Monday, September 24, 2007

Paul's Dirty (& sandy) Enduro Race Report

Thursday night I was up late, frustrated with the mechanical issues I was having with the Niner and then the unexpected problems I had with the Surly. . . . it almost sent me over the edge of giving up in frustration. It was a long week and I was beat.

I almost didn't go to this race - I'm so glad that I did though. It was more like a big group ride for me than a race. I spent the first quarter of the race riding with different groups of riders. You'd catch a group, then drop them, then someone would catch you and drop you - all the time chatting away. I met a tonne of really cool people Saturday while riding.

This event was extremely well run, the course was fantastic (despite many sandy sections) and everyone, racers included, were laid back.

I hooked up with Kari and Roland at the start of the race and was going to ride with them and just make it a fun day. Standing at the start line I hit 'play' on the ipod and I was off flying, full race mode, pumping the legs to an ACDC tune. Whoops. Slow down. Try and ride with Roland and Kari.

I was in this speed up, slow down pattern the first 15-20km or so. I feel a little bit bad, but I got into a section of single track and hit the gas. It was too much fun not to. I decided then to just ride my race. Once I made the decision to go, I tried to make up for the time I lost at the start. So happens this was right about at check point number one.

Check point #1 to CP # 2 was just brutal. There were many climbs and it seemed like most all of the single track was loose and sandy. Speed and soul sucking sand. I had a difficult time getting up the climbs on the single speed. If I didn't get bogged down in sand, I ended up getting slowed down by geared riders who spun up the climbs easily, while I wrenched on my handlebars to get enough leverage just to turn the pedals over. 40km to 59km just killed me. Every now and then we'd cross a fire road that was 6-8 inches deep sand. Soul sucking sand.

I managed to eat something at cp#2, but it only made me feel worse. Took me about a half hour to start feeling better, just pedaling easy, walking many of the steeper, short hills and one little rest (though I was going to barf).

It was after cp # 3 that the trail changed - it got smoother, faster, not as much climbing and hardly any sandy sections at all. About 5km into this section, I caught up to a few of the ladies on the True North team who were doing the 60km race and sat on their wheel, letting them pace me as I recovered. I was still pretty wiped out from that sandy piece. It didn't take long, and I was feeling better.

Alana, Mari (both on the True North team) , me and their roadie friend Kat (who could climb like a hopped-up mountain goat!).

The girls set a really nice pace, not too comfortable to be easy, but I wasn't killing myself either. It was just perfect. It wasn't long before we got to talking. While riding I got a chance to sit behind each of them and chat a bit, making new friends. They were a hoot to ride with and it was one of my highlights of the day. Two of them were riding full rigid, single speed 29'ers. They could push the big ring and they handled them like pros - fast and with good technical skills.

It wasn't too long after cp#4 that Mari started to have some stomach issues and told us to go on ahead without her - hoping to maybe recover a bit. It wasn't until I was at my car loading the bike on the roof that I found out Mari had to DNF due to feeling like crap.

Alana, Kat and me rode pretty much together for the last 35km or so to the end. The last couple of 25-30km of trails were really good and seemed to go by much easier than the first half of the race - I was feeling better and stronger than I had all day. Weird. I crossed the line somewhere around the 7hr, 20 min. mark. I didn't see the results board after the race - will post once I find out.

Big crowd of folks sticking around after the race for the award ceremony and draw-prizes.

Kari and Andre. Andre's second ever race - did the 60km and ate his body weight in free peanut butter sandwiches and bananas at the cp's!

Check out Alana's beautifully painted True North 29'er. She designed the scroll work herself.

You could only be so lucky to ride for True North - amazing bikes and a super fun team filled with laid back and cool people. They do it all: track, mtn, road, cx.

Returned home to my mother-in-laws house (Jeannie Beanie) and was greeted with this! Says, "Congratulations on your last race" Since my beautiful wife Chrissie and mother-in-law couldn't go to the race to support me, they did this. Isn't that crazy?! Check out the spectators - that's them! Dig the candy heart road!

My wife has a wicked sense of humor!

I was able to control myself and my appetite and only had one piece of cake after supper. I finished the rest of it off at 3:20am with a big glass of milk.

I figure that 90% of this race was single track, that's 90km of single track out of 100km! We only doubled back on about 10km of trail for the entire race. This was super fun and I had a blast. I figure that I could have easily have scrubbed off 30 minutes if on the Niner and if I had just raced from the start - probably putting me in or near a top ten finish.
But you know what? I wouldn't of had as much fun as I did if I had.

I will definitely to this race again and so should you!


Late Edit:
*This just in . . .
* 98 riders doing the 100km - 48 males, 39 yrs and under, 42 males 40 years + and 8 female riders.

* my time = 7 hrs. 38 mins. 50 sec. (thought I was a wee bit faster than that)


Anonymous said...

Great blog Craig! Looking forward to riding with you again next season. Any decision on the Squeezer?


Papa G said...

Congrats on the race and a great racing season Big Ring!

the original big ring said...

Hey Mari - doesn't look like the Squeezer is going to happen unfortunately - looks like a great race! You bet we'll see each other next season - Mansfield perhaps?

Cheers Gilles!

Anonymous said...

I failed in my predicition.

..I was sure the singlespeed would be for sale after that race. Congrats and glad you had fun.
Next year I'm in for that one for sure. Everything about that speaks to me.