Four days down, two to go. This is the point in a stage race where it becomes less about the race and more about re-discovering your favorite trail time and again.
En route to the second base camp in Nelson, the Stages Trans BC Enduro presented by Yeti Cycles
reopened the doors on a classic riding zone nestled in the Selkirk Mountains at the confluence of the Kootenay and Columbia Rivers— Castlegar, B.C., a sleepy logging town that has been climbing the ladder of prestigious mountain bike destinations since 2013 thanks to the passion, vision and sweat of one individual.
“According to stories at the finish line, day three was one of the best days Tran BC riders have ever experienced,” said Megan Rose, founder and race director of the Trans BC Enduro. “It was fun to bring a new area into the mix of the event, and everyone had a great time racing down the hand-laid trails by local legend, Dave Sutton.”
Sutton was born and raised in Castlegar and has been tinkering with building features since starting to mountain bike at 13 years old. Carpenter by trade, and trail builder by choice, Sutton has been at the forefront of creative trail development and is best known for constructing mind-bending wood features the complement the natural terrain in the Merry Creek area. The few weeks leading into the race, Sutton was freshening up wood features and manicuring the trails for the Trans BC’s arrival.
After a long shuttle and abbreviated transfer on Day Three, Stage 1, the Awakener, provided the morning jolt that racers needed to ignite the day. At 5.5 kilometers long, it spliced together every element of BC mountain biking — tech, roots, loam, wood, berms — and induced record-setting arm pump with still half the stage to go.
“Stage 1 was my new favorite trail. It was like flipping through an entire magazine,” said Mike d’Entremont (Canmore, Alb.) Master Men 40+. “You had all types of terrain represented and it was all linked by one turn to the next. I really enjoyed the wooden bridge sponsored by Pledge wax products. It was wet, slippery, high off the ground and sent you straight into deep sand off the end.”
Cory Sullivan (Petaluma, Calif.) was leading the race heading into Day Three by nearly a minute when his race-ending crash caught him out of nowhere. “I washed out in a soft righthand corner. Next thing I knew, I was trying to run down the hill.” No stranger to trans enduro racing, this was Sullivan’s first-time racing in B.C. Sullivan sustained a broken collarbone and returned home yesterday to heal up.
Max Leyan moved into first, Aaron Bradford, bumped into second, and Tom Sampson who decided to race on a whim about a week ago, slotted into third.
After a snippet of a stage down Dirty Dreams, racers were sent packing back up a 1020-meter climb to the top of a descent so massive, it was split into two stages. Racers found reprieve halfway up the relentless climb with a river to dunk their head into.
In its entirety, Grandiflorum, named after the yellow glacier lily, loses 1024 meters over 8.3 kilometers. Stage 3 encompassed 580 meters of the descent over 4.6 kilometers. Similar to its bigger brother on Stage 1, there was a mix of elements throughout the run, ending with big rock rolls and wooden takeoff ramps into slab transitions.
“Stage 3 was a ton of fun. It was nice to let off the brakes and open it up for a bit. It was an old school Super-D style course – good flow, turns and sight lines,” said Mike West (Boulder, Colo.) Masters Men 40+. “It was fun because you could go as fast as you wanted to and send it as far as you wanted onto the slabs.”
The continuation of Grandiflorum transitioned into Stage 4 – enough to rest the arms, but not quite enough to fully recover before the grand finale of the day which showcased more rock, tech, woodwork, and ended in a sandy death-chute where speeds clocked as high as 64 kilometers (40 miles) per hour.
With beer flowing lakeside, riders have been taking the time to unwind and relax on the banks of the mighty Columbia River at Prestige Lakeside Resort.
“It’s been an incredible experience to just focus on riding all week without the stress of figuring out where to ride, eat or stay,” said Nicole Romanow (Canmore, Alb.) course marshal. “I took a week of vacation to volunteer at this race and it has been exactly the adventure that I was looking for. The combination of the people, the camaraderie, and the trails have made for an incredible week.”
For many, Day Four was the hump day of the week. At this point, racers have logged 108 kilometers. Twenty-three kilometers and 900 meters of climbing aren’t typically too much to ask, but the rising temperatures zapped everyone's energy the last couple days, and it was a push to get through four more taxing stages.
The Slocan Range of the Selkirk Mountains in Kokanee Creek Provincial Park provided the backdrop for the day. Similar to the prior day, Stage 1 was a rude awakening for the crew.
“The track was tight and cumbersome to get through. It was like trying to park a limo,” said Tom Bradshaw (Wellington, NZL) Open Men. “But it cleared out the cobwebs and made Stage 2 my favorite of the day despite the bottom of the track making you feel like you couldn’t ride a bike. For the first time this week, I felt like we were out there, in the Canadian wilderness. In rock rolls and steep chutes, I was on the hunt for bears all day.”
A winding hike a’ bike to the top of Hitman gave views of racers hunting down loam, Kokanee Glacier, and a newly installed zip line in the provincial park.
The prior night’s briefing gave insight into Stage 3, Morning Sickness. “Don’t try to race this stage,” Rose advised. “You’ll want to ease into the first few rolls and get a feel for the speeds that will work for you.”
A short, 4-minute conglomeration of rocks rolls gave racers a taste of true B.C. slabs. Grippy granite rolled into pockets of seasonably dry loam.
A quick climb back up the same access road brought riders to the top of Nooner. With the day of steeps still on the agenda for Day Five, Rose kindly gave racers a fast, flowy trail scattered with hero jumps for the final stage of the day.
“I was nervous about Day Four to begin because I know Megan well enough at this point and even on a lower key day, she’ll always sneak one stage in there as a stinger,” said Sarah Sturm (Durango, Colo.) Open Women. “But after today, I’m finding my groove and I am excited for tomorrow. Megan phrased it really well – it’s going to be an adventure of a day to learn what BC “steeps” really mean.”
Day Five whisks riders away on the longest free ferry in the world, to the East Shore, where a population of 300 people, and primarily three locals, have created trails that even Rose says are “steeeeep”.
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The Trans BC operates under the BC Singletrack Society. Proceeds go directly into the trails and communities that the event utilizes. Over the past four years, the BC Singletrack Society has reinvested $60,000 back into the trails. 2018 will double the previous year’s ante, with $16,000 from this event alone, thanks in part to financial contributions from Stages Cycling, Yeti Cycles, Tourism Rossland, Nelson Kootenay Lake Tourism and High Above. For more information email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.transbcenduro.com.
ABOUT MEGAN ROSE — Megan has been riding and racing bikes all over the world for 13 years and organizing bike events for the past nine years. She splits her time between British Columbia and New Zealand, running the Trans BC 6-day Enduro, and running the Trans NZ 5-day Enduro race. Over the past five years, Megan has personally raced in over 40 enduro races, timed over 60 days-worth of enduro races, and organized 30+ enduro races. Megan and her team look forward to bringing you the best of the best form all of these perspectives.
ABOUT STAGES CYCLING — Stages Cycling LLC, based in Boulder, CO, launched the Stages Power meter at Interbike in September 2012. The new Stages Power meter immediately made waves for the power measurement category in all disciplines of cycling, including enduro, where the sport's top pros collect and trust its data for training and racing. Since the brand has expanded into the commercial and home fitness category with the SC3 commercial indoor cycling bike, with groundbreaking features including CarbonGlyde featuring Gates CarbonDrive, SprintShift, FitLoc, RoadBar and, of course, the Stages Power meter. More information at stagescycling.com.
ABOUT YETI CYCLES — Founded in 1985, Yeti Cycles makes race-bred, obsessively engineered, masterfully crafted mountain bikes proven by the fastest riders in the most demanding conditions. Based in Golden, Colorado, Yeti is owned and staffed by riders who are more likely to be out riding the company’s latest creation than sitting in a conference room. Visit www.yeticycles.com to learn more.