Stage Six, Little Elbow Campground to Rafter Six Ranch
I woke up this morning to the sound of fireworks going off.
I wasn’t dreaming either. Ok, it is dark, cold and RAINING—fireworks?!
Evidently somebody got into the "Bear Bangers” used to scare away snooping yogi
and decided to have some fun. Oh, yes, and it was raining. I dozed the
rest of the night listening to the drops pound the tent wondering if there was
any hope of it stopping. When the alarm finally rousted me from the bag, it was
apparent that the rain was with us for the longest, hardest day of TransRockies
With the morning routine of schlepping bags and getting
dressed in soggy clothes we all seemed less motivated than ever to start the
race. When it finally got underway, Jon and I started dead last and rode slowly
up through the pack. By the time we hit the big climb of the day to Jumping
Pound Ridge. Yes, strange name, but actually quite applicable today in three
degree centigrade temperatures with wind gusting at a reported 50km per hour.
Apparently that is what mountain bikers are supposed to do keep warm—jumping
We moved up into fourth place in our category and were
climbing well despite the rain and cold. At the top we dropped down a short
descent to a saddle before climbing even higher to a point called Cox Hill.
This is when things began to come unraveled for me. First my rear brake pads
burned through, then shortly thereafter the front pads were gone. I was still
able to slow down to some degree until the rear rotor caught on the pad backing
and tore itself apart.
With no rear brake at all, I climbed the rest of the way to
the top ahead of Jon and started the descent. Of course it was totally RAD,
steep, and even possibly worth freezing to death for, but I couldn’t control
the bike on the roots and rocks with only the front brake partially functional.
Running was my only option, so I hoofed it down about 700 vertical meters in
seven kilometers. Surprisingly I was still intact physically and able to make
good time on the road into the second checkpoint where I found Jon waiting in a
warm tent with a number of riders we had passed earlier in the stage.
Apparently they had been cut-off from the big climb and descent race by race
officials and given some penalty time.
We slammed some hot chocolate and took off motivated to
finish the stage now that the "hard” part was over. I made it about 200 meters
before I shifted the rear derailleur and it broke off the frame. I had a spare
hanger for Jon’s bike but not one for mine. With no rear brake rotor, no front
brake pads, no rear derailleur and absolutely no motivation to single-speed
23km to the finish, let alone repair my bike for another mud-fest tomorrow, I
quit. Sagged out, got in the broom wagon bowing out of TR on the second to last
Now that I think about it, maybe I should have shortened the
chain and single-speeded in. After all, it would be good practice for Breck
Epic week after next. Of course, the rain stopped by the time we drove into the
Rafter Six Ranch and Jon showed up less than an hour after we did. I am already
feeling like a real wussy. Oh well, I suppose there may be another TransRockies
in my future or maybe not. In any case, I am looking forward to eating
breakfast before lunchtime tomorrow and enjoying a nice café in Canmore,
while I wait for the finishers to show up.
In the meantime I have washed my broken bike for the last
time this week, eaten a few slabs of roast beef, and prepared for my final
night in a three-person tent not even suitable for one grown man. I promise to
report again tomorrow from a dry spot at the finish so gitty-up!