116km, 6,490 calories, 4,046m of climbing and 3 days later, the inaugural Furious 3 is behind us.

As I had lamented in a post prior to the race, I was feeling a little undertrained. And by undertrained, I mean that I hadn’t really trained at all, and that my time on the bike almost solely consisted of my commute to work. Truth be told, the Furious 3 was the first legitimate time I’d spent on my mountain bike.

Wise? Likely not. Reality? Indeed it was.


Format

The support crew, chillin' by the finish line

The format of the Furious 3 was what drew me to the event initially – short by many other stage race standards, and clover leafing out of one location, the Furious 3 definitely catered nicely to my particular situation. It allowed my family a consistent set up and location for our “base camp,” as well as a fun and interesting town to muck around in. Talking to other ‘support crew’ types, non-racing activities ranged from strolling up and down Main Street indulging in great cappuccinos and handmade chocolate to enjoying time in their hotel hot tubs (or mini-bars), and hiking/biking the trails Fernie had to offer themselves.

This is obviously a full-blown stage race, but the nice thing is, this is one of the few races where you can bring your family and *actually* call it a ‘family vacation.’ Though the early mornings were a little tough to get out of bed for, it meant that most days (when I didn’t crash), I could relax with my family in the afternoons, grab pizza, hit the park, putter around town… Whatever the day called for. A more serious racer, could have easily had time to rehydrate, get in a couple of meals, have a good nap and still had time to enjoy their afternoon.

Course

Generally the single track in Fernie was stellar and we were served up with nothing but the finest. From truly epic climbs like Hyperventilation, stunning descents like Castle South, or just rolled gold flow-ey goodness like the finish of Day 3 (the trail name escapes me) – There was definitely something for everybody, but a working set of brakes and solid technical skills were essential. Fernie’s trails are not for the novice mountain biker. Given the lack of time I’d had on the mountain bike I could definitely tell that the trails were pushing me around more than they should have.

That said, I was pretty darned happy with the course design, though it would have been nice to have had a longer lead out on day 3 leading into the Hyperventilation climb, as it was pretty much bumper-to-bumper the whole way up (not that I would have been going much faster ;-).

Organization

Looking at the event as a whole, it was tough to believe this was the first year. Registration was a breeze, the race was stellar, the banquet was solid and the draw prizes were great. As is often the case with these events, the volunteers were nothing short of outstanding as well… Whether it was a trail intersection, the finish line, or an aid station, they were all armed with smiles, ridiculously friendly and always ready to help.

It was also pretty outstanding to see Mark Kaltenbach (the race organizer) present the Fernie trail builders association with a cheque for $8,000.

First you bring a solid, fun event to a place like Fernie, expose 300+ riders to some world class riding, and then reward the town to help make it even better… This is how it’s done folks.

Performance

In four words: Not. According. To. Plan.

To be honest, until the last 6-7km of Day 1, I couldn’t believe how splendidly things had been going. Despite feeling undertrained I had been climbing much better than I had hoped, and though the descents were punching me around a bit, I could feel some of my technical ‘souplesse’ returning. Coming out of the single track onto the fire road to close out my first day, I figured I pretty much had things in the bag – I knew the rest of the ride in was pretty tame. I could hold my position and be golden for Day 2.

Unfortunately the mighty mountain bike gods weren’t smiling on me that day… As I popped out of the trees my line leading to the road was slightly less than optimal – This was further aggravated by the rider behind me who came up too quickly and hit my back wheel, forcing me off the trail into a wash-out. To keep from falling, I turned my wheel straight down the hill, which saved a crash initially, but now had me running perpendicular to the culvert next to the road.

The next thing I knew I heard a sickening crunch and felt a white mist of Stan’s hit my face… I remember distinctly thinking “Ah shit… I got a flat,” at which point I was unceremoniously launched into the air and sent skidding along the ground.

After getting up and dusting myself off, I inspected the damage… Full taco. Thus ended day 1.

Day 2 started promisingly as well… The legs were feeling good, I was climbing well, and despite feeling pretty battered and bruised I didn’t feel too bad. As luck would have it, the mountain bike gods weren’t smiling on me this day either. At the top of the first climb, myself and a couple other riders misread the course marking and essentially looped back to the bottom of the climb… Not what my legs were needing on the longest day.

Despite the setbacks, I managed to stay pretty positive throughout the race, and ended up having a great time all three days. The last day was probably the most *fun* for me, mainly because I managed to finish crash-free and on-course… But, I could tell that my lack of training was catching up with me… Normally on stage races I find myself feeling a little stronger every day and I was definitely feeling pretty sapped at the end of Day 3.

Retrospect

Though I don’t really feel that my crash and detour were 100% my fault, I do think that most times you make your own luck and I definitely attribute some of my ‘bad luck’ to my lack of time actually racing/training. Racing sharpens your focus, and I although I probably would have felt/been a little faster with some additional training, I also have to believe that things would have gone more “my way.”

That said, at the end of the day, I’ve got some great stories, some good memories and thankfully, no injuries that won’t heal in good time :-D