Rafter Six Ranch – Canmore
46km, 1350m climbing/ 1350m descending
Though riders were pushed to their limits during stage 6 of the 2010 TransRockies, there was still one test to pass before they would be able to celebrate their successful finish with family, supporters and friends.
Stage 7 covered 46km from Rafter Six Ranch to Canmore with a route that ran along the TransCanada Trail and up onto the newly rebuilt trails of the Canmore Nordic Centre before dropping down into the town centre for the final turns of the pedsals down Main Street to the finish line.
After a couple of epic days in the high mountains, the weather turned fair for Stage 7 and riders were treated to Canmore and the Rockies at their most beautiful and benign. With soft white clouds in the sky and sun dappling the peaks, it was hard to believe that just the day before, racers had been pushed to the limits of their endurance on a day which forced even the strongest riders to think purely in terms of survival.
There were few shakeups in the standings on Stage 7 and the short run into Canmore confirmed that the teams who sat atop the standings were truly the best in their divisions in 2010.
Having retaken the lead In the marquee Open Men’s division after a Stage 4 mechanical meltdown, the Kona duo of Barry Wicks and Kris Sneddon were in no mood to take any chances and stormed to another win with a super quick 2:27 finishing time to confirm their 2010 overall win by over 40 minutes over the 2009 Champions Stefan Widmer and Marty Lazarski of Rocky Mountain Factory Team who placed second on the day and second overall. “I’ve done a lot of stage races and that was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done,” said Sneddon. “Even the last stage was tougher than we expected—really fun, but tough. We’re glad for the win and looking forward to celebrating with a few beers tonight.”
Sneddon has been selected to race as part of the Canadian National Team at the 2010 World Mountain Bike Championships to be held in three weeks at Mont St. Anne, Quebec while Barry Wicks will start his preparations for the Fall cyclocross season where he’s consistent a top contender in the US Pro series.
Third place overall was still up in the air with three teams battling for the title. Probably the fastest team out of the three was the Colorado-based Honey Stinger pair of Dax Massey and Nate Bird who had been plagued with mechanicals throughout the event starting with a broken front wheel on stage one and including multiple flats, broken chains and even a broken pedal on Stage 6. With a 14 minute gap to make up to the 3rd place Polish MtbTrophy.com team (Filip Kuzniak/ Szymon Zacharski) they poured their all into Stage 7 to take third place on the day and could then only wait to see how far behind the Poles would finish and if they could gain enough time to grab 3rd overall back.
The clock started ticking when they crossed the line at 2:38:46, and they knew that they needed the Poles to finish around the 2:52:20 mark to win, the timing clock showed 2:40 then 2:45 and their chances were still alive. Other teams kept streaming in and each time came the question, “it is them?” The clock passed 2:50 and they needed less than more minutes but finally a team appeared at the end of the road pedalling with real desperation—the Poles. When they crossed the line at 2:50:32 to hold on to third, it was elation for Filip and Szymon and heartbreak for Nate and Dax.
The next team across the line to confirm their overall title were local heroes Jeff Neilsen and Mical Dyck who won the Open Mixed division for a second straight year. In the mud of stage 6, Neilsen took a clump of mud in the eye and was riding the singletrack on memory for much of Stage 7 with one eye badly out of focus. Like Kris Sneddon, Mical Dyck who also won the Bronze Medal at the 2010 National Championships, will be lining up in at the 2010 Mountain Bike World Championships in a Canadian National Team jersey.
Czech duo of Martin Horak and Milan Spolc also repeated as champions in their category—they were pushed hard this year by two teams including the local Deadgoat Racing/Bicycle Café duo of Pat Doyle and Craig Bartlett. Pat and Craig used their trail knowledge and a huge day 7 effort to grab the stage win in front of their friends and family. They’re sure to get big cheers for their stage win and 2nd place overall when they mount the podium at tonight’s awards banquet.
Another local team who won the day and the overall were the Terrascape/Deadgoat Racing Open Women’s duo of Alana Heise and Trish Graczyk who held off a challenge from 2009 winners Magi and Kate Scallion who had one more short ride to make at the end stage to their homes in Canmorde.
In the 80+ Mixed category, Brazilians Mario Roma and Adriana Nascimento (Brasil Soul MTB) provided some of the international colour for the event winning five stages on their way to the overall win. They will be joined in the final winners podium by the Moutaincruzers (Joe McCarthy/ Randy Walker) who quietly had a dominant ride in the 100+ age category taking six of seven stages on their way to a satisfying win. These Ontario residents proved that even flatlanders can get up and down the mountains quickly.
On August 8th Nearly 450 mountain bike riders rolled out of Fernie to test themselves against the Rockies either in the 3-day solo TR3 or the seven-day team TransRockies. Seven days later, the epic drew to a close under sunny skies with the spectacular peaks of Canmore as a backdrop. Before the scrapes have healed and the aches lessened, stories will be told and riders will start to plan and dream about the next race in 2011 when the TransRockies will celebrate its 10th Anniverary. But first there are stories to be told and winners to be celebrated.