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Transrockies Challenge - NE
Canada, August 8-14, 2004
By Paul "The Voice of Sugoi" Done
Now in its third year, the TransRockies Challenge is the younger, wilder sibling of the legendary TransAlp Challenge mountain bike race. The TRC is contested over seven days through remote areas of the Canadian Rockies on a 600km course that includes over 12,000 metres of vertical gain and loss. With unbridged river crossings, dauntingly steep climbs and wilderness campground accommodations, the TransRockies presents a unique set of challenges and rewards to the near 250 competitors who will line up Sunday morning in Fernie, British Columbia.
The TransRockies short existence has been a stormy one, with snow and cold temperatures in the first year, and withering heat and wildfire-induced major course rerouting in the second. Suffice it to say that the racers are hoping that the third time is the charm. So far, the long range weather forecast is ideal, calling for clear skies and temperatures in the mid-70s for the duration of the race. Then again, Rocky Mountain weather is notoriously violent and changeable (see this year's Calgary World Cup report for an example!), so the rain jackets and thermal gear might come in handy after all.
Over the seven days, the course takes in some of the finest singletrack that the Rockies has to offer, crossing the continental divide three times in the process of reaching Canmore, just outside Banff National Park. In some cases. The riders of the TransRockies are the only riders all year who will be given permission to ride certain parks and sections of trail.
The TransRockies is just as big a challenge for the organizers, who truck the tent village from stop to stop, essentially creating a bike festival which moves through the series of hamlets and wilderness campgrounds which make up the stops along the route. At the end of each day, the riders cross the finish line with their tents, gear and showers waiting for them. In the large tent, breakfast and supper are served, winners' and leaders' jerseys are given out and a whole new set of war stories are traded.
Like the TransAlp, the TransRockies Challenge is unique in that some of the best endurance mountain bikers in the world will be racing for the prize money while the amateurs behind race at their own pace, for their own rewards. This year, Team Rocky Mountain's Karl Platt will be riding the TransRockies with team-mate and former Canadian National Champion Andreas Hestler as his partner. Platt will be looking for a clean sweep of 2004, having already notched wins in the Cape Epic and TransAlp Challenge. Likewise the early favourites in the women's category are Team Scott Contessa led by three-time TransAlp winner Karen Eller who is be looking to add a TransRockies win to her palmares with her team-mate Sabine Grona.