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Transrockies Challenge - NE

Canada, August 8-14, 2004

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Stage 1 - August 8: Fernie to Crowsnest Pass

Reigning champs take lead

By Paul Done

The rockies loom
Photo ©: Paul Done
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Team Fiat
Photo ©: Paul Done
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Team Rocky Mountain
Photo ©: Paul Done
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The category leaders after day 1
Photo ©: Paul Done
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With a number of returning champions along with first appearances from riders whose palmares include wins in other marathon events like the TransAlp and Cape Epic, the first day of the 2004 TransRockies Challenge was going to be the day for the race favourites to make their statement.

The first stage of the race covered 95 km from Fernie, British Columbia to Blairmore, Alberta. With a profile that included 1800 metres of climbing and the only 30 km of pavement in the race, this would be a tactical stage likely to be decided in the last 20km that contained 700m of climbing in short sharp chunks.

At first glance, the fiercest battle looked like it would be for the men's title between last year's champions Team Fiat/Rotwild (Anreas Strobel/Silvio Wieltschnig) and Team Rocky Mountain with TransAlp Champion Karl Platt and half of last year's second place team Andres Hestler. The battle lived up to its billing with the two teams going head to head throughout the entire length of the stage.

For much of the stage, the fight was joined by Team Crowsnest (Neil Grover/Troy Misseghers) and, together, the three teams rode away from the rest of the field on the first climb. After the halfway point, cramping for Misseghers meant that the fight was down to two teams---Team Rocky Mountain and Team Fiat Rotwild. They traded blows repeated until a slight bobble by Fiat Rotwild on a short technical climb allowed Rocky Mountain to open up a small gap with about 10km to go which they defended tenaciously until the finish in Blairmore where they crossed the line with a slim 15-second margin.

The battle might have been just as close in the Women's category except for stomach troubles for one member of Team Drake made up of Isabelle Dube and former Canadian National Road Team Member Maria Hawkins. A couple of forced stops during the race allowed Team Scott Contessa (Karen Eller and Sabine Grona) to ride to a 20 minute margin of victory. The margin is far from safe, though with six days ahead where bad days are measured in hours lost, not minutes.

Tomorrow stage from Blairmore to Dutch Creek runs a similar distance but with more climbing and a 50/50 split between gravel road and trail. The key to tomorrow's stage could be the infamous seismic line trails which follow a dead straight line regardless of contour, leading to brutally steep hiking sections and scary steep descents.

In the saddle report

The day dawned mostly blue in Fernie on Sunday, and the collective sigh that was released by racers and organizers alike could probably be heard all the way at the finish like in Canmore. The race is tough enough without the extra toil and difficulty of slogging through Rocky Mountain weather.

As a rookie at the TransRockies, and having met my partner the day before the race, I wanted everything to run nice and smooth. A sweet new bike, a little bit of training and lots of friends also at the race meant that the other pieces of the puzzle were in place, so really the only major thing that could affect the experience was bad weather. (Other than the inevitable bad tactical decisions.)

The first stage was supposed to be a little taster of the fun to come, 95km from Fernie to Blairmore, Alberta located at Crowsnest Pass. The profile said that there would be a total of 1330 metres of climbing on a course which was made up of a roughly even split between paved roads, gravel roads and trail.

Fernie really puts on a show for the racers. A street party the night before gave all the members of the traveling TransRockies family a chance to hang out a little before the flag was dropped. I could tell that there were some nerves and butterflies in the crowd as I had a really hard time finding anyone willing to have a pre-race beer. I thought that this was Mountain Biking!

The race rolled out at a leisurely pace behind Fernie's vintage fire engine, before a 16km fire road climb started spreading the field out. I managed to follow the plan of not working too hard on the first day for about 90 minutes until the racing hit the fast gravel sections when I turned into an idiot and went ballistic for about 30 minutes-riding at 15 beats over my limit until I came to pieces and started apologizing to my partner who was nearly killed by my foolishness. Luckily for my pride, I was far from the only one making the same mistake.

It took both of us at least an our to get our head and legs back in working order but once we did, we were able to start working through the field a little bit and ride with some friends who were riding in the same part of the field.

We were a little surprised leaving the second feed zone when my altimeter showed that our stated climbing total had been reached, but the trail kept going up very steeply. It was a good thing that this was this was a really fun section of the course with rolling technical climbs and a couple of screaming fast descents.

We dragged ourselves into in the finish chastened by the goof-ups and promising ourselves that tomorrow would be different. Oh yeah, and while the distance was dead-on, our total climbing was over 1800 metres. Hopefully the elevation numbers will a little more dead on tomorrow.


Images by Paul Done/www.sugoi.ca


1 Karl Arnold (Swi)/Stefan Ruttimann (Swi) VC International Brig        4.08.35
2 William Letham (Can)/James Shellard (Can) Team Revolution               30.51
3 Paul Newitt (Can)/Nels Guloien (Can) Pedal/Kona                         32.59
4 Francois Amyot (Can)/Daniel Auclair (Can) Zoot Allure                   40.20
5 Tim Wilkie (USA)/Alan Ludtke (USA) Team Riverbrook                      44.12
6 Randy Richmond (Can)/Con Diamond (Can) Gericks Cycle - Nelso            44.57
7 John Ramsden (Can)/Dean Irvine (Can) Dark Horse                         49.58
8 Marco Gauvin (Can)/Marty Halprin (Can) M&M                              56.29
9 Marc Wangsgard (USA)/Kurt Frankenburg (USA) Los Tortugas              1.00.24
10 Darrell Jones (Can)/Mike Tingley (Can) Team Bragg Creek              1.03.11
11 Lindsay Gauld (Can)/Jeff Fielding (Can) Olympia Cycle                1.03.47
12 Jeff Bandura (Can)/Bart Nakano (Can) FloraGlo / AllMax / Tel         1.11.14
13 Greg Stevenson (Can)/Jim Clement (Can) Trail Trouble                 1.12.14
14 Brian Berg (Can)/Urs Bleuler (Can) Sunfield / Webber Nat             1.12.40
15 Antonio Malvar (Por)/Jose Dias Da Cunha (Por) Ciclonatur             1.14.31
16 Paul Done (Can)/Tim Peek (USA) Team Sugoi/Hack and                   1.15.24
17 Brian Tuffs (Can)/Tim Hudema (Can) Crank 'n' Stein                   1.28.52
18 Kai Muenzer (Ger)/Clive Rubens (Can) Shockjocks                      1.32.23
19 Brad Neumann (USA)/Vince Haag (USA) dos locos                        1.44.42
20 Michael Letourneau (Can)/NA Baker Hughes                             2.07.06
21 Ron Andrews (Can)/Cal Vettese (Can) The Bush Pilots                  2.24.40
22 Tom Daley (Can)/Kevin Simpson (Can) Reboundcycle.com 2               2.29.01
23 Pete Stein (USA)/Jerry Cooper (USA) Team 110                         2.30.30
24 Mark Young (Can)/Gerard Gervais (Can) Maxion Nutrition Mtb           2.36.59
25 Guy Dutil (Can)/Marcus Brady (Can) Team Synergy NEMA                 2.38.13
26 Lyndon Decore (Can)/Doug Boyer (Can) The Degenerates                 2.45.39
27 Frank Ploeger (Ger)/Thorsten Buss (Ger) Mountains Too                2.51.45
28 Steve Cunningham (Can)/Andrew Block (Can) Nervous Energy             2.52.54
29 Jim Doilney (USA)/Lee Boswell (NZl) Roughriders                      3.08.46
30 Jim Seethram (Can)/Simon Parker (Aus) Aluminium Mules                3.20.01
1 Andreas Hestler (Can)/Karl Platt (Can) Rocky Mountain Bikes           3.40.22
2 Andreas Strobel (Ned)/Sivio Wieltschnig (Ned) Fiat / Rotwild Adidas      0.03
3 Troy Misseghers (Can)/Neil Grover (Can) Crowsnest Red Niks              20.50
4 Beat Zumstein (Swi)/Marco Hinrichs (Swi) swisspower /fehr-velo          31.07
5 Stefan Maag (Swi)/Beni Morf (Swi) Swissbike Team                        31.14
6 Etienne Larivee (Can)/Francois Doyon (Can) Cybercycle                   33.12
7 Torau Lesewitz (Ger)/Tino Zieger (Ger) Bike Magazine                    35.49
8 Jean Desforges (Can)/Benoit Poirier (Can) Haro Cda/Cybercylcle          36.35
9 Craig Stappler (Can)/Nick Friesen (Can) Team Bianchi-The Bik            44.55
10 Oliver Mau (Can)/Burkhard Weis (Can) No Idea                           46.44
11 Rob Hewitt (Can)/Matthew Hewitt (Can) DMH Racing                       49.16
12 Marty Bulcock (Can)/Gerry Erlam (Can) Enerplus 2                       49.17
13 John Humphries (USA)/Joseph Shults (USA) Western Spirit                54.30
14 Pavel Richtr (Cze)/Lukas Klezl (Cze) programcycle sugoi                56.10
15 Andy Reed (GBr)/Giles Turner (NZl) INFORM CYCLE                        56.14
16 Eric Turgeon (Can)/Jean-Franc Bruneau (Can) FIVETRACKS Dalbix        1.03.06
17 Thomas Egger (Ita)/Rolan Ausserhofer (Ita) Sanvit Team South Ty      1.03.20
18 Dan Mccarthy (USA)/Mario Correa (USA) Team Hops                      1.03.57
19 Jeff Nielson (Can)/Evan Weselake (Can) Enerplus                      1.05.42
20 John Gibson (Can)/Mike Seniuk (Can) Kona Factory - NRG E             1.06.18
21 Daniel Albert (Can)/Joel Samson (Can) Brunet                         1.07.09
22 Wayne Calder (Can)/Tim Brezsnyak (Can) Deadgoat Racing Bow           1.14.12
23 Michael Bennett (Can)/Fritz Mckellar (Can) Amtech.ca                 1.14.38
24 Ross Phillips (Can)/Ray Warner (Can) Yukon Blurr Brothers            1.16.11
25 Nichola Broskovich (USA)/Jim Swigart (USA) Stanford Cycle Center     1.19.09
26 Ashley Quan Meyers (Can)/Ronald King (Can) Terrascape                1.20.08
27 Davin Vande Beek (Can)/Peter Woodman (Can) Buzz and Woody            1.25.21
28 Ari Laurell (Can)/Ryan Castonguay (Can) Raising The Barr             1.27.40
29 Robert Matteson (USA)/Dave Bradshaw (USA) Two by One                 1.30.53
30 John Meritt (Can)/Brad Pochay (Can) Team Fernie                      1.40.00
31 Christian Zander (Ger)/Jan Miestereck (Ger) Bayer Business Servic    1.40.24
32 Tanner Erickson (Can)/Gerry Erickson (Can) Me' an Dad                1.46.05
33 Bob Wong (Can)/Nick Melnyk (Can) Team Wheeznkoff                     1.49.40
34 Andrew Handford (Can)/Matthew Handford (Can) Brothers Handford       1.49.54
35 Steve Turner (Can)/Dave Robertson (Can) Team TransMission            1.51.54
36 Corey Martin (USA)/Ben Kaiser (USA) Cerberus                         1.54.46
37 Scott Bentley (Can)/Eldon Brown (Can) Team Get A Job                 1.55.04
38 Trent Basarsky (Can)/Drew Smith (Can) Nirvana                        1.57.43
39 David Hazlett (Can)/Dave Vriens (Can) Columbia Sportswear            1.59.08
40 Dominic Gauvin (Can)/Stacey Mateika (Can) Team Bodyfit Home &        1.59.52
41 Ken Waring (Can)/Brian Evans (USA) Evans/Waring                      2.04.14
42 Patrick Mccabe (Can)/Tyler Kosaka (Jpn) Team Active Therapy          2.11.12
43 Claude Laberge (Can)/Christian Jende (Can) 2 Guys & 4 Wheels         2.14.45
44 Max Hochholzer (Ger)/Wolfga Hochholzer (Ger) Bike Sport News         2.15.55
45 Randy Barker (Can)/Trent Rees (Can) Team Onspec                      2.16.50
46 Roger Horton (Can)/Jeff Faulds (Can) LOW-Riders                      2.20.53
47 Todd Delyea (USA)/Brandon Kaastad (USA) Storm Cycle                  2.30.02
48 Enrico Pizzorni (Ita)/Marco Zanetta (Ita) Ruotequadre Italy          2.31.30
49 Graziano Angeli (Ita)/NA Trentino-Doloriti                           2.31.47
50 Brett Wolfe (USA)/Matt Hill (USA) Under Hill Over Wolf               2.36.49
51 Sam Brovender (Can)/Mark James (Can) Drink Fresh Beer                2.45.06
52 Ken Oertle (USA)/Tom Neppl (USA) Bike TRACS                          3.00.47
53 Manuel Torres (Mex)/Fernando Lo Sanchez (Mex) SnowWolf               3.40.56
54 Jeffrey Sheppard (Can)/Warren Lawrence (Can) Are We There Yet?       3.42.57
55 Mark Neill (GBr)/Eric Pecheur (Fra) Refuel                           4.06.43
1 Christoffersson, (Can)/Marg Fedyna (Can) Lifesport JBA Stonew         4.25.24
2 Eric Warkentin (USA)/Louise Kobin (USA) Cateye Endure                    2.20
3 Trish Grajczyk (Can)/Pat Doyle (Can) Deadgoat Racing                    16.53
4 Sibylle Adam (Swi)/Adrian Riesen (Lie) Swisslie Express                 18.22
5 Ryan Draper (Can)/Cyd Fraser (Can) Reboundcycle.com 1                   28.17
6 Sisley Kaltenbach (Swi)/Jill Vale (Can) Black Pearl                     29.47
7 Gilles Morneau (Can)/Isabelle Cantin (Can) Le Peddalier/Kona            33.12
8 David Boyd (USA)/Patti Plagmann (USA) Bike Lane Houston                 37.40
9 Fraser Atkinson (Can)/Monilee Lloy (Can) F.A.E.                         50.29
10 Mark Mcleod (RSA)/Nicky Mcleod (RSA) Hogsnose                          55.39
11 Carlyle Norman (Can)/Tom Zidek (Can) The Bike Shop                     58.00
12 Bryan Anderson (Can)/Leah Guloien (Can) Team Sugoi/Ken and           1.02.16
13 Tim Butler (USA)/Sue Butler (USA) Singletrack Minds                  1.10.22
14 Stephanie Kucharski (Can)/Mark Bohnet (Can) Clear-Vue                1.18.45
15 Caroli Van Den Bulk (Ned)/Dave Cormack (RSA) Power To Be             1.20.11
16 Juliette Franklin (Can)/David Ford (Can) Dirrrty Deadgoats           1.35.54
17 Gerry Mccuaig (Can)/Linda Green (Can) Deadgoat Silver Bullet         1.46.50
18 Todd Carscadden (Can)/Martha Handford (Can) Team Emerson             2.12.54
19 Carolyn Soules (Can)/Don Thomas (Can) Team Cyclepath                 2.19.28
20 Marshall Cant (Can)/Alyssa Myshok (Can) Syncros-Kreb's               2.48.05
21 Rachelle Van Zanten (Can)/Brent Reulling (Can) Redbike/ERTC          2.56.08
22 Caroline Schwabe (Can)/Trevor Pombert (Can) United Cycle             3.29.44
23 Marie Letarte (Can)/Eric Valcourt (Can) Diesel/Bicycles Recor        4.34.36
24 Richard Woodbury (USA)/Laurie Woodbury (USA) Woodbury & Woodbur             
25 Jacquie Phelan (USA)/Bruce Ramsay (Can) Mud Life Crisis                     
1 Karen Eller (Ger)/Sabine Grona (Ger) Scott Contessa                   5.00.06
2 Isabelle Dube (Can)/Maria Hawkins (Can) Team Drake                      19.55
3 Cristina Begy (USA)/Joan Orgeldinger (USA) Maverick/GoFast              21.23
4 Kimberly Shopland (Can)/Kim Spencer (Can) Polar Peak Lodges             39.14
5 Lynn Ware Peek (USA)/Carol Frankenburg (USA) Vintage Whine              43.53
6 Karen Stark (Can)/Lisa Lange (Can) Pete's Peddler's                     48.22
7 Patricia Pennock (Can)/Barb Fedun (Can) Along For The Ride            3.59.54