We all arrived in Fernie for the start of the Trans Rockies with a solid Whistler contingent, having scored a great compound at the home of Marvin and Kathy Hirano who used to run Grinders here in Whistler. There was some rain in the forecast for the week of the race, but spirits were high.
The weather was wickedly hot at the start of Stage 1 with the mercury tipping 38 degrees as we rolled out of town at a very civil pace. Everyone loved the course, which finished in Sparwood and featured over 25 kilometres of sweet single-track that ripped up and down with some very steep climbs. The heat took its toll as lots of riders, myself included, just couldnt get any food in our stomachs.
After the race everyone dove into the river and cooled their legs and began the process of setting up camp. Food was serious business, and when our stomachs began to feel better we crammed in as much as we could in preparation for the 135 km stage that awaited us in the morning.
The day was perfect for racing as we rolled out of Sparwood under blue skies and puffy cartoon clouds.
About 45 km into the stage, however, I took a major digger at close to 65 km/h on a downhill section and wound up in the ditch with a real sore shoulder and a huge gash in my right arm that took 23 stitches to close. Not only did I think my race was over but also my riding season since I had heard a crunch and a pop in one of my three rag-doll flips. I thought for sure it was a collarbone or at least separated shoulder.
Happily, however, it was a punctured gel pack and I would live to race another day. Just not that day.
Once some other riders helped me up out of the ditch, my riding partner John Blok climbed back up and made sure I was okay. He stayed with me until the Moto Medic came on the scene. Once I was in good hands the "Cricket" little guy, loves the heat began his solitary 60 km climb up a wickedly steep road and hike-a-bike section without me along to share the load.
The first aid crew was top notch and they had me back to the finish and stitched up just in time to see John roll in. Needless to say he was very happy to see me walking and talking and seriously considering lining up in the morning for another 140 km of torture. Once I woke up in the morning, however, it was not to be as I couldnt even hold onto my handlebars and the wound was still too fresh to take the jarring we could expect on this bumpy stage.