Words and photos by Bruno Long
On September 15, the Live It! Love It! Foundation hosted a brand new enduro downhill event in Revelstoke, BC. With the growing popularity of enduro racing and alpine all-mountain riding, Sale Mountain and the Martha Creek trail seemed like a perfect place to bring the two together.
Boasting a vertical descent of 5,183 feet, it instantly became the longest downhill race (vertically speaking) in Canada, while taking riders through 9 kilometers of alpine single track, steeps, roots and boulder fields.
As a fundraiser for Live It! Love It!’s adaptive adventure programs for the disabled, the first year event brought out not only locals, but also many out-of-towners. Most had ridden the trail before and wanted to have a timed run of their favorite downhill trail. Some had never seen the trail before, were unsure what to expect upon hearing stories of numb hands, cramped muscles and the infamous ‘Claw’. No one had ever officially been timed and the guessing game that came along with it was half the fun. 25 minutes? Under 20? No one really knew. What they DID know, was that this race might be the start of something special.
A grassroots event for an amazing cause that includes a trail, which some ex-Psychosis racers called ‘the most physical race they’ve ever done’. What could be better than that, you ask? How about pedaling your way to the top? That’s what 14 motivated racers (speaking of psychosis…) set out to do on race day.
Starting a few hours before the rest of the racers, they climbed 5,000 feet up to the top of Sale Mountain along logging road. After shedding the brain buckets and donning the full-face lids (a mandatory race rule), they were also timed on their descent, though many of them probably wished they could have also traded their XC rigs for more travel and meatier tires. The trail begins in the alpine and the view from the top has got to be one of the more spectacular starting gates in the world. Overlooking the glaciated peaks of the Columbia Mountains, along with views into Mt. Revelstoke National Park, it’s easy to forget about the forearm-pumping trail you are about to race down.
Dropping directly into alpine single track, you pick your way through some tight, rocky sections, Working hard through the upper section, you might wonder why you hadn’t brought your all-mountain bike. That quickly changes when you finally start working WITH gravity, not against it in the bottom sections. Steep, rough and rooty, it’s a true test of stamina. I usually stop multiple times a ride to shake out my hands and give my poor brakes a rest. There would be no stops, no resting, for the winner today.
Fittingly enough, the winner of the first Martha Creek Meltdown, Marty Shaffer, a local firefighter and ski guide, had the #1 race plate at the start of the day and was the first man down the course. He set a blazing hot, first official course record time of 24:21, immediately setting the bar so high that no other racer was even within 10 seconds of his time. Overall, the event went off without a hitch. The Meltdown proved a very well-planned race, with a focus on fun. With a safety and rescue system devised by a local mountain guide, along with multiple volunteers filling roles such as first aid, timers and shuttle drivers, the race ran smoothly because the organizers were ready for anything.
A huge thanks goes out to Izzy Lynch, event organizer and executive director of Live It! Love It! for making it all happen, along with Danyelle Magnan for putting together a thought-out safety plan. And none of it could have been possible without all the volunteers who did all the little things that don’t always get mentioned but are so integral to a successful event.
After the race, there was an awards ceremony at the local campground at the bottom of the trail, right along the shore of Lake Revelstoke. Everyone celebrated together and many a cheer was heard around the campground, toasting to the beginning and future success of the Martha Creek Meltdown.
Special thanks go out to event sponsors Clif Bar, Flowt bikes in Revelstoke, Giro and the north face. And another thanks for prizes from Skookum cycle, Helios Rehabilitation and Mountain Goodness Foods.
Click here to check out the full race results.