August 11, 2010 (Anchor D Ranch, AB) – Alongside all the obvious skills that are essential to success in long distance mountain biking-fast climbing, brave descending, exceptional endurance-being a good bike mechanic with the ability to improvise solutions in remote places can often be the difference between winning a losing. While World Cup Mountain bike races have mechanical support like the Tour de France, most mountain bike races require that the racers be self-sufficient other than food and drink, and so bike repairs are ingrained into the culture of the sport.
Mechanical issues are a daily occurrence in the TransRockies and riders must be prepared to make a number of basic repairs to things like fix flat tires and broken chains which are a consequence of lightweight machinery, hundreds of kilometres of challenging trails and occasional fatigue-induced rider errors. Along with the usual mechanical fixes, a motorcycle tire iron from a TransRockies course moto was pressed into duty to reinforce a broken frame tube allowing the bike rider to make it to the finish on his bike rather than pushing it.
After three straight stage wins, Kris Sneddon and Barry Wicks of Kona had established a 34-minute lead over 2009 Champions Marty Lazarski and Stefan Widmer (Rocky Mountain Factory Team) in the overall standings. Much of that time was going during Monday’s stage 3 when Marty had to fix a major mechanical a few km before the major climb of the day started. It was perhaps destined then that Kona would suffer its own mechanical challenge on Day 4 when Kris Sneddon snapped his rear derailleur 25km into a 60km ride. He was forced to turn his bike into a single speed for the rest of the day.
The problem with trying to turn most full-suspension bikes into single speeds is that the compression of the rear shock shortens the chain length. When this happens, the chain jumps to a bigger rear cog and then snaps when the shock returns to its normal position. Sneddon snapped his chain twice more before realizing that more extensive surgery was needed. His teammate Barry Wicks remembered locking gears out with duct tape to meet junior racing rules and they tried the same trick again . . . and it worked. They limped to the finish line in 6th place, 43 minutes behind Widmer and Lazarski who will don the Overall Leaders jerseys at tonight’s awards. With less than a 9-minute deficit and more than 170km to be raced over the next three stages, Sneddon and Wicks will feel that the 2010 Championship is still within reach.
While their ride went smoothly for the first 59.9km of the 60km day, Marty Lazarski and Stefan Widmer were nearly undone when Marty crashed just metres before the finish line turning on the transition between asphalt and gravel, and if that weren’t enough, his surprised teammate Stef Widmer also crashed when he rode into him. They were both stunned when they crossed the finish line-Marty on foot, Stef riding-but were up and moving quick and will be ready to race again tomorrow.
Behind all this action, the Timex/Sugoi duo of Will Kelsay and Matt Boobar rode to their second consecutive second-place finish of 2010 and jumped up into 3rd place in the overall standings. With just 5 minutes separating 3rd to 5th in the overall standings, they’ll need to put some more great rides together to get on the final podium in Canmore.
The racing wasn’t quite so dramatic in the other categories though the ride of the day must certainly be credited to the Open Mixed leaders Mical Dyck and Jeff Neilson (Team Terrascape/Trek Canada). After leading the field through the first section of singletrack, they stormed through the race to be the 4th team across the finish line overall and first in their division. Mical Dyck is obviously storming at the moment after medalling at the Canadian National Championships in Calgary. Now that they are wearing the leaders jerseys, they don’t look like they have any plans of giving them up.
With everything to race for, the expectation is for Team Kona to come out firing on the 54km Stage 5 ride from Anchor D Ranch to Little Elbow Camp to try and overturn their 9-minute deficit.
– Stage 4 results here.
– GC after Stage 4 here.