Stage 6 Nipika to Invermere 63.8km 1119m. It rained all night. I didn't sleep much and felt ill in the morning - like I had food poisoning. My gut was full, I was burping like crazy, was cold and shaky and thought I was gonna puke. I didn't even go over to breakfast. I did manage to get a couple of servings of Drip 4:1 into my stomach - so that is what I was going to race on that day.
The rain stopped by start time but the ground was sodden. 0 - 20 km was on single-track and cross country ski trails and we were warned the first 1.5k was on blue clay and would be very dicey. I was wound on the start line due to feeling so weird and anticipating crashing my a** off on the wet rooty trails coming up. We started crazy fast to get through the blue clay before it was all chewed up and stay up with the front pack who could ride their bikes well. Once riding to my big relief my legs felt good. My stomach felt awful tho'. I was super relaxed and rode the trails so well I shocked myself. I didn't balk, sketch or crash once and a couple of guys got on my wheel to follow my lines.
Next up was a haul along a road section before turning off the road up Bear Mountain. Here is the route book description for this section:
28.75km to 35.67km heads straight up Bear Creek. There will be creek crossings, hike-a-bike sections and some very steep climbs. This is a rough and tough section in very rugged country.
Thick vegetation. Temperate rain forest. Barely a trail. This 7km took us 1:53 and we carried our bikes the whole way. I have more bruises from that hike-a-bike than the entire rest of the week. It was steep, it was slippy. Two mixed teams passed us on the way up. Once over the crazy section we motored down 25km of buff dirt and paved road to the town of Invermere. The race finished today in the center of town. On the way in were 3 stop lights which you had to stop at if they were red - what a buzz kill. We got stopped at two of them. How weird to finish a stage having to stop at stop lights. Sitting in the traffic at the stop lights smelling car exhaust fumes was awful after being in the clean crisp Canadian bush air for six days.
We rolled in third and only lost about 7 minutes on the GC to Cannondale/LandRover who took the win in a sprint with X-Fusion. We didn't give away this stage - we just suck at carrying our bikes and the other teams were better. Our finish time for the day was 4:45 and about 2 hours of that was hoofing with our steeds on our backs.
My gut had slowed down dramatically and it was
Stage 7 Invermere to Panorama 51.2km 1649m. Drip for breakfast too. In fact I pretty much lived on Drip for the last 3 days of the race. Good thing Dave brought a ton of it.
This stage was designed perfectly for us and I had been salivating over it as soon as I had seen the profile in the route book back before day 1. It started on a slight descent bottoming out at 814m at the 14 km mark. Then climbed straight up to 2463m at 38km. In that 24 km section it climbs 1649m (or about 5,000 feet in 15 miles). Have I mentioned that we are climbers? Shortly after the start the Crystal Hotel team of Hillary Harrison and Ryan Watts passed looking real strong on the road. We kept on our pace looking forward to the climb. Shortly after the climb started we reeled in and passed them but they hung tough and passed us back. We yo-yoed with them maybe six times over the next few kms until they faded back. We kicked it into overdrive when we saw them lose their spark and gave the rest of the hill absolutely everything that was left in the tank. We were hauling up that hill totally in the flow passing open mens teams.
If there was one place we should have been carrying a camera it was here at the top of the pass over Paradise ridge. You could see forever. Peaks of mountains poking out of clouds in the distance - massive vistas. It was incredible. All we had left was a screaming fast 15km descent down into Panorama and we had won Trans Rockies. Up there on the ridge was really the moment we felt we had the win sealed up and was a magical moment.
15km later we crossed the finish line to win the stage by 9 minutes over Crystal Hotels and 15 minutes over 2nd place GC team Cannondale/LandRover.
Trans Rockies is an incredible race and winning it was an off-the charts optimal experience. So cool!!! I think we'll be back next year...