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Evan Plews' TransRockies Blog - Day 1

Posted by: Shannon Boffeli |August 8, 2010 7:36 PM

Stage One Fernie to Fernie 

Hello again from the stunning town of Fernie, British Columbia. We arrived yesterday afternoon under sunny skies to this little town tucked into the heart of the Kootenay Rockies. This is hump week for me on my 2010 tour of North American mountain bike stage races—two down and three to go! As usual, Transrockies registration was dialed and we were all checked in to both the race and motel within a couple hours so we headed out to stretch the legs and check out the stage one course. 

For those of you new to Fernie, it is a destination for both winter and summer outdoor sports. While the skiers and snowboarders come for limitless powder, the area boasts equally endless singletrack accessible in minutes from town. We jumped into the course at about the 10km mark my partner Jon Gould immediately picked up a stick and wasted his derailleur hanger. Hoping we had gotten our mechanical misfortune out the way, he headed back for repair and I continued on. Soon I discovered that the second half of the course wasn’t marked and ended up back in town after just a short ride.

I found a Scott Scale hanger in my toolbox and we got that sorted in time to attend the opening rider meeting. It wasn’t too exciting until a storm blew in a cut the small talk short. At that point, we all thought it was just a passing evening thunderstorm. However when we woke up this morning, we discovered that it had continued to rain all night and was still drizzling. I was bumming as usual, but pulled on some extra clothes and my game face just in time for our 9:15 start time.

Jon and I rolled out and immediately dispatched our 30 second team before starting the 500 vertical meter climb up the Roots and Hyperventilation Trails. It was a brutally steep grunt with numerous tight switchbacks and slick roots. We were struggling to find our rhythm and were passed by several other teams near the top of the climb. The descent down Hyperextension was even steeper and more gnarly as we plummeted back down to complete the first 10 km of the stage. 

After a checkpoint, we immediately began another couple hundred meters of stair-step climbing that became increasingly slick with passing riders and areas of poor drainage. By the time we made the only significant fire road section around the 15km mark, the day was turning into a real slog. While we had looked had forward to the road as an opportunity to re-group it became apparent that there would be no rest as the it was covered in a two inch layer of slippery poo. Finally, we reached the second check point and began the last 10km of single-track back to Fernie.

The profile looked flat, but this section was a continuous series of short climbs and descents littered with roots and bridges. Even more challenging was the pervading side hill and copious top-soil that had turned to snot with the interminable rain. There was no momentum to be had and we soldiered on for what seemed like an eternity on the Coal Discovery Trail before finally cutting a developed foot path back into town. The last three kilometers were over in a comparable blink and we crossed the finish line thoroughly immersed in what will undoubtedly be a very challenging race to Canmore, Alberta next Saturday. 

I am stoked! The new, re-tooled TransRockies has just dealt me the best stage I have experienced here after finishing TR in both 2007 and 2008. Without the miserable weather this ride would have been one the best races in my career! After hearing bits and pieces about the courses to come, it sounds like we are in for a real hoot and with the sun out this afternoon it can only get better. 

I asked Jon what he thought of the day and he told me it was very challenging and likely the  toughest 31km of Transrockies he has experienced in 5 years of racing here. So, there you have it straight from a TR veteran—this race has stepped it up and delivered a day one doozy!

Ciao from Fernie…

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