Words by Ryan Sherlock, stage winner.
Stage 2 - a win, wohoo
Another day, another stage - man I love stage racing. Today’s stage was the
queen stage of the race and now as I sit on my bed, my legs and lower back
feel it. It was a 9am start (we had a 10am start the first day) and seven
kilometres of tarmac until we hit the unending steep climbs and descents.
We took a pretty sedate pace those first few k and I didn’t see anyone
complaining. From there on, for the next hour and a half it was constantly
up and down on fireroads, dual track but mostly single track. Groups split
and rejoined but as we hit the base of the days main obstacle, a fifteen
kilometre long climb there was about twelve of us together.
If you look at the total length of the climb and the altitude gain (we
climb to 1,300m) there was nothing too crazy (10% average) - it was just
all those 500m sections of 20%+ gradient that killed me. Obviously, the
race split to bits here and Ben and Torsten (1st and 3rd from yesterday)
said good bye to me (for a while) and went off ahead.
As I crested the climb in third, I remembered a section in the road book
about the course -
“ Then a descent that gives all you can wish for: technical singletrack,
wide dirt road, and a very (very!) steep downhill with loose rocks, which
later turns into gravel road cut by half a meter deep ruts.”
When someone puts an additional ‘very’ in brackets I know something is up
(or in this case down) - I believe a DH bike with massive/tough tires would
be the usual tool for this type of descent - not a skinny bike with light
tires but boy was it fun - skipping, sliding and praying for traction down
a 25% single track scree descent - I was happy to make it down in one piece
without a scratch on me or my bike.
More roley terrain and I eventually caught Ben and Torsten. As we hit the
final climb, on the steep section (10%, not the crazy 20% stuff from
earlier) I upped the pace and dropped Torsten with only Ben for company.
After this - more fun singletrack all the way back down. Ben had a
mechanical on the way down and I rolled in for the win - wohoo!
Another beautiful days riding on incredible trails - when I returned for
the prize giving four hours after I finished some riders were still
trickling in - wow, hats off. It was a super tough day out.
Beskidy MTB Trophy