Day 0 - Panorama
The most stressful thing of this day was carrying all our luggage to the hotel...and maybe the ridiculously expensive small supper (I had an apple in my salad that still had the tag on).
Day 1 - Panorama to K-2 Ranch
Day 1 was a brutal 2200 m climb up to the top of Panorama mountain ski hill, a little hike a bike at the top, and straight down the other side. Not being a very svelt little climber I definitely suffered on the climb, it took us about 90 mins to reach the summit, only the summit wasn't quite the summit, and you some tough singletrack grunts along the ridge before you entered the decent. I do have to say I was pretty disappointed with the km scree slope that they sent us running down...what a nasty way to loose all of the hard gained elevation. Not know who our competition was Jeff and I decided to treat this day as any other race day and hammered. Good thing too because two flats on the decent easily cost us about 10 minutes, but we managed to pull out our first ever stage win...yippeee!!!
Day 2 - K-2 Ranch to Nipika
After about 30 mins of road riding, which was a really nice warm up, we started up the Fairmont Hot Springs ski hill (luckily not all the way to the top today, which however was the biggest climbing day of the race. We pushed and found ourselves in good company up and over the first climb. The second major climb we were sent straight up an avalanche shoot (which was claimed to be only 100m with dancing bears at the turn - this was the location last year that half of the field got lost), and we pushed or carryed our bikes for a good 30 mins before turning off into the treeline and continued to slog our way up and across. When we finally reached the downhill...yippee....it was totally worth it, absolutely amazing and extremely technical. Jeff rocked the dh and we manage to reel in about 5 (I have to add mens) teams, and we hit the bottom in 4th place overall in the teams. Dropping back to 5th when the super strong Czech Masters hammered by us like we were standing still on the road, we still held onto our first place in the open mixed and extended our lead to 50 mins.
Day 3 - Nipkia TT
This was a little bit of a mentally and physically challenging day, and the start of our really nasty weather for the rest of the week. This days format was a TT with 1 min intervals, and with our start time of 1:11, we were in the middle of some pretty cruddy weather. This is a really cool concept for a mountain bike stage race and the course was great...if it was dry it would have been truely amazing.
My saddle and shorts didn't get a long very well this day and I was doing a slow and dirty (very very muddy) strip show out on course. Though Ryan Correy's shorts were a lot more revealing then mine were.
Day 4 - Nipika to Whiteswan Lake
This was the longest day of the race at 107km, with some good singletrack off the start, one major climb and 50 km of fast road to the finish. Jeff and I had a great start and managed to hang onto the leading men's pack for quite a while and avoid the big group that went off course near the start. My partner Jeff "the Mule" rocked today and it was all I could do on the 50 km into Whiteswan to hold his wheel through the mud....especially once he eyed the 2nd place Open Men's team from Portugal struggling up the last climb near the finish. We ended up hammering the last 15 mins, just missing 3rd place overall...ouch (I should know better then to do that ...oh well..hehe)
This was laundry day too, huge thanks to my parents for doing 6 teams worth of scuzzy laundry.
Day 5 - Whiteswan to Elkford
This is a tough day, with some serious steeo climbing and hiking. After finding ourselves in a good spot on first very long by relatively gentle climb, I managed to snap my chain...yikes. Thanks to Jeff staying really calm, even with me yipping at him to "Hurry, just break it", we managed to quickly throw in a quick link and get rolling again. We had lost about 5 mins and our second place competition, a very strong Belgian team (the female being Mieke Wouter who wears the Belgian national marathon champion strips) past us. Once back in the game, we pushed to catch back up to them and recovered for a moment behind them. I didn't like the pace, so I threw Jeff the look and we attacked over the climb, and continued to push ...outta sight, outta mind. They managed to catch back up to us as we were leaving the last check stop, but the last major climb had a lot of serious hiking and some really fast and fun technical decending (including the infamous km long baby head rock garden), and by the end we managed to open up a 14 min gap over the last pass.
It was an extremely cold finish into Elkford, it seriously felt like there was ice growing off the end of my nose.
Day 6 - Elkford to Blairmore
Leaving Elkford was climb 5 km up the paved road towards the coal mine and turn off onto some of the nicest singletrack of the week. Tough, twisty and rooty, and some amazing views...and we actually had some sun here, making you think it was going to be a nice day. Once we hit the road down to the first checkpoint however, it was raining so hard, there was sheets of water coming down my glasses and I could barely make out Jeff's outline...if we had had to make a turn off of that road we serious would have missed it. These were active logging roads too, with a 2 inch layer of slick mud covering the majority of the road...ugggg. Adding insult to injury, after checkpoint 3, just when you think you can't handle anymore, we were sent up 3 consecutive super steep long climbs. I remember this from last year, but I totally don't remember it being that hard :) Due to all of the sandy mud running through the brakes I ended up loosing both front and back brakes (when I removed the pads that night I was wearing through the metal backing of the pads). This was managable as long as I kept full pressure on the brakes and didn't gain too much speed... in which case the only other option is a face plant at full speed into a greasy mud berm...I totally wish someone would have gotten that one on camera, may helmet was so packed with mud we had to stop to clean it out just to keep it from falling down over my eyes.
Rough day in the office..hehe.
Day 7 - Blairmore to Fernie
Fell asleep on this last night to the pounding of rain on the tent, it was pretty amazing how much and how hard the rain was coming down this night. The start of the day was so cold too, with a slight drizzle (and wet leg warmers didn't help the cause), that we opted to wear our body condoms to start. I was definitely in a world of hurt this day, and my amazing partner did more then his share of the work just to get us up the mountain. We had a great start, but I found I was having troubles putting power down (funny how riding hard for 6 days straight can do that to you), and we found ourselves getting past by teams we hadn't seen before). At one point the Belgians caught right up to us and I definitely had a moment panick, the adrenaline helped me find a gear and push a little harder. Thanks to our awesome Italian friends Sergio and Ettoli who put together a great paceline on a road section, which definitely helped us put some distance on the Belgians. It was super great to see and hear friends out on course once in Fernie, and really nice having Cory Wallace (who killed the TR3 but continued to ride the race as a media personel - check out www.sleepmonsters.ca) accompany us up the last climb and through the wicked s*^& eating grin kinda singletrack down to the finish. Oh yeah, and we actually had a sunny warm finish in Fernie :)
Stage 8 - the banquet and party afterwards was definitely fun (maybe not the best for recovery though), it was great to spend some chill time with the people I've suffered with all week. Thanks Jeff for being such a great partner, thanks to my parents for being the bestest support crew ever, thanks to Keith for everything, thanks to the TR staff and volunteers for all the hardwork, and huge thanks to all the other racers out there making the event so fun.
Guess what now???? Off to Australia for a little .. hehe .