Steamboat mountain bikers question next step after 4th Singletrack 6 title
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — After winning their fourth Singletrack 6 mountain bike race in Canada on Aug. 2, Steamboat’s Mindy Mulliken and Karen Tremaine are indecisive about what’s next.
The Singletrack 6 race has been around for five years, welcoming cyclists to ride some of the best single track in Western Canada. The race works in six days, or stages, where cyclists ride over 150 miles of single track. Each day, the riders take on a 20- to 35-mile stage in a town, then they drive to the next location and get up to race the next day.
The idea of the Singletrack 6 is to allow competitors to enjoy the best single track in each town, while also staying in nice accommodations and enjoying the local sights and restaurants in their downtime.
“You’re only racing a small portion of the day, so you can go find a lake or a river and soak your legs in or go have a beer.” Mulliken said.
Another unique part of the race is its partner format, where cyclists ride together and must be within a minute of each other at certain checkpoints. Initially, this was for safety reasons, but Mulliken and Tremaine think it makes the race special to share it with someone else.
“A lot of races, if it’s a partner race, somebody does a lap and the next person does another lap,” Mulliken said. “That’s how the Stinger is and a lot of 24-hour races are. It’s such a unique format where you ride with your partner the whole time and you check in with them.”
But the format of the race will change back to its original form next year as the TransRockies Classic, which is something Tremaine did for four years before racing with Mulliken.
Before Singletrack 6, the TransRockies featured a longer, seven-day race where cyclists were traveling through Canada’s back country to get from one town to the next. Cyclists would ride distances up to 70 miles a day — 310 miles total — then camp at night somewhere off the map.
“You don’t always go through single track. You’ll go through dirt roads, crossing rivers, and some of those days we’d be pushing our bikes straight up a mountain, not even a trail,” Tremaine said. “So it’s a very different riding experience in that format.”
Although the format is more difficult, Tremaine has fond memories of riding the TransRockies — it’s where she got married.
“I made a white little short dress, and the day we got married I wore it during the race,” Tremaine said. “That night I wore a real dress and had to find someone to take the dress to the next stage.”
Tremaine would get married at one of the nightly awards ceremonies at the TransRockies, and every one in the race, including strangers, was there to witness it.
“Every once and a while we’ll be traveling and people will be like, ‘we were at your wedding, we were at TransRockies that year,’” Tremaine said. “It’s so cute.”
Even though the TransRockies is a much more difficult race, it’s that community aspect that makes it more appealing to Mulliken, who hasn’t done it before.
“What we were saying is happening with the single-track format is you lose that camaraderie, you lose that feeling of everybody is at camp together,” Mulliken said. “It’s like you’re sitting around the campfire together, you don’t have anywhere else to go. If you do the TransRockies format: everybody rides together, everybody stands in lines for the showers together, everybody eats together. It’s like camp.”
The format change attracts a different breed of cyclists — hungry for the backcountry adventure.
Before the Singletrack 6, Mulliken had only done Town Challenges and didn’t think she had the endurance for longer races. But with four titles and a 50-percent discount complementary of this year’s win, she’s hungry for something different.
Tremaine is on the fence; she knows how difficult it can be.
“When we got that 50-percent discount, I brought it home and my husband was like, ‘Hm, maybe we should do it again,’ and I was like ‘no,'” Tremaine said. “But I would maybe do it back with my husband as maybe our anniversary. We’ll see — that’s a whole other level of commitment.”
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