Monday, May 18, 2009

Marathon Challenge Race #1

I hadn't even given this race a thought until Thursday when I let Tanya know that I'd keep her company for the ride and go race. The main reason for me going was that we would be able to stop by my mother-in-law's place to see the family. Chris and Elsa came up with me last weekend for the O-Cup race and would be staying until next weekend, when they'll come home with me after the 8 hr race. It's been a long week without them and I missed them like crazy, so even if it was for only a couple of hours of visiting, it was worth it.

After visiting with my little family in Bobcaygeon (yes, it's a place and not just a Hip song), the Vegan Vagabond and I made our way to Matt's place to crash for the night. He lives about 15-20 minutes from the race venue.

Matt's dog Molly kept Tanya warm at night with her fur and farts.

The forecast called for three degrees, a snow and rain mix, and high winds. We were lucky to wake up with a clear sky. It was still cold as f*ck and really windy, but much better than being wet.

On the way to the race we stopped so that I could accost a moose. Check out the sign below . . . I was gentle and I think Wauby actually liked the colon massage.

After getting registered, kitted up and ready to race, the Vegan Vagabond and I headed out for a warm up on the trails at Horseshoe Valley Cross Country Centre. We were surprised to find dry trails. The area had a bunch of rain the day or so before, but we saw very little evidence of mud. We got a good warm up and headed back to the start line in time for the 10 am start. While back in the start line up Tanya had a toilet paper related mishap (clicky clicky for the read) that nearly prevented me from racing because it was so funny. After standing around for a few minutes waiting for the start, we found out that our warm up had been in vain. The race director informed us that we had a 20-25 delay due to a tree being down on course and a couple of horseback riders on the trail. In the cross country ski chalet we went to keep warm.

I noticed a handful of single speeders, all but one other than me were doing the half marathon course (23.5 km). So I was racing one other guy. He was a skinny dude and looked fast and he was ahead on me on the line. He was also running a higher gear than me, so I knew it was going to be tough to stay within contact on the flats.

Finally we were away. The first 11-15 km were relatively flat double track sections mixed with a few twisty fun single track sections. I found this a difficult section due to my gear choice. With the shortening of the course due to the climbing and all the reports I heard about the amount of climbing I chose to run a 34 x 22. I was spinning the legs out between 100-110 rpm on the flats, while all the geared riders were blowing past me. Skinny single speeder was no where to be seen, he wasn't behind me, so I was going to have to chase. After the first feed zone (11.5 km) the hills started to come and didn't seem to cease until about the 30 km mark.

Once into the hills I started reeling riders back in. The hills started out as double track climbs, some short and steep, others slightly long'ish and drawn out. Gradually we were led into almost entirely all single track. The single track was some of the nicest I've ridden in Ontario - swoopy, fast, buff single track. From the reports we heard, it was described as a technical course - I love technically challenging trail. I didn't find it very technical, except from a few of the tighter, rootier-rocky downs. From a single speed stand point, the biggest technical challenge was making the steep, switch back climbs. If you weren't going up, you were going down and you'd better be on the gas to make the next climb. Keeping your momentum up is everything in single speeding.

From 12 - 16 km I got caught behind a couple of geared riders who I just couldn't seem to pass - once on a climb I'd be on there arses as they slowly spun up, forcing me to struggle up the steep climbs with no place pass, once at the top I'd be in recovery and they'd be away. Next hill, it'd be the same thing. During this time I saw the skinny ss'er up ahead and felt better. A few minutes later I passed him while he was on the side of the trail fiddling with his rear brake. I slowed to see if he was okay and if he needed anything - he was okay and said he was having trouble with his wheel dragging.

Once I passed him I wanted to put as much distance between him and I, so on a down I managed to pass my two guys who were slowing me down on the climbs and I was gone. My push didn't last too long as I dropped my chain (which I have no clue how it happened) - had to stop, f*ck with it and get the wheel tensioned back up. In that time, my two slow pokes passed me. I caught them quickly and soon had an opportunity to pass as the first guy took a slight wrong turn and was able to sneak past them as they got themselves turned around and sorted out.

Once away from them I spent the race in relative alone'ness - just me, the trail and the thought of the skinny ss'er coming up behind me at any moment. This kept me pushing. Speaking of pushing, there were plenty of opportunities to push the bike yesterday. Some of the climbs sucked the life out of me, some were just too steep to torque up. I was probably off the bike eight or nine times walking. I didn't mind as it was probably just as fast and saved energy. Towards the end of the race I was starting to cramp up, so the walking sections hurt. I was never to the point of full cramp lock-ups and was able to spin them out. Having to ration water between feed zones didn't help. I didn't eat enough either. It was a tough course to find places to eat and drink. I have to say that this was the most difficult race that I've done to date on the single speed - to me it was brutally tough and I am happy to have finished.

Was happy to see the last feed zone and cruise the last 12 or so kilometres passing a handful of people to the finish. By the end I was spent, totally wrecked and ruined from the effort. Hopefully I'll be fully recovered for next week's 8 hr.

All alone on the podium!? Bigfoot took second and alien third.

Don't know what happened to the skinny ss'er out there with me. DNF'd? It's a crappy way to take first . . . . no competition. I'll take it and it'll look good in the results, but still - kind of cheap. I did get a Sigma cycling computer for my efforts.
56.5 km total distance traveled
3900 ft of ascent
(reports had it as 7600 ft of climbing, but I believe that was elevation gain and loss - a guy at the finish had recorded only ascent on his GPS from start to finish, which sounds more accurate)
3:50 min. (I think)
1st place single speed

Tanya took first with a kick ass ride.

She had competition in her division, unfortunately my shot was completely blurry so I poached this from Matt's. She scored some dough and a Giro helmet.

Matt took third in his division and was like eight or ninth overall.

Hanging out after the race I felt better about my suffering out there when I heard that the skinny fast guys were into their granny rings.

Dan,at Substance Projects, did an excellent job putting on this first race. I was impressed with the organization, use of volunteers, race course, trail marking and grassroots feel of this event. I'll be back to do as many of them as I can.

Who farted? No one wanted to admit it.

On the drive home we were both completely shattered, silly and hungry. I felt more wiped out from this than I do from an 8 hr. All the food stops helped.

Next stop: Opus Epic Spring 8 Hr


Peter Keiller said...

excellent up now buttercup we have a job next weekend.

as the official obnoxious sponsorer of the singlespeed category i have the insiders track.
you can expect a stupid amount of competition from skinnier people then your skinny dude.
so much competition i have already tossed my towel and have begun banding together the Spak Attak crew...8hrs of rear wheel taunting...go Spak, yeah Spak, how ya feeling the fall 8 we broke Spak only 4 laps in!

join us.
it's for a good cause.
the just 'cause cause.

The Vegan Vagabond said...

Thanks for the super fun weekend.
I put my tp story in the comments of my blog.

Good luck on the recovery this week. I hope to work on my recovery at some point if I can ever stop eating.

Matt Spak said...

Awww Peter is already in there. I was 5th overall and 3rd in division. Great race Craig. I thought I saw that Alien on one of the climbs

Matt Surch said...

NIce ride folks!

I did my second mtb ride of the year yesterday, about 80k, and it was tougher than 150 on the road bike! You guys are making me think I should attempt the next Substance event.