Local riders podium at SingleTrack 6 race
Thursday, Aug 07, 2014 06:00 am
Faced with the prospect of racing the best single track in Western Canada back to back for six days, there was nothing stopping the Bow Valley’s Jon Firth, Matt Hadley and Leighton Poidevin from reaching the start line.
When the dust settled, all three were on the podium at the inaugural SingleTrack 6 race from July 26 to Aug. 1.
SingleTrack 6 is a six-day stage race on the best courses in Bragg Creek, Nipika, Invermere, Golden and Revelstoke. Billed as a replacement for the legendary TransRockies race which began as a point-to-point race from Fernie to Canmore, SingleTrack 6 selected the best single track trails in the Canadian Rockies, and linked them up through a series of shorter stages.
Gone are the long days of logging road kilometres and mountain pass climbs, as they’ve been replaced with tough technical sections and heart-pounding descents.
Firth and teammate Dax Massey destroyed the open men’s team event, finishing 33 minutes faster than the second-place team, and more than an hour ahead of the third-place team. Firth and Massey won every stage and had the race basically clinched on Day 5.
Even though he won TransRockies last year with Craig Bartlett, Firth said he loved the new format, which was a completely new challenge.
“It was pretty short. One day was only an hour, forty minutes, but it was really technical and I was still pretty tired at the end of each day,” Firth said. “This and TransRockies are two completely different races, from the length to how the stages are set up.
“In the TransRockies, you were always climbing up some mountain pass. This week, I think the longest climb was 45 minutes to an hour. This was all quick, fast, singletrack.”
It wasn’t all smooth riding for Firth and Massey, who were nearly knocked out on Day 1 in Bragg Creek.
“Dax crashed bad in the first stage. He smashed his head pretty good, taco-ed his front wheel and broke his helmet. His neck was sore and he had a gash on his face, but he rode the next day,” Firth said.
They pulled it together for the rest of the week, and by Day Six were focused on riding clean to maintain their lead. They stuck their slowest rider each day in the lead, as the large single track sections made passing very difficult.
“You get a mechanical, and a 30 minute lead can disappear pretty quick,” Firth said. “We rode smart. There were a couple surprises and the final day in Revelstoke was pretty tough.”
Although he crushed every day of racing, Firth said the Moonraker trails in Golden proved to be his favourite. He had biked many of the sections beforehand, but never in sequential order.
“I’d definitely do this again,” said Firth, who praised the course and organizers, TransRockies Events.
Matt Hadley finished third in the solo open men’s category, 24 minutes behind Kris Sneddon and eight minutes behind Cory Wallace, finishing in a time of 14 hours even. He was in the top five all week, and his best day was a second-place result at Nipika.
“It went really well. Those organizers have things figured out. It was neat to ride and race in so many different venues,” Hadley said.
As coach of the Rundle Mountain Cycling Club Rampage team, Hadley’s training has come alongside super-quick teenage riders at the Canmore Nordic Centre.
“I’m very happy with my performance. I haven’t been training like I used to on the world cup. Most of my training comes from cycling with the youth program. It was nice to see the old efficiencies stayed with me,” Hadley said.
Originally from New Brunswick, Hadley said Revelstoke was his favourite stage, but the Nipika trails made him a touch homesick.
“Those trails are similar to what I grew up racing. Nipika is choppy, old school trails with a natural flow and lots of tree roots. When I started building trails, it was like that,” Hadley said.
The trails favoured veteran riders, Hadley said, as pacing played a huge roll in the final standings. Knowing when to charge hard and when to rest was key to victory.
“This race offers an extreme amount of single track. It’s a display of the best trails each community has to offer,” Hadley said. “In this race, experience is going to be your friend. Pacing and hydration were key and we had a lot of days racing at 32 degrees, so it was nice to end the stages with a jump in the lake,” Hadley said.
Poidevin finished third in the solo open men’s 40+ category with a time of 15:05. He won the Bragg Creek and both Golden race days, and just missed the silver medal by 38 seconds. Anthony Slowinksi won the men’s open 40+ with 14:58:24. Filip Meirhaeghe finished second.
Kate Aardal won the women’s solo event with a time of 16:05, finishing ahead of Mical Dyck (16:35) and Jodie Willett (16:43).
Several other Bow Valley residents also completed the race, including Chris Bovard (16:05), Eric Troullot (17:19), John Groeneveld (17:45), Megan Dunn (19:06) and John Jaques.
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