Fernie 3 – Three Days of Incredible BC Sweetness

Fernie, BC

Driving into Fernie, BC is like driving into a fairy tale.  Deep dark rooted forests, tall majestic rocky peaks covered in snow.  Alpine meadows with blazing wildflowers and tall grasses.  Everything is so green and aromatic.  The forests are covered in hundred’s of years of loamy pine needles, with exposed roots for added fun.  The trees needles provide endless replenishing fill for the single-track, like a fresh coat of grip every season to shred.  The mountain bike riding here is crazy good!  When the opportunity to race the Fernie 3 this year came up, we made a beeline for the border.  Three days of racing some of the best trails in the world, all with awesome support, great course marshaling and a reason to hang out with cool people?  We were so there!IMG_3307

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Fernie is full of awesome scenery and a few critters to fear!

 

 

The Fernie 3 is a 3 day all-mountain stage race with a 1 day race option. New for 2016 race organizers offered a timed descent each day–with stage and overall winners.  All stages began and ended in Fernie, no driving required. It was a bonus to hang out in this awesome mountain town of about 5000 folks and as the race was over Canada Day, we got to party with the city during the celebrations.  It seemed as though the whole town came out to dance, listen to live music, watch kids on the dirt jumps and pump track and enjoy poutine, the beer garden and fireworks.

Canadians are known for being nice, but the people in Fernie are over the top friendly.  Everyone looks you in the eye, greets you and asks how you are doing, not just to be polite, but because they really care about the answer.  Passing on the single track was a lesson in manners all weekend. “Would you like around me? Don’t mind if I do! Thanks!”

The sound the forest here makes under your wheels here is something I’ve only experienced here in BC.  It’s an indistinguishable sound.  More of a feeling than a sound really.  And by sound I mean no sound, the loam deadens all the sounds. It’s like being in a giant sound deadened room, like they use for recording. Riding through their loamy forests is like having a nice big hug.  All you feel is the thud of the tires rolling over the roots and your heartbeat coming up through your throat!  In Fernie, the steeps here are steep! Up and down!  Everything here is beautiful, the mountains, town, buildings, forests and people.  They even have a clear cold glacier fed river running right through town. IMG_3437

The Fernie 3 was amazing!  The distances each day were moderate with an average of 32 km per day. The climbs were challenging but paid off huge, providing some epic downhills. The timed descents ranged from crazy, steep loose chutes to gnarly rooted, twisty rollercoasters!  Fernie 3 had it all.  Here’s a daily account of what went down.


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Climbing somewhere near the Fernie Alpine Resort

Day 1:  Here’s what I remember about the first day, and I mean this in the most positive way -soul crushing climbs and some steep hike a bike on trails named:  Dem Bones, Lactic Ridge, Moccasin, Mushroom Head and Broke Back.  The day was a little longer and contained more climbing  than I anticipated, and in the 80+ deg (F) heat- that’s 26 deg C- plus humidity all of the world except the USA, it was hard.  The riding was good, but better yet the day finished off with all you could drink Fernie Brewing Beer (Thanks to Todd Fyfe and Fernie Real Estate ) as well as amazing Crepes (think French version of a delicious burrito!)IMG_3339

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Enjoying Crepes, beer and good company after stage 1

After stage one we got to sit with Dan Savage (race director and personal friend), Mark Hall (owner of Gearhub Sports, a great shop in town and supporter of the race) and a handful of awesome volunteers.  We talked about the amazing towns and trail development in the East Kootenay. We talked towns and their vibes, riding in each place and how amazing this part of the country is.  We talked riding, skiing, boating, drinking and everything in between.


Day 2 :  Today seemed to be a flashback to the night’s festivities for Canada Day, as the race started and ended at the same venue as the previous nights celebrations.  The course had slightly easier climbing (only half soul-crushing), with less hike a bike for me.  The blister on the back of my right foot was happy to experience less hike-a-bike, preferring to stay a nice gushy closed bubble of healing.  Don’t get me wrong there was plenty of climbing on hyperventilation and a super rewarding mouth-opened screaming fast descent on hyperextension.  There was even a corkscrew feature near the end that I wanted to go back up and do again!

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Massive kids races
Day 2 featured a U16 and U13 kids race, and this race was no joke. These kids are serious, and super fit! Some of the Fernie 3 participants were racing this race just a couple of years ago!


Day 3:  Today’s stage began and ended with climbing at the Fernie Alpine Resort.  As if the steep fire road climb out of the resort wasn’t enough, once we crossed over to the trails around the Provincial Park, the real climbing began.  Hunkering down for the climb I tried to conjure up my best billy-goat impressions ascending the now famous (in my mind) – Project 9 climb.  Getting passed by a local here, she saw the despair my blister and I were facing with some steep hike-a-bike sections and tried to encourage me: “Don’t worry, only 3 more of these walls, but they get a little steeper up top!”  Luckily all that trauma left me as I finally got on the P9 descent.  WOW! Totally worth it.  The rest of the day for me was a bit of a hypoxic blur! The final climb out on Old Goat back toward the resort seemed to go on forever, but finally I heard the announcer and knew it was over.  Happy, but sad I crossed the finish line exhausted (third for the day and third overall!)  The party following the race was on the resort at the Griz Inn and featured a great catered lunch, a great view, beer and an awesome awards ceremony.IMG_3384

The town hosted many events over the weekend for non racers too, including a kid’s bike rally.  My favourites were the log drags and the slow races.  There was even a bike chucking competition.  More proof that Ferine’s culture is deeply rooted in two-wheeled adventure.

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Fernie 3 Day 1
Who stops mid-race to take a selfie? With a view like this – my question is WHO WOULDN’T?

Exploring new trails through stage racing in a place you have never visited may not be a way to win, but we’ve won with an amazing experience.  Thanks to Fernie, and The Fernie 3- for sharing your town, community, hospitality and amazing trails.  We will be back!

The Fernie 3 is organized by the Fernie Transrockies Society and raises monies for local trail associations and clubs.

A big thanks to their sponsors who help make this event happen, including: Gearhub Sports, Fernie Real Estate, Rocky Mountain, Ryders Eyewear, Hammer Nutrition, Jakroo Canada, Fernie Brewing Company, Tinhorn Creek Winery, The Cedars, Teck, The Bridge Bistro, Montane Fernie, Park Place Lodge, The Griz Inn, Fernie Central Reservations, Happy Cow, Fernie Alpine Resort, and Island Lake Lodge.


Stay tuned for daily race updates from the Singletrack 6 stage race, starting July 23,2016.  The Fernie Transrockies Society is hosting the first two days in Fernie. Days 2 and 3 follow in the close towns of Cranbrook and Kimberly.  The race will finish up with the last two days in Golden, BC.[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

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