Trans Rockies has been on my list of “must-do” stage races. This year was the last year of the TR3/TR7. Singletrack6 is taking over for the future with a slightly different course and format. I wanted to do the 7-day Trans Rockies. I also was signed up for Leadville and 3-day Breck Epic back to back, but I decided to pull back and proceed conservatively. The TR3 would be a great speedwork tune-up after the racing the Breck 100 two weeks before the TR3. The TR3 was attractive because it was all based in Fernie, Alberta. Easy logistics. We ended up staying at some psycho Bed and Breakfast, but that’s a whole other story. Singletrack6 is still on my list!
As we lined up for the start of Stage 1 of the Trans Rockies, I realized the stage would be on the order of 2.5 hours. The last race I did was 9hours 45min race time, so I tried to remember how to pace for a 2.5 hour race. In fact, my last XC pace race was 4 or 5 years ago! I wasn’t really sure if I had anything other than a 100 mile race pace, but I hoped I could push my pace a bit harder. I didn’t know what to expect of myself for stages that short so I just went for it- all in. The start was a fast plume of dust. I got caught behind a crash and spent about a mile playing catch-up on the painful dirt road climb. I was in good position as I entered the singletrack sitting in 2nd place. I found a steady but hard rhythm, pushing much harder than I would in my typical endurance races. Something weird was happening- I was breathing really hard! It was great to have my Stages PowerMeter to see where I was at and later analyze how much power I was sustaining compared to the Breck 100. In the middle section of trail, I was passed by a cheerful Sandra Walter who I later found out is leading the (UCI?) Canada Cup Pro XC series. I felt frustrated on the descents because I knew that although I was riding well for myself, I was losing time. The DH was not fun like it should be; it was stressful. The stress was self-inflicted, my own attitude problem. I was getting passed by several people – something that doesn’t happen often to me in US racing (other than at the Trans-Sylvania Epic!!). I was envious of how buttery smooth Sandra was on the trail and watched her disappear into the beautiful forest.
Photo: John Gibson Totally digging my Neon Defeet Socks
I was a bit pooped on the last long singletrack climb for the day and thankful (our second rendezvous up Hyperventilation Trail that day) from the strong pace I laid out at the start. I hadn’t breathed that hard in a race in a long time, pushing myself to the limit on the climbs. By Hyperventilation x2, I was in more of my endurance pace. Mical Dyck and I had been going back and forth all day (she was in the TR7 category) and I overtook both her and Jean Ann Berkenpas who were contending for 1st and 2nd in the TR7…and they overtook me on the last descent.
Photo: John Gibson
I finished 3rd for Stage 1 with Sandra Walter in 2nd and Melanie McQuaid in 1st. I was only a few minutes down from 1st. I also noted that Kate Aardal was only a couple minutes behind me in 4th place. It was going to be a fun, competitive race! I looked at the course profile for Stage 2 and thought it would be my day – one giant climb followed by one giant descent.