The TR7/TR3 Transrockies Challenge event starts in Fernie, BC for the first three days (the TR3) and then continues to Canmore, Alberta for the full seven day event. With both events running side by side for the first 3 days I was able to challenge myself against some of the very best Canadian and US riders racing in either the 3 or 7 day events as we all started together. With some very good legs this year I managed to cross the line as first woman three days in a row, holding off a very fit and fast Sandra Walter and Kate Aardal for the overall spot in the GC for the TR3. Kate narrowly beat out Sondra Looney for third spot in the GC (I think it came down to seconds) while Jean Ann Birkenpas and Mical Dyck will continue to battle with Petra Tlamkova in the TR7 competition over the next four days.
Yay! A leader’s plate 🙂
Big thanks to all of the folks at Transrockies, you put on an incredible show and I am kind of sad to miss the fun in the next four days. With amazing race courses from high mountain passes to ski mountain downhill trails there is something for everyone in this race. You need a solid skill set of fitness and technical ability but if you didn’t bring those with you, you would be bound to take them home. We were reminded daily of the unique challenge we were being presented as there were bears in the area for day one and moose on the loose on day three. Each race went off on time, except for day three when we needed to wait 15 minutes to allow a charging bull moose to take the party elsewhere. Speaking of wildlife, Crazy Larry was in fine form for this race with a very special climb designed by him on Day 3 that we all totally appreciated. The balloons made the steep climbing that much more festive.
I loved racing the boys as well as the girls.
Easily this is the best performance in a mountain bike stage race for me in a very long time. Sandra is having a great season, highlighted by a close silver medal position to Emily Batty at the nationals recently in Hardwood Hills, so having the ability to hold off strong charges from her over the last three days is incredible for me. Thank you Sandra, it is such a pleasure to be racing so close to you! I also would never have expected to stay in front of other national team badass athletes like Mical and Jean-Ann or super long distance athletes Kate Aardal and Sondra Looney. It was really a great three days both in the outcome and the experience. I am also very proud of Kate Button for pounding her way into the top ten on a hardtail bike- not the easiest on some of these very technical trails! Even Mike Vine was in the mix… making it a solid pro XTERRA threesome secret training in the mountains. Even Jenny, our third place at XTERRA Victoria and soon to be XTERRA-pro was there with her boyfriend getting some fitness in the TR7. Further XTERRA presence was evident with Mike Kloser and Michael Tobin crushing their division in the TR7 race. I was fortunate to ride with them for a short while on Day 3 before they dropped me. They aren’t getting any slower.
The most important detail of the weekend is HOW I won the races. Given I have not been on a mountain bike at all in the past month, nor have I trained properly for mountain biking this past winter, my technical ability is not at my best. I will admit I improved solidly after three days of crushing single track but really I saved each day by putting time on my challengers on the ascents, only to lose masses of it to their superior descending skills. I am so impressed with how great the Canadian girls ride and I appreciate how awesomely talented they are. Those skills have less utility on the XTERRA circuit so I have put a lot more time into getting to the top of the mountain versus getting to the bottom, and it showed. Luckily the weather was perfect and my skills were adequate to get to the bottom safely and quickly in the mostly dry conditions.
I was fortunate enough to be sent a brand new shiny Superfly 100 by my badass sponsors Trek, Bontrager and Shimano. The wonderful thing about this bike is it rides just as nimble as my hardtail but has a whole bunch of bump erasing travel which made me look like 10x the rider I really was on the downhills. The Bontrager Team Edition 29er 2.2 tires worked like magic in all conditions over the weekend. That bike is an incredible weapon and I was having so much fun I think every photo has a big smile in it. I really do enjoy mountain biking so much even when I am scared out of my wits on gnarly trails like Rumplestumpskin (a downhiller trail we finished TR3 on). It was so great to stretch my limits this past three days but you won’t see me at an Enduro any time soon. My skills do not stretch that far.
The stages were quite short for a stage race with most of my finish times between 2:10 and 2:40 which makes for three very intense days of racing. This is exactly what the doctor ordered for 70.3 Worlds… as this is approximately the time for the bike portion of a half Ironman and is why I went to this race in the first place. I am going to test out my ability on flat terrain this coming weekend in Michigan so I hope that some of this climber ability will translate well to my Trek Speed Concept on Sunday.
I also tested some nutrition ideas with my Powerbar products this weekend and felt like my recovery was perfect each day. I know I felt stronger as the race went on and rode with strong and stronger groups so I think I was getting the fueling right each day. I did the whole race using green apple Powergels and Perform energy drink and felt great every day.
I have some cool files from my Polar RC3 GPS from each day which gave me a lot of information about my efforts over the weekend. It is amazing that we were climbing for an hour and forty minutes on Day 2! I thought it felt so much shorter which is why I never got through all of the water I brought along.
It went waaaay up with some easy group riding at the beginning on day 2 according to Polar RC3 GPS.
I was so focused on staying with my climbing partner Edvard that day the time flew by. Turns out Edvard and his buddy Calle train with Lisa Norden back in Sweden so I was in great company for the last three days. Seems she likes her training partners to be strong and good looking. I like her style. Unfortunately for him, Calle ended up riding with me for a short while on Day 3 after he found himself almost 20 minutes off course otherwise he was much too fast for me as one of the top 2 early leaders in the TR7 Open Men’s race. Good luck to both of you over the next four days! I hope to have some extra cheers from Sweden at Las Vegas 70.3 Worlds this year.
Thank you to Champion System for the awesome kit and the cheers over the weekend. Thank you to Rudy Project for the multitude of lens options that I chose from over the weekend in the changing weather! Thanks so much to Arran and Troy at Procity Trek Store Victoria for tuning my brand new rocket ship pre-race – it ran perfectly! Thanks to Jamie Grimes at Synergy Health Management, Markus Blumensaat at Leftcoast Health and Rob Pearce for the biomechanical tuneups – I am feeling like I am starting to get back to my old self finally! Thanks to Powertap, USANA, Esi Grips, and Saltstick for the support.
Finally thanks again to Adam Zucco for the coaching advice and putting up with frustrated Mel while she was making her way back from injury. I am a handful and I am lucky he stuck it out. I’m glad to see we are definitely trending in the right direction at this point in the season.
Here is a fun recap of the last three days. Thanks for reading.: