Richard Paine and Stephen Davies are two middle aged men who are passionate about cycling. They combine busy work and travel schedules with sneaky training sessions. They have previously knocked off a couple of TransAlps and love the adventure of multistage mountain bike races.
Steve lives in Sydney and rides with the Tour de Cure bunch out of Neutral Bay. He is a one trick pony who can’t sprint, can’t time trial and can’t descend.
Richard has no such limitations. Rich lives in Singapore and races with the ANZA Mavericks. He is mining a rich vein of form this year which has seen him win the super masters category in the Singapore Nationals for the TT, the road race and the XC.
Mountain biking has still has a strong sense of community, it doesn’t matter where you are people stop for a chat when you meet them on the trail. In the lead up to this TransRockies I had a training regime that included riding in Hong Kong, China, Lebanon, France, Italy and Canada. In all of those places I have met and ridden with many friendly people. Last week in Vancouver I drove out to Mt Seymor and met Beverly and Noel in the car park. We quickly got chatting and they invited me along. We rode some fantastic technical trails, without them I would have been lost and demoralised within 15 minutes. Riding with them, I learnt a lot about the North Shore and how to ride the roots and rocks. After a 2 hour ride at an average speed of 8kph, I was thinking that if the trails of the Transrockies were similar that I would be in for some long hard days in the saddle.
On to Fernie for the start of the TR7, on my first ride I met Eric and Sarah, a couple of locals who are riding the mixed teams for the TR7. Together we have enjoyed riding some great trails and too many hamburgers, beers and local reds.
On to the race. The Transrockies has developed a bit of a reputation as a gruelling race blessed by terrible weather. Last year’s participants talk about 7 days of rain, hail, snow and mud. This year the organisers have changed the course to reduce the miles on the road, the miles in the mud and the hike a bike sections. They have replaced this with shorter stages and more single track.
Stage 1 was a 32km loop out and back to Fernie BC. The stage was almost all single track so the reduce congestion it was run as a time trial. The results from today will determine the seeding blocks for tomorrow.
While I had enjoyed a couple of fantastic days in Sunny Fernie, Richard had not had the same good fortune. While he was packing his bike in Singapore he noticed a crack in his frame. A quick run around the bike shops of Singapore and a Scott Spark RC frame was procured. 40 hours later, Rich was washed up in Fernie the afternoon before the race. With the altitude of Stage 1 being mostly above 1,000m today was always going to be a hurt fest for Rich.
We rolled out of town at the civilised hour of 10.27 with the sun shining and the temperature perfect for riding. The first couple of km out of town were along a power line with the usual ups and downs, perfect for getting the heart started. We then climbed a couple of local single tracks, Roots and Hyper Ventilation for about 500m of vertical gain. The views were absolutely spectacular, looking over the valley at the Fernie Ski Resort. Unfortunately we were more concentrated on keeping the wheels moving and not falling off the side of the mountain. We chugged up in granny gear a climb that was characterised by roots and switch backs. I was put to shame when I got off and turned my bike around the tight corners, the guy in front of me bunny hopped around them all.
Over the top and down a straight shot descent, “Hyper Extension” for 500m of tight technical, 2 wheel skidding descent. We skidded our way through tight twisting pine forrest apart from one shot where we came out of the forrest and you suddenly realised how steep the mountain was. Adrenalin pumping we hit the first aid station.
The stage then settled into more traditional singletrack. Rolling hills, tight trails through the pine trees and lots of little wooden bridges. The trails remind me a lot of the Kow in Canberra but they are far more technical. We travelled smoothly for the next 20km. The organisers promised quality single track and we got it. I was relieved when at some stage we had 5 minutes on a fire trail. It was great to let the legs loose.
After a fast last 5km we rolled back down the main street of Fernie in a time of 2.52. Well satisfied with a short hard day without falls. Our average speed was only 12.5kph. I hate to think how it would be if it was wet.
After Stage 1 we sit in 10th place of 25 teams in the 80+.