Day 2: K2 Ranch to Nipika Mountain Resort climbing
73.7km – 3813m
It was a long day for everyone on the TransRockies trail today, as an already gruelling stage got longer when the front pack went off course and everyone played “follow the lemming”, as today’s 1st Place Open Men’s finishers, Sobe Cannondale riders Mike Garrigan and Jesse Jakomait explained at the finish.
The riders went awry when some of the top teams missed the flagging tape on course indicating a right-hand turn. Instead, the group marched up a steep avalanche gulley shouldering their bikes all the way to the top, missing the turn and finding out, upon summiting the chute, that the trail had gone cold.
“We were so focused on putting one foot in front of the other that we ended up just playing follow the lemming,” said Jakomait. A group of about 20 riders at the front of the race, realising their mistake, turned and began backtracking, eventually finding the route and getting back into race mode.
Jakomait and Garrigan completed the course with a time of 5:50:37, about an hour and a half later than the projected top finisher time for Stage 2. Xprezo.ca team Matthew Hadley and Frederic Bussieres came in three minutes later.
“There was a lot of climbing today even without adding an extra hour and a half of uphill with my bike,” said Frederic at the finish line, still sporting a smile but showing signs of fatigue after two straight days of steep vertical.
Steed Cycles rider and recently retired NHL hockey player Trevor Linden also commented on the degree of difficulty for Stage 2, saying: “It wouldn’t have been bad had we not gone off course on that scree. It was a big day without that, but that made it massive,” he said. Linden said he was looking forward to the Stage 3 time trial as a much needed rest from Stages 1 and 2. Nipika Mountain Resort promises to deliver that with some exceptional private singletrack along the Kootenay River, bordering Canada’s Kootenay National Park.
Day 3: Nipika to Nipika Time Trial
Two days of climbing may have taken their toll, but today TransRockies riders were treated to a few extra hours of sleep. Those at the top of the standings received start times throughout the afternoon, meaning teams had time for a leisurely breakfast, a photography session in the scenic Nipika meadow and a chance to cheer on new friends as they made their way out of the chutes and onto the incredible trail system at Nipika Mountain Resort.
Designed by landowner Lyle Wilson, today’s trail was a big hit with weary riders and the spectacular singletrack was a much-needed reward after two gruelling days coming down from the Purcell mountain range and up and over the formidable western slopes of the Rocky Mountain range. Much of today’s trail was cut especially for TransRockies by Wilson, and the pride of workmanship and desire to create something both scenic and challenging paid off, as many riders were overheard expressing a desire to return in the future with friends and family.
Highlights of today’s stage included incredible remote Rocky Mountain singletrack and the return of summer temperatures after two wet days and an equal number of cold nights. The stage was also lauded for the best scenery of the past three days, as the trail had riders cruising singletrack high on the sandy ridge above the aquamarine Kootenay River.
After a stage which was neutralised due to a huge off-course excursion by many of the leading teams, Stage 3’s time trial was a chance to start moving around the standing again. Despite a strong challenge from second-placed riders Kris Sneddon and Max Plaxton, the Italian duo of Johnny Cattaneo and Marzio Deho won their second stage with a slim 36-second margin over the local challengers finishing with the fastest time on the day of 2:20:40. Stefan Widmer and Marty Lazarski rounded out the top 3 on the day and held onto the last podium spot in the overall with a very strong 2:24:03 time.
In the Open Mixed division, last year’s champs Wendy Simms and Normom Thibeault of Frontrunners/Kona crushed all comers again with a 15-minute win over Team Clif Bar Pro Katerina Nash and her partner Steve Wallace. After only two stages, the Kona duo already has a nearly half-hour lead in the overall.
With over 70 teams entered, the 80+ Mens Division always offers some of the closest racing of the TR. This year, it looks like it will no exception as Team Deasgoat duo of Pat Doyle and Geoff Clark closed the gap to Stage 1 Winners Team Wobblenaught with a win in today’s time trial. They beat the overall leaders by 20 second and closed the overall gap down to a mere 31 seconds. This looks like it will be a battle all the way to the finish line in Fernie.
Let’s hope teams enjoyed their leisurely Nipika stay – leisurely, that is, when compared with Stage 4, which features 109 kilometres of some of the Kootenay Rockies most remote terrain with over 2500 metres of climbing throw in for good measure. This part of the Kootenays is a well-kept secret for many local riders, and the long day will pay off in spades as the journey through this spectacular mountain oasis will give newcomers an authentic Canadian Rockies epic mountain bike experience.
Results after day 3
1. Marzio Deho/Johnny Cattaneo (Olympia) 05:30:24.14
2. Kris Sneddon/Max Plaxton (Kris & Max) 05:36:55.09
3. Stefan Widmer/Martye Lazarski (Rocky Mountain – Milliken Developments) 05:45:43.67
21. Adrian Scott/Gavin Rumbles (Team UK) 07:38:13.26
33. Blake Crouch/Graham Jones (Go North) 08:27:41.29
36. Hamish Binhely/Peter Windridge (Warwick Uni Old Boys) 08:35:36.71
1. Carey Lowery/Lisa Randall (Outdoor Store / Outspokin’ Bikes) 08:44:49.21
2. Amy Guidinger/Meghan Osborne (Guidi-up) 09:34:13.56
3. Teri Majer/SHelley Mattson (Biking Betties) 10:33:02.43
9. Jan Rogers/Emma Cranfield (JaMa) 13:31:37.27