Racers boarded the shuttles this morning knowing that they would be hitting elevations of around 5,200 feet on today's stages and that the freezing line was sitting only 400 feet above that – you had to have a strong layering game to survive.
"They saved the best until last, it was amazing! It was the best day I think." Chris Johnston, who has worn the leader jersey all week, was still washing the loam off his bike. "The climb was so worth it. I think the weather made it kind of tough, but just going through those old growth forests it was super rad! Scar Mountain was surreal!" Racers experienced nearly every type of weather as they rode along the most exposed ridge of the race on Scar Mountain. The transfer took them to the start of Stage 13; a short, roughly 2 minutes long stage that was described as 'just a bit of a warm-up' before the gem of the day on Stage 14. "Stage 1 was pretty tough. Even though it was only a few minutes long – I thought we were in for a smooth warm up – but it was anything but. It was a really tough two minutes." On his tight race over the last few days with Kabush, Chris said, "I was stoked to have a good day. I rode well and gave it everything I had, so however it goes now I'm stoked either way."
Gordon Peak trail was a serious project to uncover. It wasn't even legal to access last year. The team dug way back in the archives for some maps of the area from the 1980's so that they could identify access points and then worked with the rangers last August for a walk through. After being granted permission for use, the team cut out over 400 trees. The trail is scrappy and primitive, but pure delight as the mossy singletrack drops you down towards Pyramid Creek.
Stage 15 continued descending to the creek where racers forded the freezing cold waters and climb back up one of the trails they rode down yesterday, to meet the shuttles.
Stage 16 has it all – fall line off the top, meadows, high speed bench-cuts, and sightlines that go on forever. The stage is 2.6 miles of one solid shot down and 1,984 feet of descending.
The total numbers for today's stages were 12.6 miles of riding, 5,371 feet of descending, and 969 feet of climbing.
After dinner the overall podiums were called – no one, not even Geoff or Chris, knew who would take the Pro Men's win, but with a 28 second lead pulled in on the final day, Geoff Kabush walked away with the top step for one more year.
Thinking about coming out for the 2018 Trans-Cascadia? Look for registration opening in February – and for a few surprises throughout the year.