I’ve never ridden my bike in the Pacific Northwest and I have been dreaming of it for quite some time. The moist conditions, sculpted features and steep pitches sounded like everything a mountain biker’s heart could desire. What better way to pop my cherry than a six day enduro race in British Columbia? The Trans BC Enduro would do the trick.
The start to the first day was less than ideal, less than fifteen seconds into the first stage I flatted. It took everything inside of me to resist hulking my bike into the woods. I managed to keep my cool and fix the tire with a plug in a reasonable amount of time. I continued on with the stage: slash turns, pedal over slick roots, roost loam, send shoots, smash derailleur… In avoidance of a large trail obstacle, I slid into a rut and smashed my derailleur only 100 yards from the finish of the stage. Again I managed to calm myself, make the best of it, and carry on. I completed the day and redeemed myself with reasonable times the the rest of the stages.
It might not sound like a great way to start a six day stage race, but I really think it worked out very well. I was there on a vacation more than anything, so it ended up being a great way to put my competitive nature in the back seat so I could focus on enjoying riding my bike on the incredible BC trails.
When we woke for day two in Penticton, we were greeted with clouds and rain. Where I live, trail conditions are best when it is raining but I knew it would be a different story here. I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve ridden in slick wet conditions so I was a bit concerned. Having taken myself out of the race with the previous days mishaps I focused on enjoying the ride. And boy did I have fun! Half way through the first stage I started getting a feel for the mud, wet rocks, and wet roots. Sliding through the day it started clearing up and I turned it on. I finished the day with the second fastest time including three stage wins and three second place stages. Stoked!
The third day started with some real back country riding. We were dropped off along a highway with no civilization in sight and then climbed for an hour and a half. As we neared the top, snow drifts became unavoidable and trudging commenced. The first stage was a ten minute ripping all-natural hiking trail down the back side of what we had just climbed up. My feet have never been so sore from a descent. The next three stages were all different, it went from short and super loamy, to fast and flowy and then to steep and loose. A great variety of riding and a variety I am apparently great at because I ended up with the fasted time of the day.
I could tell fatigue was starting to set in as day four got under way. On top of that, my rear brake started acting up which really made things spicy. Half way through what would be the longest day of the trip I had broken my rear axle and my rear brake was now completely nonfunctional. Huge shout-out to the event volunteers for getting me through the day. Two course marshals sacrificed their bikes, giving me parts off of theirs so I could finish the day. After being out on the bike for eight hours with two mechanicals I was very happy to finish the day in 8th place.
Day five was cold and wet, a combination I am not fond of. I thought day two was muddy. Well I was wrong. The mud and slippery roots on the first stage were a whole new level but halfway through I figured it out and riotous fun commenced. After having a good off thanks to some wet roots on the third stage I realized my fatigue was getting serious and I needed to start thinking about conserving so I could finish the week in one piece. I turned the dial back from wild to mild and still managed to finish the day in 5th place.
I couldn’t ask for a better way to finish the week of racing. Day six was epic. Clouds were hanging low on the tops of all the mountains and it was dry as we started the hour and a half climb but soon we were in the clouds and it was lightly drizzling. Nearing the top, snow drifts appeared and everything was covered in mist. The clouds were so thick you couldn’t see more that a hundred feet in front of you. Stage one was all about survival: the slick wet conditions, the incredibly rough technical trail, the full body fatigue. I still had heaps of fun. Stage two was flat and pedally with tons of wet roots. Sprinting uphill across diagonal roots is quite exciting. Stage three, the final stage of the day and the final stage of the race. 3000ft down, three miles in length, and everything you can imagine. My process 153 and I ripped our way down the trail, my arms and shoulders barely hung on but we survived.
I like to think I had the highest fun to shred ratio of the week which turned out to be 5th place overall! After over 23 hours moving in the saddle, 146 miles, and 30,000ft of climbing I am happy to have made it out alive. I can’t help but think how my result may have turned out without all the mechanical issues, but at the same time I am thankful for all of them. They are all lessons learned and they forced me to keep the mood light. I am also thankful for everyone who helped me get through the race, whether you gave me parts off your bike, cooked food, drove a bus, or just gave me a word of encouragement. Every little bit helps. I really like this blind stage racing thing, especially in British Columbia!