By Emily Sabelhaus
This post wraps up on series on Trans BC enduro written by Enduro Bites-sponsored athlete Emily Sabelhaus. If you missed them, be sure to scroll through our blog for her other reports from the trail.
Day 6: Nelson
Today was the day I’d been looking most forward to since the very beginning. Knowing Megan, I’m well aware she likes to save the best for last, and she didn’t disappoint.
Megan prepped us in the race meeting the night before by warning us that we might hate her after the two hour grunt to Stage 1, but we’ll love her after descending miles upon miles of loam on Stage 3.
Brimming with anticipation, we hopped on the yellow school buses we now knew so well. Those buses took us as high as they could up a steep gravel road. When the buses couldn’t go any further, racers piled into vans to ascend a bit more.
The vans rolled to a stop and we were greeted by our bikes lined up in neat little rows along the road. We then climbed and pushed an additional hour and a half in the mist to Baldface Lodge.
The beautiful Baldface Lodge sits at 6,800 feet and offered a welcome reprieve from the elements outside.
Some racers huddled by the raging bonfire, while others went inside to gather in the warming room before beginning the final push to the summit.
I must have had at least three cups of light roast at the Lodge before heading back outside. Thanks Oso Negro! Delicious.
The push to the summit was the real deal. We crested a snowy ridge before descending through a snowfield to the Stage 1 start.
The push was steep, but breathtaking and quite dramatic in the mist.
Alex, Leigh, and I practiced some snow surfing en route to Stage 1. Little did we know how much that practice would come in handy for the following stage.
Stage 1 was full-on alpine steep right out of the gate. Some walked, some ran, but I’m proud to say I rode it all grinning ear to ear. (Photo Credit: Colin Meagher)
The three of us girls rode together in a tight little pack most of the day and we were all smiles after the roots, rocks, and gnar of Stage 1.
Yes, we all ride for Juliana. Yes, we love our Roubions! A quick transfer would deliver us to stage 2, so we were in particularly high spirits. No more climbing!
As we dove into the second stage of the day, the sky erupted with rain in every direction. Then hail. Then more rain. By the time we got to the feed station we were drenched, but so happy to scarf some bacon, a little whisky, and a lot of coffee before pointing our bikes toward the final stage.
When we left the feed station the clouds lifted and we were able to pedal under a spectacular cerulean sky (for 5 minutes until the next little storm rolled in).
Like I said, Megan always saves the best for last. Finally, the stage we’d all been waiting for –lucky #29!
Shannon’s Pass delivered precipitously steep, sometimes technical, super sustained, and utterly unrelenting fun for 14-20 minutes depending on your speed. Sarah handled the terrain like a boss. (Photo Credit: Colin Meagher).
When we got to the bottom, we were pleasantly exhausted, especially Alex.
A 20-minute pedal popped us out into a lovely park on the banks of a glorious lake for swimming, bike jumping, cleaning up, and enjoying a beer.
This was the perfect way to wrap up a fine week of racing bicycles.
In total, we climbed 27,000 feet and raced 29 stages. That’s something to be proud of, and I certainly am.
The past six days in interior BC included some of the steepest most technical descending I've ever done. The back-to-back blind racing format challenged my muscles, my brain and my heart in a way I never imagined it would.
Today, three full days after completing the race, I'm the best kind of sore. My legs hurt from riding for nearly a week straight. My palms hurt from braking too aggressively. My shoulder hurts from crashing at the bottom of a beautiful alpine rock garden. My lungs hurt from laughing and panting and hungrily gasping for more mountain air. Most of all, my cheeks hurt from smiling! There was so much smiling. This was an incredible week – so difficult, soul crushing at times, but also infinitely rewarding and wholly worth the effort!
There is so much to love about multi day events such as this, but these are the top 3 reasons I think this event was particularly outstanding:
1. Camaraderie. The affinity you feel toward fellow racers after a week of real riding together is unparalleled. When your tire blows up at the end of a stage, you hardly have time to get your CO2 out of your pack before other racers are pulling over to offer you their own.
2. Comfort. Megan did an incredible job pulling together transportation, food, and accommodations. There was always plenty of food, the buses were always on time, and lodging was super comfortable. There is a time and a place for backcountry adventure racing, but there is something incredibly soothing about splaying out onto a fluffy queen-sized bed at the end of a long day in the saddle – it’s the fact that it’s not a sleeping bag on the ground.
3. Community. Remember when you were in 6th grade and you always sought out the same little group of friends in the cafeteria? That’s not this. I sat with a different group of racers for nearly every single meal this week. It didn’t matter who it was, we were all fast friends tied together by the common thread of biking. The MTB community is the very best.
Want to relive the week via video? Here are the highlights:
Thanks again, Megan, and all the volunteers who worked relentlessly to ensure we all had the time of our lives! Additionally, this wonderful week wouldn’t have been possible without the generous support of my sponsors. Sincere thanks, all!
Juliana - Alex, Leigh, Eva, and I threw our dear Roubions down rock faces, into the bushes, and off ledges but they never once gave up the fight. Thanks for making such a robust and beautiful product!
Dharco - Sincere thanks for the new threads! My kits remained super comfortable all week long and I can truly attest to their durability as I scraped them against trees, rocks, and loam at least once a day for an entire week.
Pacific Bike - You kept the Roubion running smooth as butter all week.
iXS - I personally tested the Xult full face helmet on a number of occasions and I’m proud to say it kept my noggin safe and sound. All the thanks.
Maxxis - You kept me rolling under a variety of tough conditions and every kind of terrain imaginable this week. Kuddos!
Giro - The Terraduras endured mud, snow, rain, and hail but my feet remained happy throughout.
SRAM - I tried in vain to break your drivetrain by shoving a stick in my derailleur on Day 2, drowning my cassette in mud and loam on Day 5, and whacking my shifter in a crash on Day 6, but it all refused to be broken! It’s a stubborn and wonderful thing.
High Above - Good thing your hip packs are waterproof, crash proof, and likely bulletproof, because I certainly put them through the wringer this week. My Cascadia rose to the challenge. Every challenge.