TransRockies Report: Pouring Rain makes Nipika a Tough Day’s Ride

Provided by TransRockies

Stage 3 Distance: 40km/ 1000m climbing/1000m descending

After two days of perfect racing weather, riders who woke during the night after the epic second stage heard the gentle patter of rain on their tents and campers. The start line at Nipika Mountain Resort is at roughly 1100 metres elevation, so rain and cloud also means cold temperatures so long sleeves and jackets were the order of the day for racers in the 9am start wave.

The weather continued to deteriorate throughout the morning prompting organizers to shorten the distance by roughly 5km-dropping the steepest and most technical sections of the course. Still, riders were faced with over 40km of wet and slippery single and doubletrack through the Nipika trail system including vertigo-inducing rides along the edge of the Kootenay River Gorge.

The racers took on the stage in three waves from slowest to fastest with the final group leaving starting at 1pm. The tension was highest for the competitors in the TR3 solo event, whose event would be complete at the end of this stage. Nipika would be their last chance to move up in the standings.

The change in conditions offered up the possibility of big changes in the standings as the relatively smaller elevation gains and constant level of technical challenge suited different skills sets than the previous two stages, likewise the mud also raised the possibility of mechanical difficulties.

With relatively small time gaps between first and third places, the TR3 Open Men’s Race was going to be dramatic and it took a turn in the first half hour when second-placed Colin Kerr inadvertently shortcut the course passing first-placed rider Cory Wallace along with the first-placed overall team Rocky Mountain. He maintained the gap to the finish but was penalized 10 minutes at the finish dropping him to third. Behind, Wallace and third-placed Roddi Lega (Team Pedal Head) were having a classic battle with Lega using his superhero singletrack skills to close in the technical sections only to have Wallace pull back out on the climbs. In the end, the final climb was enough to give Wallace a 20 second win and the overall GC as well.
In the Open Women category of the TR3, Katharina Beeler of Arizona confirmed her overall win with a third straight stage win. Craig Bartlett of Canmore won his battle extraordinaire with Calvin Zaryski with his second straight stage win in the Master Men (40+) category.

In the TransRockies team event, Stefan Widmer and Marty Lazarski continued their clean sweep of the action in the Open Men’s division with a 9-minute win over the hard-battling Portugese team of Joao Marinho and Jose Silva. Ray Adams and Ryan Leech of Team visitPA.com have been battling since the start and finished on the podium again to solidify their third-place overall standing. There were some first time stage winners in other categories as the technical mud masters got their chance to shine on a day when the sun didn’t. With 107km of climbs and wide-open riding on the way to the wilderness camping at Whiteswan Lake tomorrow, the tables will likely turn again.

In a classic ironic turn that mountain biking seems always to offer, the sun finally broke through as the awards presentations began meaning that the riders could enjoy the pictures and video from the day’s action knowing that tomorrow would very likely be a much better day for mountain biking in the Rockies.

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