In 2014, I competed in the Single Track 6 for the first time. As the name implies the race is six days, and takes place in five different locations around Western Alberta and Eastern and Central British Columbia. The race caught my attention because it runs though an area of the Canadian Rockies I’d always wanted to explore, and nothing showcases a trail network better than a stage race.
The 2015 edition moved west to the wine region of British Columbia, so we based ourselves in Kelowna, a town that was central to all six of the stages. Justin Lindine, on form after winning Pennsylvania’s Transylvania Epic, and Tristan Uhl, still smiling after taking a come-from-behind win the BC Bike Race, gave the team a huge wave of momentum starting our third stage race of the season. We knew it would be tough to keep the winning form going, though—Canada’s Cory Wallace, who had been missing from the earlier races, would be making his first showing in North America for the year.
We started the trip off on the wrong foot, or wrong hand, rather, when on a preride the day before Stage 1 Justin Lindine crashed and broke his hand. We were fortunate enough that it happened pretty close to both the vehicle and medical assistance, but Justin would be out for the week. That meant Tristan would be going mano a mano against Cory, and on Cory’s home turf.
Stage 1 outside Salmon Arm was a rough way to start the week, against a field full of fresh legs and, for us at least, unpolished Canadian root riding skills.
Tristan and I both were a little bit on the back foot on Stage 1, maybe rusty from the drive, maybe saving something for later in the week. My favorite things about stage racing are that there’s always tomorrow if you’re having a bad day; in addition, you’re mountain biking in a world famous destination on hand-built trails. Which does make it pretty difficult to really have a bad day.
The first three stages were pure Canadian loamy bliss. Salmon, Vernon, and the Silver Star Resort stages were amazing. Roots, endless drop-in chutes, slick but tacky root systems on hand build trails that went on for hours. There wasn’t a bad inch of riding anywhere out there.
Some stages take us straight into the woods, while others have us starting in the town centers and rolling out of town just as you would a ride from home. These are my favorite starts – they’re hectic, crazy, and fast even when considered neutral, but they’re a chance to say “Hi” to guys you only see during the race.
After the race you get a chance to catch up with fans.
And take in the excitement of the other racers completing their journey.
Tristan put in methodical rides each day, never going into the red the first three stages and moving himself into 2nd place overall by day 3. The battle with Wallace was a tough one, and Tristan finally got the better of him on the final day, closing the week with a stage win and a well-earned 2nd overall.
Check back soon for Part 2, which covers some of the non-race action we got up to during our trip to BC.