Four Bighorn Sheep Highway Deaths Last Week
January 26, 2022
This coming year will mark the 20th anniversary of what is now the TransRockies Race Series. It also marks the 20th anniversary of their events being held here in Fernie. From the TransRockies Challenge to Singletrack 6, and now to the new Gravel Royale gravel stage race, Fernie has been the perfect place to start, finish and host some of the TransRockies biggest and most important races.
In 2001, there were only a handful of mountain bike stage races in the world. Costa Rica’s America’s La Ruta de Los Conquistadores and the TransAlp in Europe are two notable examples, but nothing like them existed in North America.
That all changed when the TransAlp organizers, Chester Fabricius and Heinrich Albrecht, visited Fernie. It just so happened that Fernie was the perfect access point for this type of rugged backcountry adventure. At that time Fernie was a ski destination, with a strong community and accommodations that could host riders in comfort, and a variety of restaurants, among other amenities.
A group of local business owners converged to form the Fernie TransRockies Society with the objective of ensuring the TransRockies would be a success and secure Fernie the cornerstone community.
In 2002 Fernie hosted the first ever start of the TransRockies Challenge, a 7-day stage race that would take riders to Canmore through the picturesque and challenging Canadian Rockies. In Europe the towns are closer together and participants could race from one town to another. Not so in the Canadian Rockies.
The distance riders would have to cover from town to town would be immense and the conditions were underrated-nobody was expecting snow. The TransRockies organizers had to set up warm camps for riders each night along the remote, rugged, and let’s not forget beautiful, route. On the second TransRockies Challenge the leading Austrian team quit following a snowy, wet, muddy and cold stage.
For 13 editions, the TransRockies Challenge took over Fernie’s historic main street and crowds gathered there to watch either the start or finish for the hundreds of racers that were brave enough to take on the challenge.
The TransRockies crew are a spirited and colourful group and the friendships continue to this day. Dan Savage, Fernie organizer, commented, “The original events were exciting with huge parties and hundreds of spectators, the entire town was engaged! This event was the seed for defining Fernie as a mountain bike destination.”
And as the saying goes, all good things must come to an end. Stage racing became popular and competing events popped up everywhere.
The only constant is change and change they did. Out of both preference and necessity, much of the TransRockies Challenge was ridden on gravel roads. But by 2014, mountain bikes were far more capable than their 2002 counterparts, and mountain bike trail networks were being built and expanded all across Western Canada.
As a result, riders’ attitudes were changing. They wanted more fun singletrack, and less of the all-out test of endurance offered by the TransRockies Challenge. So, in 2014, TransRockies decided to give racers what they wanted. They changed the race format and rebranded the event Singletrack 6.
Instead of a point to point race, Singletrack 6 would feature daily loops that started and ended in a host-community. The race would travel to three or four of those communities over 6 days of racing, and instead of camping, racers would stay in one of the lodging options those communities had to offer.
During the years Fernie was hosting the TransRockies Challenge, our trail crews were busy expanding the mountain bike trail network and building the mountain bike community. The events provided the revenue for the birth of the Fernie Trails Alliance. Our mountain town was quickly becoming a mountain bike mecca in its own right, and so TransRockies chose Fernie as one of the host communities for its first edition of the race.
Unfortunately, because Singletrack 6 is always on the move searching for new singletrack, they can’t come back to Fernie every year. But with new trails popping up all everywhere in the Kootenay’s, they’re this region a regular stop, including in 2022 for their 20th anniversary edition of Singletrack 6!
According to TransRockies Chief Cycling Officer, Aaron McConnell, by 2020, TransRockies had decided that visiting Fernie “regularly” just wasn’t enough, so they decided to create a race that would once again have them back in Fernie every single year! Or at least that’s part of the reason…
It’s no secret that gravel riding and racing has taken the cycling world by storm in recent years. Every season, new races are added to the calendar across North America, but one type of race has been in conspicuously short supply: stage races. So, in the summer of 2020, McConnell began looking at routes for a gravel stage race that could be put together for the summer of 2021.
As luck would have it, the perfect route was the one they had used many times before for the TransRockies Challenge. With a few modifications, they saw a way to breathe new life into their old 7-day route and modify it for 4-days of gravel racing. And this time, the finish line would be in Fernie, rather than the start. Unfortunately, last minute COVID restrictions forced the cancellation of the 2021 Gravel Royale, but they are already planning their return in 2022.
Ending Gravel Royale in Fernie will give racers—who will be visiting from all over the world—the opportunity to finish on a high note. They’ll have the opportunity to experience Canadian Rocky Mountain culture at its best, and we have no doubt that many of them will return to Fernie, as TransRockies always has.
It’s no coincidence that TransRockies has chosen Fernie to debut, and continue hosting, their biggest off-road cycling events. Few places have a community as dedicated to adventure as this one, and even fewer are ready to welcome events like theirs with such open arms. Fernie and TransRockies really are partners on two wheels, and it’s looking like 2022 is going to be one heck of an anniversary party, for TransRockies and for a partnership that’s still going strong after two decades.
TransRockies Inc. just announced that the 2021 Singletrack 6 is also being cancelled following the inaugural Gravel Royale being cancelled on the weekend. The British Columbia Government issued a new COVID-19 health mandate that states: “outdoor organized events will be limited to 100 people,” in the Interior Health Region going into effect today. Due to this development they have made the difficult decision to cancel both events.
The Singletrack 6 was scheduled to be in Fernie from September 6 to 8th for registration and two race stages before moving on to Kimberley and Rossland. The event would have filled Fernie’s hotels, shops and restaurants for three plus days.
Aaron McConnell, Transrockies President, commented, “On behalf of the entire TransRockies organization, please know that we did everything we could to try to make this event happen and we assure you that the best decision was made around this sudden change. The Public Health orders won’t allow events, small communities are once again being impacted by Covid, and we want to protect the safety of our staff and volunteers.”
Fernie has been hosting TransRockies bike events since 2002 and the event has been credited in helping Fernie become a bike destination. The funds raised for trails also helped fund the creation of the Fernie Trails Alliance. Dan Savage, Fernie events manager, commented, “It’s extremely disappointing to cancel the events so close to the start date. The amount of planning and commitment by both riders and supporters has become another casualty of the pandemic. We look forward to the events returning in 2022”
The Singletrack 6 Fernie stage sponsor was Gearhub Sports and the accommodation sponsors include; Park Place Lodge, Red Tree Lodge, Fernie Reservations, The Raging Elk Adventure Lodge, Snow Valley Accommodations, Fernie Lodging Company, Fernie Alpine Resort and the Fernie RV Resort. The City of Fernie, Fernie Trails Alliance, Coal Creek Heritage Society and Fernie Alpine Resort contributed to the local planning and permits. All of these organizations and members generous support helped bring the event to Fernie.
We look forward to the events happening next year and thank all the athletes and supporters for their understanding!
It is with mixed emotions and a very heavy heart that TransRockies is canceling the inaugural TransRockies Gravel Royale. The decision came following BC Health’s new COVID-19 restrictions announced on Friday that limits the size of ‘outdoor gatherings’ to 100 people maximum.
Over 200 people were slated to start the Gravel Royale this Monday at Panorama and pedal into Fernie on Thursday. Aaron McConnell, TransRockies President, commented, “With the number of variables occurring at such high cadence, we cannot in good faith deliver the experience we’re committed to offering our athletes.” The event included three wilderness tent camps that wouldn’t comply with the new health restrictions.
McConnell apologized for any stress this changed mandate has caused the participants and supporters. Even without the challenges of today’s pandemic-related announcement, producing a four-day gravel stage race for 200+ people is complex. Fernie was this years finish community, the participants were to ride into town by Hartley Pass and finish at Annex Park.
Local organizer Dan Savage commented,”Bike tourism has become an economic driver for Fernie and the TransRockies has been instrumental in developing this market. Gravel events have become very popular and the industry roads surrounding Fernie offer excellent riding. The TransRockies plan to build this event to over 1,000 riders and it’s disappointing to cancel the event at this stage of planning.”
The Gravel Royale Fernie stage sponsor was Gearhub Sports and the accommodation sponsors include; Park Place Lodge, Red Tree Lodge, Fernie Reservations, The Raging Elk Adventure Lodge, Snow Valley Accommodations, Fernie Lodging Company, Fernie alpine Resort and the Fernie RV Resort. Their generous support helped bring the event to Fernie and we look forward to future events.
At this time the Singletrack 6 has not been cancelled and is being considered to proceed with full compliance with the new health order. A final decision will be made this coming week. Stay tuned.
We’re pleased to announce the 2021 Fernie Enduro QOM and KOM following two months of racing! Joy Attalla and Derek Bird earned their 2021 Fernie Enduro crowns in the womens and mens categories following three races in the virtual Stava timed event.
This years theme was “Ride Fast…Win Prizes” and the riders bettered course records and Gearhub Sports provide amazing prizing.
Mark Hall, Gearhub Manager, commented, “We’re very proud and happy to support our bike racing community and these athletes continue to impress, congratulations!”
The race began early June with Race 1 on Castle Mountains “Hyper Extension to Roots”. Race 2 moved to “Today’s Special” and Race 3 moved to Cedar Valley and was held on “Project 9”. With virtual events plans can change and with Island Lake closing Project 9 due to an aggressive bear, the event was delayed for two weeks. Post the closure the racers had another week however with less than ideal super dry conditions the outcome didn’t change.
Joy Attalla commanded the race from start to finish and won two races. Jena Greaser posted some great times and finished a solid second.
Derek Bird consistently posted great times in all the races and took the KOW without 2nd and 3rd place finishes. Todd Patterson also posted great times to take second overall!
Notable performances included Jacob Baggott breaking six minutes on Hyper with a time of 5:57 followed by Straghn Loken crushing it with a time of 5:41. Dylan Bailey set a new KOM on “Todays Special” with a time of 5:24 and then took himself out of the competition with a crash. In the women’s category 16 year old Joy Attalla set a QOM for Project 9 with a time of 6:30. And Jena Greaser raced all three courses in one day and posted competitive times.
A big thank you to Gearhub Sports for the race stoke, Mark Hall once again was very generous with prizing. We also than Canwel and Island Lake for permission to race on their land. And a special big thank you to the racers who raced fast!
The Fernie Enduro virtual event stopped abruptly due to a angry grizzly on Project 9 – never mess with a feeding bear! Island Lake’s grizzly closure ended today, Monday July 26th, and we’re good to resume racing!
To reignite the “Ride Fast…Win Prizes” spirit were reopening the Enduro for a final week of racing.
Island Lake Lodge requests that all trail users be sure to:
– Use EXTREME caution
– Make lots of noise
– Leave dogs at home for the time being
From July 26th to August 1st the QOM and KOM for Project 9 is up for grabs, and the overall Fernie Enduro QOM and KOM. You can race Project 9 and better your times on Hyper Extension and Today’s Special for the overall, or haven’t raced – enter the race today and ride all three.
Race 3 starts June 29 on Project 9!
The signs are posted and the course is the same as last years. Race from the top to the road and be aware of riders on Lazy Lizard.
How to qualify for great Prizes and the KOM / QOM:
Share your race result along with a pre or post race selfie to @FernieBikeEvents and tag #GearhubSports and #FernieEnduro. The more you post the greater your chances of winning bonus prizes.
The prizes and QOM and KOM recognition will be awarded at Gearhub Sports, the generous prizes are from RaceFace, Evoc, Michelin and others!
If you missed a race or think you can post a faster time…no worries? You can participate in all 3 races and better your time until July 12th and qualify for the final KOM or QOM. Race all three courses in one day! This race is about doing your best and having fun!
Any finisher disputes will be settled by the administrators.
All racers are to respect other trail users (these are multi-use public trails) please yield or stop if necessary. With a virtual event you can ride it again!
The 2021 Fernie Enduro virtual event aims to support Fernie’s trails and make a difference with local businesses. Please respect BC Public Health policies and shop local!