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Trans Rockies 2006

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The TransRockies Challenge is a 7 day mountain bike stage race over 600 kilometers of Rocky Mountain wilderness, where riders grind and grunt their way up and down the continental divide. The event is for teams of 2 that must stay together at all times or face disqualification. It is a true test of physical endurance and teamwork that draws an international field of up to 500 world-class athletes. This year’s event had teams representing 20 countries.Enter the Richardson’s… Dave and Doug Richardson are a pair of young boys in their early forties, who would rather change gears than channels. Both of them are fine upstanding individuals, but their personalities are, shall we say, diverse. Doug, the elder, is driven from within to win everything or die trying. Dave although very competitive, takes a more measured approach to life and will pace himself to maximize his performance. The greatest challenge I expected the brothers to have in this race was neither the terrain nor the physical strain, but rather keeping each other in sight.  Old habits die hard and childhood routines of competing over everything and trying to kill each other on an hourly basis are never far from the surface.Doug read about the TransRockies and told Dave they should do it. I don’t think Doug really wanted to do the race, but you know how it goes; Dave says no, Doug calls him a sissy boy, it escalates, the police come, next thing you know they are signed up and entered as team “Brother, Where Art Thou?”  My name is Pat Murphy, and I signed on to drive the motor home, maintain the bikes, and watch the carnage unfold.  The boys decided if they were going to kill themselves, it should be for a good cause.  They set up their adventure as a registered charity fundraiser for the Langley Memorial Hospital Pediatrics Unit and have raised over $4,000 so far.The good people at Norco Performance Bikes stepped up with an incredible amount of support for the cause supplying tools, tents, parts, and helping outfit the brothers with 2 team level cross country race bikes.    Race minus one:We arrived in Fernie B.C. just in time for sign in. I have been to many world-class sporting events including several Ironman races and I have never seen so many incredibly fit-looking people in one place. Lean does not come close to describing the average participant. I felt like a four door Buick in the start line of a Formula One race, so I left the boys and went to set up the pit and work on the bikes.  Doug had asked me to pick up a set of Kenda Nevegal tires because they were going to “make all the difference”, so I pulled off his old tires and mounted the new ones.  I also installed new chains and brake pads so they were ready for anything. Did I mention we love Norco?When the brothers got back from sign-in Doug was fretting over the merits of fast-rolling on pavement with Hutchinson Python tires versus the grip of the Kendas in the mountains. After considerable discussion between Doug and Dave, it was decided that the Hutchinsons would be the ticket for stage one. My outside voice said “No problem, I can change them back in a jiffy.” My inside voice was not something that should be published here.As a side note, my inside and outside voices became more and more divergent as the days went on. Luckily, for the most part, my inside voice stayed in, because it has been known to come out at the least opportune times and overall I was really enjoying myself.Dave and Doug had trained hard all year and looked fit, firm and ready to kick some middle-aged ass. They got their ride gear on and went off for a “short” 20k warm-up ride to loosen up the legs and calm the nerves.What returned from that ride looked more like something you would see in a palliative care ward than the two lean, mean riding machines that rode off shortly before. Dave had developed severe knee pain (from the cleat position of his new shoes) and had enough ice strapped on him to transport a ship full of salmon. Doug had developed a case of explosive diarrhea that was clearly going to be a hindrance on the trail. Dave felt it might have had something to do with the 6 pounds of cherries Doug ate. Don’t tell them, but I think it may have been nerves affecting both of them. Funny thing, the next morning they were both much better. The international nature of the event soon became apparent when we met some of the other teams. We were parked beside team “Two Blokes from Adelaide”, and we showed them a little a Canadian hospitality. Norco had given us some event tape to mark out our pit, so we tied it between their motor home and their rental van so that when they came outside they wouldn’t be able to get at any of their stuff. We said, “I know you may have heard Canadians are friendly, but it’s not true.  Stay out of our space”. We had some fun with them, but after we set them up with tools and a work stand to assemble their bikes, I think they had a fairly positive impression of Canadians.We met people from all over the world and for the most part they lived up to the old adage that Mountain Bikers are just nice people. Even the elite racers were very approachable and down to earth.On our way back from dinner we came across a team from Holland.  Something to behold, it consisted of two riders and a mechanic who was working in the dark.  One of the riders was sucking back a can of Red Bull just before turning in for the night. We asked him if he thought that was a good idea and apparently he thought he was getting away with something as Red Bull is illegal where he lives. Since he was already speaking broken English at 700 words per minute, I suspected he didn’t sleep all that well that night.I gathered that Holland is a flat country because one of the bikes had only one large gear on the front (the other was wisely running a triple). When I ran into the mechanic on day 2, he told me things hadn’t gone well in the mountains with the single gear. You could have knocked me over with a feather.

Stage 1: Fernie to Sparwood, 61 km/1225 meters of climbing

 Part of the TransRockies event is breakfast and dinner hosted by the start and finish communities each day. It was a great place to see (size up) all the other competitors, and meet some interesting people.As we ate, the predictions and planning began. Dave wanted to go out slow and work their way through the pack, if possible. Doug, on the other hand, wanted to stick with the leaders, win the stage, and get on TV. The one thing about racing is the BS stops when the clock starts. The first stage was only 61k so the boys expected to be in around 3 hours. After all, the first stage is the shortest and the easiest of the seven, so they were well positioned to kick some ass.  Doug went off like he was shot from a canon at the start, but as it turned out, riding in the Rockies was not like riding on the coast. It was easy to forget what starting at 3000 feet and then climbing would be like. The hills are not necessarily steeper, but riders just couldn’t get enough air in. The brothers also said later that they had underestimated their fluid needs and had run out of liquid early in the stage.As well as contending with the thin air, they suffered a freak mechanical. The carbon seat post on Dave’s bike snapped like a twig. Fortunately none of the razor sharp shards of carbon fiber entered his butt. Doug, being an engineer, tried to fix the problem by whittling a stick to join the 2 pieces of carbon back together. Unbelievably, the stick fix was a complete failure. Doug, being a Richardson, blamed it on the species of wood available to him at that location. Apparently other riders on the trail asked if they needed anything, but no one was willing to give up their set post. At one point, Doug gave up on whittling and took his knife out to the trail to try and mug someone for a post.  If you can’t be fast you may as well have fun. At any rate, they put what was left of the post back in and took turns riding Doug’s intact bike and the broken “circus” bike, with the short seat post rider’s knees sticking straight out to the sides.It seemed that riding the circus bike had not affected their sense of humor. They caught up to one of the leading women’s team and when they came to a wide spot in the trail, Dave said, “Doug, make a pass”.  Doug responded with, “You have a nice bum.” Dave told him that was not what he had in mind, so Doug said, “Sorry, I meant I like your pony tail”. They arrived at the finish in 4:42 so I knew it had been a very hard ride. It was hot, and they were covered in dust and salt. To their credit, they were in very good spirits, but they were a little surprised at how difficult the day and altitude had been. Doug uncharacteristically said they might have gone out too fast. They came in 20th place out of 56 teams in their age group, so the stage win was out for the Richardson’s that day. Things definitely could have been worse, though.  We heard of one team that had a derailleur go on the first climb, so they ran and scooted for 50k. The most impressive part was they beat 2 other teams in.After a few hours in lawn chairs, it was time for dinner and filling the bottles, then early to bed for the brothers. I could see the thought of getting up and doing a harder stage in the morning was a little daunting for them. The organizers had provided an excellent race book with a detailed description of every stage. Any time the brothers were not on the bikes, they were looking at the book, or discussing what had passed and what was to come. I almost think it would have been better if they had not known what was in front of them.

Stage 2: Sparwood to Blairmore Alberta 79km/2299 meters climbing

We were up at 6:00am to have breakfast in the Sparwood Leisure Center. The boys were sore and tired, but they were in good shape overall. Doug was even talking about going for the win again, so they must have been doing all right.I had the bikes cleaned and tuned up and the brothers were dressed in more Norco Team kit looking like a couple of pro’s. Dave went for a quick spin around the motor homes to make sure the seat post I put on was set to the right height, and when he came back the bike was covered in dog shit! It seems he rode through a big steaming mound, and it got flung up onto the frame and both derailleurs. We had to scramble to get it all washed off with water bottles minutes before the start.I tried to put a positive spin on it by telling Dave that the day was pre-disastered so nothing else would go wrong.  Apparently I was mistaken. It was a 79k stage and for some reason Doug’s top of the line Sram XO shifter stopped working. They tried to fix it but in the end they put the chain in the 3rd from the top sprocket on the back, and left it there for the duration of the ride. Doug had the three gears on the front, but couldn’t go up the real steep stuff and he couldn’t go faster than 20kph on the flats. Dave told me he got Doug up to 36kph in his draft, but that was at about 1500 rpm on his cranks. Dave also commented that he was having a hard time staying with Doug on the hills he did ride because Doug was pulling such a high gear he was flying.Once again, they didn’t let it get them down, and I gather they were entertaining (almost) everyone on the trail. When they came into the aid station where Doug’s girlfriend, Kathryn, was working, people were asking her if she knew those crazy guys. I gather they were chattering non-stop, much to the enjoyment of the other riders.  When they finished they were in good spirits, but not as jovial as after stage 1.  The hills on the route were endless and the ride had taken them 6:56, a long time in the saddle. I understand that at one point Doug nearly lost it. They had been told that there were no more hills on the stage, but after a long descent the trail turned sharply to the right and onto a wall of a mountain. Dave recognized the look in Doug’s eye and yelled. “Don’t throw the bike, Doug; you need the energy to get up that”.Doug told me after the stage that it was the first time he’d had moments when he was not having fun. A running joke with the brothers is to ask each other if they would like to go fly-fishing instead. I think fly-fishing came up more than a few times that day.  Doug said that near the end of the stage he completely overheated and had to rest for a while.  That’s something I had never heard from Doug Richardson before.Stage 2 ended in Blairmore, Alberta in the Crowsnest Pass. Just to keep it light, the brothers rode into the finish shoot, stopped 50 feet from the finish line and took out their map book. The announcer, not knowing if they were serious, told them to go with their instincts. Dave eventually turned the map over and pointed at the finish line.  The crowd loved it.It was incredibly hot in Blairmore, so we got the boys ice cream cones and listened to the tales from the trails. They had decided that a cold beer would be the ticket that night.  Sticking to water was clearly not working so an ice-cold beer must be the answer. Among all the goodies Norco had supplied us were Norco beer glasses. Those guys thought of everything. Dave put 2 glasses in the freezer to enhance the whole “We are going to have a beer” experience. I gather they had discussed it on the trail as a carrot to get them though the tough times, because they were sure looking forward to it. It seems that dreams and reality sometimes clash. Dave slurped his beer down, but I noticed Doug only made it through half of his. After about 15 minutes Dave was up and wandering around outside the motor home. Next thing I knew, he was stretched out on the ground not looking too well. He recovered quickly enough but the beer definitely upset his stomach.It is a good gauge of the effort required in this event to note that these guys were so compromised a single beer could make them feel sick. As a side note, I started offering beer to every rider that walked by our pit. It made me seem generous, but I knew no one was going to take up the offer. Can anyone picture a situation where you have 500 mountain bikers who won’t accept a free beer?Our neighbors that night were the 2nd place 100 + team from Germany. Both riders were over 50 and they looked much better than the brothers did. They were trying to hang laundry, so I gave them clothes pegs to use. Once they had everything hung up I told them the peg rental was 1 euro each. They must have thought I was serious because they bought us a bottle of wine at the post race banquet.We went to dinner in the Blairmore Curling Rink at 6:00 and then watched the awards, photos and video from the day. The organization of this event was outstanding. Every night they have a preview of the next day’s stage done with a satellite photo from Google Earth. The course descriptions are always amusing as long as you didn’t  actually have to ride them. For Stage 3 they described one section as un-ride-able. Normally, that is not something you’d see in a mountain bike race but the TransRockies is not a normal race. The other amusing (for me) statement was that riders should not hurt themselves between Kilometers such and such because “evacuation would be close to impossible”. Sounds like a nice place to ride.There are daily awards for the stage winners, and color-coded leaders’ jerseys for the overall leaders in the six categories are given out. It’s almost like the Tour. The best part of the presentation is a collection of stills and a video from the day’s stage shown on a giant screen. After the presentation, it was lights out for the brothers. As usual, Dave and I slept in the motor home while Doug and Kathryn slept in the tent city.
There are about 300 teams in tents. Each of these tents is placed so closely that they share tent pegs with the neighboring tent.I had come to understand that sleep in the tents was fitful at best. The first problem is that all the towns we were staying in are railway towns, and the tents were usually 50 feet from the tracks. Doug had tales of one restless fellow who turned his computer on every few minutes so everyone could enjoy the Windows jingle. There is the expected snoring, but the worst distractions were cell phones going off at all hours. The racers are from all over the world (think time zones), and family and work might not have known exactly what time it was in Elkford B.C. when it was 9:00 am in Johannesburg or Geneva.  Doug said he heard one guy answer his phone in the middle of the night and negotiate with his young daughter to put her mother on the phone, but apparently the little angel was having none of it.The other annoyance was the fact that athletes were completely dehydrated so their systems were totally messed up. They’d come in from the stage and start drinking water at a rate of about 4 liters an hour, but wouldn’t start to pee until 4 of 5 hours later. The problem was, when the floodgates were back in business, they were open all night. Doug said they continually heard zippers zipping, as sleeping bags and then tents were opened and closed over and over, times 300, including Doug’s.  

Stage 3: Crowsnest Pass to Elkford, 109km, 2612 meters climbing

 Both the brothers were totally flat at breakfast on day 3, but so were most of the other competitors. They knew they had to eat, but neither of them was hungry, and they had to force the food down. Both of them had upset stomachs and Doug was complaining about being light-headed. They, along with most of the other competitors, had developed dry coughs that I assume was from the dust and altitude.For the previous two stages the boys had planned well in advance what they needed for the day and what jerseys they would wear. On day 3, they both asked me what they should wear. It was clear that they didn’t want an opinion; they wanted to be told exactly what to do.They were both concerned about the length and difficulty of the stage. 109 km on a mountain bike is a long way, but add 2600 meters of climbing, and you are in for a very long day. As Dave left the motor home he said to me, “This may be the hardest thing I have ever done” - this from a man who has done countless bike races and marathons, together with an Ironman and the Xterra World Championship.Dave and Doug had planned a little more fun for the start of the longest stage. I carried a complete frame to the start, and Dave left the start shoot so I could Duct Tape it onto his camelback. He made his way back through the racers to his bike telling everyone he was not taking any chances on mechanicals on this stage. All the racers who saw him were either in shock or in tears from laughter. It definitely lightened up a very serious crowd. “I am NOT taking any chances today”!The brothers kept the comedy going at the end of the stage by staging a fight and tackling each other in the finish shoot. In the melee, Dave suffered his worst injury of the week when his leg was gouged by Doug’s chain ring leaving his calf looking like he had been mauled by a bear.I asked the boys how it went, and Doug, a master of the obvious, said, “That was hard!”Dave was consistent with his morning comment, and said, “That was the hardest thing I have ever done.”They told me later that day 3 was the worst day physically. They were cooked from the climbs, and then they had to endure 20k of fire road in burning hot sun with horse flies feeding on them. Dave said that at 49k he doubted they would finish.  At that point they still had 60K to go and had been out 5 hours.In the end, they were on their bikes for 8 hours and 30 minutes, but that included the fight. Doug had a computer on his bike and it automatically shut off after a few minutes when the bike was not (or was barely) moving. His bike computer was 45 minutes off their actual time, which meant that they had been pushing their bikes for almost an hour that day. They were soon to find out that an hour of hike-a-bike was a mere warm up for what was to come.That night was nothing about bravado: it was all about “ass care”. Apparently 250k in the saddle in blazing heat is a little tough on the butt.  I also noticed that as time when on, civility and bashfulness were drastically reduced in the normally reasonably refined Richardson’s. They had progressed to survival mode and, like the family dog, were only concerned about survival basics: eating, pooping, peeing and sleeping. By the end of day 3, the boys were frequently standing around naked, slapping “Bag Balm” on their nether regions. I grew accustomed to it, but entertaining in the motor home was definitely out.   Bag Balm is a product made for cows’ udders, but it seems to do an excellent job soothing raw butts, and other assorted bags and appendages.I overheard a funny conversation from the motor home one night that went something like this:“Where’s the Bag Balm”? “Why, is your bag a little sore”?“That’s the least of my problems.  Never has my ass been subjected to anything like the pounding it got on those 10 kilometers of roots today!”“Yeah, and I just know I’m going to have pee issues tonight, too. Who suggested this thing anyway”?“You did, you idiot”!

Stage 4: Elkford to Whiteswan Lake, 94.5 km/1368 meters of climbing

 

Day 4 started as a beautiful day in Elkford, BC. The brothers were tired to the point where Doug had stopped insisting they hammer from the start to improve their position. He had even given up on a podium, so I knew he was out of steam.The stage began with a huge climb over a boulder field and the rumor was that it was going to be the hardest 20k of the event. They were joking that at 4kph it would only take them 5 hours.The climb was as hard as advertised and Dave in particular suffered. They had to hike-a-bike for a full hour in the baking sun. Dave said he was totally cooked.It was also a bad day for injuries, particularly for the lead motorcycle rider. He was riding in front of the 3 leading teams when he crashed heavily and broke his femur. The team that had the overall lead stayed with him and treated him until the paramedics arrived. They were given back the time they had lost when they stopped, but it was still a very sporting thing to do.The ride went very well after they recovered from the first 20k and the brothers actually beat me to the campsite. They only had to ride 100k over the mountains, but I had to drive 300k around. They hammered in for the last 15k because one of the leading female teams had told them the night before that they were going to “kick their asses tomorrow”. They caught and passed the women’s team, but at a cost. They had asked each other if sprinting was really a good idea, and the next morning their bodies confirmed it was not. They were both particularly tired at the start of day 5.Tim, the Redbull drinker from Holland, had unfortunately broken his ribs on the stage. He was in a lot of pain, and his TransRockies was over. I gave him a beer and told him to talk to Dave because he is a doctor. After Dave checked him out, he prescribed and administered some very potent painkillers, I told Tim that Dave was actually a veterinarian, but he didn’t seem to care.From that point on Tim was never very far from my beer fridge or Dave’s medicine cabinet. His mechanic rode in his place on day 5, but then his partner, Arthur, experienced stomach problems and had to sit out a stage. The mechanic tried to ride but the organizers didn’t see why a fill-in was needed when both riders were out. The White Swan Lake campsite was an open field where a huge tent had been erected. Even though it was a wilderness camp, the organizers had taken care of everything.  At the end of each stage, they have a first class mobile shower in a 40 foot trailer. Even in the wilderness camps they pump water from a creek so they can set up a bike wash station.  While we were all eating dinner in the tent that evening an incredible rainstorm hit. Weather changes quickly in the mountains and from that point on we had just about every kind of weather, but the scorching heat was over.When we got back to the motor home after dinner the riding gear was still wet. I knew Dave was mentally compromised from exhaustion when he suggested I put his gear in the freezer to freeze the water out of it.  I said, “Dave, if I put soup in there would it come out powdered?”  “Never mind,” he replied. End of stage four eating “The best hamburgers ever” 

Stage 5: Whiteswan Lake to Nipika Resort, 107.5km, 1285m climbing.

 

 It rained all night at White Swan Lake but fortunately it was clear in the morning. There were some problems with the grill in the big tent, so we all ate in the motor home. Once again the boys were struggling to get food in so eating breakfast always took a long time. While Dave and Doug were slowly spooning food in like it was Buckley’s Cough Syrup, the guy next door (2nd place overall team) was hammering away on his trainer. Funny, he looked rested and I’m fairly sure he devoured his breakfast. One of the boys slid the window open and yelled, “Hey, I’m trying to die in here and all that noise is disturbing me!” Fortunately our neighbor was fast, and he had a good sense of humor. At this point in the race, it was taking the brothers almost an hour to get their legs working at the start. They totally understood why the neighbor had been on the trainer, because the lead teams went full out from the gun.  If you were not warmed up, you would be dropped in the first few minutes.The racers had been warned in the stage briefing the night before, that there were lots of water bars on the course and they needed to be careful. Water bars are ditches of various sizes, cut across logging and fire roads for drainage. The guy doing the briefing said some of them were so big he had a hard time getting his quad through when he was marking the course.   The warning was clearly not enough because there were a lot of injuries on the stage, some of them very serious. One of the leading women suffered a broken collarbone. Some of the other injuries sustained on the stage were a head injury, a broken pelvis, a punctured lung and a dislocated shoulder. By the day’s end a few racers had been air lifted to Calgary Hospital for treatment. The TransRockies organization does a very good job with medical aid, but racing for a week through the Rocky Mountains is not to be taken lightly. By Stage 5 over 1 in 10 participants were out of the race for medical or mechanical issues. A rider told me after the stage that one of the lead teams said they were “Tickling 80” and bunny hopping the water bars on the trail. The level of skill and confidence required to do that is immense. I almost need hospitalization just thinking about it.      It seems absurd to say about a 107k ride with a vertical mile of climbing, but Stage 5 was an easy one for the riders. It was a very good day for the brothers as they moved from 24th to 16th position in the 80+ category.  Not quite the podium Doug wanted, but close enough that he began to dream of glory again.Dave said Doug had been relentless on the stage and he had just been trying to stay with him. Doug said it was “45k of pace-line hell on a gravel road” to start, but it must have suited them with all the road racing they had done this year. Doug told me he had looked at his computer on one descent and noticed they were doing 72kph in a tight pack of 20 riders. I believe “scary” was the description he gave. When they were near the end they caught the lead mixed team. Doug saw the leader jerseys and said to Dave, “Come on, let’s go, we have to finish with them.”Dave said, “Doug, we are with them.”Doug clarified with, “To me, that means in front of them.”Nipika Resort is a beautiful place dedicated to year-round non-motorized sports like cross country skiing and mountain biking. Unfortunately for the resort owner, the place was struck by a rainstorm of biblical proportions with about half the riders still on the course. If it had been dry, people would have had wonderful memories of a mountain Mecca. I fear if you said “Nipika” to most of this year’s participants, all they would remember is mud.

 

One of the members of a team we had been spending a lot of time with came into our motor home at the end of the stage to warm-up and to get something off his chest. He had gotten into an argument on the course when the rain started because his partner wanted to stop and put his raincoat on. He said he hadn’t let him stop and even though he was now warm and dry, he still felt his partner had been completely unreasonable. He seemed to be using the same type of thought processes that made Dave suggest freezing the water out of his clothes. What do you say to something like that? “Wow, what a jerk! You guys were a sure bet for 300th overall and he wants to stop and put a coat on because he was cold?  Unbelievable!”  Luckily my internal monologue stayed in and I just smiled and nodded.

 

Stage 6, Nipika to Invermere, 64km/1119m vertical

 

We woke up to wet cold weather on day 6 and it was making the boys a little grumpy. They ate in the motor home again and I went out to check all the pressures on the bikes while the boys got their gear ready.With about 20 minutes to the start Dave said something like, “I think the Kendas are going to be good today.” “Did you want me to put different tires on, Dave?” I asked. “Yeah, remember, we talked about it.  You were going to change the tires on both of the bikes,” he said. I could tell from the conviction in Dave’s voice that he had definitely had a detailed conversation about running different tires for the stage, however I had no recollection of it. I am fairly sure he discussed it with me in his dreams. Outside voice:  “Okay, it will just take a minute.”Inside:  “@!%*! 4 tires, 2 shocks and 2 forks in 20 minutes.  Did you forget I am an office boy, not a real mechanic?! Next time you have a conversation with me, how about making sure I am there!”  No problem Dave, lots of time Somehow they made it to the start on time, even with my inferior mechanical skills. Doug was living in his own fantasy world that morning. He said that he and Dave had discussed it and they were going to go easy on this stage to save themselves for the win on stage seven. He said Dave had agreed to the whole plan the night before. Apparently Dave had told Doug he was insane when he told him what he had in mind, but what Doug heard was that Dave thought that it was a fantastic idea. The first 20k of the stage was on the trails at the resort so the racers were going to go right past where I was packing up the motor home.  After 6 days at the race I had only seen starts and finishes, so I was looking forward to little spectating.It was all very exciting when the first group came out of the woods. Five teams were in a tight pack covered in mud and moving at an incredible speed. It must have been overwhelming for the volunteers, too, because they directed the lead group down the wrong trail.When one of the officials realized what had happened, he called a cameraman off his post and recruited him into recovery service. The camera people follow the race on motorcycles, so this one packed up and went off to save the leaders. They eventually had to send the race helicopter to guide the 10 riders back onto the course.Dave said the 5 lost teams passed him and Doug as they were making their way back to the front of the pack. Dave was amazed at the speed the lead group was carrying when they passed.  Doug, on the other hand, wanted to “jump on the train”. Dave told him to go ahead, and it sounds like Doug was a little pissed off about Dave’s lack of enthusiasm. What a wonderful thing to be able to delude yourself into thinking you can suddenly double your speed and hang with a pack of young pros. The leaders finished almost 2 hours ahead of the brothers even with the wrong turn, so Dave may have read the situation a little better than Doug.  I had been hearing for days that Stage 6 was going to be the worst, but it was short at 64k, and looked like it only had one hill. The “hill” as it turned out was not to be believed. It took Dave and Doug 2 full hours to climb it. It was so steep that riding was out of the question. It sounds like some of it was so bad that they had to throw their bikes up and scamper up behind them. The boys said they ran into the trail builder on the climb, and that he was carrying an axe. Dave speculated that he was carrying the axe because he knew if he were unarmed, he would have been jumped and killed by the riders. One funny thing that happened on Stage 6 was an unregistered participant doing the stage. Rufus, the camp dog from Nipika Resort, must like mountain bikes because he followed the pack from the start gun. He was a little scruffy brown dog with no tail and a big heart. He ran the whole 64k only stopping for a quick drink at the feed stations. The impressive part was that he came in 136th on the stage.  The organizers had to drive him back home after the finish, and as they said at the awards that night, they had never seen a dog so happy to get into a truck.The brothers flew into the finish of the stage because someone had pissed Doug off by behaving badly in a pace-line into town. Doug rides like McEnroe played tennis: if you piss him off, he is unbeatable.After all the rain the night before the stage had been so muddy that the boys and their bikes were almost unrecognizable.  The mud was clay based, so it got into everything and then dried up as hard as a rock. It took forever to clean the bikes that night and some parts, like the fork adjustments, were so jammed up I had to disassemble them and grease everything just to get them moving again.

   

Dave told me his front derailleur was not working well but I couldn’t figure out what was wrong  

Stage 7: Invermere to Panorama, 51km/1650 vertical

 

Day 7 started in near panic for Dave. We had been told in the briefing the evening before that if you could see the mountain, the weather was going to be perfect, but if it was socked in, it was not going to be a nice day. Dave woke up to his 6:00 am alarm as he had done in the 6 days prior. He looked out the window to check on the weather and it was so gray he could only see 3 feet. He relaxed a little when he realized he was staring at the galvanized tin shed I had parked beside the day before.Doug was like a man possessed before the start of the last stage. He kept telling Dave how they had to go hard from the start and break off with the leaders. Dave kept telling him he would do the best he could. Privately Dave was telling everyone that his brother was clearly insane. They both went hard at the start and caught more than 50 teams before the base of the climb. They were in a pace-line with the leaders and I am sure Doug was fighting the urge to go for the overall lead. As soon as the hill got really steep at about 20k, the pace-line split, and Dave said there was no way to bridge the gap. Dave and Doug were holding firm to the second group when a woman from the open team that had won the first several stages moved to the front. Her partner was riding injured, so it sounds like she was just stretching her legs and having some fun. Dave said when she hit the front she picked up the pace and shattered the group. After decimating the pace line, she turned around and rode back to her partner.After Dave had nearly killed himself on the climb, Doug said, “Dave, thank you for indulging my fantasy, but this train is way too fast for me.”  From that point on it was all about enjoying the finish rather than killing themselves.They stopped shortly before the end and took off their jackets so they could ride in with the Norco colors. Crossing the line was very emotional for both of them after spending such a hard week together. They stopped at the finish line and raised their bikes over their heads in celebration. It was a grueling event, but both of them said it had been a blur from days 1 to 7 and that the days had flown by. They were having a hard time at the finish even remembering the stages and what day things had happened.Dave said the race had caused him to revert back to babyhood.  All he had worried about was eating, sleeping and getting cream put on his bum. My prediction that the brothers would kill each other on the trail couldn’t have been more wrong. They were extremely compatible as a team. They stayed together and carried each other when one was feeling off. If one asked the other to ease up for a few kilometers the other would oblige without comment.  Yes, even Doug.

The TransRockies is an unbelievable challenge, but two people working together, with a little luck can achieve extraordinary things. I think they came away from the experience closer than they have ever been.  But I never heard any talk about a repeat in 2007!!

 

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