Steamboat rider finishes 4th in Canada race |

Steamboat rider finishes 4th in Canada race

— After seven grueling days of racing and more mechanical breakdowns than a team should have to endure, racers Nate Bird and Dax Massey crossed the finish line of the TransRockies Mountain Stage Race. They had nothing left to give but hope for a spot on the podium.

“In the end, we came up just a little bit too short,” said Bird, who lives in Steamboat Springs. “It was less than two minutes over seven days.”

Bird and his partner Massey, who lives in Denver, made up the Honey Stinger/Trek race team that finished fourth in the seven-day stage race that spans 400 kilometers from Fernie, British Columbia, to Canmore, Alberta, in Canada.

Bird said the race was rewarding, but it may have been one of the hardest weeks he has ever experienced.

The team finished third in the final stage Saturday, which took the riders from the Rafter Six Ranch 29 miles up the Bow Valley to the town of Canmore, just outside of Banff National Park. But the team couldn’t make up enough time in the final stage to break into the top three.

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The Honey Stinger/Trek team finished the section in 2 hours, 38.46 minutes. But Bird and Massey came up two minutes short in their bid to earn a spot on the overall podium.

The fourth-place finish was despite several major mechanical problems that included a broken wheel on the first stage, several flats and a broken pedal in the sixth stage.

Kona, a team made up of Barry Wicks and Kris Sneddon, won the overall title. Stefan Widmer and Marty Lazarski, of team Rocky Mtn. Factory, took second. Racers Filip Kuzniak and Szymon Zacharski, of, placed eighth in the final stage, but their time was good enough to move past Honey Stinger/Trek for third place overall.

“We knew we had to finish 13.5 minutes ahead of them to hang onto third place,” Bird said. “We gave it everything we had, but it just wasn’t enough.”

The team was watching the clock when the team came into sight on the final stage, and Bird and Massey knew almost immediately that their bid for third was going to be just a couple of minutes short.

“When we saw them coming to the finish line the wind went out of our sails,” Bird said. “There was a brief moment of disappointment when we realized that we were not going to finish in the top three. But we gave it everything we had, and we overcame a lot of obstacles just to get there. It’s hard to stay disappointed.”

The TransRockies Mount­ain Bike Stage race first started in 2002 with 100 riders taking part in the multi-day event. The course was changed this year — it was shorter in distance, but mountain bikers spent about 70 percent of the race on trails.

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