The Singletrack 6 was born when the legendary TransRockies went dormant a few years back and is turning into one of North America’s premier races. Each year the host communities change as the organisation seeks out new riding areas to showcase 6 days of the best of what Western Canadian singletrack has to offer.
The days are typically around 40 km (3-5 hours for the average racer) as the riders navigate a great brew of singletrack riding which includes big climbs into the alpine areas, panoramic views and epic timed descents. In the evenings we all come together for post race BBQs, slideshows, and story telling from the days racing. Often some locals are on hand to give us some history of the riding areas and how they became what they are today over years of hard work and ingenuity.
Singletrack 6 in 2017
This year the race ventured into the Kootenay towns of Rossland, Nelson and Kaslo in South Central BC. It’s a riding area few of us had ever ridden as it’s tucked away from the rest of the province. It is well-known as being the hippie outpost of Canada, especially the town of Nelson which you can smell from miles away.
Stages 1-3 took place in Rossland, the self-proclaimed “Mountain bike Capital of Canada.” There are a number of towns that could claim this and Rossland certainly didn’t dissappoint as there is an extensive trail network surrounding the town 360 degrees which offers some exciting riding.
Full gas into Singletrack 6
Coming off a racing hangover after winning the World Solo 24 HR Champs in Italy back in June I was fired up for an intense week of racing and used the first steep climbs of Stage 1 to spread out the field and kick off the bike tournament in style. Leading half way through the stage and still well within normal operating levels the body disturbingly started to show signs of the past few weeks as the watts started to plummet and the system overheated. From here a couple USA boys, Justin Lindine, Taylor Lideen, former French Marathon Champ Frederic Gombert and one of Canada’s rising XC stars Evan Guthrie took over and set a blistering pace down the rough timed descent on the day. It was a short day of racing at just over 2 hours but we all felt the mid 30 degree heat and 1500 M of climbing.
The next two days were pretty similar as I’d kick off the racing to make sure the tempo stayed high then would settle into my 24hr hangover pace while the boys off the front threw haymakers at each other in the Canadian wilderness.
On day 3 we apparently rode one of the most beautiful trails in Canada as we hit the high alpine 7 summits trail. They say there are 360 degree panoramic views up there and some beautiful wild flowers but we’ll have to go back another day as our attention was 100% focused on the rocky trail so we wouldn’t end over the bars and eating alpine dirt for breakfast.
Singletrack 6 delivers
Stage 4 in Nelson was another beauty as we climbed for nearly 15 km off the start on a great mixture of fire roads, overgrown quad trails and singletrack. Eventually we topped out in the high alpine before hitting a series of sweet descents back to the start. Every stage had a timed descent which was great as even if you were having snail legs on the climbs you could still fight for something and rail the downhills.
Stage 5 in Kaslo was the highlight in my books as we road high up on the mountain slopes above the sleepy little lake side town before hitting a great sidehill trail traversing across the slopes and eventually leading down another single track gem to the glacial river below. The racing at the front was great with 10-12 guys jostling for position everyday.
My friend Ian Murray and I had a nice battle going on the last riverside decent as the trail rolled up and down the banks of the Kaslo river. I opened up a gap but was clobbered by a weird overhanging tree that caught me in the back, digging into the right kidney. It was like being blind sided into the boards at a hockey game as I tried to keep riding but had to get off for a minute or two to let the odd numbing feeling pass through the body. Oddly enough Ian never passed by which I couldn’t figure out but later heard he also got clobbered by a overhanging tree and ended up on the side of the trail with a charlie horse. We both limped across the line and then headed straight to the Kootenay lake to chill the bodies and provide some relief to our aching bodies.
Return to Nelson
Stage 6 was back in the Hippie capital of Canada as we raced another short but challenging stage high up on mountain slopes above Nelson. It was a hard morning as we hit a mixture of fast flowy trails and some real brain rattlers which really put our xc bikes to the test. It was a nice cap to cap a great week as the rest of the day was spent like the other days, cooling off in the fresh mountain lakes and hanging out with our riding buddies sharing stories from the days action.
Compared to a lot of the other racing around the world, the ST6 really feels like a biking holiday as there is a lot of time to chill after the stages as we’re often done by around 10 am and have the rest of they day to soak in the culture of the surrounding communities.
For someone who wants to have some adventurous and challenging days on a bike but still have loads of time to hang out with family or friends then the ST6 is tough to beat. Next year it will be back towards the Rockies as the race will tackle 3 days in Golden, BC then head over to the Okanagan for some riding in Revelstoke, and Vernon. I’ll be looking for a chance to return again as these weeks stand out in the memory books every year!
Thanks to John Gibson for all the images!