Over 300 riders rode through the East Kootenay mountains during the Singletrack 6 stage race

Fernie riders reflect on 2016 Singletrack 6

Local riders share their thoughts on the 2016 edition of the multi-day mountain bike stage race Singletrack 6.

On July 28, the Singletrack 6 race finished in Golden. The race started in Fernie on July 23 and raced through the East Kootenays. There were many local riders competing and riding in both the Singletrack 3 and the Singletrack 6 events put on by Transrockies and while their legs may be regaining feeling, the athletes are still looking back at the event. While the goals of the four riders that The Free Press spoke to were varied, a few things remained constant through their answers: a love for the sport, admiration for their fellow competitors and the desire to do it again.

The first two days of the race were held in Fernie. Stage 1, on July 23 had the mass start roll through Fernie’s downtown while Stage 2 on July 24 started at Fernie Alpine Resort. All the riders were proud to call Fernie home.

“I’m proud, very proud to be a Fernie rider. The town, the trails, the support was awesome,” said participant Tom Gibson. “Fernie got behind racers, in tight clothing, going uphill fast, on light, small travel bikes – that’s not the norm here.”

The conditions of the Fernie days were prime, according to the local riders. Carter Nieuwesteeg who signed up for the Singletrack 6 referred to it as the cycling equivalent of a 40 cm powder day.

“Each day I raced the trail conditions were very good. The rain the night before stage one helped keep the dust down, and the trail tacky.

The non-locals I talked to really enjoyed Fernie singletrack. I also heard a few people talking at the end of each stage, and although they were tired, they had a great time,” said Singletrack 3 rider Wayne Mihalicz.

While the riders had fun, not everyone finished. Nieuwesteeg had to retire from the race due to an ankle injury after Cranbrook’s Stage 3. Prior to leaving the race, Nieuwesteeg was ranked fifth overall.

“I felt very beaten up and upset the day I left but I’m feeling better now. Still bummed about having to watch the final stages from afar but that’s all part of racing,” he said. “My ankle is sore and currently in an air cast but getting better each day thanks to Fernie Physio. I injured it by going down pretty hard in a fast, rolly section during stage 3.”

Fernie riders had a mix of survive, ride and race goals for the event. While their perspectives ranged, each cyclist learned something from their stage racing experience.

From the racing perspective, Tom Gibson said, “I learned a lot, I learned I can mix it with the pros at times but to be really good you have to be consistent, and be a fully rounded rider. The fast guys climb fast, descend fast, great technical skills. That’s something to train for next season for sure.”

From a riding perspective, Tim Nakoneczny said “I learned to make sure my bike is setup properly. I had a couple of mechanicals that I probably could have prevented.”

For some, like Wayne Mihalicz, this was not the first Transrockies event of the 2016 calendar year but all of the riders had positive comments about the event and its organization.

“This was the second Transrockies  event I have done this year. I did 24 Golden in June. They are very well organized, [they are] hard events, but very rewarding,” said Mihalicz. “All the workers were awesome to deal with – I will race their events again and again.”

Like Mihalicz, many of the riders are looking forward to next season and would like to add the stage race to their race calender.

“I am thinking of the six day next year,” said Singletrack 3 rider Tim Nakoneczny. “Transrockies put on a fantastic race. I’m really happy with the organization and am sure I will do another.”

Despite the injury, Carter Nieuwesteeg is looking to seek retribution for this year at the 2017 event.

“I am already eyeing up the ST6 2017,” he said. “It’s such a well organized and fun event; constant smiles from all riders before, during, and after each day of racing.”

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