Summertime in Canada is virtually impossible to beat. For this reason I try to make sure the racing calendar is based around home for this time of year. After a couple solid weeks training and chilling in fresh waterfalls and ocean water around Victoria, it was off to the Rockies for first the 24 Hours of Adrenaline in Canmore AB. This is a big reunion of Albertan riders and a chance to race on the wicked trails up at the Canmore Nordic center, right below the massive Rockies looming above. For a change I got to enjoy the atmosphere racing on a 5 person team with the Jasper Freewheel Fatties. It was rad ripping around for a while and getting to actually chill for a bit instead of riding myself into the ground for 24 hrs.
Next up was hometime in Jasper, my favourite place in the World and a chance to visit with Mom. This year I had visitors from the UK, Matt Page and Catherine Williamson join me as well as Victoria local Jammer. We ripped around on glorious trails, got spoiled with home cooking and great visits with Mom and then it was sadly back on the road all to soon. The sadness left pretty quick as we were off to take on the inaugural SingleTrack 6 day stage race from Calgary-Revelstoke, in the olden days this race was called the TransRockies.
The old school TransRockies was an epic battle through the heart of the mountains, battling weather, logistics of camping, bears and huge fireoroad days. It truly was a challenge but took us into some of the most beautiful outreaches of the Canadian wilderness. The new Singletrack 6 is more of a bike holiday with short stages, awesome trails, and lots of time to soak in the cool mountain towns the stages were based out of. Missing the adventure side but still a rad time and easier for families and friends to join in on the fun. Truly opposite races, but both offering loads of good times!
The night before the race we were chillin down at Leighton Poidevins house in Canmore when we receieved some horrible news that Banff local Crazy Larry had been in a bike accident and was airlifted to Calgary for emergency treatment. Crazy Larry is possibly the most unselfish guy I have ever met and spends his time helping kids out, volunteering wherever he can, supporting bike races, and in his spare time picking garbage up out of the ditches. He is an unreal dude and as soon as we heard he was injured we rushed off to Calgary to help in whatever way we could, the first thing was to identify him as the people at the hospital had no info or ID on him.
It was scary seeing him motionless with tubes stuck down his throat and a huge gash on his head. We were worried but couldn’t do much about it so left him in the good hands of the Nurses and hit up the Wendys drive through for a midnight snack before heading back to Canmore for a light rest. This part of the night was rather amusing as Leighton was eating a Wendys baconator, fries and having a smoke at 1 am while his competitor in the ST6, was x doper Filip Meirhaeghe and who knows what he might have been doing to prepare for the race.
The next day Leighton would beat him and win his category in the opening stage of ST6 in Bragg creek, somehow bouncing back off 4 hrs sleep etc. Leighton kills every training technique and scientific study known to man. My race was alright as well, feeling sluggish at the startline I tried to make the first move to force the body into race mode. It worked as teammate Kris Sneddon and I would work together for the stage, coming in 1-2 just for 4 seconds apart at the finish. Without a solids crash 4 km from the line I think it would’ve been even closer.
After the stage we called to check on Crazy Larry and were blown away when they handed the phone over to him! It was unreal to here his voice after seeing him in a coma the night before. Visiting him at the hospital that afternoon was crazy as he was just like his old self and already cracking jokes and trying to pick up nurses. Tough as nails he is. This made our week and gave us confidence our friend was going to make a speedy recovery and be back out there spreading his positive joy of life very soon. Get well buddy!
After a coma of a sleep for Leighton and I, it was off to Nipika for stage 2. The riding here is Rocky mountain tough as the trails are littered with roots and some are built more for the hooves of the local elk population then bike wheels. It is also beautiful as stretches of the trail curve up along the banks of the Kootenay river and you get a real sense of being out in the wilds. This was Kris’s ideal stage with endless rough singletrack as he would take the win again. I got stuck up in traffic at the start spotting him a big lead and then cruised in with questionable legs to take 3rd, with Matt Hadley squeezing in between us on the podium.
Stage 3 in Radium was rad as we raced through some new trails through burnsites, along canyons and over a fair number of climbs making it one of the most physical challenging rides of the week. 4 of us had a good lead on the field before we ran into some monkey business as a local lady had lost her mind and started pulling directionaly markers from the course. We got really lost and had to back track, soon running into 12 or 15 other racers, who then started running through the woods, cutting some of the course but at least they got us back on course. From here we cruised in for a neutralized finish. Everyone was yelling at us to ride harder when they witnessed us getting near the finishline but little did they know the race that day had already turned into a gongshow and was over long ago. It was a bummer way to finish the stage but the spirits were soon lifted with a refreshing swim in a near by lake.
Stages 4 and 5 in Golden were rad. Kris and I smoked everyone on Stage 4 up on the slopes of Mt Shadow. Unfortunately we were smoking everyone so good some of the volunteers thought we had cut course and jumped in our way as we were attacking up the last climb about 4 km from the finish. “You guys are lost and have to go back!!” Uh, ok, where to we go?
“Were not sure, but come over here, you guys have a minute right?” Yah sure, I guess we have a minute. what do you want to talk about?
“Umm, you guys possibly took a wrong turn as your here way to fast, were not sure where though, just head back there.” Yah sure, we’ll head right back up the mtn and sit there for a while to kill some time..
It was a silly couple minutes before they finally asked if we were the race leaders and then decided we were probably still on track and ok to keep racing to the finishline, this time Kris in 2nd and myself taking the W.
Stage 5 across the valley on the flowy moonraker trails was a favourite for many riders. Pushing hard from the start Kris and I created a big gap and were hauling. Once he took the lead on the dh singletrack I was stretched to my limits. Trying to pedal through a rough section to keep up I snagged a pedal on a stump and got launched through the air at 30 km/hr +. These crashes are the worst as you don’t see them coming but rather get launched unexpedatly into orbit. Coming down hard on my left shoulder and opening up some wounds from the stage 1 crash. I was grateful for the rough landing as if I had landed on the other shoulder it woudlve guaranteed ended my race as it is solid like a piece of soggy spaghetti.
I’d catch back up to Kris on the fireroad climb but would eventually be gapped again on the endless singletrack to come in just over a minute down. All in all it was a rad day as we had solidified our 1-2 positions for team Kona and also got to take in some awesome riding along a huge canyon at one point.
Stage 6 on the Mcpherson trails in Revelstoke was fun for the first hour but then soreness from the previous 5 days set in and the fun kinda ran out as it was now to time safely cruise to the finishline to celebrate Kona’s dominance of the race. Kris and my Kona Hei Hei’s had rocked the trails all week and really are a secret weapon out here!
The Singletrack 6 crew really know how to pull of stellar events and this was no exception. Next year the race will move to 6 days of glorious riding in the Okanagan region. Should be A+!
Spending the weekend in Revy after the race was a nice way to relax. A couple Yukon jacks, a few beach days, some BBQ’s with the Deadgoat racing team and then Leighton and I had the bright idea of racing the 26 km Steamer hill climb up mount Revelstoke. I was overly excited to be in the mountains and road my mtb 4 hours up to Frisbee ridge before the road race. I was well warmed up for the race but after crushing the first 20 minutes the body detonated and the next 1 hour was a struggle to the top. The only thing that kept me going on this one was the thought of the fresh alpine mountain air up top. It was well worth it!
I was a train reck the next morning and have since been hunkered down in Kelowna with my Jasper buddy and owner of Balance Point Racing Luke Way. Easy cruisy rides, good food, new training ideas and some interesting chats have passed the days and things seem to be coming back online again. Luke is always full of the latest training techniques and is constantly brainstorming ideas to get his athletes to the top level. We came up with a few new tricks to test out in the coming months.. Next up is a trip out to Squamish to spec the Nationals course, some island time for rest and then game time @ Marathon Nationals August 16th in Squamish!
*Big Thanks to John Gibson for the two ST6 pictures in this blog and Dirk Handke for the BPR picture!