Pat Gilmar, the local demon who dreamed up this stage, connected the most beloved Fernie trails for a killer third day. You should check out the video here.. Last year, we had but a taste of the deliciously painful but sweet singletrack in TR2011, and we asked the director for more.. well, we got it, a lot of it! 2200m of climbing, 2200m of descent. Again, the fire engine from Fernie led us out on the trails from main street, the peleton coming to a grinding halt as we had to hoof it up the first section of doubletrack. It would be rideable on a good day, with fresh legs, but we slogged up on foot, cheek by jowl for a few k’s. The climb, once on the bike, was pretty epic all on it’s own. Up the sides of Mount Proctor via Mad Cow, to descend the swooping bermilicious Mad Cow. Across Fairy creek by bridge, and along the Alpine ridge to Mushroom head and down Dem bones. There were bridges rolling up on us so quickly that I was 1/2 ways over before I even thought about it. Bridges from cedar heartwood, nursing us over log piles and drop offs at high speed, sweet stuff. We crossed into West Fernie and Mount Fernie Provincial park. This was no walk in the park. The climbs were vicious, Marty, Dan and I hung together up Verboten and Megahurts, Dennis was within bell-ringing distance of earshot. We use a simple communication system, one bike-bell ding for “hang on for me, I am dying, I feel like puking but I need to stop and stretch before my legs and lungs explode, and I can;t figure out what to do first” and two dings for ” chill babe, I am good, I have you in sight, keep going and I will catch you on the downhill”.. Dings are good when you are a flatlander going anaerobic at altitude. The climbs in MFPP were the nicest singletrack I have ever ridden, twisty, steep, logs and roots, but 100% climbable. Almost. We led the 29ers through their paces, slow down, trackstand, front end up and over, body lean, slight lurchforward, gain some traction on the rear-end, roll the trailing wheel over with a bit of a bunny hop and re-balance before the next switchback/ log/ rock/ root. Woohoo. Fun stuff. Onto Hedonism for another climb, up to Lactic ridge, down Brokeback ridge with its killer views of the mountain ranges in 370degrees, alpine flowers, more rocks and dusty trail. onto the Fernie Alpine lodge road fora bit, Dennis rocked the rail trail, with me hanging on for dear life and getting nauseous with both effort and the accumulation of nearly 5 hours of sugars in my belly. The last section was a hike-a-bike in the hot meadow doubletrack, broken only by crazy Larry pouring water down my jersey, telling me that “girls need cool boobies”, and ignoring Dennis’s hot head and sweltering face. I later learned from Cricket that he did the same to her, ignoring Brian too. Lucky for the ladies!. We caught up with Dan and Marty on the finish line as they had stormed the last climb with 4 minutes on us. The finish led straight downhill, where we hung our butts and sore legs in the icy river water, yakking it up with a bunch of other racers as some others passed somberly, still racing, still with a massive climb ahead. We laughed a lot over some cold brews, about how close the flatlanders ride to each other..whether in Montauk, Vermont or Alberta. A run to the supermarket to stock up with beer finished the day, the light over the mountains was spectacular as the mechanics worked into the dusk. Beautiful. The knee feels ok, the stitches hung in despite taking a digger in the early stage of the race, the padding worked well. ice, vitamin A (Advil) and some local IPA to the rescue. Ready for day 4 after 12 hours in the saddle so far..Little Elbow, here we come!