The Long Sock Classic, another of Dan of Substance's (Substance Projects) marathon type races in his XC Marathon Cup series of 4 marathon races. The Long Sock Classic, a 70 km MTB race (two loops of 35 kms ) held in the Ganaraska Forest...rife with poison ivy....hence the need for Long Socks. Is it all coming together now?? If not, google it, you'll figure it out. If you really need to, Wikipedia it...apparently you can find all the answers there...except explanations for your childhood ....tried it, didn't work.
Anyways....getting off track too early. The Long Sock....traveled to the Ganny with NewfieSteve and Giant. Steve drove, so no missed turns; no getting lost....close, but we figured it out...without Wikipedia even...
Arrived alive...and once again many familiar faces...
Here is PowerPaul, Giant, NewfieSteve, yours truly, and Jaimie...
I think the entire lapdogs team showed up...
The entire Rock & Road team did not show up, but here is a pic of some of them anyways...only because my contract says I have to give equal billing....
Just kidding, I don't have a contract. Besides you call them contracts, we call them treaties and don't expect you to follow them...hence, no contract. In fact, this is not even a pic at the Long Sock...this is at Kelso...
Anyways....back on track.
Arrive, get registered, bikes set up, warm up....all the regular start stuff...
I am plate number 122...
14Stone was parked near us...his set up...singlespeed...
And so, we all lined up in the paddock....and we were off. Although ApexRacePhotography was there taking race pics...this pic of the start was not their work...
Actually the start was very fast. Oggie and Giant blasted ahead of me (with many others), never to be seen again...until the finish. Fig passed me; I pushed, but I was really feeling the effect of last weeks 8 hour single speed effort. Dan had the start set up very well....most of the start was kilometres of double track and fireroad; so there was plenty of room for the most part. The race started with a long double track climb, which twisted into a long rocky fireroad climb. Quite the warm up...legs and lungs burning from climbing right off the start.
Then a long bit of fireroad rollers, starting with a screaming fast descent on dried packed mud fireroad....jittering the heck out of bike and rider. I feathered the brakes, both because I was in a loose pack of other racers, and this extremely fast descent bottomed out in a base of very squidgy sand (in past years). However this year the surface was so dry, the sand was minimal and I coasted flowingly into the next rolling climb. Steve caught me somewhere around here...he is a talented descender and probably did not need to touch his brake.
Then we ducked into twisty single track. Twisty single track....the bane of my racing efforts. In short, I suck at twisty singletrack. It was flowy and fun, with fun descents, and punchy challenging climbs. As I said, it was fun, I am just slow at it. It was all I could do to hold onto Steve's wheel in there, while I mismanaged accelerating/decelerating, bounced off trees, and overcooked curves. Unfortunately for me, pretty much the next 50ish kms of the race was twisty singletrack segments connected by short segments of double track. The only respite from the singletrack coming in about the last 5km of the course that included doubletrack and fireroad.
At one point, Steve slipped on a root....and I managed to get past him. Which only meant I had to work to keep him behind me, or at least not to slow him down too much. At another point we passed Fig who was off the side of the trail pumping up a tire. (Turned out it wasn't low, just very out of true; thanks to an incident with Blaze. Story for another day...or not.)
So, Steve, Fig and I rode together until the mid lap feedzone where Steve stopped to refuel. Fig and I rode on. Then the hill of death. A long, steep, sandy, troughy, leg tearing, energy sapping, lung busting, shite of a climb.
(Too much boring verbage....was time for a pic right?)
Anyways, we managed to pass a couple of other riders who were walking their bikes up the hill. After about 12 years of climbing, we crested the top...and Fig took off, recovering much quicker than I (damn 30 year olds!!)...never to be seen again.
So on I hammered (stumbled?) through the single track, alone, hoping to see and catch Fig up ahead; occasionally seeing Steve sneaking up behind me (damn singletrack!). From the feedzone, the singletrack seemed to be a slight but steady energy draining uphill climb. I spied a team member from the Lapdogs up ahead, and eventually caught him in the neverending singletrack. We hit a section of steeper, tight switchbacking singletrack climbs and I could see Steve getting even closer. The Lapdog in front of me stumbled on a tight, gnarly, rooty, switchback, and I managed to get in front of him; now forced to keep up the pace with him on my wheel.
Then we hit the 2km to go sign. Now, most races that have the Xkm to go signs near the finish are almost always innacurate, but this had to have been the most off base one I have ever seen. Either I hit a hole in the space-time continuum, or aliens rendered me unconcious for many minutes, but that last 2km had to be 4-5 kms long!
Steve caught me in the last '2' kms. Then about 2km later we came to the 1km to go sign, where we got dumped out onto about 1km of doubletrack....then about 1km of fireroad leading to the start/finish. However the fireroad was not flat....oh no. A couple of loose gravelly climbs to totally finish off any energy....then a fairly flat road to the start/finish. Of course, on this flat finishing section, Steve says 'Hammer down!'. I think, 'No you doof, we still have another lap to go!' But he did, and my frail male ego wouldn't let him go....so hammer down I did to keep him in check.
Thanks to ApexRacePhotography, here we are finishing Lap 1 together, with the Lapdog right on our tails.
I stopped here to quickly switch water bottles, and I was off. I had finished this first lap in a time of 1hr54mins. My goal was to complete in under 4 hrs....so, maybe. Steve was taking his time restocking. The Lapdog was right with me, but not for long, he passed me on the fireroad off the start as I ate and drank....never to be seen again.
And so I moseyed on alone. Driven to stay ahead of Steve, constantly looking over my shoulder expecting to see him catching me. Looking ahead, hoping to see Fig, or Giant in my sights. I did occasionally pass a struggling rider who had obviously gone off too hard on the first lap, and had little left to continue, and that is the nature of the game in these races.
I passed by the mid lap feedzone, still looking over my shoulder....still no Steve. Climbed the hill of death alone, motivated by the expectation of a Newfie 'Hey, dare bye' from behind me. I remained riding solo. But I did hear voices somewhere in the distance. I couldn't tell if it was behind or ahead....but sounded like females chatting. Hikers?? Was there a girlscout birthday party going on in the woods?? (I think I saw a movie like that once...). But then, with about 10km to go....it became apparent.
Alexia and Louda pulled up behind me, chatting like they were having Sunday tea. Alexia made mention of me riding a geared bike, and not the singlespeed I rode in the 8 hr race last weekend (Alexia always rides a rigid singlespeed)...and mentioned that she really enjoys reading this blog. Toying with my fragile male ego?? And then they were off....still chatting...disappearing in the distance, never to be seen again. I wondered how they could have gotten so far behind me. They are both faster than me; they must have had a unexpectedly slow first lap....or it could have been that this was the mid lap feedzone we had recently passed....
Yeah...that had to be it.
I hoped that wasn't why Steve was still behind me....
And so I continued on....still nervously keeping an eye behind. I spyed a rider somewhere up ahead, on the twisty singletrack. Really noticing the slow steady climbing on this second lap. Then hit the neverending 2km to go mark. More twisty singletrack....still occasionally seeing the rider up ahead. Came out onto the fireroad...still no Steve....now thinking I had to be safely free of Steve. I clearly saw the rider ahead of me, struggling up the final fireroad climbs. I gunned it (as much as I could with what droplet of energy I had left)....caught and passed him on the climbs. Crested the final climb where the Apex photographer was clicking away.
And yes...made it to the finish line, spent but done. My time...3hrs57mins...I had made my goal time. But finished behind Fig and Giant, who were waiting at the finish having got there several minutes ahead of me. misconceptionz was also there with his camera. He wasn't racing. As the owner of Big Ring Entertainment he was filming a video of the event. I grunted some stupid noise and gesture into the camera. Otherwise....looking forward to this video!!
He is right you know.
Steve rolled in 10 minutes later. He had gone too hard off the start and into the first lap....and struggled through the second lap...and such is the nature of the game in these races.
Speaking of video....here is a link to a short video of the race taken by Rocket Dog....a team member of the Lapdogs Race Team...shot as he raced. For your viewing pleasure.
Rocket Dog's very cool video
So....another race in the books. Thanks DanOfSubstance for another great race!! But missed a few regulars. CptSydor, VVagabond, EnglishJim?? Maybe at the next one??
What's next? OCup #2!! This weekend at Kelso!!
How will it go down?