Tuesday, August 31, 2010

TR2010: stage 2: Fernie to Sparwood

more pointy mountains

Sitting down indian-style in the tent, with a bottle of Tinhorn Creek Pinot Gris (yesterdays podium wine) served at perfect tent-temperature (61-62 degrees), in Styrofoam cups, to recap on todays stage 2. It was a hustle in the early dawn in Fernie, to get the duffel bags packed and loaded into the truck, bike checked and ready, breakfast pounded down and bottles filled. Phew, I was already sweating and panting. 
start line.. we are mid-pack I think
Stage 2 from Fernie to Sparwood was a 71k stage with the first 30k straight uphill. Pointy start, very steep descent, then some bumps to finish. I was beginning to see a theme here. The first 10k was furious, a veritable time-trial on hard-packed dirt roads, we blew past the first check point, stopping only to strip arm warmers after a couple of hours and a few pints of lost sweat. The second check point was at 40k, after the crazy descent. Dennis and I planned to meet at the top, check in at the peak then I was to follow his line down. Nice plan Bat man. 
downhill finally, no white knuckles..sit back, relax!
When we finally slogged it to the top, Dennis was having back pain, nausea and dizziness, I think the altitude was kicking in, as well as a blinding pace in the granny gear for almost 2.5 hours. None-the-less, several minutes of stretching later, we entered the crazy single-track near the top of the continental divide, dropped over the edge of a cliff on a trail as wide as my forearm, and began the plunge down. We dropped over 1100m in 5km. Do the math. All I remember is scree at a bizarre angle to my usual horizon, trees at a strange angle to the earth, and a tiny trail winding down towards the bowels of the earth. And it sounded like this.."woohoooooohheeeehhheeeeeeeewwwheee ooo o  o   hoooohhhhheeeeee" for about 30 minutes more. The tag line of the Transrockies is as follows.."some days may feel like they last forever, but really, you're just having the ride of your life". When I signed up, I though it was corny. Now mid-way through day 2, I knew these TR people weren't joking. A skull marked the last dangerous corner of the descent, or so we had been warned the night before, no sign of it as we blew past the hairy off-camber 170degree  switchback with dropoff, and down to the final section of descending trail. 
The rest of the ride was a bit of a blur, lots of rolling roads, mostly hard-packed dirt, lots of stopping to wait for Dennis who was suffering like a dog. He had ridden his heart out on the technical sections, and really enjoyed the screaming  descent, but the seated climbs were killing his back. He was also on his second saddle of the race, the first having died in the middle of yesterdays race, now this piece of Specialized + Bontrager crap was angled at 20 degrees pointing north into his nether regions, and was wedged there. We stopped and started, taking the time to enjoy the spectacular mountain vistas, and keep an eye out for roving grizzlies. I began to appreciate the benefits of team riding, I rode about 200 yards ahead, creating a mental tether for Dennis to view, but not getting to close for fear of hearing any grumbling. The tandem passed us, yes, a crazy couple from St. Louis were racing this on a tandem!! We tried to hop on their dust trail and bomb the last few miles, but Sandy and Ted had us pipped. 5:25 in the saddle, we lost 3rd place today by a mere 5 minutes. We rolled into Sparwood to a huge welcome from the mining town, and promptly lay flat while guzzling as much Coke as we could. Burbling bellies, jellied legs and exhilarated spirits, we hopped on the shuttle to transfer us to Elkford, tonight's campsite. Our tents, while yesterday had seemed cramped and damp, today seemed like a sweet haven. Bike wash, bike repair (new pads, totally burnt out the rear pads today), bike worry( should I replace the front ones too? Do I have another set for later in the week?), laundry (fast becoming a synonym for getting some mud off the shorts and jersey) in a squishable 1 gallon bucket, hang on the wire fence surrounding campground (on a baseball field in some remote mining village). We enjoyed the last of the wine, this time no cups available, just the earplugs container. We were entering the wilderness the next day, so I had better get used to roughing it a bit. Wine was fine, no ear-wax either, bonus!
We wished our buddies Andrew, Danny and Marty were here as they would totally die for the killer scenery and the epic riding.. Ah well, plans for 2011 building already. Pound down the dinner, awards, second dinner, preview of the next day, and crash. Again I was sensing a pattern. Bring it on, I am just getting warmed up!

No comments: