By Chad Moore
The TransRockies Challenge has lived up to its reputation of being the hardest mountain bike race in North America. Just getting here proved to be an epic adventure. Based on my years of experience managing a professional mtn bike team that traveled the globe, getting into Canada without my passport would be OK. Yes, I knew I needed it, but on the way out of Boulder, Colorado, I couldn’t really ask the Super Shuttle driver to head back to my house. I have seen people get into Canada without a passport before, so I convinced myself it would be OK. Lugging our three bike boxes, three suitcases, and three boxes of parts, etc., to the Oversized counter in DIA was a snap, no problems. The first thing the guy at the check-in counter asks us after we tell him we are going to Calgary is I need three passports! Great. So after rescheduling my flight to a later one, having a friend come pick me up and take me back to Boulder to get my passport, then taking the RTD Bus to the airport, again, I arrive in Calgary four hours after my teammate Calvin and our support crew, Missy. Already an adventure and we hadn’t even gotten on the bikes. Let the games begin! Registration was strangely similar to registering for a UCI World Championships. We filled out our forms, took photos for our credentials, then picked up our Adidas duffle which contained all of the race information. Since we have an RV, we don’t have the luxury of sleeping in the “tent city” that follows each stage and is ready when the racers arrive. Instead, Missy drives our RV to each finish and we get a hot shower and an air condition “home” to cry about how hard today’s stage was. And let me tell you, it is epic. A neutral rollout through the town of Fernie, British Columbia kicked off the first stage. This 46km (or so) stage was re-routed due to the insane fires that are burning all around us, so we actually got to start and finish in the town of Fernie. After the rollout behind the circa 1900 backfiring Engine No.9, we starting racing and the pace was blistering from the start. Don’t these guys know there seven days left? The route started out pretty nice, some climbing, some singletrack, and then we hit the first hike-a-bike. Hiking the trails below the powerlines in the mountains isn’t easy. It isn’t ridable, it isn’t drivable, and it almost isn’t walkable. We had three of these sections, which were coupled with some wickedly steep climbs that even the top Pro racers wouldn’t be able to ride. On the plus side, we did get to go downhill a little too. The backside of these powerline hikes are so steep, and to top it all off there are waterbars that came from nowhere, well actually we think they came from hell. Rumor has it that there was a broken collarbone, and a broken leg today. If it wasn’t for my XTR disc brakes, I would have been in a world of torture. We finished in about 20th place today. Not too shabby since Calvin fell to pieces on the final section of singletrack. That is all for today, I will check-in tomorrow after stage two, provided we will have internet access. After tomorrow we really head into the backwoods of B.C., so I hope we don’t have to bust out the bear whistle.