Promoting races is something that folks do because they want to. Either they see the benefit for the larger mountain bike community, or to the trails and towns in a particular location. Once all of the non-volunteer staff are paid, and insurance is covered, there is little profit to be made. Sometimes there is none. It’s a labor of love, by definition.
Trans BC (British Columbia, Canada) and Trans New Zealand organizer, Megan Rose, participated in scads of multi-day cross-country races around the globe before deciding to throw her own shindig, and her research seems to have paid off. She wanted to root her Canadian race in a part of BC that didn’t already have an established event, and in 2014 she kicked off the BC Enduro Series. Single day events were not her primary aim, but she threw herself in helmet first and learned everything there was to know about running a well-attended race.
In 2015 she kicked off the first Trans New Zealand 5-day enduro race, which she knew was more in line with her passion for racing and event creation. Throughout that year Megan continued to manage the BC Enduro series, as well as the Trans New Zealand race, all while sowing the seeds for the larger Trans BC race the following year. The longtime Canadian transplant was living in BC at the time, and put a massive amount of effort into developing the relationships that have made the Trans BC event possible.
In 2016, Megan handed the reigns of the BC Enduro Series over to Ted Morton, who eventually took the series over entirely. She had two multi-day enduro events to plan and manage, and that would be enough. We recently had the chance to chat with her about both of the events, and how you can prepare yourself for a multi-day trail festival in the forest.
What initially inspired you to put on multi-day enduro events?
I used to race 4-7 day adventure races around the world and participant in multi-day XC races, so I think this is where the thought initially spurred from. I wanted to put on multi-day events in some of the best locations for mountain biking to provide the opportunity to showcase my hometown places for others around the world. [So they could] experience what we have since I was able to experience other peoples’ hometown places through the events I had participated in the past. Those experiences shaped who I am today.
What are some valuable things you have learned while running these events?
You have to be in it for the love of it. I have loved every bit of it and mostly the people I’ve connected with along the way. They are my extended family! Making an event too serious takes all the fun away. At the end of the day, people are just there to have fun, ride some sick trails, meet new friends, and explore new places. Keep it simple and provide those core aspects.
What is unique about the Trans BC and Trans New Zealand races?
It’s been super exciting creating these two events not based around the ‘racing’ aspect. Riders from around the world just want an excuse to explore and visit new places to ride. These two Trans races provide that platform to visit a location without having to organize a thing. I’ve tried to keep the format super chill and non-race like. Nothing against the pros, but I have never purposely invited pros to come to the event or offered them incentives of free or discounted entries, as I never wanted the events to be about that or [about] attracting more viewers because the pros are involved.
I wanted it to be about the everyday riders, where we all go ride bikes on sick trails in the woods every day, all finish with beer, and do it again the next day. Keep it grassroots and authentic. It’s about racing your buddies and the riders pushing their own limits, with them all coming out as better riders at the end of the week with a ton of stories to tell. I think this concept really resonates with a lot of people.
What are some of your favorite races to compete in around the globe?
I would totally be following the Trans races around the world if I could. I personally love blind racing, multi-day events, exploring new places, meeting new people and being in more “chill” events.
But unfortunately a lot of the other Trans races clash with the ones I put on, so I don’t always have that opportunity. However this year I got to do Trans Madiera and I’m heading to Trans Sierra Norte, so I’m stoked! I like to choose events in locations I have never been to before. I have done Trans Savoie and Trans Cascadia in the past too! So, yeah I guess I have got to most of them at some point. Just not Trans Provence or Andes Pacifico.
How do you train to compete in a Trans BC/NZ race? Do you have a recommended regiment or program?
I would say 80% of riders that come to Trans BC/NZ don’t really follow a set training program, but I could be wrong. I think the most important part when preparing for either of these races is just to get out there and ride as much as possible. That’s what it’s about anyway. Riding with buddies and having fun! Put in one good, “long” day a week to get used to being out there for the extended periods, or a few back to back bigger days leading closer to the event.
Also, use ‘training’ for the event as an excuse to explore your hometown area more. Be creative with finding and creating new adventures close in your area or do some smaller trips a month or two out. In the end, these races are about exploring new locations and pushing your limits with friends. So just get on your bike and ride with your friends!
What is the perfect bike for your events?
All bikes are pretty solid these days. Trans NZ would be anything from 140-160mm front and 130-160mm rear based on preference. Trans BC you would want 160-170mm front and 150-160mm rear to have the best time!
How should riders prepare their bikes for 5-6 days of enduro racing?
Arrive to the event with fresh brake pads (or at least bring a spare set with you), have a fresh set of tires on (suitable for the terrain you are about to ride), make sure your chain isn’t more than 3 months old, make sure your brakes have had a recent top up of fluid or you know they are in full working order. If you aren’t bike maintenance savy, then get it serviced by your local bike shop. Let them know you are about to do a 6-day stage race so they can check all the above points and if your bike is more than a year old, make sure they check the drivetrain is all still good and nothing needs replacing before you start.
What other extra components or clothing should folks pack?
Pack for summer and winter! Both events are in the mountains where the weather can turn in an instant. We have had years where day one is snowing and at freezing level then by day 4 it’s hot and 30° Celsius (86° F). Bring a spare derailleur hanger suitable for your bike and anything else that might be specific for your bike that might be hard to get on the fly in these small mountain towns.
Otherwise all the usual stuff. We provide a lot at Trans BC and NZ to save people flying with all the tools and extra things that are awkward and heavy. We have ample floor pumps on hand at the start and finish of each day (and good ones, not shitty ones!), we have plenty of lube for every day and every rider, and we have a full professional tool kit that the riders can access when needed.
What are some things that first-time racers are surprised by?
How relaxed it is. It really is just a party on the bike for 6 days! How nice everyone is. How helpful and friendly all the other riders are to each other. All the people you meet from around the world. Some people arrive super nervous, but I feel those nerves are quickly washed away once they settle into the chill vibe with super helpful people around them.
What percentage (roughly) of the field is typically racing, versus riding for fun?
That’s a tough one to answer. At a guess maybe 10% racing and 90% riding for fun. But that is talking about those “really racing and wanting to do well.” Everyone is still racing and pushing limits, but they aren’t in it to win. They are more in it for the fun. Then there is a high percentage that are just there to race their buddies, so technically they are there to race, but not for the top three!
How are you encouraging more women to race?
Good question. This question might have just opened my eyes to think that maybe I am not doing my best or my part to encourage more women to race and that I should be. I have heard through the grapevine that being a women putting on the events has been enough in itself to encourage women to do Trans NZ and Trans BC but that wasn’t anything I have intentionally done. So this has opened my eyes that maybe I need to do more. I will let one big secret out though…yes both events are lottery entries, but I make sure I allocate a set amount of spots for women riders and to be honest, any women that signs up, I make sure they get allocated a spot (as long as their application convinces me they are up for the challenge).
There have been some applications that come through that I question if they are ready, so I chat with them to get a better idea of their background and make sure they know what they are signing up for and some have decided not to do it after that chat. I want to make sure that if someone signs up (male or female) they are ready for the event, as at the end of the day, the most important thing is that every rider has fun when they come and doesn’t hate the experience because they weren’t ready for it, either fitness wise or skill wise. I would like to know from other fellow female riders, how I can inspire more of them to sign up. The women numbers have been dropping each year and I want to grow it back to what it was year-one.
Are all of the tracks new each season, or do some cycle through a few consecutive races?
Trans NZ is very similar each year. They are the best riding locations with the ability to connect 6 days of riding in NZ. I try to move Trans BC around as much as possible to spread the love amongst the communities, not overload those communities too much too soon. Because the event draws from the larger local market than NZ does (e.g. USA and Canada), with a lot of returnees, I like to keep it a little fresh. Going into our 5th year for 2020, it’s the first time we are repeating quite a few trails, but for those I have asked who have raced it in the past, they really don’t care.
Well, I am certainly stoked to sign up for one of Megan’s events. Are you? If you have participated in a Trans-(fill-in-the-blank) event, or will soon, please share your story in the comments below.