July 17, 2008

BC Bike Race, Day 3 (80k)

(This was taken about an hour after the end of stage two. I am trying to convince myself, and everyone around me that I'm not really hurt!)

(This was our camp site and finish area for day two)

I slept like crap that night, as did many others. There was a generator powering large spotlights over our campers village and even with my ear plugs in I could hear it humming away. I tossed and turned all night and got up in the morning feeling like a resurrected corpse. A corpse who was about to ride...mind you race, another 80km on my mountain bike...I couldn't wait!

After searching out the medics to get a donut wrap over the blister on my hand, I tried to stretch out the legs a bit, but the race start was upon us in no time.

We rolled out along the track we were camping inside of and then onto a road section which would eventually filter us into some singletrack. On day one we were told that it would be an all our sprint for the singletrack to gain a good position for the rest of the race. We all out sprinted and in the end it meant very little as there were plenty of open spots to pass. Well, this was indeed the stage where we should have been all out sprinting for the front, because as soon as we hit the singletrack we ended up walking numerous sections as the pack ahead continuously backed up into itself. Teams towards the front were off and running and putting time into everyone early.

Todd and I were unsure of how my body would hold up out there. I had already had two questionable days of riding and I certainly hadn't ended the previous day on a high note. As soon as we cleared the tight singletrack we were presented with the largest climbs the race had yet to throw at us. I eased into them and could tell early that my climbing legs were back, well for the most part at least. We went to work passing teams and trying to catch those fortunate soles who had positioned themselves well early in the race.

Once we hit an open section of logging road we paired off with another team and took turns 'pulling' at the front. BCBR was truly a daily education for me on how to properly approach a mtn bike race, how to race strong, how to stay strong, and primarily how to race smart. I had only done three mtn bike specific races in my life before BCBR. It was starting to feel like initiation by fire!

After working with this team for about 30m we decided it time to drop them and pursue the next pack of riders. I was having my strongest day so far and was finally able to pull at the front myself and give Todd a break from time to time. We eventually caught up to another pack and were moving along quite nicely, then I noticed that Todd's rear tire was looking pretty low. After arguing for a few minutes he finally realized that he had indeed lost air on his tubeless set up and we had to stop to re-inflate. This cost us precious time and before we knew it a pack of riders from behind had passed and gapped us. We were once again caught out in no mans land, and in a race such at BCBR, that was a very bad thing.

Todd was still the stronger rider and he set off to try and catch the teams in front of us, I was yet again relegated to a rear wheel staring purgatory of suffering. I have no idea what the terrain we were covering at that point looked like at all!

The stage was somewhat broken up by a large river crossing. We arrived just in time to be caught at the very back of a 'log jam' of riders. Those damn teams who placed themselves in the singletrack early were once again getting a free time credit on the rest of us. The upside was that the frigid river water felt like heave on my destroyed legs!

Once up the following embankment we found ourselves along side Aaron Vanderwhal (I know that's spelled wrong!) and his teammate, of team Mergeo Adventure Racing out of Seattle. We know Aaron quite well through racing circles and immediately paired off with these guys and went to work on a few hours of pure hammering on logging roads. Aaron and his teammate were pulling super strong at the front, as was Todd, and whenever my turn rolled around I just tried to make it look like I didn't want to stop everyone and ask them why it is we do what we do?

"C'mon guys, seriously, are you enjoying yourselves right now? Wouldn't you rather be laying in the sun worked on our tans? It's a beautiful day out here, chics dig tanned bodies!"

I was DYING holding onto the back, but I knew I could continue to do so if I simply concentrated on the damn wheel in front of me. Again, I did not dare look up for over an hour. We passed and dropped numerous teams and I know Todd was happy that we were finally 'racing' as we had anticipated being able to do from day one.

The next thing I remember is the heat, it had turned into yet another scorcher and eventually Aaron and his partner dropped off of our pace. I dared not loose Todd's wheel and let him go to work trying to track down another team. We eventually caught up to and paired up with a Team Kona out of Denmark. A couple of young road riders who were loving the forest service roads that so many others were growing tired of.

With about 15k to go we came into a fully exposed section of the road and up ahead we caught side of Justin and Jeff. The Kona team managed to drop us...well me on this climb, as all I could do was vocalize a painful "ahhhhhhh" as I fell off the back for the first time all day.

I still held it together though and we headed into the final 10km of single track that would take us into Cumberland, with J&J just up ahead of us. As soon as we hit the S.T. it was a different story though. Todd disappeared on me and I was left scrambling over terrain that I would normally eat up and love. I was growing ever frustrated as I could see that Todd was effortlessly loosing me and wondering why I was slowing us down so much.

I could go on forever about the situation with my current bike. In a few words, it's too damn big for me and I was sized improperly by someone I trusted. I am on a large frame Specialized Epic. Most people hear this and laugh, in fact I did not meet a single person in BCBR that could understand why in God's name I was riding a large frame bike. I've been on this bike since March, and complaining about it being too big since three days after I purchased it brand new. I tried selling it before BCBR but was unwilling to take a huge loss on something that was practically brand new. Just one day before the race began I managed to find a Crank Brother's Joplin, dropping seat post, as I knew I would need such an item to make it through BCBR. The Joplin saved me on numerous occasions, but during that singletrack leading into Cumberland, I was struggling to handle a mountain bike that was simply beyond my control. I hit trees, fell this way and that, got more and more frustrated and ended up finishing in a seriously bad mood. J&J had put over 5min into us on that singletrack section alone! I must go on record and say that these guys are so fluid on this stuff that they would have put a bit of time into us anyways, but 5min in 10k was just damn stupid!

I immediately went to work on trying to find a size Medium bike, of any make, that I could borrow for the rest of the race. Amazingly, a friend of a friend, whom I had never met, offered up a med sized Epic! Sweet, I was excited once again! Jackie was coming over from Vancouver the following day to meet up with us in the ocean front town of Sechelt and she was able to transport the bike for me. So I only had to make it through one more day and I thought I'd be home free!


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