East side of town. Racers were starting at 1 minute intervals.  The stage was starting with a nice long undulating climb in order to spread-out the riders even more before entering the single-tracks. Then it was the real start of it all… the typical Fernie “work for your descent” type riding. Nothing against it really besides from the fact that it makes for hard racing! The first long climb was on a trail called “Hyperventilation” so no need to explain that it was switchbacks after switchbacks all the way to the top of a mountain! But then the reward was a fast super flowy descent! Following was a bunch of super fun twisty trails on a really fun network.

Stage 2
Day two was a mass start. We gathered on the main strip and at 9am sharp, the peloton followed an old fire truck on the highway all the way to a subdivision where we started to climb under another steep powerline. It was wheel to wheel for a little while trying to get into position and keep the head somewhat down to get into the rhythm. Some gnarly culvert crossing on the first descent took people by surprise… it was certainly an interesting start to the race. Then a singletrack, which was very long climb, had us zigzag forever in the forest and finally out of the shade on an avalanche path. The trail at the top was really loose and quite side-hill. Again, when came time to start descending, racers had to be on their game and not look on the downhill side.  From there, we were in for a super long descent on some amazing flowy singletracks! What a blast!... the descent was so long, my hands were almost cramping!  Onto the second half of the race, we had to go up again on the other side of the valley on an undulating trail to a very steep hike-a-bike. Then, another super fun flowy descent later, we were up climbing but this time on the Fernie Resort trails. We were on a Green Run so it was sustain climbing but it sure was not a rest. Finally at the top of the climb, we went down one of the blue runs of the Bike Park! At that point in the race, I was following a European rider (who was biking with me all day…) and he was showing me the line all the way to the finish! What a day!

Stage 3
We knew that day 3 was gonna be a hell of a ride with 1800m of positive gain in 30 kms…but what a day it was.  Day 3 was a mass start again at Fernie Resort. We climbed forever on the ski hill, which allowed for the pack to be well spread before the first descent. We then zigzagged down a green run in the bike pack before more climbing some more then onto a more technical trail down.  On that trail, you certainly had to keep the head up and pick the line.  A creek crossing later, we were onto an old train track trail then a trail full of roots, which made riders work very hard!  Shortly after the 1st feed stating, there it was, the 10 km climb! It started all right with nice kicks on a logging road but it turned into some really steep sections under the blistering sun. A bit of relief brought us a few meters from the finish line but it was not the end… from there, the volunteers were screaming:” one hour… keep it up…!” What?!  And yeah, it was about 1 hour of climbing! On a logging road to start with, we ended up on an overgrown section of trail, which opened up to amazing views of the backcountry.  A long side hill section brought us to the ridge we had to climb and the steepness what not about to let go! A small descent later and we were back on steep singletrack climbing. Looking up, we could see rider a few switchbacks ahead in the alpine which was at time motivating or torturing. Then finally at the top of the mountain, it was time to bring it home. We descended on a hiking trail with super sharp switchbacks and rolling drops. All smiles at that point, it was just a matter of staying on the bike and keeping good speed!  It was quite the drop to Island Lake Lodge where the finish line was. Another gorgeous day, which rounded up the TR3.

It was a super fun event! I think the recipe for a good time is the following:
1-    Be ready to climb a lot cuz it’s steep out there!
2-    Go with amazing fellow racers, rent a nice condo and have a good time!
3-    Have a recovery plan (food, ice cold water deeps & Olympics watching with legs up)
4-    Enjoy the moment cuz it’s temporary…even if it’s pain!
5-    Eat, Race, Eat, Sleep and do it all over again.

Thx for Skookum Cycle and Ski for fixing my bike and providing me with a toolbox of spare pieces! Congrats to all the racers and specially Michael Robinson 8th place in open men  and Tony Routley for his 6th place 40+ category. 

Full results and details can be found at:

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