SILICON RON AND THE SIX DAYS OF RACING
I don’t think I really understood how big the Trans BC would actually be! I was originally going to give you a brief overview of what went down during those epic six days, but first I had to get there.
Canada and summer was sure to lift my spirits, coming from a very frustrating (and again wet) EWS in France. Not only was the weather playing ball on arrival into Canada, I was picked up from the airport in a 1978 Dodge Campervan that I had once owned, bringing a sly smile to my jetlagged face - having spent the previous 12 hours in a plane most likely made only a few years after the Wright brothers first took flight.
A busy week of riding was planned by the human excitement machine that is Max Kreuzer. Both he and his girlfriend were on the first week of their summer vacation in the campervan now known as Silicon Ron. After cleaning out the breakfast bar of bagels, we were on our way – the plan being to travel over the next few days from Calgary to Fernie, the start location of the Trans BC.
Travelling in Silicon Ron can either be five stars, or scum class, depending on your outlook on life. Five stars if your outlook is to experience the transient nature of van life, with nowhere to be, and the take-it-as-it-comes attitude. After all Silicon Ron even had original features like a stove top, oven and kitchen sink from 1978. What’s not quite so appealing is riding along in 38-degree heat with
the heater on and the bonnet raised to ensure the engine didn’t catch fire (that fate being suffered instead by the humans inside). Max had taken Silicon Ron for a check-over at a local mechanic prior to the trip, who it seems wasn’t only high on life. Having seen the exhaust was damaged half way down the pipe, he decided to cut it off, save building a new one. We felt the effects of that wise decision and after five days of solid driving our fuel consumption dramatically dropped off. This was highlighted while filling up at the next fuel station, as petrol began to pour out at roughly the same rate it was going in. The shortened exhaust was aimed at the plastic fuel tank, heating it up to the point where it melted a hole in it, allowing the petrol to leak out directly into the path of the hot exhaust gases. After thanking our lucky stars we were all still alive, we spent the next 24 hours fixing the problem on the cheap.
After hitting the road again Max queried whether our makeshift rubber joiner for the new exhaust would last. I confidently replied, “Yeah. no worries”. Seconds later, the exhaust was bouncing down the road behind us. A quick turn-around and a more industrial hose clamp arrangement saw us back on the road and into Fernie.
For those not getting to race events like the World Series, competing in the Trans BC would give you a good idea what it’s like - but actually doing three or four back-to-back, and having no practice of what you’re about to ride. Just to give you the raw
numbers: it’s six days and approximately 29 hours on the bike (or off it, hiking) with a total race time of two hours and 33 minutes. That’s 210km total distance and over 8,000m of climbing and lots and lots of descending.
Prior to starting I was keen to do a ride to shake out the legs after being stationary for 48 hours travelling in a moving oven. Max was keen for me to try out the best local trail, and knowing Max I thought I was up for a gentle climb and probably not that long. Half way up, after an hour, we got to a track named Lactic Ridge, which I soon found out was normal for Canada, and also brutal. It dawned on me that was what life would be like for the next six days.
For the event, I’d signed up for the allinclusive package, where we would be fed, transported from Fernie to Golden, then to Revelstoke and provided hotel accommodation at each location. It was bliss - all you had to worry about was counting down the clock to dinner, or breakfast in between big days on the bike. And when I say big days, they were BIG.
This was the first time I’ve done blind racing, and it is a different beast to stage racing where you get a chance to have a practice run down each track. I’d feel like I’d be riding slow but still take the stage win. Then I’d feel good and push, only to be 10 seconds back from Jerome Clementz. It was interesting trying to read the steep terrain - one of the stages was used back in the Red Bull Psychosis DH event and is basically the steepest track in North America. And we raced it blind!
Be on the look out for an extended article on my time at the event, but for now, if you’re thinking of doing a trip with friends and getting in bulk amazing riding, the Trans BC is for you.