SIL­I­CON RON AND THE SIX DAYS OF RAC­ING

Australian Mountain Bike - - Gravity Check - WORDS: CHRIS PANOZZO PHOTOS: TRANS BC

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.

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