Stage Three (the final leg) of the inaugural Fernie edition of the Furious 3 mountain bike race is in the bag! It was another early morning start (8am) for racers, and despite an initial false start due to reports there was a train blocking the route out of town, everything got underway smoothly.

There were ominously dark clouds looming overhead at times this morning, but talking to racers at the start line, moods were high, and everyone was looking forward to a shorter day (32km) with less climbing and possibly the best day of singletrack yet! Race organizers expected things to happen fast, with the lead racers coming in around the 2 hour mark – and they weren’t far off, because after only 1 hour and 50 minutes we saw our first two racers across the line.

Martin Vale, yesterday’s Stage Two winner, came in second today, while it was Troy Misseghers who sprinted to the line and took the big Stage Three win. Even so, we saw Martin Vale take the Furious 3 overall top spot tonight at the awards banquet. Kate Aardal, from Hardcore Racing, took the stage win for the solo women again today, which also confirmed her first place spot as the overall winner in the women’s solo category. As for Team Mike & Mike (Team PEDAL), even with a broken chain, they came in with a fast time today, and may see a boost in the standings. I guess there is a chance I might have ‘jinxed’ them by mentioning in yesterday’s article that they’d enjoyed such smooth sailing. Ah well… Seems to have worked out pretty well for them just the same. To hear Sarns tell it, he has some mad skills when it comes to fixing a broken chain, trailside.

Bikeridr and Deadgoat racer Ken Hurd discovered the 3rd time was the charm, because today was his best day out there! Not only did he find the course to be the most fun, but he also felt like he was finally finding his form, if not all the fitness he once had… Hopes of beating either of local Calgary racers, Waleed Al-Rabeh, or Kyle Husband unfortunately didn’t quite materialize today, but apparently for Ken, just not crashing, or getting lost is a big win all on its own these days. Kidding, of course. Ken left it all out there each of the three days, and despite running into what some might call, seriously bad luck on 2 of the three days, he finished strong and grinning ear-to-ear.

Congratulations to the Furious 3 organizers, to Mark Kaltenbach (the man with the plan), and of course to all the amazing volunteers who worked so hard to put the inaugural Furious 3 on! It seems they’ve come up with a great stage race formula, with shorter distances (possibly offering more quality, versus quantity) that appeals to both new and veteran racers, coupled with having it centered in such a great cycling town like Fernie, BC! Unlike the longer, arguably harder and more ‘epic’ races out there, the Furious 3 delivers a stage race experience that may ultimately appeal to more cyclists, proving that you don’t need to ride huge distances to have a great mountain bike stage race. What’s the old saying, ‘it never gets easier – you just get faster’? It would seem that Mike Cabigon from Pedalhead would certainly concur, with this post-race tweet:

#Furious 3 final: 4yrs of @Ironman Tri made me forget what hard is. 3 days of #Furious3 made me remember. Finished 5th Open Men. The End.

So, have the folks at Furious 3 nailed it first time out, finding the perfect niche stage race format for both new (first-time) stage racers, and the elites? Time will tell. Regardless, this was a great race, hands down, and I’m sure what very few hiccups we did see in the inaugural event, will be smoothed out in future editions, including the upcoming Moab Furious 3.

You can check out posts with photos and video highlights on Stage One here, and Stage Two here.

Also check out the full 2011 Fernie Furious 3 results here.