Archived General DB Blogs
Posted: Aug 17 2008
After 7 years of epic 7 day stage races, the Transrockies has become one of the classic adventure mountain bike races in the world.
Andy and Mo, two the Different Bikes partners,took part in the event this year, here’s the post race report.
Although Andy has completed 2 Transrockies in the past as well as BC Bike Race, Mo had never tried a stage race event. As well, despite 17 years of marriage, they’d never tried a team format event either. Would they finish? Would they stay married? Lots of regular riding and training through the spring and summer led to finally loading up an RV, the family and support crew and heading for Panorama BC.
Stage 1: Panorama Ski Area to K2 Ranch.
A relatively short stage at only 52km, the hidden challenge here was nearly 2500 metres of climbing, a huge chunk of it at the start where the race climbed directly to the top of Panorama Ski Area. The climb was steep but steady and went pretty well – many teams seemed to be going really hard on this first hour of day 1. Once at the top the course went to single track – rough, fresh and very challenging. Lots of hike a bike made for slow going, and the day went epic quickly as the winds picked up and eventually the racers found themselves in snow and sleet! The trails improved as the descent continued and the rest of the day was entertaining and despite some rain, the finish was a welcome sight after 5 hours in the saddle. The team was working well so far!
Stage 2: K2 to Nipika ranch
Expected to be one of the tougher stages, this one was only 74km, but packed over 3000metres of climbing with plenty of pushing and hiking. All started out well with the first couple of climbs handled easily. The team had two flats early on but with quick changes were still setting a strong pace. The day then went sideways for most of the front half of the pack as the leaders (and everyone following them) missed a key turn partway up a challenging debris slope hike a bike. This led to an incredible scene (in hindsight) with hundreds of racers carrying bikes up a very steep mountain slope in a line that stretched up more than a kilometre and nearly 500 vertical metres. Soon the error was discovered, which led to considerable chaos as teams struggled to get back on course. Back marker teams found themselves in the lead, other teams went exploring through the woods for shortcuts and most teams found themselves in a rush hour traffic jam that lasted for nearly 30 minutes. Eventually, everyone seemed to see the humour, patiently waited for things to get going and started racing again. The confusion would eventually lead to the results for the day being not counted toward overall standing. The rest of the day saw a great mix of fresh singletrack, challenging climbing and some fun technical descending before a logging road run into Nipika. Two more mechanicals were dealt with by the team, and a long day was made longer, with the intrepid DB team eventually coming in after some 8 hours of riding!
Stage 3: Nipika Resort Time Trial
All new for this year’s Transrockies was a time trial format stage consisting of nearly 50km of single track and XC ski trail double track. It was a treat! Timed starts meant that teams had the trails clear to rip, the course was challenging and rolling but with incredible scenery, and with a finishing time of 3.5 hours, it felt almost like a rest day! Nipika Wilderness resort is an incredible location with a huge network of trails to explore both by mountain biking and hiking and also on XC skis in the winter. We recommend checking this place out! The DB team was in a groove now, had a great race day and felt like this event might just work out after all!
Stage 4: Nipika to Whiteswan Lake
At around 110 km, this was the longest mileage stage of the race, but with moderate climbing of around 2000 metres and long sections of connecting logging road, it didn’t appear too intimidating. The course for this day was traversing some very sparsely populated and travelled backcountry areas, and along with the remoteness, the views and incredible scenery combined to provide an epic experience. Working together on the climbs, drafting on the roads, and with a strong sense of being on a mission, the DB pair really ripped it up on day 4. They ended up surprising the pit crew by arriving more than an hour earlier than expected in just over 6 hours. This great riding day, perfect weather, along with the awesome, mountain-ringed remote site at Whiteswan Lake put the team on a high and they relaxed and recovered in prepartion for Day 5.
Stage 5: Whiteswan Lake to Elkford
Another moderate stage on paper, with 88km and 2200m of climbing, most teams expected a steady day on this trip through more backcountry to our first town, cell coverage and amenities since leaving Panorama. However, 4 hard days in the saddle were catching up to many teams, including the DB crew. This day turned out to be a tougher one physically and mentally than expected, forcing them to dig deep, and maybe not notice as much of the beautiful rocky Mountain vistas as on days past. This stage started gently with a long, steady shaded climb, but quickly increased in difficulty as the blazing sun got higher, the steep rocky hike a bike sections arrived, and the hair raising descent of the Rock Garden was tackled. The last 15km on the road was a battle but the team rolled in together after 5 and a half hours glad to have survived. They were welcomed by what seemed the whole town of Elkford that provided hospitality, post race snacks and drinks and one of the best race villages of the event. The team was starting to believe they just might make the end of this thing!
Stage 6: Elkford BC to Blairmore AB
This was the day that looked nasty in the race guide, 103km. about 3000 m of climbing spread over a sawtooth profile with several large climbs, pushing climbs and smaller walls. And it was expected to be hot. The breakfast session was more reserved than usual as teams were getting tired and were wary of what lay ahead. But this is what we were here for. Epic challenges that push you harder than you expect. With the start line music ramping, the energy in the group surged and to the timeless lyrics of ACDC’s “Highway to Hell” we were off again. It was hot. It was long. It was difficult. Then it got harder. We grunted pushed and rolled over the continental divide to pay a visit to Alberta. Lots of backcountry logging roads, some gas line access trails, single track and a bit of pavement wended us toward Blairmore. This was a tough stage. Probably the toughest. We got there in just over 7 hours with not much fuel left in the tanks. On one hand, there was only one day left. On the other hand ouch there was still another day left to ride.
Stage 7: Blairmore AB to Fernie BC
The last day! However, unlike most previous TR races, this last day was not to be a short romp to the celebrations. We still had a big day of nearly 80km, starting with a climb up the local ski hill, followed by several more large climbs, a mix of single track, road and trails into the town of Fernie. Despite the end in sight, the day proved to be taxing. With some 35 hours in the last 6 days, perhaps this wasn’t surprising. But we got there. With a final few km of rolling singletrack, we popped out into Fernie in the afternoon heat and rolled across the line to complete the 7th annual TR. Yes we’re still married. We even kissed on the finish line. We had a lot of fun, more than expected. Maybe we’ll try another one someday…
Overall, this is truly an epic event and appears be be improving every year. Organization was excellent, and the whole event was very much focused on the racers and participants and maximizing their enjoyment (and suffering). The food was ample and pretty good considering the remote locations of many camps. Mobile showers were incredible and a welcome place after a long day on the bike. The stages were tough but also enjoyable in many ways. The scenery and route were outstanding – some of the best we have seen in many riding expeditions. Not for the casual rider, but if you have some good base miles and don’t mind tackling a challenge – this is a stage race you should experience!
Check out www.transrockies.com for all of the stage reports, photos and results.Read more Archived General DB Blogs »