Singletrack 6 – Stages 3&4

Making it past day two of this race was an accomplishment itself after taking myself out on day two of the last stage race I attempted. This week has been incredible so far. I can’t explain the vibe, camaraderie, volunteer support, the faces of true grit and accomplishment. It’s been taxing on the whole body. Long, steep climbs and rugged sections of trail, where arm pump and numb hands are a given, seem to be the flavour of each day and the other parts of each stage vary with surprises. 

Day 1 neutral start with a police escort through the streets of Rossland.

After coming alive halfway through day 1 and making up a big amount of time it still meant chasing Justin Lindine in GC time. Day 2 I hardly squeaked out any time, but he did take a crash in the final descent with the time that I did gain. It was the first stage win of the race for me. I also came into this race looking to chase the the mini race within the big race, known as the “timed descent”. It’s just one downhill trail per day that we’re timed on and then like the overall race winner, a timed descent winner gets the downhill glory. On day 2 I was able to take the descent and move into the overall lead. 

Day 3 was the one I looked forward to most this race. 7 Summits is an iconic trail and we were the first group to ever race it by bike. It truly was an honour. This was also a stage I targeted for overall time, because it was a very hard climb to start, rolling ridges, then a long 15 km descent to finish. Again, Justin was too strong in every aspect he stayed glued to my wheel all day. I also won this stage and came 2nd in the descent, where Alex McGuinnis took the descent lead back over.

7 Summits. If you’re a mountain biker then this is a need-to-ride-ASAP trail.

Day 4 we transferred over to Nelson after spending first three in Rossland. This week is all new trails for me and Nelson has been on the bucket list for a while. Stage 4 may have been the hardest because it took 24+ km of climbing to finally reach the alpine summit before we descended (mostly) to the finish. I pushed hard in the timed descent after Justin had ridden away on the climb and was out of sight. Maybe too much effort on the descent as the cramps came on during the final firewood section. This day ended with the best descent of the week, so far. I finished 2nd on the stage and won the descent to take the lead back over. 

Valleluja trail summit in the alpine. 

Day 5 just finished but I’ll wait for more photos and do a recap with the sixth and final day. Photo report below.

If you’re interested in daily profiles you can check out my Strava profile and see each day: https://www.strava.com/pros/183904

 

All photos below by John Gibson

It’s been a pleasure watching fellow racers accomplish some bloody hard days.

 

Cheer squad was exceptional. 

 

Day 2 descended Red Mountain with stunning views of Rossland.

Swiss XC mafia friend, Nathalie Schneitter and her brother Michael. She is leading the timed descent category with me!

These volunteers are keeping us alive! I’ve never liked watermelon as much as I have this week!

 

Unique trails that we are all racing blind. Not knowing what the next corner holds is a large part of the excitement.

All photos by John Gibson

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