2013 TR3 is in the bag. What a race – gruelling climbs, ball busitin’ descents, and all around good times. Mike, Josh, Shantel, & Mark all made the trip down to hit up the 12th edition of this event.
All loaded and ready to hit the road to Fernie
Here’s how it broke down for Mike:
In honour of the 100th Tour de France, where the route took them up Alpe d’Huez twice, the good people of TransRockies decided to offer us the same dose of suffering as stage 1 took the racers up Hyperventilation – twice. Hyperventilation is a challenging, steepish, swtichback climb to the south of Fernie that overlooks the town. This is the climb that pushed me over the edge in my pursuit to drop a few pounds of body weight. I vividly remember watching Blennerhassett (Mike) soft pedal in front of me during Furious 3 as I struggled to maintain a pace, only to be strong once we returned to the flats. It was there that I decided that if I wanted to keep racing MTB like this, I’d have to do it with less weight. 20lbs less makes the climb that much more enjoyable.
Day 1 Start: Downtown Fernie – I squeezed my way into the front and met some nice Blokes from Denmark
Each edition of TR has featured this climb, but in it’s 12th and final year the race route featured double Hyperventilation – up it two times. The final section of the climb is a segment on Strava, and I set a goal for myself to climb it in 13:30 and I’m pleased to say I ripped it in 13:16! I was climbing well.
Too bad my descending didn’t improve as well. I’m not a slouch, but it’s hard to comfortably bomb the steeps of Fernie when I mostly ride MTB in the Edmonton River Valley. The 2 downhills of stage 1 were steep, fast, and loose…not my forte.
In the end, I rolled through in 6th place (TR3 GC) and made the evening slide show. Success.
The ominous ‘Porky Blue’ awaited us on Day 2 and I wasn’t super stoked about it. Memory served me to remember it a massive slog to the top (>30kms) and a fast, steep, & loose 20 minute decent down. The climbing, as I remembered it, was slow and steady up a fire road, morphed into a puddle-laidened double track, to steep steep single track that was a mental slog to get up. Turns out, it’s much easier when you’re lighter!
Crowsnest Coffee got us started each morning. I liked the Ethiopian so much I picked up another bag on the drive home!
Off the gun I hung on Mike Vine’s wheel in the pack, safely in the draft as the group slowly widdled away due to the pace and increase in % grade. I found myself with the pair of Planet Food strongmen, Vine and Jon Firth, and we motored up to check point one together. Vine broke away as the road pitched up even more while Firth stood and powered away to gap me up the climb. To my surprise, the steep slog of single track never came. I climbed really well and maintained by disciplined pacing and crested to Porky Blue in good shape. Down we go.
I held my own, but still not as quick as my peers in the race. Vine, according to Strava, ripped the DH a full 3 minutes faster than me. Finishing only 6 minutes down to him was a good result for me as Vine ended up winning the stage. The top 6 in TR3 was quite close and my solid ride netted me another 6th place – but I clawed back some GC time on 5th.
Fashion Violations – Shorts and Compression socks
The day I was looking forward to the most, day 3 started and finished at the Fernie Alpine Resort. More up and down of a day, there was 4 climbs and 4 descents in the 30 km stage. A mean-streaking bull moose on course forced a 15 minute delay and re-route we set off in rainy/misty conditions, which was a welcome reprieve from the oppressive heat of day 1. My climbing legs arrived on time again, and I set a comfortably fast pace with Vine & Firth, while Hadley just up the road in sight. A chase group caught up to Vine and I halfway up, but Mike & I pushed on to open a gap as we entered the 1st DH of the day. Vine ripped it while I felt like I had the upper body of a 8 year old, as I couldn’t find my groove and plinko’d my way down the technical descent.
Even thought the race was slightly shortened, and was scheduled to be the shortest stage of the race, it was still a slog. Steep would be an understatement. The climbing in the race broke all but the strongest of men (Cory Wallace), as I found myself just suffering through all the climbs with my 30-36T gearing. I finally, after many false plateaus, I entered the last downhill of the day – Rumplestilskin. A ladder bridge dropped you into the trail, and of course, because of the rain, the wood was slick. Due to the repeated torture of the steep climbs, my mind forgot this little detail and I grabbed some front brake and quickly got tossed onto my side. After enduring a massive calf cramp, I started again, fogged glasses and all. Almost home, sitting in 4th place on the day!…until, the dirt came up from know where and smacked me in the face! Yup, lost focus, blew out the front on a berm, and smacked myself hard into the dirt. My ribs are sore, my shoulder muscle is tender, and I have a beauty of a shiner! 2 guys passed me and again, I finished in 6th on the day and 6th overall with a time of 6:34:15.
I look like a boxer after my championship fight. #Sardashian (creative credit: Robb McLennan)
I really am happy with my result and how I rode. After the disappointed of a mental meltdown at provincials, I’m glad to see myself bounce back in such tough event. My climbing has improved greatly, and it’s rewarding to put it to use. Now, I just need to figure out how to get some bigger balls and let it roll more on the steep loose stuff.
It was great to hang with my wife Liesje & the Kokanee Redbike crew and I can’t wait for the next trip with the gang.