By: Cary Smith
The hits just keep on coming here at the Trans BC. We took a bus from Fernie to Panorama Ski Resort in Invermere this morning. After getting our bikes dialed, the JH crew rode two lifts then rode out of the ski area. After passing through a beautiful meadow, I looked up and saw the other racers carrying bikes up this steep scree slope up to this exposed ridge. It was an awesome sight, but tough to get there. Once there, Panorama lived up to its name with huge 360° views.
The first stage wasn’t a trail before this morning. They taped the line and tried to skid it in to make it rideable. It may have been for some, but most got knocked off at least once. I should’ve known my limits but I wanted to give it a go. I ended up floundering around in the rocks, tripping and stumbling trying to regroup after searching for my Garmin that got punted then trying to drop my post once I got the lever back in its usual spot. From there, after a detour when I lost the route, it was sweet riding in classic BC loam down to a high alpine lake. Unfortunately for Aaron, his detour off course was a little longer and he lost a couple minutes getting back on course.
We had a one minute walk to the start of stage 2. This was a classic descent with everything a mountain biker could want. 15 minutes of roots, rocks, steeps, creek crossings, twisties through the trees and high speed flow sections kept us on our toes but grinning the whole way. One of the steep switchbacks caught out Mike Austin and he landed hard on his shoulder but finished and kept charging the rest of the day.
A climb back to the ski area took us to their DH track for a steep rip through the trees with plenty of rocks, drops and groomed berms.
Lunch awaited us at the bottom of this stage and, once again, the delicious spread got the best of me, making for an uncomfortable start to the long climb to stage 4. This stage was the bottom half of the stage we would’ve done if we had the helicopter this morning. It was good improvisation by the race crew but it would’ve been amazing to ride the top of this trail. It was cleaned this spring for this race and it was worth the effort. I keep marveling at the quantity and quality of trails in this area.
The last stage saw us hop on the lift one more time for a super fun trail in the bike park. Great traction saw the steep sections much more manageable since you could actually slow down and steer your bike. But that’s not to say there weren’t plenty of roots and rocks to keep it interesting.
Tomorrow we head to Mt. Seven outside of Golden for the steepest day of the week. They’re giving us two options to get off the top of the peak. The easy one has me sweating so I’ll have to get secondhand details of the harder option. Good thing I sanded my brake pads tonight.