2006 TransRockies Challenge
Southern Alberta sees some of the most extreme weather in Canada with searing hot summers, constant wind and bitterly cold winters. The riders of the 2006 TransRockies Challenge got the first two during stage two with searing temperatures which led to several heat-related abandons and lots of shattered faces at the finish line in the rugged Crowsnest Pass.
The 79km stage included well over 2,000 metres of climbing, and tested individuals, teams and equipment to the limit with dry, rocky trails and a profile which was constantly up and down. The tough course and conditions produced some big changes in the standings and one very happy hometown Stage Winner.
Right off the start, the riders’ tired legs were faced with 1,000 metres of climbing to the top of Sparwood Ridge-the majority in 8km at an average grade of 12% with several sections much steeper. Once they reached the top of Sparwood Ridge and crossed the Continental Divide into Alberta, they were treated to 13 km of descent before the last 40km of the stage which rolled up and down relentlessly with little coverage or protection from the baking midday sun.
Though each of the top four teams suffered mechanicals, the first victims of the course were yesterday’s winners Andreas Hestler and Seamus McGrath (Rocky Mountain Business Objects/Felt Racing) who suffered with two flats and sub-par legs, losing 11 minutes in the process. The lead was given over to local boy Troy Misseghers and partner Eric Batty of Mountain Bike City who seized control despite a flat of their own. So, after 4:07:22 of racing, Misseghers was able to roll down Main Street of his hometown with with a gap which launched his team into the overall leaders’ jerseys by nine minutes over Hestler and McGrath.
The third place overall duo of Tim Heemskerk and Evan Sherman were slowed by a broken derailleur hanger and a flat which left them in fourth place on the day but still holding third overall. Young guns Matt Green (21) of Rocky Mountain Bicycles and Stefan Widmer (22) of Team Sugoi were able to survive Green’s late broken chain for third place and their first podium placing in TransRockies.
In the Open Women’s category, Nikki Kassel and Lesley Clements of Whistler had their own mechanical when Clements rear tubeless tire lost its seal and flatted. A quick repair got it together again and they were able to turn on the jets for a finishing time of 5:23:37 and a 12 minute win over Sue Butler and Anna Vacca (Team Barenaked/Cannondale) of the U.S. who crossed the line in 5:35:59. Linda Wallenfels and David Harris of Team Health FX solidified their overall lead in the Open Mixed category with a second straight victory over multi-time La Ruta de los Conquistadores Champ Louise Kobin and partner Eric Warkentin.
The weather forecast tomorrow is for more clear blue skies and high temperatures as the riders ride 109km with over 2600 metres of climbing including a huge ascent up and over Racehorse Pass and back into British Columbia to the finish in Elkford.
How are the leading British teams doing? Team Numplumz (Gary Hill and Jack Peterson) came in 4th on Stage 2, but with another team making up more time they’ve dropped to sixth overall in the 80+ Men category. Eden Wheelers (Jane Meeks and Gary Baum) were 4th in the stage and hold on to 4th in 80+ Mixed. Lunar Power (Mark Spratt and Sebastian Huckson) arrived 9th in Blairmore and are still 9th in Open Men. Fancier Ride (Melanie Alexander and Richard Holmes) were 6th on Stage 2 and remain 6th overall in Open Mixed.