Tuesday, August 25, 2009  
   Volume 79 - Issue 34 Website:www.passherald.ca   email: passherald@shaw.ca   $1.00   
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Quote of the Week
“It’s amazing the amount of pain and misery people were willing to put up with for this.”
- Josh Heisie  
- on a new local movie 
showing at the Orpheum 


The TransRockies Challenge is one of the most gruelling, intimidating mountain bike races anywhere. Over 200 riders climb through 14,225 metres of elevation gain across 532 km of trails over seven days they’ll never forget, and on Friday, August 14, the race rolled into Crowsnest Pass.
The race featured riders in teams of two from across the world, in multiple categories. The stars of the show for hometown fans, of course, was Team Crowsnest Pass, the duo of Jeff Smith and Andrew Fairhurst, who rode with 40 other teams in the highly competitive Open Men category.
The ride into the Pass, Stage Six of the seven-stage race, took the racers roughly 100 km and over the continental divide. With rain and thunderstorms rolling around the area, it became a test of will and endurance as the riders struggled through slick mud and cold temperatures.
Even the top teams took more than an hour longer to arrive in Blairmore than anticipated, and were covered in mud when they made it. The TransRockies website describes it as “perhaps the hardest mountain bike stage race ever held.”
Proving that they’re made of strong stuff, Fairhurst and Smith performed better than nearly every other team on this challenging stage, placing seventh in their category for the day and advancing to tenth overall with one stage remaining, the final push back across the divide and into Fernie.
As they are in every community stop along the way, from Panorama to Fernie, the riders were treated to dinner and an awards ceremony that evening, at the Albert Stella Arena, where Mayor John Irwin welcomed them to the Pass and congratulated them on their accomplishments. The Pass Herald caught up with Team Crowsnest Pass after the ceremony.
The duo finished the 100km stage into the Pass with a time of 6:39:58, 56 minutes behind the day’s leader. This put them in seventh in the Open Men category for the day, and tenth in the category overall.
Their goal for the final stage into Fernie was to advance into ninth place, a goal they accomplished with a second straight seventh-place stage finish. Their final time for the entire 532km race was 37:01:48 –– ninth best among 41 Open Men teams from across the globe.
Overall times in their category ranged from a best of 29:01, set by Stefan Widmer and Marty Lazarski of Rocky Mountain Factory Team, down to 59:55.
“It feels like a great accomplishment,” said Fairhurst at the Albert Stella, as the pair prepared for their final stage the next morning. This was the first time in the TransRockies for both he and his partner, and their first time doing a race together.
“It’s a fantastic opportunity to ride with one of your best friends,” said Fairhurst. “Couldn’t ask for better company.”
“We’re just here to have fun, really,” said Smith. “It’s kind of become a blur.”
They confirmed that the riders had seen wet conditions nearly the entire race, with rain on all but one day. But they added that the two of them, for some reason, seem to place higher in the standings the worse the weather gets.
“The rougher the trails and the harder it gets, the better we do,” said Smith.
“As mentally challenging as it is,” added Fairhurst, “it might be nice for us.”
This theory panned out again on the final stage, as the riders faced more wet, muddy conditions all the way from the Pass to Fernie and again placed very well to capture ninth overall in their category.
All of the mud took more than a physical and mental toll, however –– Smith lamented that he would probably have to replace half the parts in his bike afterward, due to all the wear, tear, and damage it took on the rough trails.
Fairhurst noted that the race is very well-organized and comes with a fantastic, professional atmosphere. Numerous volunteers give up their time to take part helping the riders, manning remote checkpoints and providing great service throughout the event.
“There are teams from every corner (of the world),” said Smith. “It’s neat to ride with them, talk to them, see what they think of our backyard.”
The TransRockies were a once in a lifetime opportunity they couldn’t turn down, said Fairhurst. The chance to take part came up when the municipality received one free entry as a host community.
He confirmed that both of them were definitely meeting their goals, pushing themselves to the limit and coming away both as admirable ambassadors of the Crowsnest Pass and as one of the best teams in this tremendous mountain bike challenge.
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   Volume 79 - Issue 34 Website:www.passherald.ca   email: passherald@shaw.ca   $1.00   
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