The very first Trans BC got under way as it headed straight into the heart of the incredible forests outside Vernon, catch up with the action from day 1:
North Vancouver, B.C.— The inaugural Trans BC Enduro powered by Stages Cycling catapulted 126 riders straight into the deep forests above Vernon, B.C.— an up and coming mountain bike destination situated in the heart of Lake Country. With 30km and 2300m of descending to navigate, racers were dropped off in misty conditions high above Lake Kalamalka, the crown jewel of Vernon, to dive into the unknown beneath the alpine canopy.
As Ted Morton, race director of the BC Enduro Series and Rose’s secondhand man, described, for many of the riders this week would be a story of misadventures along the way. Getting lost, flatting, crashing, coming to face to face with a grizzly bear, and discovering new limits were all factors that racers would be up against, day in and day out, for the next six days.
Stage 1 down the recently resurrected High Rim Trail (HRT) was a brute wake up call to those still relishing in the novelty of attending adult summer camp. The 1.3km and 220m descent of steep switchbacks, committing moves over slippery rocks, roots and logs, and a fast finish to the first timing station reminded racers that in between the dots, anything can happen. The first flats and crashes of the day surfaced, and it was apparent that the week would soon become a war of attrition.
“I felt way more comfortable later in the day on rocks than the hiking trail we started on with all of the roots. It took me a while to get warmed up this morning,” said Noah Sears, Open Men (Grand Junction, Colo.) “I’m sure I’m going to get my ass kicked by the Canadians, even with today being the fourth of July, and the Americans metaphorically propelled by a freedom eagle.”
The HRT is a 110km point-to-point trail along the eastern slopes of the Thompson Plateau in the Okanagan Valley, between Vernon and Kelowna. Cabin Forestry Services (CFS) reopened the unmaintained singletrack route in 2009 for hiking, and after sitting dormant for six years, they instigated the process for further developing the trail for mountain biking. Meanwhile, Rose was interested in linking a 8km section of the HRT into the backdoor of Kalamalka Lake Provincial Park for the first day of the inaugural event. Through this partnership, the lucky participants were some of the first mountain bikers to experience a fresh-cut section of the High Rim Trail.
Trans BC Enduro — Day 1
“We hope to make the entire trail mountain bike friendly,” said Steve Milne, founder and owner of Cabin Forestry Services since 1996. “It would be a Seven Summit or Frisby Ridge caliber of ride— cool technical, flowy, challenging terrain that takes you up into the alpine, and back down through mountain meadows and lakes.”
Stage 2 was the big stage for the day where riders navigated 5.4km of fast and twisty singletrack with loam pockets and optional freeride lines scattered along the way. While some of the features were ladder hucks to roots, some log rides created shortcuts in ambiguous corners. The highlight of the day was unanimously Stage 3, a fast and furious plunge down 36DD, a trail marked by a big rock roll and steep, loose chute to the finish.
“Today was incredible. I had a flat on stage two, but persevered, and the rest of the day went really well. Stage 3, the gnarly one, was by far my favorite and strength,” said Karey Watanabe, Open Women (Crowsnest Pass, B.C.) “I’m a downhiller by nature and look forward to the week getting more rowdy.”
The final two stages of the day led racers closer to the Cosens Beach through ponderosa pines, black cottonwood and douglas fir trees. Fun flow and high speed characterized the trails, which ended in a sprint through an open meadow into a skidding stop at the sandy shoreline. Riders stripped down and took a cool dip in the lake before climbing up to the shuttle in their clammy chamois.
“You could see the beautiful emerald lake down below us the entire day, it was the carrot for me all day,” said Leigh Bowe, Open Women (Frisco, Colo.) “I’m expecting more of the same tomorrow with steeper transitions and jagged rock features; apparently 25 percent of us will flat.”
Riders will be transported approximately 75km south to Penticton where unique rock features, slab sprinting and phenomenal views of orchards and vineyards that border Lake Okanagan, await them on the Three Blind Mice trail network.
Although patriotic passion flew high on the 4th of July for the Americans and Canadians still celebrating Canada Day, it was actually the kiwis who calculatingly swept the top step of the podium across all categories— Jamie Nicholl (Open Men), Matt Patterson (Master 40+ Men) and Meggie Bichard (Open Women).
“We’ve done one of Megan’s enduro series in the past, and we know that she delivers only the good stuff,” Bichard said.
Bichard (Nelson, NZ), a top athlete for Stages Cycling, marked her return to the Enduro World Series (EWS) in May with a top ten finish at the Emerald Enduro in Wicklow, Ireland, after a horror crash November 2015 which prevented her from racing at the Trans NZ and the first two rounds of the EWS. Her lengthy recovery is paying off, sweeping all five stages on the first day.
The week is just getting started. Five more days across Penticton, Rossland and Nelson still linger and anything can happen in the lineup. Stay tuned to regular updates on Facebook and Instagram and core online media outlets throughout the week. Hashtag your photos #transbcenduro to make their way onto the live stream of the Trans BC’s Media HQ. A special thanks to Cabin Forestry Services and Tourism Vernon for supporting the Trans BC Enduro in Vernon, B.C. For more information email [email protected] or visit transbcenduro.com.
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Words: Trans BC Photos: Dane Cronin / Colin Meagher