Singletrack 6

Singletrack 6 has grown into a great multi day race in BC as it incorporates a tour of some of the most beautiful towns in Canada with some great singletrack riding.  The days are short at around 30-40 km which makes it appealing to the average rider as generally you are done racing by mid morning and then have the rest of the day to take in other activities and appreciate the beauty of small town Canada.  

This year the race started off with the first 3 stages in Golden BC. This allowed us racers to settle in for a few days as we raced some great trails in the surrounding mountains.  Golden is a gem as far as mountain adventure goes as its squashed between the Rocky mountain and Monashee mountain ranges and is surrounded by true Canadian wilderness.  

Stage 1 we headed to the Moonraker trail network and were treated to a day of fast flowing single track through the woods with some breathtaking views along the edge of a dramatic canyon.  Coming off an injury at BCBikeRace I opted to take a relaxed approach to this stage but this backfired as the body never switched into race mode and I slowly drifted out of contention.  This was partly due to taking a rest week before the race as I tried to give the body all the R&R it could get so it could be ready to race ST6.   After the race we kicked into tourist mode and road our bikes around to the coldest swimming holes in town to chill off from the 30 degree scorching summer heat!

Stage 2 was a short 30 km as we took in a steep and gnarly course on Mount 7.    After being dormant in Stage 1 I opted to take the opposite tactic and go for it from the gun. This fired up the adrenaline and at least I would get a good training day out of it if nothing else.  Surprisingly the body came online and I would set the pace for the first 45 minutes up a rad new climbing trail with just race leader Justin Lindine  being able to keep pace.  We hit the gnarly, straight shot descent back down the mountain with a slim gap over some North Americas finest Enduro riders and new they’d be coming in hot.  Using a dropper post for the first time ever in a race, and 3rd time outright, I was a bit sqiurrley as I adapted to the new riding style.  Half way down we came to a sharp left hand turn, Justin lost his front wheel and ate some dirt while I narrowly made the corner then proceeded to miss the next corner coming in way to hot and ending up in the bushes.  From here 3 riders ripped by, Evan Guthrie, arguably Canada’s fastest XC descender,  past World Cup DH winner, Tomi Misser, and Enduro ripper Alex McGuinnis.  The rest of the stage was a fun 8 way battle as we jostled for position.  My back would slowly seize up as I drifted out of contention for a podium spot as we raced some raw and punchy trails though some rock outcroppings.  At the finish line we took off our game faces and put on our smiley tourist faces and again went on a search for the best swimming holes in the area. 

Stage 3 was an interesting day as we took a Gondola up Kicking Horse Resort to start the stage.  I’m a believer that you should earn your elevation so was planning to ride up the mountain to the start line but was politely asked not to due too safety requirements.  This was too bad so instead I road to the base of the Gondola to get a good warmup in and then was lifted up the mountain to a stunning alpine setting with a surrounding 360 degree mountain view.  It was a rad place to start a race as we zipped up a 10 minute fire road climb, descended a bit, climbed a 10 minute single track climb then were treated to a huge 800 meter vertical descent to the valley bottom below.  

Off the start I set the wattage meter around 390 which was a bit more conservative then normal but given we were at 2000M elevation I figured it would be a solid effort.  Surprisingly the other riders drifted back pretty quickly and I found myself with a nice lead early on.  Heading down the first descent with the dropper down I road a bit haywire and hit a rock hard, consequently slashing a hole in the tire.  It was a quick fix as I engulfed a gel so I could use the wrapper to fix the sidewall and then popped a tube in, co2’d it and was off again, maybe in 50-60th place but still potentially in the race.  A minute later the tube would burst out of the sidewall and suddenly I went from being a bike racer to being royally screwed.  Another racer dropped a spare tube as I started to look for a better solution to fix the huge gash in the tire.  All I had was a credit card which I tried stuffing in there but it was pretty ridged and looking quite awkward as it bent out of shape .  Another racer saw this gongshow happening and dropped off a proper tire boot.  With the tire now properly  sealed I went to Co2 the tube only to find the valve stem wasn’t quite long enough for my deep dish rims,thus the c02 canister burst into the air.  Now out of co2’s I asked another racer for a pump hoping it would work better.  All in all this flat tire turned into show stopper as I found myself in dead last place in the 260 rider field by the time the wheels were rolling again. 

 In a race that is 95% single track this is a bad thing as passing people one by one can take forever and also uses alot of energy as the only passing option half the time is to ride off the trail through the rhubarb.  At one point I came to 12-15 riders walking up a switch back and opted to get off and straight line it up through the bushes to get past them all.  It was good for everyone as they wouldn’t have to waste time pulling over for me and I could save my breath having to ask 12-15 times to get by the group.  Eventually I hit the huge decent to the valley bottom and quickly decided to pull the shoot as it was too dangerous and not worth it to try and sneak by any more riders as the risk of a pileup was substantial on the bermy descent.  Thus I settled into a very cruisy ride, hydrating, eating and coming to terms that I was no longer off the front going for a stage win but rather off the back on a leisure ride.  It turned into a joy ride as the pressure was off and I could now really appreaciate the great trails and could even stop at the feed zones to take advantage of all the goodies there which are unavailable when we are racing full gas.

Stage 4 was 1.5 hours down the road in Revelstoke so after one last sleep at my great host, Jana’s place, it was on the highway early to get ready for another kick at the can.  Being out of contention in the GC I opted to make the stage into a hard training ride and set the pace up the first climb which was a great 30 minute climbing trail.  In years past we would climb more fire roads at ST6 but this year the organizers seemed to find trails everywhere so virtually 90-95% of the stages were on some twisting single track.  After a while my back would again begin to seize and slowly I’d drift off the lead pack as they pushed each other hard on the amazingly flowy single track that Revelstoke has to offer.   

The great thing about ST6 is that even if you’re having a rough day, it’s still a great day on the bike as the trails are that good and the atmosphere around the race is positive and laid back.  My only grudge is that some of the days are under 2 hours which seems like a shame when there is so much more good riding to be had in the areas.  I figure if we’re going to get dressed up to ride our bikes for a day we might as well do that and spend at least the whole morning riding our bikes rather then just a couple hours before breakfast 😉   With the racing over for the day it was time for activity number 2  and 3 on the day, swimming and then exploring the great little community of Revelstoke.

The beauty of the race this year was that you could spend the first half in Golden, then after racing Revelstoke, head straight to Silver Star or Vernon and spend the 2nd half of it there, thus just having to pack up once during race week.  This made things pretty chill and turned the week into a real bike holiday.  

Stage 5 was on the legendary Kalamalka lake course which wound up a pretty epic 1 hour plus climbing trail before an old school, rough and dirty descent back down Big Ed to the lake below.  It’s one of my favourite days of racing in Western Canada as its rough, both physically and technically challenging and ends up at a beautiful lake to swim in.  Unfortunately I opted to sit this day out as my knee injury from BCBR was getting worse everyday and it would consequently torque the back out of joint and lead to some sub par riding abilities.   Pulling out of races is rough but I knew

 

coming into the week that I was rolling the dice. Sometimes it’s smarter to just save it for another day.   I was still stoked though to be along on the journey as the ST6 travelling bike circus is always one of the funner weeks we get on our bikes each year and the bike racing is just part of the overall experience. 

Stege 6 was up at Silver Star resort and took in the newly opened BeWolf trail which is a IMBA style route with endless flowing berms.   I’ve never had a chance to ride it but from the feedback I was getting it was pretty rad as the first descent seemed to go for ever before a pretty chill climbing trail took the riders back up the mountain.  Local hero Evan Guthrie would take the last stage and the overall GC, narrowly beating 45 year old Tomi Misser by just under a minute after the legendary downhiller had held onto the lead all week, demonstrating that age isn’t much of a factor these days. The girls field was very interesting this year with a good battle in the top 6 each day with Jena Greaser taking a convinccing victory while the other girls battled and jockeyed for positions behind all week.  

TransRockies is well known for holding good after parties and this one was no exception as the riders gathered in the alpine village of Silver Star to bullshit and flashback on a great 6 days of riding through the Monashess and Okanagan.  Next year ST6 will take a break as the organizers will be focusing on bringing back the legendary TransRockies Classic.  This race was at one time arguably one of the top 5 stage races in the World as it adventured across the Rocky Mountain valleys and high alpine passes between Panorama and Fernie BC.  With wilderness camps each night and some longer 100 km + courses on a mixture of fire roads, overgrown paths and trails it’s a true adventure through a remote and wild part of Canada.  I’ll be looking forward to this one!  Big shout out to the organizers at TransRockies-Singletrack6 as they have been putting on great events for years and have always taken the time to give back to the local riding communities and helping the local riders get into a a World Class race in there own backyard.

 

Photo Credits to John Gibson @ Gibsonpictures.com

Rock Photo credit: Jean McAllister @darkhorsecompany

Canyon Creek- Golden, BC

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