Riders rolled into the start area en mass with gleaming bikes, and high expectations for the first day of Fernie singletrack, and based on what everyone said afterwards, it delivered in spades.

Though the first stage today, was by some measure, ‘short’ (40km), the elevation gain more than made up for it, with the course sending riders up steep, slick-rooted (still wet from the rains yesterday) and technical singletrack, before rewarding them with well-known epic Fernie downhills. This made the first stage a fast one overall, with lead riders coming in just under the 2 hour 10 minute mark!

Team Mike & Mike (Sarnecki & Blennerhassett) aka Team PEDAL, had a solid showing, coming across the line all smiles and lookin’ strong, despite Sarns struggling to find his groove on the Hyperventilation Trail climb (Some reports are he might have walked part of it). But the ‘story of the day’ has to go to my Bikeridr pal Ken Hurd, who despite his claimed lack of training, was tearin’ it up out there, until he washed out at the bottom of a steep downhill and taco’d his front wheel! (There may have been some unfortunate ‘bad form’ from another rider who bumped Ken’s back wheel here…) Luckily though, Ken is not too much worse for wear – sporting just a few bloodied scrapes on the elbows and knees. He’ll be stiff tomorrow, no question, but it looks like he’s already found a front wheel he can borrow (Thanks to Sam Mothana), and he’ll be back on the startline in the morning in search of Stage Two glory!

As for me, hangin’ out on the sidelines has been pretty fun. In a way, it’s nice to not have to deal with the prep, stress and nervousness that comes with racing, and to just be a spectator with a coffee and a camera – but I have to admit, part of me wanted to be out there mixing it up and suffering with the rest of the racers. Hearing the post-race stories about this killer climb, or that bombin‘ descent, really makes you wish you had some stories of your own to tell. That said, Ken’s is probably good enough for the both of us, haha…

All in all, I’ve only heard good things from the racers about Stage One – steep, technical, and fun. The ideal weather helps of course, with a blend of  warm sun, and a cool mountain breeze rushing through the valley. The short distance format also seems to be a hit so far, giving racers enough to challenge and satiate  them, and still have a good part of the day left to hangout, eat, rest, recover and enjoy Fernie. This is shaping up to be a great ‘first-timer’ event, and just a good time all around for the more ‘seasoned’ racers here as well.

Looking forward to tomorrow’s stage, it’s a bigger day, both distance (45km) and elevation wise, sending the racers up almost 4,400 vertical feet!!! I predict we’ll see a few less smiles coming across the line.

Full Stage One results here.

Enjoy the Stage One video highlights!

Furious 3 – Stage One from Sheldon Smart on Vimeo.