Well, in an ironic twist most racers in the Furious 3 stage race finished the race feeling plenty furious today!!! I have mixed feelings about today’s stage. On the one hand, my legs felt good, and the riding was awesome! The climbs weren’t as steep as day one but they were more technical and rooty and the descents were SO much fun, long and flowy with plenty of rolls, roots, drops, scattered bridges and logs, and loads of bermed corners!
On the otherhand, myself like pretty much everyone else went off course at some point due to poor course marking and race marshalling, sorry a few pieces of red flagging doesn’t cut it! Real signage with arrows on posts or tacked to the trees would be a good start! There were some points where it sounds like the entire field went off course or rode in the wrong direction without even knowing it! A few guys I was in with less than 10km to go (it was supposedly 45km day and my Garmin recorded me at over 49km by the finish!) accidently rerode a gravel climb from the beginning of the day before realizing we were back on part of the course we’d done about an hour earlier. After backtracking and getting going in the right direction towards the finish line we met up a growing group of racers that was stopped by two passing trains for a good 15 minutes. Volunteers were recording race numbers and times to be fair but it won’t mean anything now unfortunately as I heard the entire stage may be neutralized.
After the long pit stop at the train, was the short section of trail after which it was a hard 5-6km sprint to the finish, where I practiced my time trialing (gotta do some prep for the Calgary 70.3 at the end of the month!) and some drafting in small packs to gain a bit more time – although my lung busting effort won’t mean anything now I don’t think, ha! And that’s too bad because other than the solo women’s leader, Kate, who was definitely up ahead and out of sight again, the next three women, Margie Smith, Marg Fedyna, and myself (both whom I only had 2min 30 and 1min + lead over respectively from day 1) were having a good little battle amongst ourselves, and with Margie catching me on every descent after I’d do the catching on the climbs, it could have made for an interesting race after two days!
As for J-F, he did some major backtracking with the group he was with, and he was plenty pissed when he hadn’t even seen the first aid station after 2h30 of racing! After some anxiety over how my dad would fair and whether he’d make to the finish with all the directional mishaps out there, my mom called to say that he’d made it to the finish line coming from the wrong direction after over 7 hours of racing – so yes, he got lost too! And of course, there are plenty of stories like this from every racer today. It is really unfortunate because as much as we’re here to experience the amazing trails Fernie has to offer we’re also all here to race and see how we all stack up against each other. When you pay big bucks for the entry fee for a race like this, I would say the minimum requirement is having a course that is well marked which makes for a fun AND fair race!! And hopefully that’s what the last day will be tomorrow!