Julye 2, 2011 (Alberta) – The inaugural Furious 3 Mountain Bike Stage Race started on time with no fuss – impressive for an event of this size happening for the first time. The sun was shining as close to 300 solo and team riders departed for 40km of sweet Fernie mountain bike riding.
The start included some pavement then a fire road that gradually climbed up, which added some selection to the field as riders quickly found their spot in the pack. This fire road gradually turned upward and became steeper, so the selection continued. By the time racers reached the first bit of singletrack there were very few bottle necks and Team Pedal (Mike & Mike) found ourselves in a nice little group including the single speed machine Gabor. As soon as our wheels touched singletrack dirt the fun really started. Course conditions were perfect with just enough moisture to keep the dust down and roots slippery if you were not careful.
After zipping through feed zone 1, snagging a banana on the way, the technical climbing began; a nice appetizer for what was to come. Feed zone 2 came quickly and it marked the start of the major climb of the stage, Hyperventilation. If you have never ridden in Fernie this climb is a must, if you have you know where the trail gets it’s name. The narrow climbing, technically challenging sections, tight switchbacks and no resting make this a climb one that can test the best.
I (Mike S.) had a more difficult time kicking in my climbing legs than did Mike B. and Hyperventilation was not a picnic in the park. It was more like a buffet of suck. Sometimes your mind can’t will your legs to do what they don’t want to do; pedal with any more force – the equivalent of the riding of a small child. I suffered my way up Hyperventilation while Mike B. patiently waited.
What goes up must come down and down we went, after going even up a little more. The first part of the descent was fast – we were on the brakes and had to pay “attention or else” as this type of trail required 100% concentration.
Fellow Furious 3 competitor and riding buddy Ken Hurd (Bikeridr) suffered a tough break, literally as he was bounced off track (by accident) and awkwardly slammed his front wheel into the ditch between the singletrack and the fire road. Check out the bikeridr video for the leftovers of the wheel. No spoke wrench is going to help here.
Bikeridr.com Furious 3 Day 1 video
Team Pedal had a day that reflected the course – up and down. A strong start, slog up a fire road climb, ripping the single track, more slogging on the climb, then a fast push to the finish only to be thwarted by a train. No mechanicals, no crashes, just clean (and sometimes slow) riding. Recovery is key as we learned in our first experience mountain bike stage racing so ice baths, stretching, & Indian food for supper were in order. The tank has been filled up for Day 2.