Saturday, August 21, 2010

TR2010 recap..Travel to Canada for recon..course preview

Fernie to Fernie: Day one: Team time trial: check out the sharp pointy profile!     
Travelling with bikes is always difficult, and this trip was no exception. While we breezed through LaGuardia, Toronto and Calgary airports, and we were excited to see that our bikes made it on the same planes (doesn't always go this way..), we were left stranded in Calgary by the Transrockies shuttle bus, at 10pm, having been up and travelling through 2 countries, 3 airports and for 21 hours at this point. Cranky wasn't the word for me. We had to take a cab from Calgary to Fernie, a mere 370km, and a cool $500. Since the mix up was largely the fault of the organizers, I consoled myself with the thoughts that we would get some reimbursement, and a cab from Manhattan to Montauk would cost way way more..Our driver hustled over the mountains to deposit us in one piece at our hotel in Fernie. ZZZZ.
Day one in Fernie, sleep late, snarf breakfast, check in at race HQ, register, collect goody bag and begin worrying. How the hell are we to get all our gear in ONE duffel bag? All of our bike repair stuff, multiple kits, camp clothing and the miscellaneous stuff like large bottles of Hammer gel. "Crazy Larry" (who we would meet later) was in charge of baggage, which would be transferred from one camp site to the next, and the limit was one duffel bag per cyclist. Unless you had an RV. This was not going to be the last time I thought of the RV option over the coming week. 
view from the top of hyperventilation
Day one in Fernie, already rushing, already wishing we had an RV, already regretting the stuff we left on the bed at home, already worrying.. Whenever I am in a new situation, a strange town, there is one thing that invariably helps.. go for a ride and then find the local bar. We built our bikes, dressed in the new Spokespeople kit, and headed out to the course. We had been led to expect specific course markings, namely 18" of black and orange plastic tape, dangling from bushes and trees, so we were quickly oriented, on the Powerline trail. Not unlike our very own Montauk Powerline trail, except at 6000 feet higher. In minutes, my lungs were seared and my head was pounding. I guess all the hill repeats at 130' above sea level didn't really add up to altitude training. This was going to be a hard week. While the first day of the race was relatively short at 31k with a mere 1300m of climbing, it would be a nice easy start to the week. Or so I thought. We left Powerlines onto "Roots" trail, and as the name suggests, Fernie's oldest trails has plenty of them. All set at about 45degrees to the line of travel, a web of roots set to toss you off your bike at a moments lack of concentration. And these were the uphill ones. The trail kept climbing, taking a turn onto the aptly named "Hyperventilation", and then after about 2k of switchbacks so steep and sharp I had to dismount and wheelie the bike around corners, we continued to climb.. eeek. I was certain that the we had lost the course, and told Dennis so. We continued panting upwards for another bit, peering hopefully through the trees for a bit of skyline to tell us we had reached the top and we could return back to base camp for the pending brew. Finally, I had had enough, and flipped the bike around, definite that we were on the wrong course and the race would never be routed into such a technically difficult trail. And that's when I spotted the trail mark, dangling right in front of my face. Damn. This IS the course. Wow, this is some of the most sweet single-track, but also some of the most technically difficult stuff I have ever ridden on. And we were relatively fresh, and not even racing. I was a wee bit daunted, but kept my mouth shut, only to whoop it up on the fun, twisty, rocky rooty dusty descent. At least it is dry, and mostly ride-able I said to D-lo, sipping a cold local one, and previewing the course from the comfort of the Mexican burrito stand/ skate shop / bike hang out. 
Fernie is a cool town, reminds me of what Moab was 10 or more years ago: bikes and brews in summer, snow-bums and brews in winter. We hung for a while, planned the next mornings kit and agenda, got a late dinner and hit the sack, our last cushy, comfy bed for a week..Seeing roots and rocks in my head as I closed my eyes, I hummed like a mantra, at least it is dry and mostly ride-able, at least it is dry and mostly ride-able..
By the river, our hotel room opened out to the landscape where the fishermen were shuffling about quietly in the grey twilight. Despite being full to the gills, the building was quiet.. and then I heard it. The gentle spray of light rain, building to the sustained crescendo of a true, Rocky Mountain summer downfall. All night it rained, on these lovely dry, dusty, rocky rooty trails. 

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