TransRockies

The TransRockies has been going on for 12 years and has covered various routes between Panorama, Canmore and Fernie.  It has become legendary thanks to its historical epic days, questionable weather and great organization which has treated its riders like family since day 1.

This years tour was a little different due to the recent flooding in Alberta and would include some shuttling as we would race 3 days in Fernie, 2 in Crowsnest pass, then two up in Kananaskis country eventually ending in Canmore.

Day one of the race there was rumours of some fast Europeans being on the start line.  My body and legs were feeling a little screwed from the 13 hour drive from Victoria.  From past experiences I knew there was a legitimate chance I could get worked over on this day.  Feeling crappy I tried to use power of the mind to overwrite my physical state and launched the first attack of the race with 3 unknown European counterparts following suit.  From here Calle Friberg from Sweden would take over with frenchmen Paul Remy, Swiss rider Oliver Zurbruegg , and and myself struggling to keep up.  It was a painful day of racing as we ripped 30 km of Fernie single track, on top of the last climb riding in 3rd I broke my first ever chain on a 1X11 setup.  This was a bit of a hold up, but was also somehwat cool as it broke on the high point of the course with a nice bench and a beautiful view over the Elk river valley.  It was my most scenic and comfortable bike break down ever, after fixing the chain and admiring the view it was back on the bike to try and salvage the day, coming in 5th just over 7.5 minutes down with my teammate Kris Sneddon taking 4th.

Stage 2 was a 20 long climb up Porky Blue ridge and then down a ripping fast decent.  Three of us rode over the top together with Oliver taking a 20 second lead on the decent followed by Calle and then myself.  We would eventually all converge together for a 3 up sprint down main street Fernie for top spot on the day.  It was pretty rad even though I came up short in 3rd.  After the sprint my teammate Kris Sneddon and I hit up a local coffee shop for some smoothies, followed by the elk river for a leg freezing ice bath and then road back up to Roland and Amanda Greens house in the country for some solid R&R.

Stage 3 was at Fernie alpine resort and was delayed 15 minutes so the organizers could chase a horny moose off the course.   Once the start gun went off we rode straight up the hill like it was the start of a world cup race.  Having the hole shot as we began a small decent through an alpine meadow I could see a large moose and her calf about 15 ft off the trail.  They hadn’t seen me yet and I had a pile of speed going so I opted to hit the gas.  As I got closer, mother moose got pissed and took chase.  This worked out great as it opened up a gap to the Euros behind as they brake checked to give the spazzing moose some space.  From here I held the gap for 20 minutes, was eventually caught by the 3 Euros and then we had a good old dog fight to the finish line. As we hit the halfway mark on the last climb, Calle had a 10 sec lead on Paul , with my self another 10 seconds back.  Calle was racing a little to hard and had his head down as he missed a turn, leaving Paul and myself to battle it for the win.  Racing for a stage win at a big stage race doesn’t happen every day so I knew I had to make this one count. Catching Paul 1 km front the top of the climb I  pushed hard over the top, opened it up on the descent and hung on for a 1.5 minute win.  A large part of this win I credit to Mother moose for her assistants!

Stage 4 and 5 we moved to Crowsnest pass and raced a couple great “old school” TR days over high foothills and down some great handcut single track.  The trails were natural, probably old game trails with some human love.  Classic for the TR and what real mountin biking is all about.  On stage 5 we road around Turtle mountain and over a very cool sub alpine pass with amazing views of the Rockies behind.   Both these days I was lacking a bit of pep and road 1-2 minutes behind the leaders for the day and would then close the gap down towards the end as I would roll in for 3rd both days.  I was missing Mother moose on these days.

Stage 6 we transferred up to Moose Mountain to ride a part of the Bow 80 course backwards, up and over Cox hill and down to Rafter 6 ranch.  I knew the course and this was the day I had in mind to take away Olivers 6 minute lead in GC.  A little too fired up, I had the hole shot going into the first trail, and immediatly had a gap as the riders behind piled up on some stairs.  Knowing this was the time to put pressure on Oliver, I put the hammer down, came out onto a river crossing, missed the flagging and started trecking the wrong way down river.  As the other riders caught up they found the correct route across the river.  Going from 1st to 8th, losing over a minute was a bit of a blow.  Still fired up I started the chase back on, only to run over a large branch and have it get stuck in my wheel.  The day was starting to go sideways.  Eventually I would catch up to 2nd place on top of Cox hill, but would then fade front the early efforts to role in for 4th, losing another 1 minute in gc to Oliver and pretty much securing the race for him.  This was a disappointing end to what I had in mind for a great day.  Thats racing though and it was my fault for not listening to my own advice on only racing at 98% in stage races so you don’t get lost, crash or mechanical.

Stage 7 was a 37 km TT from Deadmans Flats to Canmore.  The staging was weird with 3rd place rider Calle taking off first, with Oliver leaving 2nd, 20 secs back, and myself 3rd, another 20 secs  back.   This was the last chance to take over the race lead and I knew my only chance was to put the pressure on Oliver and cross my fingers he would make his first mistake of the week.  Catching him 5 km into the TT I got the gap and was now hopefully putting some pressure on him to not screw up.   At the same time I was also chasing down Calle as he was only 3 minutes back in GC and I wasn’t in a giving mood to give away 2nd in GC.  At the first feed the gap was 30 secs to Calle, going into the 2nd feed it was just over 4, essentially knocking me into 3rd.  This lit a fire and I emptied whatever was left in the tank to eventually roll in the finish line 2.5 min down from Calle, holding onto 2nd in GC by 45 seconds.  Oliver would ride in 3 minutes later, not quite the 8 minutes I needed to catch him.  Oliver rode a clean race for 7 days and deserved to win the final TransRockies.  Nice work dude.  Sneddon who had recently demolished the BC Bike Race had been a great travel companion all week, notched his first podium coming in 3rd on the day and would calim 5th overall behind the Euro contingent.      

This week at TR will go down as one of the greatest in recent memory thanks to the great competition.  Everyday was a battle and that is what bike racing all about.  Like pretty much all the TR’s in the past, the race was put up flawlessly and the riding was great.  The days were lot shorter then years past with the total ride time on the week coming in at just over 14hrs.  Suprisingly this was one of my shortest weeks on the bike all year.  The epic side of stage racing is sliding away in Canada, but what isn’t made up for in quantity, is made up in quality of riding.  The intensity was through the roof thanks to the average win time being right around 2 hrs.  This will undoubtly provide a huge training boost as I move forward to the Canadian Nationals in Quebec at the end of the month.

Like all TransRockies, they layed out a great stage 8 in downtown Canmore as riders partied into the night reminiscing about the week behind them and the 12 great years TransRockies has been around. The TransRockies deserved a great party and we payed it respect!

The next day I tried to race the Tour de Bowness Road race in Cochrane.  3hrs sleep and too many of the wrong type of beverages the night before made it a head achy kind of day.  I suffered like no other and tried to convince myself it was perfect training for simulating the final stretch of the 24hr World Champs yet to come in October this year.  I managed to come in 10th without puking and then picked up my bro at the airport and headed home to Jasper for some days of home cooking and chillin at the lake.   There’s nothing like coming home to the parents for a little mid season break..

Huge thanks to everyone who made this memorable week happen!  Roland and Amanda Green for the accommodation in Fernie, Leighton Poidevin for the accom in Canmore, Oliver, Calle and Paul for coming over and making the race exciting, Crazy Larry for all the volunteer efforts and keeping a smile on our faces, and the whole TransRockies Organization for treating us like family and putting on one heck of a good event!

PS  Thank you John Gibson for the great race pictures.  Make sure to check out his work at Gibson Pictures.

 

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