Day 1 started off at 8 AM sharp with a cool temperature and a hot field of racers. The RCMP police escort lead out came to a quick halt as the morning train crossed the main road ahead of the field en route to the ski hill road climb.
The wait was a nice moment to meet a few racers and laugh off some of the nervousness and tension that builds in the start gate. After a few minutes, the neutralized start resumed.
The ski hill road was a solid grade and the field thoroughly sorted itself out before entering the singletrack. Double track quickly turned into flowy switchbacks as it climbed the CBT Mainline, onto Gold Rush, and past beautiful Cedar Lake. The route then worked up and over to Canyon Creek, where the stunning views could give you a bit of vertigo. When you weren't taking in the impressive view along the massive canyon you were flying down a buff trail with jumps and berms for a solid 3 kilometers.
54km on the first day is a bit of a kick in the pants but it sure does help iron out a few kinks. I learned that keeping my head up and watching for trail markers will prevent me from doing extra miles and help out with my daily result. Others learned that they need "Bike Therapy", the mechanic team on site, to work on their bikes to keep riding for 5 more days. And for some a big day is the perfect way to get back on the bike after a 6 year hiatus, a nice man from Denmark told me.
Open men results are Justin Lindine with 2 minute lead over Chris Baddick with the rest of the field all sequentially spaced for any jostling or jockeying in the next 5 days. Barcelona's Tomi Misser shook up the front of the pack, taking second overall and the win in the 40+ Men's Category. Evan Guthrie seized the first timed descent win.
In the Open women, last year's champion in the mixed team category, Jena Greaser, has a comfortable 6 minute gap on Elyse Nieuwold and TransRockies veteran Mical Dyck. Dyck, however, was able to take the win on the ladies timed descent.