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Whistler riders reach Singletrack 6 podium

Meldgard and Simmonds win team category, Routley second in solo race



Some current and former Whistler residents put together solid performances in a new multi-day mountain bike race straddling the B.C.-Alberta border last week, with a few landing on their age-group podiums.

Resort resident Henric Meldgard, and former Whistlerite Keith Simmonds, teamed up to take first place in the open men's 100-plus group (combined ages) at the inaugural Singletrack 6, part of the TransRockies Race Series, while Tony Routley earned a runner-up result in the men's 50-plus solo race.

Meldgard and Simmonds won five of six stages during the race, which was held July 26 to 31 on trails in the Kananaskis Country, Radium, Invermere, Golden and Revelstoke. The Whistler duo finished the event with a total time of 20 hours, 30 minutes, 20 seconds.

"It takes a lot of the pain away. There's nothing like winning to make it more enjoyable," laughed Meldgard, 60. "But that was never the objective, and I don't think Keith ever thought we would be in the hunt. It turned out to be quite a surprise and quite enjoyable."

Meldgard and Simmonds wound up finishing more than 32 minutes ahead of the second-place team.

Simmonds, 47, who last lived in Whistler in 1998 but has been a regular visitor since, said the week of racing was "a grind" but a great experience overall.

"We've been riding together since '94 and wanted to pick an adventure, and I needed a fast guy to follow, and Henric's that guy," Simmonds said after returning home to Niagara Falls. "The goal was to survive for myself, Henric stimulated the adrenals for a win.

"We chalk it up to lots of Loonie Races, Cheakamus Challenges and Samurais."

Routley spent most of his week following Golden's Rich Marshall, who went on to win the 50-plus solo category. But after runner-up finishes for the first five days in a row, Routley was able to clip Marshall for a stage win on the last day.

"I figured out, tactically, how to beat him," Routley laughed. "He had the home-court advantage... and if he came over here, I'm sure the tables would be turned a bit. But I don't want to take anything away from the guy, either. He was a strong rider."

Though Routley was able to cut into the deficit a bit on the final stage in Revelstoke, the 58-year-old ultimately ended the week 9:18 behind Marshall.

"I was hoping I could put enough into him and I went as hard as I could," he said.

Routley, who won his age group at the now-defunct TransRockies three-day race in 2013, said organizers put together a great new event.

"They did a fantastic job, that's all there is to it," he said. "They called it the Singletrack 6, and it lived up to its name, absolutely."

Sea to Sky riders also notched strong finishes in an open men's solo race that featured several talented competitors, including winner Kris Sneddon and runner-up Cory Wallace.

Squamish's Greg Day rode to sixth place, finishing among the top four riders on the first three days before falling back to the field a bit over the last half of the race. He finished the six days of racing in 14:22:28.

Whistler's Michael Robinson also had a solid week, spending 14:59:43 on the trails to place 14th.

"I'm really happy. It was a really fierce race with a lot of fast people there," said Robinson.

Like Routley, Robinson saved his best stage for last, finishing 10th on the final leg.

"I was kind of hoping for a top 10 before the end of the week... and on the last day managed to get it, so it was nice to finish strong," he said.