August 04, 2012 (Canmore, AB) – Stage 6 would find the riders waking to a light sprinkle of rain and dense could cover. The blue skies of the previous 5 days disappeared overnight and by 8:30 am the sprinkle had turned into a steady downpour. The previous night the TransRockies organizers put their team on notice that an alternate route may be required in order to keep the riders off the higher passes, out of the cold and minimize the risk of accidents on the descents. When the 9 o’clock start rolled around the call was made to shorten the course by approximately 17km and exclude two climbs on the day: Cox Hill and Jumpingpound Ridge.
TransRockies Staffer Kevin McDonald firing the start gun. © Kelvin Trautman
In retrospect, the decision to re-route was the correct one as the conditions worsened throughout the morning. When the athletes began to trickle across the Rafter 6 finish line it was obvious that the day had turned into a ‘mud bath’. TR3 champion and TR4 Men’s Open leader Neal Kindree was first across the line in 2:41:59 and was thoroughly coated. After a flat on the course, TR4 40+ overall leader Jeff Neilson was relegated to 5th place on the stage with John Gould taking the win. Kristin Walters maintained her lead in the Women’s Open with a 3 minute and 39 second win over Ene Underwood.
Tandem rider Thomas Miller riding with wife Karen Libsch © Kelvin Trautman
The TR7 Open Men saw the Rocky Mountain Factory team of Colin Kerr and Greg Day overcome mechanical problems on stage 5 and claim a stage win ahead of overall leaders Jon Firth and Stefan Widmer. Impressively, 80+ Mixed team Eva and Marco Carrer, along with Jean Ann Berkenpass and Sandra Walter in the Women’s Open field, each clocked their 6th straight stage win.
TR4 rider Evan Olaufson on the trail. © Kelvin Trautman
The Open Mixed continued to show strong competition between the top 3 teams with less than 10 minutes separating them on a tough day. Wendy Simms and Normon Thibault came out on top for the second day in a row and maintained their overall lead. After a 1 hour and 12 minute victory on Stage 5, 80+ Men’s team of Pat Doyle and Craig Bartlett took a slim 1 minute and 41 second win and their 4th stage win.
TR7 competitos Koos Pretorius and Willie Engelbrecht of South Africa. © Kelvin Trautman
Undoubtedly the most competitive category at this years event has been the 100+ Open. The six stages
have seen 3 different winning teams with a time gap between 1st and 2nd standing at a mere 5 minutes and 4 seconds. Darrell Johnson and Tom Ebbern notched their 3rd stage win and will look to hold onto their overall lead heading into the finish in downtown Canmore.
TransRockies Challenge – Stage 7
Stage 6 saw the riders delivered to Rafter 6 Ranch wet and battle weary. As the evening approached the clouds gave way to blue skies and the hope that the final day of racing would once again be bathed in sunlight. Overnight, however, the clouds returned along with the rain. By morning on the final day of racing the downpour had begun again. An 8:30 am start sent the field off from Rafter 6 for the last stretch to main street Canmore.
TR7 competitors Anja McDonald and Tristan Rawlence of New Zealand © Kelvin Trautman
This stage would be one of more enjoyable of the week with just over 45km of riding and 1,200 metres of elevation gain
. Early on, TR4 Open Men’s leader Neal Kindree would suffer a flat tire and be forced to work his way through roughly 80 riders in an effort to catch the leaders. By the time he made the turn for home he had passed all but two: Greg Day and Colin Kerr of Rocky Mountain Factory team. Day and Kerr would take the stage win for the TR7 Open Men and seal a second place overall finish behind Planetfoods/Honeystinger riders Jon Firth and Stef Widmer. Kindree took his fourth straight stage win and the overall Open Men’s TR4 crown to go with his TR3 win earlier in the week.
TransRockies Challenge Trail Ambassador Simon Parker. © Kelvin Trautman
Fortunately for the rest of the field the weather began to quickly improve as the morning progressed. By noon the sun was out and temperatures were rising into the teens from an overnight low of 5 degrees Celsius. Jeff Neilson, TR4 40+ Men’s overall leader, finished his 7th TransRockies atop the podium in his class. The Open Women`s leader, Kristin Walters, continued her winning ways with her fourth stage win capturing the overall title.
Men's Open overall winners Stefan Widmer and Jon Firth. © Kelvin Trautman
There`s nothing quite like the feeling of finishing on Main Street Canmore after 7 days of the TransRockies Challenge. The smiles were ear to ear as the field continued to work its way across the line after a stop on the trails of the Canmore Nordic Centre. TR7 Open Women`s team of Jean Ann Berkenpas and Sandra Walter hit Main Street with their 7th straight stage victory thus securing their overall title. Just as dominant, Marco and Eva Carrer of Switzerland, matched the Open Women`s ladies stage win count to take home the 80+ Mixed overall.
TransRockies finisher showing off his finisher t-shirt. © Kelvin Trautman
The 80+ Open Men`s team composed of Craig Bartlett and Pat Doyle were able to take 5 of 7 stage wins and finished in Canmore the overall winners. On only one occasion in the 2012 edition of the TransRockies Challenge did Normon Thibault and Wendy Simms not reach the top of the podium. Today they claimed their 6th win of the week and the Open Mixed crown. 100+ Open leaders Darell Jones and Tom Ebbern picked up where they left off on Stage 6. By taking their 5th win they secured their first place overall position.
As always, The 2012 TransRockies Challenge lived up to its name. Early on, the Fernie route tested riders with heat, long climbs and technical descents. Leaving the relative comfort of hotel living for Kananaskis camp life brought a change in the weather and the opportunity for riders to test themselves under less than ideal conditions. A little bit of everything from North America’s original, epic, singletrack adventure.
Visit www.transrockies.com for all the daily for reports, results, photos and video from the race.
Complete results available HERE.