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Trans BC Day 2 Penticton: Slippery Slabs in the Semi-Desert

Jul 6, 2016 at 0:13
by Megan Rose  
Day 2 of the Trans BC Enduro powered by Stages Cycling transported racers down valley to Penticton, B.C., a quaint locals town in the very northern hip of the Sonoran Desert. Filled with a myriad of eco-systems, the Sonoran Desert runs the length of North American from Mexico to British Columbia, and in the Okanagan Valley, this creates the perfect location for mountain biking, wineries and water sports to converge.

Trans BC Day 2 Penticton Slippery Slabs in the Semi-Desert

Trans BC Day 2 Penticton Slippery Slabs in the Semi-Desert

“Penticton is known as the town that stayed in the 70’s in a really good way— friendly, cool, and easy going,” said Hugh McClelland, cycling advocate with the City of Penticton. “And yet you’ve got two lakes, amazing mountain biking and road riding, kite surfing, and vineyards all along the shorelines of Lake Okanagan and Skaha Lake. The lakes create a micro climate that create a green playground in the rolling hills above.”

Trans BC Day 2 Penticton Slippery Slabs in the Semi-Desert

While locals rejoiced in the unseasonal rainy conditions in the semi-arid climate, riders who were not accustomed to slippery slabs of rock and crafty chicanes, found the conditions challenging and deceptive in the Three Blind Mice trail network— the primary and oldest trail system in the area housing over 100 different trails.

Unloading the vans at the start of the day was done as quickly as possible everyone wanted shelter from the rain in the empty vans until go time.

Mud not exactly a common site in July in the hills surrounding Penticton BC. The first few stages and the last half of the final stage saw the racers contending not only with the rock choked trails but also mud and greasy rocks.

“The word is getting out about the Mice and the huge variety of trails we have in a very small area. It started with Vancouverites looking for dryer conditions and more grip, and people from the Canadian Rockies seeking a change from their straight up, straight down routine ,” McClelland said. “We have a variety of terrain— cross country, technical, flow and drop trails, and really great rock.”

Trans BC Day 2 Penticton Slippery Slabs in the Semi-Desert

The exposed rock is a byproduct of glacial scraping from over 10,000 years ago. The ancient granite, also known as gneiss, has been through a few volcanic cycles, giving the rock its grippy, pitted surface. This process also abandoned huge jesus boulders, also known as glacial erratics, sporadically throughout the forest.

Trans BC Day 2 Penticton Slippery Slabs in the Semi-Desert

Stage one had a remote feeling in places nevermind that we were all of ten minutes from downtown Penticton.

Stage 1 sent riders down Beer Run, a local trail littered with wooden features and lichen covered rocks. The additional moisture made every move an option to gain a few seconds or potentially skid off into jagged rocks overlaid by ground vegetation. After sitting in second after Day 1, and less than 9 seconds to close the gap, Aaron Bradford, Open Men (Seattle, Wash.) hemorrhaged 50 seconds after he punctured his tire minutes into the first stage.

Jamie Nicoll kept it dialed back a hair and somehow manage to avoid getting a flat or two during rock filled seven stages on day two of the Trans BC Enduro.

Yesterday s second place rider Aaron Bradford front flatted high on stage one and from there on it was damage control time. Jason First pulls the pass on Bradford mid way through the stage. Bradford s bad luck would continue with another puncture on stage three.

“At least it was a good stage to ride the rim out to the bottom,” Bradford said. “There were a lot of us with flat tires today and I got to experience my second one on Stage 3.”

The steady drizzle eventually dwindled down to an evaporating mist, however, it left Stage 3 an icy scape of rocky moves. One feature, in particular, caught many racers off-guard as they committed to a short, slanted step-up. Mical Dyck, Open Women (Victoria, B.C.) may have been one of the few to avoid sliding out, but even at that, she found herself pointed in the wrong direction on top of the rock.

Mical Dyck on stage one.

“I’m fairly comfortable on the wet roots and rocks from my experience racing cyclocross and cross country, but when it comes to slick wood, I am out of my comfort zone unless I have ridden a feature before,” Dyck said about Stages 1 and 2.

Trans BC Day 2 Penticton Slippery Slabs in the Semi-Desert

Although 85 percent of the field admitted to crashing at one point or another on Stage 3, spirits were lifted at the feed station with 15kg of sizzling bacon, served up by Shaun Gratton who sits on the executive and trail committee of Penticton and Area Cycling Association (PACA).

Trans BC Day 2 Penticton Slippery Slabs in the Semi-Desert

Trans BC Day 2 Penticton Slippery Slabs in the Semi-Desert

“I tried to take this year off, and due to the high demand, I’m here instead of at work,” Gratton said. “It’s awesome have this many like-minded people hanging out and experiencing our trails.” PACA was formed in 2008 with a goal of providing the south-central Okanagan with a voice for cyclists. They have evolved to become the prominent force in both on and off-road trail design, maintenance and planning.

The subsequent stage was a crowd favorite with two steep, long rocks rolls, and fast, flowy trail to the bottom. “There were a lot of drops and rolls on Stage 4, and it wasn’t painfully long,” said Alex Pavon, Open Women (Flagstaff, Ariz.) “It would be nice to get some dry dirt tomorrow, and feel more at home on my bike.”

Drops a lot the lower portion of stage 4 living up to it s name. The trail was littered with small drops.

Trans BC Day 2 Penticton Slippery Slabs in the Semi-Desert

Trans BC Day 2 Penticton Slippery Slabs in the Semi-Desert

The longest transfer still lingered between Stages 5 and 6. Because the trails go every direction, the trail network was named after the story of three blind mice running all over the place away from the farmer’s wife. The final two stages of the day were the most mischievous and rowdy, but as the day wore on and the rocks dried, fatigue set in on the seemingly infinite route totaling 39km, 1350m of climbing, and 1933m of descending.

Trans BC Day 2 Penticton Slippery Slabs in the Semi-Desert

“I hung around a key location between Stages 4, 5 and 6 to make sure everyone was okay. And then I got to rip Stage 7, the gnarly rocks up top, and the sweeping moon dust corners right as the rain settled back in,” said Tara Wamsley (Calgary, Alta.) who wore three hats the past two days as volunteer medic, marshal and mechanic.

Jason First was aggressive in the banked slalom run that was the bottom of stage seven. No roots. No rocks. Just high speed ridiculously fun banked turns on either side of a long steep gulley.

The conclusion of the final stage popped racers out of the “mousterpiece” like a pinball, ending with an expansive view of vineyards as far as they eye could see, up and down Lake Okanagan. At only 100km from the U.S. border, Penticton is a quick escape to enjoy the fruits of PACA’s labor.

Meg Bichard above it all on stage 7.

How low can you go Joe Buck was trying to drag bar on this turn.

Day 3 brings yet another moving day to Rossland, B.C. for a two nights stay in plush accommodations at the base of Red Mountain Resort. With three massive liaisons, and four stages that begin on the north end of the Seven Summits, an extra adventure including snow on course may be in store for riders shortly after they drop into the first saddle.

Big shout out to the fine people at the Freedom Bike shop for the pop up tent food and refreshments for the racers.

Stay tuned to regular updates on Facebook and Instagram and core online media outlets throughout the week. Hashtag your photos #transbcenduro to make their way onto the live stream of the Trans BC’s Media HQ. A special thanks to Penticton and Area Cycling Association and Penticton and Wine Country for supporting the Trans BC Enduro in Penticton, B.C. For more information email megan@ridingbc.com or visit www.transbcenduro.com.

Trans BC Day 2 Penticton Slippery Slabs in the Semi-Desert


1. Jamie Nicoll (NZ) 34:36
2. Scott Countryman (USA) 34:41
3. Botsy Phillips (USA) 35:10

1. Meggie Bichard (NZ) 40:55
2. Sonya Loonie (USA) 42:58
3. Mical Dyck (CAN) 43:25

1. Rene Damseaux (ZAF) 38:02
2. Terry McWhirter (CAN) 38:16
3. Dave Pfaffenberger (CAN) 38:24

Views: 8,488    Faves: 40    Comments: 7

About Megan Rose— Megan has been riding and racing bikes all over the world for 13 years and organizing bike events for the past six years. She splits her time between British Columbia, Canada and New Zealand, running the BC Enduro Series and the new Trans BC for 2016, and running the Trans NZ race. Over the past two years Megan has personally races in over 24 enduro races, timed over 58 days worth of enduro races, and personally organized 22 enduro races. Megan and her team look forward to bringing you the best of the best from 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.

MENTIONS: @bcenduroseries

Author Info:
TransBCEnduro avatar

Member since Jun 8, 2016
31 articles

  • 11 1
 Amazing day again in spite of the rain. On an even higher note, after all the mechanicals and flats today, I found not a single tube left anywhere on the trail. You guys packed everything out you brought in, excellent work!!!
  • 9 1
 Trails in the area brought to you by PACA (Penticton Area Cycling Association). A huge network in the South Okanagan. Good times brought by Freedom Bike Shop.

Go Team Brah!
  • 2 0
 Love seeing the Okanagan get some good media coverage and some great races in the last couple years. I live and ride in the Okanagan and love it. Hope all of the competitors have a good experience and come back and visit. This race series is only the tip of the trail iceberg.
  • 3 0
 Locals love the rain! BTW the three blind mice were Raman, Pat and James that's where the name comes from. Awesome event. Go Team Brah!
  • 1 0
 WILSON!!!! That's cool that you know the story
  • 1 0
 I always thinks of beaches and boating for summer Penticton holiday! Will have to throw in the bike this year for the holiday! We're is the best place to get directions from ? Bike shop ext ? Thanks
  • 3 1
 The mice are awesome! So if Freedome Bike Shop! I thought it didn't rain in the Okanagan!
  • 1 0
 LOL we just did this trail last week during my buddies week long bike-chelor party ! awesome place we were hooting and hollering from top to bottom !
  • 1 0
 why so many flats on this course. everyone riding super light tires or is it that sharp rocky? (wanna head down there from the loops...)
  • 1 0
 Rocks, rocks and more rocks!
  • 1 0
 Right on to Team Brah!

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