Pinkbike Rider’s Perspective: Singletrack 6

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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