Well I am here in Fernie, B.C. still questioning what I am doing. Coming from that mountain biking Mecca of Toronto, am I prepared for a three-day mountain biking stage race that has 4,900 metres of elevation gain over 92 km that includes 79% trail riding, with 58% single track to boot? After months of multiple hill repeats on Brimley, the Bayview Extension, Loblaws Hill, “Hospital” Hill behind Sunnybrook, complemented by umpteen laps of the Don, Albion Hills, and Hardwood Hills, I guess I will find out! I packed up my bike (actually fully-disassembled is more accurate) and arrived in Fernie with +300 others from around the world to embark on the 11th annual TransRockies mountain bike stage race. TransRockies is an event that I have been looking at for years, signed on to last year, but the sale of my business got in the way, so the organizers were kind enough to credit my entrance fees towards this year. I selected the recently-added TR3 option which includes the first three stages as a solo rider. There is also four-day option, the TR4, but that is over the last four stages which I did not want to wait around for, plus of course the classic TR7 event which has a two-person team riding for seven days. The four-hour shuttle from Calgary airport to Fernie was packed with riders from at least six other countries, with me the only Canadian! People had travelled from New Zealand, Switzerland, Norway, the Netherlands, the U.K., and the U.S. It was great fun hearing about different events and races that others had done in different parts of the world. We all shared the same lament though of trying to balance training with work and families for many – with training typically taking a backseat to other priorities! Though TransRockies is a fully-supported race with check-points every 10 to 15 km and course marshals along each stage, each rider has to be somewhat self-sufficient, carrying water, a tube and pump and gels of course, but along with a medical kit, tools, spare parts (an extra derailleur hanger is key) and bear spray (yup – the sightings are up this year for black bears AND grizzlies) plus allowing room a light rain jacket. Spreading the load over two people of course is much easier rather than dealing with the logistical jigsaw of trying to fit everything into a Camelbak as a solo rider. Anyone who has completed an adventure race will have had the same experience. I strapped on my pack early this morning to find a couple of the trails will that be part of Stage 2 just to get a feel for the terrain. Pretty serious stuff, but fun. It will be an interesting three days!