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All set for the Rockies…

| Blog, Features, What Mountain Bike | 03/08/2011 09:21am

After a year of talking about it, preparing for it and getting excited about it, the TransRockies X is finally here. Mark Almond and Gordon Dickson aka Team What Mountain Bike/Red Cloud are getting ready to go, as Mark explains

Mark sports the official Team What Mountain Bike/Red Cloud kit

It’s funny how something as major as the TransRockies, now in its 10th year, can sneak up on you but surprisingly it has done just that. It seems like only yesterday that the What Mountain Bike crew, Jenny Copnall, Steve Peat and I met up in Sheffield for the selection day for the Ticket to TransRockies winner. That was back in March, and since then time has whizzed by in a blur of training, dieting, chatting with Gordon and dieting some more!

As the legs have got stronger and the waistline has got smaller, both Gordon and I have bonded well as a team and all the other plans have been put into operation – design and order the team kit, arrange RVs, buy the equipment needed and much more. It’s been a true hive of activity both here in Bedfordshire and, I’m sure, in Gordon’s home up in Lanark.

We’ve got together to ride a few times in the last couple of months and I think we have a really good understanding of each other’s characters as well as our respective strengths and weaknesses. Our rides around Afan, Glentress, Innerleithen and Gordon’s local Scottish trails have served us well. We ‘get’ each other and our individual reasons for taking on the TransRockies challenge. This has led to a strong team spirit developing and demonstrates that people from opposite ends of the country can bond quickly when given one common goal and love of bikes. As the next week or so develops this theory will be put well and truly to the test as we hit the Rockies for seven days of hard riding and great scenery. If anything will test the team spirit, the TransRockies will!

Whatever happens we’ll certainly look the part. Back at the beginning of July we took delivery of our official Team What Mountain Bike/Red Cloud kit and I have to admit to really liking it! I ordered the design through the Santini custom service that Santini’s UK distributor offers. The whole process was dead easy and the finished garments are out of this world. They look and feel fantastic so even if our legs don’t react like a pro, we’ll certainly look like pros.

To finish the pro look we needed some top spec bikes to ride, bikes that would rise to the challenge with us and see us through to the end. Being a bit of a Yeti freak, there was only one choice for me – the Yeti ASR5 alloy. Gordon test rode a few bikes and finally went for a rather sexy looking Merida 96. Full details will be in the next issue of What Mountain Bike (on sale 24 August) so please check them out. For the next couple of weeks our Yeti/Merida combo will be our best friends and family all in one. We love them already and hope you do too. They’re both great bikes and worth looking at closely if you want a good do-it-all/marathon/cross-country (XC) race bike.

We’ve also been out shopping for the best protection for our beloved bikes for the trip to Canada and after much deliberation both made the same choice with two new Polaris Bike Pod Pros heading our way in time for the fun that is dismantling and packing the bikes ready for action. As a non-techy person I must confess that taking the bike apart filled me with dread but it went by without drama and it’s now all packed and ready to go. I’ll let you know how the Bike Pod Pros stand up to the rigours of airline baggage handlers but first impressions are really good – solid construction, secure locking mechanism and with the bonus of being a colour that makes it completely unmissable on the baggage carousel even after the most tiring transatlantic flight!

Lots of other questions remained unanswered right up to the last minute for me. Which shoes will work best with hike-a-bike sections? Do I go tubeless or stick with tubes? Will wider or thinner tyres be best? Bottle or hydration pack? Most of these I’ve now sorted but others remain. Am I ready? Will the legs last the distance? All the doubts come out right before the race.

Jenny Copnall has been a great ally when the doubts kick in. Her experience in big races and hard training speaks volumes and she’s given me some great tips for mentally coping with the pressures to come. I will tell you after the event all about them and let you know, most importantly, if they worked! Gordon has been the perfect team mate already as he has overcome difficulty of his own and has shown courage and mental toughness to even get back on his bike let alone be lining up alongside me on the start line at the TransRockies. He’s an inspirational character and really epitomises what we’re trying to do with this challenge – prove the impossible is possible! For this reason I am confident that whatever comes our way, we’ll get each other through it and get to the end.

Please remember we’re doing this for Stay Strong but also for the Scottish Air Ambulance. Both charities are worthy of your support so please do check them out and support them if you possibly can. Both will make you too feel that the impossible is possible.

So all is left for me to say is please wish us luck! Stay tuned to this blog as we’ll be updating it every day during the race and immediately afterwards. What Mountain Bike will also be covering the recent training weekend in Afan and the race itself in full pictorial goodness over the next couple of issues so make sure you check them out. Thanks to Matt and the team for being so great during our preparations.

So, from Gordon and I, thanks for all your well wishes on Twitter and Facebook… Next stop TransRockies X! It’s going to be a hell of a ride.


This entry was posted on Wednesday, August 3rd, 2011 at 9:21 am and is filed under Blog, Features, What Mountain Bike. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

7 Responses to “All set for the Rockies…”

  1. alistair crichton says:

    Good luck guys, the Wednesday night train won’t be the same without you at the front……and the rest of us a bit behind!!

  2. Jed Pascoe says:

    Good luck, Mark & Gordon! remember that the mind gives up before the body!

  3. MARIA ALMOND says:

    Best of luck to you both will be catching up with you each day. God speed Enjoy and keep saafe
    from a very proud mum….xx

  4. Alistair Mcardle says:

    Good luck Gordon and everyone concerned!!!!

  5. Jay says:

    Hope you guys have an easy flight over here and hope to see you on the trails! As a finisher in last year’s TR and ready again for this year I can offer these answers:
    - Yes to hydration pack. Forecast is for sunny and hot so the more water you put in your system the better
    - Tubeless is best but carry a tube or two for back up. Once in Kananaskis the terrain gets very rocky and pinch flats are common and low pressure is needed for grip to climb (we’re in Calgary and all our training has been on the K-country trails – sharp rocks abound).

    I’ve ridden most of the stages for this year in training and believe me when I tell you, you’re about to ride the toughest and most spectacular mountain bike trails in the world. It will be the hardest physical challenge you will ever willingly put yourself through. It’s one amazing week and you’ll love it. If we see you on the trails I’ll be sure to say hi!

  6. Best of luck Mark & Co; just remember how much we all envy you this even though it’s going to test you to the limit! Hope the Whackjob gear does its thing for you and makes the journey that bit more comfortable and grin-inducing!

    Enjoy Canada – still my favourite place on earth!

  7. Goodluck guys, been following for the last few months and look forward to your updates! I am sure it will be a great trip, very jealous :) .

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