The final two days of the Stages Trans BC presented by Yeti Cycles
squeezed every ounce out of racers and the terrain for a grand finale in Nelson, B.C.
“As soon as I finished the Trans BC last year, I knew I’d be signing up to do it all again. This year’s mix of trails did not disappoint. It was incredible to ride such a variety of trails that changed from stage to stage and day to day,” said Christina Chappetta (Whistler, B.C.) who took second place in the Open Women’s category. “I’m happy to have raced all new trails truly blind and get out of my comfort zone, especially on Day Five.”
Day Five started with a liaison across Kootenay Lake aboard the longest free scenic ferry ride in the world – approximately 35 minutes from Balfour to Kootenay Bay. Riders enjoyed the Titanic feeling of sailing across waters to their next destination and ordering up extra coffees en route to the East Shore.
Not many people have heard about, let alone ride on, the East Shore of Nelson B.C. If you have, then you’ve probably crossed paths with Klaus Plaumann, trailboss and aficionado of the steeps. At 59 years old, Plaumann brings a perpetual youthful spirit to old school mountain biking.
Plaumann immigrated from Berlin in 2002 and was introduced to the sport through a run down Crowsdale, Stage 3 on Day Five.
“I thought, holy shit, this is crazy! It was the greatest thing I had ever seen or done,” Plaumann said. “I got a bike better suited for the terrain and kept riding and building trails that I liked to ride.”
Megan Rose, founder and director of the Trans BC, contacted the East Shore Trail & Bike Association (ESTBA) to bring a day of the Trans BC to their trails.
“This year, the communities and clubs all stepped it up a notch,” Rose said. “It was exciting for the riders to experience new areas and challenge their perception of B.C. steep. It’s hard to find that, but Klaus and Sandy brought that to the event this year.”
Klaus and his crew have been preparing the trails for the event’s arrival since spring. “We never expected an event like this would come to our trails. It was very rewarding for all of us to see the appreciation, smiles, and our trails get burnt in. That’s what we were hoping for.”
Freshly cut trails were mixed in with old classics, like Jurgenmeister, which was split into two stages. Stage 1 dropped 900 meters (2952 feet) over 3 kilometers (1.8 miles). Rose considered running the stages from one into the next, but medics advised to give everyone a break before the next 368 meters of descending.
“Racing on that extreme of kind of terrain is so epic for everyone that it evens the playing field,” said Sarah Sturm (Durango, Colo.) Open Women. “You’re bound to learn something about your bike, your skills, character and other people. Those are the days that I am most stoked to finish.”
The highlight of the day was down Stage 4, the Wimp. Cam McHardy (Alexandra McHardy) Open Men chipped into the timing tent absolutely fizzing.
“Stage 4 was my jam. It was steep and deep. There were blown corners, bermed corners, rocks, and drops. It’s like riding trails that I build at home, but with jankier, sharper edges,” McHardy said. “If you stay flowy and jump around, the trails come alive.”
Not all returned equally as excited about the sheer angles of the tracks. Fall lines and flat corners resulted in wrapping bikes and limbs around trees. But at the end of the day, everyone made the last ferry to enjoy yet another sunset over Kootenay Lake.
The final day of the Trans BC gave riders a taste of Tour de Nelson. At this point in a stage race, each day begins to feel like Groundhog Day. You wake up, stuff yourself with eggs, potatoes, and bacon, slam a few (or several) cups of coffee, and you head out your new best riding mates for the next four to six hours to blindly navigate the most challenging trails you have ever seen.
Chip in, drink beer, jump in the lake, line up to the buffet and pound as many miniature desserts as your heart desires. The skillset required for racing blind becomes second nature, and trails on Day One that would have put everyone on edge, become routine by Day Six.
Racers found a much different scene from two years ago on Stage 1 of Day Six down Powerslave. Instead of a river running through the trail, dry conditions encouraged riders to rip through the old mine rock dumps and hit large wooden rollers in Bear’s Den with confidence.
A B.C.-rated blue groove down Placenta Descenta and Illuminati gave riders battered hands and bodies a reprieve before a long climb out to the road where shuttles bumped riders to the other side of Giveout and Gold Creek trails for the series of final descents.
“I entered the Trans BC because Nelson and Rossland have always been on my dinner plate of mountain bike destinations,” said Dave Hutton (North Bend, Wash.) Master Men 40+. “I knew Megan would have something in store for us on Day Six, and she delivered.”
Stages 3 and 4 brought racers back up to speed with fast, rooty, lines and pockets of loam stashed away in the fertile forest. The final hike-a-bike push to the top of Stage 5 was rewarded with 10-15 minutes of Nelson’s crème de la crème.
The final stage down Gold Rush, locally referred to as “Party Wife” to Waldorfian was “rough as a bear’s bum, but flowed like beer at the end of the race,” Hutton said. After beeping in for the 27th and final stage, racers cruised back to the lake with a perma-smile plastered across their faces. To make it through the Trans BC in one piece is an achievement – to do it supported and surrounded by the Trans BC crew and community of riders, is an experience of a lifetime.
“Every year has its own flavor, riders, and atmosphere. This year was a very chilled, cool crowd. Nobody cared about results this year,” Rose said. It was still a race and the fastest men and women on course give us all something to aspire to. Full results can be found here
1. Max Leyen 2:34:51
2. Aaron Bradford 2:37:05
3. Tom Sampson 2:40:47
4. Dan Skogland 2:42:29
5. Nate Hills 2:43:14
Master Men 40+
1. Mike West 2:44:11
2. Shane Jensen 2:49:21
3. Ryan Leech 2:52:20
4. Nick Tuttle 2:52:31
5. Torben Jensen 2:58:13
1. Laura Battista 3:04:20
2. Christina Chappetta 3:06:10
3. Julie Marshall 3:09:46
4. Ruby Morrissey 3:18:54
5. Alex Pavon 3:20:00
“I tried to be conservative on the first couple of days. This was my first trans race, so I was figuring out how to up the pace throughout the week,” said Max Leyen (Chilliwack, B.C.) winner of the Open Men’s category. “Today was sweet, each stages was uniquely fun to end the week with.”
Leyen celebrated his 21st birthday at the Irish Pub with the entire event while beers were cheered and shotgunned in honor of the Top Three in each category – Open Men, Open Women, Master Men 40+. Led by Kiwi translator Tom Bradshaw, a crowd-wide game of heads or tails awarded one lucky racer a brand-new frame of choice from Yeti Cycles.
“To watch everyone evolve throughout the week – progressing their skills and building community – is precisely what makes the Trans BC so unique,” said Sarah Rawley, Yeti Cycles Outreach & Events Manager. “We are proud to support an event that cares deeply about its community and creates a positive impact on the riders, trails, and mountain bike clubs it comes in contact with.”
Thanks to the support of Stages Cycling, Yeti Cycles, Tourism Rossland, Nelson Kootenay Lake Tourism and High Above, and riders who continue to seek out world-class riding experiences, the Trans BC doubled its contribution back into the trails under the BC Singletrack Society. Over the past four years, the BC Singletrack Society has reinvested $60,000 back into the trails including $16,000 from the 2018 Trans BC alone.
It won’t be long until Rose is back at the drawing board, scouring over maps, networking, exploring trails and piecing together her next big adventure. The event will continue to rotate through the West Kootenays, East Kootenays, and the Okanagan. For those who missed out on this epic adventure, registration will open for next year, October 2018. Keep tuned in to Facebook and Instagram to follow along. For more information email email@example.com or visit www.transbcenduro.com.
Writer's Note: These reports were brought to you live all week long from the Stages Trans BC presented by Yeti Cycles. The videographers and photographers slayed it day in and day out, riding just as much as the racers, only to come back to Event HQ to peck away at their keyboards all night. This was my sixth event reporting from the Trans NZ and Trans BC, and first time not simultaneously racing and reporting due to knee surgery last month. I wouldn't miss this experience for the world, so I packed up my ice machine and laptop to keep churning out authentic coverage from the epicenter of the event. A huge thanks to Ben Duke, Ben Saheb, Dane Cronin, JC Canfield, Nate Hills, Noah Wetzel, Peter Wojnar and Riley Seebeck for keeping things lively behind the scene. Keep it cranking boys- the world needs more squids like you.