Singletrack 6 MTB Stage Race – Fernie, BC

Rotem Ishay and Kate Aardal Take the Early Lead at Singletrack 6

Written by: Marlee Dixon

Singletrack 6, a six-day stage race in British Columbia, started today in sunny downtown Fernie.  Known for having one of the biggest and most extensive single track trail networks, Fernie seems to have mountain bike trails everywhere.  It’s a small, friendly mountain town with a fun downtown and the gorgeous Canadian Rockies rising all around. Singletrack 6 includes two stages in Fernie followed by one stage in Cranbrook, one stage in Kimberley and two stages in Golden. The route for Singletrack 6 changes every year and this is the first year it has included Fernie.

Today’s ride rolled out at 8am from the downtown area behind a fire truck. Not long after the neutral start, all 300+ racers were pushing hard to get into position before the start of the first section of trail.

Once the singletrack started it didn’t stop; racers climbed Hyperventilation then descended the timed enduro descent Hyper-extension. Next it was on to other great trails including the new Kush and Kushier followed by the Coal Discovery trail, up Sidewinder, Eric’s trail and down Kids Stuff to the finish.

On and off rain on Friday made for some great conditions on course accompanied by a cool sunny morning made for ideal race conditions.  Only 20 miles of racing, you might think this race would be a breeze, but it’s not. The course is almost completely one-track with a whopping 4900’ of elevation gain. The ascents are challenging with some roots, steep punchy climbs and technical areas. The descents and winding areas are also steep in sections, with roots and technical features. Todays course was a great test of racer’s overall bike handling skills, fitness and strength with the fastest course time averaging ~10 mph.

For the pro men Rotem Ishay (Jamis Bikes) pulled away from the pro field before the first singletrack and rode alone the entire race despite a broken derailleur hanger.  He won the stage in a time of 1:59:38. In 2nd was Mattieu Belanger-Barrette (Pivot Cycles) in a time of 2:04:09 and in 3rd was Andreas Hartmann (Rocky Mountain Factory team).

For the women Kate Aardal (Ridleys Cycle), the 2014 and 2015 Singletrack 6 winner, won the first stage in a time of 2:23:41. She was in the lead from the start and won both the timed descent and the stage.  Right behind her was Sonya Looney (FreakShow/Defeet) in a time of 2:24:18 followed in 3rd by Kim Hurst (Niner NZ) 2:28:20.

Stage 1 of Singletrack 6 was a great introduction to the extensive, fun, and challenging riding that takes you up to stunning mountain vistas, descending through pitch-dark giant forests, on classic trails and cool new singletrack in a beautiful mountain setting.

Check back tomorrow for Stage 2 results, photos and report as racers head over to Fernie Mountain Resort and Mount Fernie Provincial Park for 21 miles of steep ascents and descents.

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