© John Gibson Photo and TransRockies Classic © John Gibson Photo and TransRockies Classic

TransRockies Classic – experience report of an MTB rider

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Mark Almond rode the wildest trails of North America on his Cirex 120 during the TransRockies Classic. He shares the ups and downs of his exciting trip with us. More! 

“I had to go back.”

My experiences at the TransRockies Classic in North America 

Exhausted, tired, euphoric, amazed: Emotions that almost every participant has experienced at least once during the TransRockies Classic. Over the course of seven days, I – Mark Almond – traversed the wilderness of North America on my Simplon Cirex 120 alongside 130 other mountain bikers. A journey with painful downs and mind-blowing ups … 

Once is as good as never 

In August of 2011, my teammate and I were sat at the start line of the legendary TransRockies Classic in Fernie, British Columbia. We were excited, nervous and ready for anything the race could throw at us. We had no idea that only an hour later it was going to be as good as over. 

On the first descent, my tyre dropped into a rut, I fell hard and my race was done. The medics on site patched me up and kept me riding but I was slow and in pain for the rest of the week. I made it across the finish line and – whilst I was proud to have done so – it felt incomplete. I had to go back!

We had no idea that only an hour later the TransRockies was going to be as good as over for us.
-Mark Almond-

Giving it another go 

Fast forward eight years: Me and a new teammate were standing on the start line of the TransRockies. This time, Panorama Mountain Resort was the starting point with the race finishing in Fernie – where it all started for me eight years earlier. It felt like destiny!

My fitness had suffered badly before making the decision to take on my old friend of a race, the TransRockies. Strict nutrition management then resulted in 20 kilogrammes of bodyweight lost, and my training transformed my body composition and fitness. Was it enough? The next week would decide.

Ahead of us were 560 kilometres of challenging off-road trails and nearly 15,000 metres of climbing across seven days. The evenings would be spent under the stars as we’d be camping in the stunning Canadian wilderness. 
 

The TransRockies is truly a bucket list event that challenges every fibre of you, both physically and mentally.
-Mark Almond-

H2: Baptism of fire 

Day one started with an 86-kilometre stage with 2,400 metres of climbing. The first climb – 1,600 metres vertical right from the start – took us to the highest point of the week at 2,400 metres above sea level. The weather was hot, and the climb went on for what felt like forever. The altitude was taking its toll on me but the view at the top was breathtaking: a complete 360-degree view of mountain tops under a clear, deep blue sky.

What followed was a twelve-kilometre technical singletrack descent before a short road transition to a trail network known as “Kloosifier” just outside Invermere. By the way: You should really google this trail and try it yourself. It’s remarkable!

The day ended with a long steady climb up to our first campsite at the K2 Ranch. The heat played its part as we crossed the finish line, and I was taken straight to the medical team. Extreme dehydration and exhaustion saw me on a saline drip. For day two, though, I was back – rested and rehydrated. 

A race filled with challenges and highlights

What followed were six days of the most epic riding and scenery anyone can imagine, in glorious sunshine and high temperatures. From day two’s mind-blowing route to Nipika Mountain Resort to day four’s monster 102-kilometre stage to Whiteswan Lake, every rider was tested in a new and different way. 

Long climbs, technical singletracks, challenging descents, river crossings, a time-trial stage, exposed mountain passes, the constant feeling of remoteness and being in one of the last true wilderness environments on earth: That’s what made the TransRockies Classic a complete test of bike and rider.

Mission accomplished

When we finally reached day seven, we were tired, sore, a little sunburned and ready for the finish line. But when my teammate and I stopped at the bottom of the world famous Porky Blue descent near Fernie, we were quite sad that this incredible adventure was nearing its end. 

The Contra flow trail down into Fernie – full of jumps, high berms and high-speed fun – was like a pre-finish celebration for us. We were pure mountain bikers. Despite the tiredness, we were laughing and whooping out loud at every jump and high-speed turn in our way. Crossing the finish line felt like coming home. It finally felt right. Mission accomplished!

The TransRockies’ special appeal 

Looking back, nothing can prepare you for the TransRockies Classic. Nothing. It is unlike any other race in the world. No matter who you are, you live as a professional mountain biker for seven days. No outside worries.

You are fed. Your tent is ready for you with your kit bag, when you cross the finish line. And you are supported by an amazing medical team and support cast. You sit with the real pro riders and discuss the day. You eat together, recover together and compare notes and tips for the next day’s stage together. 

You sleep under the stars and wake to some of the most epic scenery in the world outside your tent. You explore places on your bike where very few other people ever go, and you share the wilderness with the wildlife. 

We heard bears, we saw evidence of them but thankfully we saw no actual bears.
-Mark Almond-

TransRockies Classic – only on a Simplon, of course! 

For this challenge, there was only one bike of choice for me: The Simplon Cirex 120 with X01 Eagle build and DT Swiss wheels offered the ideal mix of pedalling efficiency and downhill performance. I had owned the bike for about 18 months before the race, so I knew just how good it is.

However, the TransRockies took my love for the Cirex to a whole new level. Comfortable, fast, confidence-inspiring on the long, fast descents and very strong. 

You’d like to find out more about the legendary MTB event in Canada? Read all the important facts about the TransRockies Classic! 

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