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Fernie TransRockies - Then and Now
With the Furious3 behind us, the TransRockies is fast approaching. In its 11th year, the TransRockies has used the town of Fernie and its extensive trail network as part of the route. In those eleven years there has been a lot of change, both in Fernie, its trails and the TransRockies in general.
In 2002 the inaugural 7-day stage race left Fernie on its way to Canmore with 600km between the 100 riders and the finish. The first multi-day mountain bike race in North America, this event has not only drawn attention to our small mountain town and put it on the map as a mountain bike destination, it has grown in spectrum and numbers, helped the sport evolve, and increased the demand for similar events.
This made us think about mountain biking in Fernie then and now, and the TransRockies in general so we turned to race director Aaron McConnell to fill us in as we prepare to welcome this year's racers as they take off on an adventure of a lifetime.
1. Why was Fernie chosen originally for a venue for the TransRockies 11 years ago?
When TransRockies was launched in 2002, the organizers were looking for an iconic point to point route with a supportive host town on either side. Canmore was the natural finish, and Fernie was a perfect start as a biking town with good tourism infrastructure to support the start.
2. Why does the TransRockies keep using Fernie, and what made you decide to grow the Fernie presence to 3 days?
Fernie is such a great mountain biking town, and the community, along with the Fernie TransRockies Society, has always given the event a warm welcome. Over the years we were constantly collecting rider feedback through participant surveys and one on one conversations. While the epic point-to-point nature of TransRockies has always been appreciated, riders were consistently asking for more singletrack and less road. The trails close to Fernie were always a favourite, so it made sense to spend a little more time around Fernie to increase the riding quality. It also allowed us to cut out stages that were less enjoyable due to long road sections, mud, or unrideable climbs.
3. What is the average age of the riders in the TransRockies?
4. How many countries are represented on average in a given year in the TransRockies field?
Usually 20+, and we've had as many as 27.
5. How has the town of Fernie, its residents, businesses and organizations been to work with over the years?
The town has been great. The hotels have always been super supportive, providing rooms for all of our crew. The downtown businesses have been fantastic as well, allowing us to close down main street for long stretches. As the Fernie Trails Alliance has taken shape in recent years it has been great to work with them as well.
6. How does the TransRokies give back to the community?
We have a trails donation built into our registration fee. Riders have the option to opt out if they volunteer in their home community on trails, but most pay the donation. Last year we raised over $17,000 for trail charities along the route, with over $9,000 going to Fernie organizations.
7. What are some exciting new features in this year's TR3, TR4 and TR7?
We have new stages 2 and 3 and we are excited to return to Fernie Alpine Resort for the first time since 2003, and again finish at Island Lake Lodge. The stage 3 route incorporating Baldy and finishing with a single-track descent to Island Lake should be spectacular - getting up high in the Apline will offer that epic TransRockies feeling but still close to Fernie. It's pretty special that we can put these great point to point stages together and still be just minutes from the town. There will be some great finish festivities for participants and spectators as the Stage 2 and 3 finishes at Fernie Alpine Resort and Island Lake.
New this year is the TransFondo, offering a single stage entry to Stage 2 or Stage 5. This is basically an opportunity to ride a single stage in a non-competitive format with all the top-notch TransRockies support - well marked routes, well-stocked checkpoints, trail ambassadors, and medical teams. The TransFondo riders will roll out right after the main field.
With five options available (TR7, TR3, TR4 and the two TransFondo) this year's TransRockies has a multitude of ways for individuals to challenge themselves. Registration is still open, and the weather is finally looking up.
Let's get ready for another busy biking weekend in Fernie this July 28-30!