Thursday, August 23, 2007


Seven days of mountain bike racing through the Rockies - not exactly the "traditional" approach to getting ready for cyclocross season, but I couldn't have planned a more perfect CX training camp. Super fast starts, killing yourself to hold wheels, long steady climbs to get back some base miles and even a few huge hike a bike sections to get the calves burning. All this, with a super support crew to help with the day-to-day logistics of such a major event (Norm's dad and uncle - Rollin and Hu). I don't know why everyone was so shocked when I said I was doing TR for cyclocross training - it was perfect!

Although Norm and I have never done the TR together, he has done it twice, we did Trans Alps together and we have raced a lot of adventure races together. I am not ashamed to admit that Norm is the brains behind the operation and I just follow. He knows how to parcel out his energy to last the full seven days while I would likely start too fast every day and then self combust by day 4. Not so s-m-r-t, this one. We thought we would do pretty well but realistic goals were to wear the leaders jersey at least one day and see some cool stuff. Well... it worked out better than expected as we won the leader's jersey day 1 and kept it all the way to the end, winning by almost 2 hours! We were even top 15 overall in the open men category which I am sure pissed the hell out of a few boys...I also saw a moose, a bear, osprey fishing and some absolutely incredible views of the Rockies. Oh yeah and it was sunny the whole time which was amazing because we have had some seriously crappy weather on the coast this summer.

Day 1: Panorma to Invermere. No staging on this short day with a HUGE hike-a-bike section and some twisty fun singletrack down castle rock. Smart Norm found out where and when the staging opened and we were fifth team in line - fifth of 340 teams is a major advantage. The "neutral" start was CRAZY FAST as the lead moto was a bit keen and everyone wanted to get to the fresh cut singletrack first. I am a master fast starter so we were up there with the top 20 teams into the hike a bike. 45mins into day 1 and people were blowing up already!! The twisty descent was worth the hike a bike and we were catching tons of teams that were blowing out the tight switchbacks. We caught the Dead Goat boys (who we would see most of the week) and rode some more sweet singletrack into Invermere. Cool purple leader's jersey and a 20min buffer.

Day 2: Invermere to Nipika. Once we had the leader's jersey were were golden as we got to line up front row! Another FAST "neutral" start up and out of Invermere. Our stratgey from day 1 (go 'till you get blown off the leaders wheels) seemed to work well for us so we stuck with it and killed ourselves to stay with the fast boys until the big climb. Then we eased off a bit on the granny climb so we could rip down the fresh cut Bear Creek descent. Our CX skills were useful as we had to pop on and off our bikes for almost an hour. Another purple jersey! It was looking like we might not have to do laundry for awhile.

Sidenote: our support crew Rollin and Hu were getting just as competeive as us! They would watch the start and then roll out to the next camp to get there FIRST so they could suss out the best RV spot. They were even bribing the parking guy with beer!

Day 3: Nipika to Nipika. Forest fires in the area caused a last minute change to the TR route but lucky for us the result was an amazing loop around the Nipika area that had some super fun trails and incredible views. It also meant our support crew could take it easy with no move which I think they appreciated. Day 1 and 2 we had used hard tails because my Kula Supreme is uber light and zippy but by day 3 it was time to start saving the body so we pulled out our dualies. It was perfect terrain for the Hei Hei supreme with a crazy fast start straight into double track and then almost 4 hours of wicked mountain biking. Another purple jersey.

Day 4: Nipika to Whiteswan. Hump day. People were starting to look tired and pasty. Everyone was a little slower to get up, milking a few extra minutes of sleep. Line ups for the crappers were longer as stomach issues from eating gels and sport drinks all day caught up with people. Fewer people warmed up before the race. With a 56 minute lead Norm asked me if I wanted to take it easy now. I said HELL NO! We came here to race and get ready for cross so no slacking off. Besides, we had been duking it out with the same mens teams for 3 days so I wanted to see how we could do overall. Another purple jersey was not enough. I was greedy.

Day 5: Whiteswan to Elkford. Fred Dreir from Velonews was riding the stage with us today so it was fun chatting with him and joking around as we rolled up the hills. Unfortunately he wasn't used to the big hike-a-bike sections so we dropped him on the way up to the big rocky descent into Elkford. When we were hanging out with Andreas Hestler the night before this stage he was telling us about the 3km rock slide we had to get down. I asked him if it was rideable and he said HE could ride it but warned me to be careful. I told myself right then that I would ride the whole thing. I wasn't going to to do the walk of shame. It was worth the bumpy ride just to see people's faces when I rode past them - a girl! More purple.

Day 6: Elkford to Sparwood. This was the longest stage of the race, with the most climbing. You might think we would take it easy as a result but there was singletrack 5km in (5km uphill) so we just killed ourselves to try to stay with the lead group. We fell back a bit but tagged back on the end in the singletrack which was super fun. Worth the pain just so we could ride it all. Unfortuantely we were a bit off the back when we hit the fire road so we had to gut ourselves to get back on. A 100km to go and we were both pretty blown so we suffered through the first huge climb and most of the day. Painful but another purple jersey. Now we had enough for Rollin an Hu.

Day 7: Sparwood to Fernie. Last day! A short stage and we had a 1:45 lead. So...unless we had a major mechanical off the start line and had to run the whole stage we were pretty safe. But the rumour was there was a single lane bridge 2km into the race so everyone blasted off the start. Fastest start yet. But no skinny bridge. 10km in Sue Haywood asked "where is the singletrack??". I had told her this would be the best trails of all but apparently they had taken out all but the last 8km. Lame. We finished first, keeping our streak alive and went straight for the ice cream! An amazing race to finish let alone win. I highly recommend it.

Thanks to Rollin and Hu for being such a great support crew. We couldnt have done it without you.


garobbins said...

Congrats guys you friggin killed it out there!
Great race report too, makes me realize how long winded I can be!
See ya in Cumberland Norm.

Hopping said...

You two rule!

I know its a little late now, but congrats and see ya a little further into cross season!