Another year has passed, but the memories of the TransRockies, now no longer raced, are still strong. This blog was originally posted on my old website, and on the 6th anniversary of the event it seems a good time to look at it again…
The start line of Stage 1 of the TransRockies, the moment that we had spent over 6 months preparing for, had finally come for Team Live2Flow. However, it wasn’t quite as we had expected, didn’t quite feel right, and this feeling was a sign of things to come.
In November 2011 Team Live2Flow (the official name for my wife and I!) decided to enter the TransRockies. This was the realization of a 10 year ambition which I had harbored since first seeing the TV coverage of the event in 2002. I had since read a number of articles, seen more TV footage and thought it represented exactly what mountain biking meant to me; riding fabulous trails in epic landscapes with like-minded souls.
We readied our bikes for the task and set about a quite demanding training program. The range of test protocols used to track our progress showed that despite a number of injuries and setbacks (that’s life…) we had made steady improvement and we headed to Canada feeling confident we could complete the course.
We had a great two weeks in Canada, acclimatizing by riding out of both Banff and Jasper before heading to Fernie a few days before the event. Registration was slick and friendly but there were a worryingly high number of serious looking racers around, in fact, most of the people we met seemed to be what we would consider serious racers…..
I thought it represented exactly what mountain biking meant to me; riding fabulous trails in epic landscapes with like-minded souls…
And so we come to where this blog started, on the start line of stage one, the ‘time trial’. We had started later in the morning due to our prediction that we would be among the slower riders but even then we noted a lot of lycra and very few loaded hydration packs around us. We pushed quite hard, a little too hard for it to be fun, and suffered a little in the midday heat before finishing in what later transpired to be a time towards the back of the field; a bit disheartening.
So we started stage two feeling a bit under pressure and decided upon a ‘relentless forward motion’ strategy. This worked well in terms of keeping us from being the back markers but again took some of the fun out of the ride. Then in stage three the whole event unraveled; I had an unsettled stomach and struggled to maintain fueling and hydration, which combined with a couple of long, steep climbs in full sun left me fading rapidly. Dehydrated, cramping and bonking simultaneously, I only just finished the stage before collapsing into the medical tent and needing 2 litres of saline before I was on my feet again. Game over, TransRockies dream ended; we finished the TR3 but could not go on to complete the TR7. For those interested in data, you can see the Garmin files for Stage 1, Stage 2 and Stage 3.
In hindsight, it was both the mismatch between our expectations and the reality of the event, and our subsequent reaction to this predicament that shaped our TransRockies experience. The event clearly labels itself as a race but most of the coverage had led me to believe that whilst there was a race going on at the front of the field there was a ride happening towards the back. That may have been the case, but the weight of numbers were racing and this environment forced us to behave out of character. We let the pressure of being towards the back of the field make us ride at a pace we hadn’t trained for and this reduced our enjoyment and ultimately led to my encounter with the (well trained and friendly) medical team.
So, would we go back? The event has now changed its name to the Singletrack 6 and the format is slightly different but it is essentially the same type of riding in the same amazing locations. So, if the opportunity arose then absolutely we’d go back; the trails were largely fantastic, the events are well organized and everybody involved was super friendly. Unfortunately, I fear that the cost, travel and time commitment put the chances of a repeat out of our reach so the TransRockies may have to remain the one that got away and taught us a valuable lesson.
If you enjoyed this blog you may also be interested in hearing about Live2Flow’s attempts at riding the South Downs Way in a Day, Crossing the Pyrenees or experience at racing at the Battle of the Beach.
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