Singletrack 6 – Stages 5&6

As the final two days closed in the body was still hanging in strong and better than I thought it would. Doing a multi-day race for the first time had a lot of question marks, but I was having so much fun that those questions were never worried about. That week of racing, hanging out, and sharing the experience with others will be remembered forever. It was the other racers the event, and the volunteers that made it a highlight race of my year. 

Lining up with my Pivot Cycles crew before the final stage. Photo: Russ Baker

I will 100% be back for more stage races and to ST6 in the future. This event brought me back to my roots of racing and I think the most special part was the types of people who came together because of their passion for riding. It was contagious and I caught the bug!

Day 5 start in Kaslo. Photo: John Gibson

Day 5 we visited the Kaslo for what was, in my opinion, the best course of the week. We left with a Police escort and headed for the mountains. After a long firewood climb to split the field up we began the real climb on an exposed sidehill. It was so steep that if you fell down it, well, you would probably would never be heard of again. The uphill switchbacks were so tight that we had to run around then. Then came my favourite pat: the descent. It was exceptional and crafted in a such a way that the speed was kept up but the flow of trail maintained that speed to the absolute perfect amount. The trail weaved all types of terrain from the peak down to the valley bottom. It was the one unfortunate day I took a wrong turn and had to backtrack. I was pushing it on the descent and trying to get a gap and once I did I pretty much tossed it away. 

Bridging back up to Justin after he attacked the final days climb in Kaslo. Photo: John Gibson

Justin caught back up to be me and we rode the rest of the stage together and I took the win but wasn’t able to get anyway GC time on him. After we snacked on Party Mix, drank water and coke, it was time for a swim in Kootenay Lake. We then cruised back to basecamp in Nelson before the sixth and final stage. 

Day 6 Started in downtown Nelson with a police escort and we were led out with our Captain who was honouring Pilsner and Kokanee. Photo: John Gibson

Day 6 began and ended in downtown Nelson. The town welcomed us with open arms and shut down the main streets. We rolled out behind our “Beer Captain” and a Police escort. This start was the most mellow of them all and you could see riders feeling the previous five days. Eventually the fireworks went off. I went into the timed descent leading the GC for it and needed to be smart and not risk too much, but also not slack because Alex is quick! I also tailed 3 riders after the 1 hour climb to the top. I pushed hard in the descent and ended up catching all the riders and getting a gap on Justin. I had 3.5 minutes to make up if I wanted any chance for the overall. It was now or never. I climbed with everything I had and he closed it down after the next 45 min climb on the flat/downhill fire road. I burnt all the matches beforehand. Hats off to Justine. It was a pleasure to race against him all week and it sure was exciting. We each won 3 stages, and I was able to take 4 descent stages and the overall. So its not a bad week with 7 first places finishes and 5 second place finishes. I’ll take it. 

As much as Justine and I battled for the overall, we also raced like gentleman. Here he let me pass just before the timed descent so I could go for the seconds, and in return I waited for him at the bottom before we got back to racing. Photo: John Gibson

For my first stage race I was very satisfied. I kept wondering if a bad day or meltdown day would happen, as it’s a part of stage races I hear about. There was never a bad just day, just a little off day 4 but Justine I think was just that much stronger. Big thank you to Transrockies and the ST6 crew for having me and putting on a top-notch event. 

ST6 was a major accomplishment for every rider, volunteer and staff. It was a big week on all levels. Congrats to everyone who took part. Photo: John Gibson 

Spent the week going back and forth for the timed descent with Alex “Krunk Shox” McGuinnes. Photo: John Gibson

First stage race is now in the books. Photo: John Gibson

Day 6 in Nelson before the fireworks began. Photo: John Gibson

Fellow Pivot Cycles rider Taylor Lideen finished 3rd overall. Photo: John Gibson

On The Edge-Pivot rider Mathieu Belanger-Barrette finished in 5th overall and was the defending ST6 champion. Photo: John Gibson

 

Photo: John Gibson

Photos from here down by Russ Baker

 

Stage 2 podium at Red Mountain in Rossland. 

Stage 6’s final berm in the timed descent.

Opted for the “cooler” jersey in Stage 5’s 30 C heat. 

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

National Championships

This past weekend was that time of year where the Canadians race for the coveted maple leaf jersey. The National Champions get to represent the title in their respective categories. This was the 12th year in a row I’ve raced Nationals and it dates back to my Under-17 days. This year we returned to Canmore, Alberta for the third time in my 12 years of this event, which makes it the most raced Nationals course for myself. Canmore is a place we all look forward to being in. The town exuberates sport and outdoor activities, and made us racers feel extremely special. 

The team running the event hit every detail and produced a world-class event. Hands down this was the best Nationals I’ve attended and am excited to be back next year! Thank you to everyone who spent the last year working, planning, digging, putting out fires (not literally), and jumping through hoops to make this event one to remember. We racers can’t do it without the volunteers and I hope every single one of them knows how much they’re appreciated. 

Photo: Caroline Gautier

After spending a nice little chunk of time at home preparing for this year, as my biggest goal of the year, I can’t help but be disappointed with how it played out. This year I’ve been overwhelmed with the support and help from others and really wished I could have repaid those efforts with a better race. It’s one thing if you have a race where everything is firing, no mistakes made and you finish knowing it was the best you gave, then that’s a win on the process side. The objective result is always hard because we place numbers on what we want to achieve but some days our competitors are just on another level, which I highly respect. So if I had finished 6th and had the race of my season then no disappointment is there. But this weekend I felt tapped out and unable to race at my capability and past races this year. It was a snail-like pace up the climbs and I only had the descents to help me out. Luckily there was enough trail and descending that I could salvage a 6th place is the always stacked Elite Men’s field. 

The “Eye Dropper” Photo: Caroline Gautier

Photo: Caroline Gautier

This race was one I put a star beside last October and have woken up every morning since that day and thought about it, planned for it, and trained for it. But it’s one day out of 365 and that can’t define the year if it doesn’t unfold how you visioned it. Unfortunately two weeks out I got hit with a body flu and spent 5 days on the couch, and missed about 10 days of ‘quality’ training. Not optimal but I was rested to a point. For some reason in the past my best races were after an injury, sickness, or even while on antibiotics for infection, so there was no doubt after this flu. I still believe that great day at Nationals is in the cards but another year will need to be waited for.

Photo: Nicola Wenn

The “Organ Grinder” Photo: Nicola Wenn

Though the race didn’t go the way I dreamed it would, I was riding well enough on the downhill to get win the “downhill” timed race within the cross-country race. It very unique and exciting that the event put on a prize for the fastest male and female of the day for both the uphill and the downhill sections on the course. I won a growler from Canmore Brewing and will accept that with a thirsty smile!

Photo: Aidan Brown

This year I was fortunate to stay with the Brown family in Canmore. A host family is always 100 times better than staying in a little hotel and this family is a special one!. As always, the cycling community is filled with wonderful people like this and as an athlete it is tough to explain how much of a difference this makes. 

Photo: Andy Wilson

Thee may have been whimper noises happening here as the last lap began. Photo: Caroline Gautier

As I write this it now becomes more realistic how the season for cross-country is already coming to a close for me. I was offered an incredible opportunity to race Singletrack 6 through Rossland, Nelson, and Kalso starting this Saturday July 29th. These areas are world-class and within four hours of where I live and never ridden them. Opportunities can be presented sometimes at a unexpected time and in the past I haven’t taken them, so this was a no brainer and I accepted it with a smile!

Staying low through the flow trail. Photo: John Gibson

Congratulations to all the racers this past weekend and the new National Champions of Canada. I think a special shoutout goes to Jenn Jackson who won the U23 women’s race in her first year racing!! Secondly, to Peter Disera – this guy is the future for Canada and I couldn’t be more proud of my buddy and past teammate for stepping up from the U23 race to ride with the Elite men and then putting the boots to us all. Proud of you pal. I’ll put a pretty penny on Petey D being at the next Olympics. 

Sunday after the XC race was the team relay. An event where 4 riders in a mixture of ages/categories each race a lap of the course and tag off to the next. I was on a team with BC Provincial squad and we came in 4th. After the relay a group of us, let’s call is team friendship, met up and went for our post-Nationals Canmore group ride. These are some of the best memories I keep from bike racing and this ride was no different. 

Riders: Kevin Haviland, Jonathan Duncan, Holden Jones, Peter Disera, Rhys Verner, and leader Aidan Brown.

I couldn’t quite get enough of Canmore and decided to stay an extra day and ride the ‘Highline’ trails with more friends on the Monday. I would highly recommend this trail is ever in the area.

Rider: Quinn Moberg

Canadian Cyclist report: http://canadiancyclist.com/dailynews.php?id=32816&title=batty-disera-take-canadian-elite-xc-titles

Cycling News report: http://www.cyclingnews.com/races/canadian-cross-country-national-championships-2017/results/

Pedal Magazine Report: http://pedalmag.com/batty-and-disera-win-elite-titles-at-2017-mtb-xco-nationals-13-champions-crowned/