Stage 1, August 8, 2010
Fernie – Fernie Time Trial. 31km, 1300m climbing
Like many ski towns, Fernie has more than the usual amount of great coffee shops lining its Main Street and they were bursting at the seams with hundreds of mountain bikers and their friends throughout Day 1 of the 2010 TransRockies and TR3.
Riders were, of course, looking for a last caffeine jolt before embarking upon the opening singletrack time trial while friends and family were looking for cover and respite from the rain which arrived during the previous night’s opening ceremonies.
After stopping overnight, the drizzle started again in the early morning and didn’t let up until the elite riders started to leave the start line at 1:30pm. The rain was a shock to many as Fernie had basked in sunshine over the previous days as riders arrived in town and prepared for the challenges to come.
The 9th edition of the TransRockies is the first one to open with the now traditional time trial giving all the riders a chance to leave all their first day jitters and nerves out there on the trail without the added pressure of a mass start with hundreds of other riders.
The day was divided into two waves of starters: non-UCI licensed riders and teams left the start line between 9am and roughly 11:30am with 30 second gaps between each starter. The UCI licensed riders and teams left every minute starting at 1:30pm with Adam Craig of Team Rabobank/Giant given the honours as the highest internationally ranked rider.
The fastest times in the first wave were turned in by the top teams in the Open Mixed and 80+ Men’s Division along with some of faster solo riders. Competition in the Open Mixed Division was expected to be close and it lived up to advance billing with three strong teams fighting for first place. Last year’s Champions, Jeff Neilson and Mycal Dyck (Team Terrascape/Trek Canada) were nipped by Coloradans Gretchen Reeves and Cannon Shockley (Tokyo Joes/Tennessee Pass Cookhouse) who won the stage in 2:19 roughly a minute ahead of Dyck and Neilson who clocked a 2:20. In third place were Wendy Simms/Normon Thibault of Kona/Frontrunners who finished in third 5 minutes later.
The 80+ Men’s Division was another tight battle on day one but this with an international flavour as a team from the UK beat teams from Canada and the Czech Republic to reach the top of the podium. Pete Turnbull and George Rose (Mule Bar) came in first ahead of Pat Doyle and Craig Bartless (Deadgoat Racing/RMCC) who finished just behind in second and last year’s 80+ Men’s Champions Milan Spolic and Martin Horak of the Czech Republic.
The second wave of riders who started at 1:30pm were treated to gradually clearing skies and course conditions which were firming up rapidly under the occasional breaks of high mountain sunshine. Max Plaxton (Team ShoAir) left the startline second behind Craig and pushed from the start hoping to catch Craig and take the honours on the first day. At CP 1, he got word that he had cut the one minute gap to 30 seconds and he finally got Adam in sight coming out of Stage 2. With two big days of racing to follow, Adam and Max worked together to the finish line to gap the rest of the men’s field with Max taking the stage honours.
Kelli Emmett (Giant) showed her world class fitness and riding skills to rage through the course passing riders and teams who started ahead of her to post a dominant victory in the Open Women’s category of the TR3.
In the TransRockies Open Men’s Division, the field was lead by Barry Wick and Kris Sneddon (KONA) who started 1 minute ahead of 2009 Champions Marty Lazarski and Stefan Widmer (Rocky Mountain Factory). While the gap never stretched out during the day’s racing, Wick and Sneddon held their gap to the finish and took the first set of leaders jerseys of 2010.
The first day time trial should have settled the nerves of the 450 riders and with clearing skies and a sunny forecast for Stage 2, riders will be good and ready for the 70+ km and nearly 2000 metres of climbing to come on the rider to Sparwood. Stay tuned to www.transrockies.com for reports, images and full results.
Stage 2 Preview
Fernie-Sparwood – 71k, 1900m climbing
After the 31km time trial on day 1, Stage 2 of the TransRockies throws riders into the deep end of the TransRockies with a 71km point-to-point ride ending in Sparwood, the last town on the British Columbia side of the Continental Divide. This brand new route will give riders a taste of more of the things for which the TransRockies has become famous: leg breaking climbs, epic views and challenging singletrack.
The stage opens with a nearly 30km climb to up Fernie Ridge which includes a couple of false summits before the final steep grunt to the 2100m high point of the day. From this summit, those inclined to take in the surroundings will be presented with vistas of the Elk Valley including views across to the epic summits of Mt. Fernie and the Three Sisters.
The need to immediately refocus on riding though, as the trail turns sharply downwards and returns them to the valley floor in a great hurry on the newly-finished Porky Blue Trail which plunges down 1000 vertical metres in just around 6km of riding—the average 15 percent grade is punctuated by some steep fast sections which will test the brakes and nerves. Porky Blue is one of the showpieces of the Fernie Trails Alliance, one of the many local trail groups who build and maintain the trails which the TransRockies and TR3 ride each year.
The second half of the stage rolls up and down along the West side of the Elk River Valley never climbing more than 150 metres above the base of the valley but never relenting or flattening out. Steady tempo and smooth skills will be the key for teams working to preserve energy for the five days of riding still to come.