Apr
30
2012

TransRockies Challenge bike race

Two-wheeled seven-day trailblazing in the Rockies

Paul Newitt is one of only two people to finish the gruelling seven-day TransRockies Challenge bike race seven years in a row. He even came in second place overall in 2004.

That’s no small feat considering Mountain Bike Magazine calls this epic ride “The hardest race in North America.”

Pedalling his Kona Hei Hei through Alberta’s Kananaskis Country on Wildhorse Trail last August, Newitt pushed through sweltering 36 C temperatures that turned into a hail-hammered blizzard two days later while he crossed glacier-fed rivers up to his waist. On some steep climbs, he’d crawl along at 2 km/h, only to barrel down a single-track trail at 50 km/h.

But nothing compares to the sheer, raw survival of the first year for Newitt, who was one of the original 140 racers. As he crossed the finish line in 2002, Newitt remembers, “people were bawling their eyes out and hugging each other. It was like being lost in the wilderness for seven days and finally coming to civilization. I have returned year after year, trying to find that feeling, and never quite have.”

Hometown

Vancouver, B.C.

Pedalhead roots

Competitive cyclist since he was 18. The Route A 371-km-long grind from Fernie B.C., to Canmore, Alta., with a total elevation gain of 11,350 metres—3,000 m more than climbing Mt. Everest.

Toughest moment

Last year, he got a stomach bug, suffered from heatstroke and couldn't keep any food down. On day five, he reluctantly pulled out of the race. “I’ve never not finished an event. It was so tough to sit there and have my brain say yes but my body say, nope, you’re not going to do any more.”

Race style

“I tend to be a bit of a maniac on the downhill.”

Why he does it

“Because I still can.”

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