Friday, September 9, 2016

Singletrack 6 - Kootenays, Canada 2016

I've done a lot of racing and finished on the podium more times than I ever thought I would. But the majority of people don't unload wads of cash and travel half way across the world to stand on a podium. They want an 'experience'. Singletrack 6 is definitely that and I'll try to explain why it's a good one.

1. The best trails - Yes you could ride any of the trail for free in Canada, but it would take a lot of messing around with map and apps and after grinding your way up 1000+ metres, you want to be sure you're seeing the best trails on the way down. ST6 host communities want to show off what they have to encourage repeat visits. It's like the ultimate pissing contest...with trails. And you get the benefit. All the good, none of the boring bits.

2. Canada do MTB better - They just have it sorted. Handcut, narrow, trails, making the most of their location in the Rocky Mountains. Keep in mind that it snows for half the year and Canadian trail fairies achieve a mind-blowing amount of work in a short season. A perfect mix of flow with steep, natural technical features. We need more of this in Australia. You will come back a better rider after this event. And I've still never been to Whistler. There are better places to ride in Canada and ST6 can show you where.

3. Postcard pretty towns - So some of the host towns are dominated by the Trans Canada Railway. But most are these small welcoming communities like Fernie and Kimberley that will have you checking the real estate windows. ST6 stages are not the 7 hour slogs of other races that seem designed to just extract maximum suffering with pointless riding on forestry roads. You will have the whole afternoon to amble along the streets trying to work out how to move your life here.

4. Race organisation - Imagine a race that's actually designed for the enjoyment of the racer. No 4am alarms on transfer days as they push the stage starts back to give everyone a sleep in.  Wave starts on days that funnel straight into singletrack to avoid congestion. Louis Garneau participant jerseys you'll actually wear and in the size that fits you. Some event organisers forget that we paid to come and the race isn't supposed to be some sort of punishment they inflict.

If you follow me on Facebook you'll know I came from behind on the last day to take 3rd place in the strongest women's field I've encountered in three years here. A combination of experience with age, the diesel engine outlasting some of the early sprinters and possibly the most audacious over-taking move on a tight downhill switchback I've ever pulled off. In between stages I threw everything at recovery - getting carbs and protein in at the right times, ice baths and these miracle pants. But if I'd finished nowhere near the podium, it would still have been one of the best weeks of riding in my life.

Thanks to the organisers. See you next time!

Here's the gear that helped me through the race:

Liv Lust Advanced 0 - 100mm travel. This bike is perfect for climbing and descending - serviced by For The Riders and NS Dynamics

Bike Milk by Ride Mechanic - awesome dry lube so cleaning up messy drivetrains during the race

Downunder by Ride Mechanic - know...down under. Chamois cream essential for multiple days of hard riding

Infinit Nutrition Custom Blend - the absolute first time using this (don't try that at home) and zero hunger flats and finishing strong every day

Tineli bib knicks - unbelievably comfortable for racing and training