Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Fernie Riding

Well, we survived the flooding unscathed, and like many other people in Canmore, it took a little more than rain to keep us off the trails! The trails here shed water and drain like sieves, so we were able to get back on the trails only a couple of days after the major rain event. The trails avoided the devastation of Cougar Creek, Exshaw, High River, and Calgary, with just a few washouts that I'm sure will be repaired within no time!

Riding with Xprezo rider Matt Hadley. He's enjoying his S-650 . 27.5" wheels are definitely interesting. Do the wheels accelerate fast enough to make a difference? Can you still float over rough singletrack with ease?

Hitting the gym! Great place to work the core!

Town spirit was amazing. People volunteering to fix the trails and gut basements, offer up places to stay, donate items. The Canada Day parade was still a GO with huge cheers going out to the crews who helped Canmore recover!
After a couple solid rides on greasy dirt, everything was back to tacky on Thursday, about a week after the start of the rains. However, we were off to Fernie, where Bill was to race the TransRockies Fernie Enduro. I opted to skip this event: it was nice to have a break from racing, and while the timed descent stages and point to point racing creates fun racing, the entry fee was a little more than I wanted to spend given my current under-employed status. It was also nice to explore some different trails.

Fernie is a place that I don't normally ride, but where I need to ride more often. It is 4hrs from Canmore, putting it at similar distance to great riding in Jasper (haven't been), and Revelstoke (maybe my favourite place to ride). But coming from Edmonton or Calgary, Fernie is just as far away as Golden, and Invermere, which although they offer some great riding, I don't think it compares to Fernie! 

Fernie has a large variety of trails in numerous zones that are all accessible from town! Over the course of 3 days, I was able to ride a great sampler of awesome trails. I pre-rode sections of the enduro course: Verboten (steep, rooty, the hardest trail I rode), Project 9, Mushroom Head, Red Sonja, Hyperventilation/Extension, and then I added on a bunch of other great trails: Ridgemount, S-bomb to Brokeback, Swine Flu, Kids Stuff/Splitting Bears/Hessian. So much great singletrack was enjoyed and there are lots of trails to check out for next time!

Up high on the stupid traverse. The only thing stupid about this would be missing it on a trip to Fernie!

There were lots of steep climbs that definitely tested my ability to push my 26 tooth little ring. But they got me to the top very quickly and I was able to crush 500-600m vertical laps in under an hour! With lots of roots and steeps, dry weather is certainly a must to make the most out of a trip. I found that my Xprezo handled the trails fine.

I had a great time and I was able to ride in all of the zones. Bill also had a great time riding a pretty fun course, but his experience was marred by timing errors, getting stuck behind slower riders on the sections he really cared about (the timed descents), and a lack of draw prizes!

Course marking of questionable quality

The enduro is certainly a cool format and it opens up racing to a completely untapped demographic. But there are some kinks that need to be worked out before I feel it is worth shelling out that kind of money: Verboten was the hardest descent but it came first. There were stories of a bit of waiting before dropping in so that riders could enjoy a clean descent, but still glory passes had to be made. It seems that timing errors led to one of the stages being cancelled in the results. As well, with the top 3 just a little over 30 seconds apart, one has to question the accuracy of the zone4 chip timing system with a supposed range of 15 meters. Accurate results and clean (well marked, great trails, free of both rider and other traffic) courses are really what separates racing from just going for a ride.

Skimo-er Niall. First MTB race?

Hardcore guys giving Bill the cold shoulder

The start. The riders going for the overall still had what looked like a relaxed start with no wacko (me) sprinting off the line. The "enduro" riders rolled off the line in their easiest gears.

North Shore Mountain Bike Association (NSMBA) has stepped up and all of their toonie races are the enduro format. It's pretty cool that they could get something going at the midweek level. It would be nice if someone here would step up and get something going. I'm slightly interested, but I'm more of an XC guy and wouldn't be a strong enduro rider.

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