With one last chance to ride the TransRockies mountain bike stage race, Whistler’s Cathy Zeglinski made her first appearance in the event count.
Zeglinski and Australian partner Jodie Willett rode to first place in the open women’s team category, wrapping up the victory on Friday (Aug. 2). It was the swan song for the renowned seven-day race, featuring massive, gruelling climbs on both sides of the B.C.-Alberta border.
“It was on my bucket list and now it’s crossed off,” Zeglinski said of the TransRockies, which will be replaced by a new event called Singletrack 6 in 2014.
“It’s been an icon of racing and in all my years of racing, people have asked me, ‘Why haven’t you done the TransRockies?’ because it’s in my home country. It’s well-known in Europe and was on par with the (Europe’s) TransAlps and (South Africa’s) Cape Epic at one time, but it’s kind of fallen out of favour as the (B.C. Bike Race) has taken over that spot for Canada.”
Zeglinski and Willett had just one other women’s team to race against, but their combined time of 19 hours, 43 minutes, five seconds, would have put them fourth in the open men’s race. Still, despite beating out their female counterparts by at least 10 minutes per stage, Zeglinski said she and Willett started to ride a little more conservatively as the race wound down to ensure the women’s win.
“It was a funny race … we had such a big (lead) and after a while I didn’t really want to race because you can always risk too much,” she said.
Whistler’s Petra Tlamkova also had a very successful week riding in the solo women’s class, winning two of seven stages en route to a third-place finish overall. The two women she battled with all week — reigning national cyclo-cross champ Mical Dyck and Canadian cross-country eliminator title-holder Jean Ann Berkenpas — were no slouches, either, making the Czech national’s stage wins particularly impressive.
“I didn’t expect I could win a stage at all, because … I’ve just been biking for fun. It’s different than when I was racing back home, training (more seriously),” said Tlamkova. “When you just do it because you love it, I think it’s much better.”
Tlamkova captured her stage wins on Day 2 in Fernie and on Day 6 in Kananaskis Country, and her total time of 18:09:31 left her 47 minutes back of Dyck’s winning time. Like Zeglinski, she won an entry fee into next year’s Singletrack 6 for her podium finish.
“Even if I hadn’t won the free entry, I’d love to do that (race) because the setting was beautiful, I loved the trails and it was awesome,” she said.
Meanwhile, Michael Robinson is quickly becoming a stage-race specialist. The Whistler rider hung on for another impressive finish at the TransRockies, placing sixth overall in the solo men’s race at 15:37:40. Robinson had moved comfortably into sixth spot after three stages, but nearly gave up the position on the final day thanks to a slight detour.
“Day 7, I got lost on course, so I needed every single second of my advantage,” said Robinson, who ended up holding off the seventh-place finisher by just 27 seconds. “I had my orienteering incident, but I think it was quite a difficult day for a lot of people.
“I haven’t checked my Garmin (bike tracker), but I’m guessing it will tell me I was off-course for about four minutes,” he added. “I was really happy to hang on to sixth, because I didn’t want to lose it because I rode off-course.”
Robinson’s result was the latest in a stretch of top-10 finishes in multi-day stage races over the past two summers. The local rider said he’s getting more comfortable with the stage format each time out.
“I think doing two seven-day races in five weeks was a good learning experience,” said Robinson, who was fifth in last month’s B.C. Bike Race. “Part of it is conditioning, and you can’t throw yourself in to do too many in one shot because you can destroy yourself. Maybe next year I’ll do three big ones, but we’ll see.”