And the race was being held at Georgian Nordic Outdoor Activity Centre up in Parry Sound. Parry Sound...where there is proper fatbike snow.
And all reports of the Georgian Nordic mountain bike trails are super positive...and somewhere I had never ridden. It looked great!!
And the folks up there spent the night grooming the trails!!
So I entered. Single speed cat. (I love my SingleSpeed Fatbike! If you have never tried it...you gotta...you will be hooked!!)
And then, Mark & Jenn bailed (something about feeling that it wasn't proper to leave their single digit aged children alone)...and I faced the prospect of doing the 2.5 hour drive alone.
And then PowerPaul entered, and talked me into riding up with him. Awesome! And then EnglishJim entered...wow!! In case you were not warned years ago to not follow this blog...EnglishJim has a bit of a history here...his name is actually ancient Metis for 'He Who Enters Two Races' (ooops...pun not intended!!), or 'He Who Randomly Races', or 'Hey, I Wear Nipple Tape' (long story...you will have to ask Jim...). Anyways...travel crew established...early last Saturday morning we headed up to Parry Sound.
We pulled into the Georgian Nordic parking lot around noon (2pm race start time!!). Hey, there was Jenn & Mark!! They had 'un-bailed...with Jenn racing and Mark parenting. Cool!! Actually, it was cold...around -12 Celsius I think. But the sun in the wide open parking lot and staging area seemed to warm things up. And then we went for a pre-ride loop into the woods...out of the sun it seemed like the temp dropped at least 5 degrees...it was bloody cold!! Off back to the truck to put on a warmer balaclava...warm head = warm everything ... or so they say.
The pre-ride also established that the trails were well groomed, but still soft enough to create significant drag...which would get worse as the trail got chewed up. (The race course was a 7km loop that we would race for 4 laps).
Then it was start time and the race was on!
Seth leading the way with JeffS in hot pursuit...the FAST guys!!
Sarah...fastest female on this day (She is always fast!!)
(Thank you to GetOutdoorsParrySound)
Of course, the course was crowded for the first lap...a bit of a cluster with folks with too much tire pressure for conditions getting squirrelly on the track up front...trying my best to get by them, and stay on the best groomed sections of the track. The track was mostly rolly double track, with several punchy climbs, and a couple of longer lung busting climbs...then dove into some glorious, very narrow single track...which also included a couple of longer climbs. Actually it almost felt like the entire course was uphill!
I was rolling along at a pretty good pace (for me)...in fact, probably too fast...my heart rate was red-lining, especially on the climbs. But then somewhere mid-lap I spotted TimM within eyesight. Tim is a deceptively fast dude on his fatbike...and I thought if I could keep him in sight...that would be a worthy goal. So I pushed on in that pursuit...again...probably too much. I went to take a swig of water...but my camelback tube was frozen solid (despite my best efforts to ensure that didn't happen)....so no drink for me.
Also...I had started the race alongside PowerPaul...but somewhere during the first lap he had dropped off...so I kept a consistent look over my shoulder expecting him to come zooming up on me. WillA racing for FatboyNation was also right on my tail for the first lap...pushing me. So I had plenty of motivation to push it...although my heart rate was telling me that might not be the best idea.
I really had no idea where I stood in this race amongst the SingleSpeeders. I knew JackB was here...and he is outta my league kinda fast...but otherwise I wasn't sure...so I was keeping my eye out for other bikes with a distinct lack of derailleur...(had TeamColin shown up singlespeed???) Otherwise, in my head I was racing against other racing friends that I recognized...
Out of the single track...and back into the double track that lead to the end of the lap...as I approached the lap end...there was Jenn starting lap 2 (the route converged for the first/last 100m or so) perhaps a minute in front of me...and there was Tim...perhaps within reach?? (He wasn't...I never saw him again...).
Into lap 2...the course was getting chewed up, and so much more work to ride through. But I continued to push it...to stay ahead of PowerPaul and WillA...and to try to catch Tim, and possibly Jenn. However, I was pushing too much...making mistakes on the chewed track as I was getting beyond fatigued. Proof was provided when I got near the edge of the track on a fast curving descent...and went to dab just off the track...and poof!!! It was like there was no bottom to the snow...I sunk at least three feet...and swam like a floundering fool to get upright, fish my bike out of the snow and get going again! I am a slow learner though...I continued pushing my limits, not want to give up any gains I might have made by pushing so hard up to this point...but back in the snow to make snow angels I went...at least 3 more times. I was also trying various efforts to thaw my water supply, but to no avail...it stayed frozen...I stayed dry.
Finally, I realized it was faster to play it safe, and stay on the trail, and on the bike. As I finished lap 2 (the laps all finished with a long false flat ending in a steep nasty little climb!) there was Jenn starting lap 3 still maintaining her distance on me.
Into lap 3...there was not much pushing it left in me. In fact...I don't know if it was my pace for the first two laps, or the softening course conditions but it felt like I was riding a flat tire...or dragging a piano behind me (a couple of quick checks revealed no pianos...). I was now walking all the longer hills....and on one of them Seth went sprinting past me...he had lapped me!! I felt like a fat slug! I relented on...I was sure I saw Jenn cresting a longer climb as I was pushing up it. Then 3 more fast dudes, including superfast JeffS lapped me. Damn!! OK....no more getting lapped...get your slow ass moving!!
Seth...ended up so far ahead (first overall!!) we couldn't see him...seriously!!
I am...but I'm working on it!
Into lap 4...there was Jenn...just in front of me!! I pulled up directly behind her, and let go with my best BatDad routine...'JENN!!'. She must have been lost in a daydream...cuz I think I startled her more than I intended...she might have even swore at me some. She pulled away from me...I strove to keep her within eyesight. However, my leg and lower back muscles were rebelling.
These shorter, sprinty, red-line races are not my specialty...I was hurting at the intensity of the effort. I was also thirsty! And besides the deteriorating course conditions (the single track had become particularly nasty!!), it had also clouded over, gotten dark and blizzardy with wind and snow. It was getting difficult to properly see the nuances of the trail. In fact, race officials had started to pull racers off the course as they finished their third lap as it was getting too tough to see.
At this point...Jenn was still within eyesight...I could see no one in sight behind me...my legs and back still screaming at me I relented choosing to ride to ensure a safe, upright finish. I saw Jenn exit the single track ahead of me...heard the clicks of her shifting gears...and she was gone outta sight.
I exited the single track...up that now stupid false flat...and the stupid steep little finish climb...and across the finish. Where Dan stood...congratulating me on finishing...and for staying on course for the entire race (get lost one time...in one race, years ago...well maybe 2 different races...or 3...).
Anyways...I was finished...and beyond spent. And there was JackB, he had totally kicked my arse...finishing almost a full half hour ahead of me...he is a speed machine on his SS Fatbike!! Keeping him in sight is a stretch goal for me to strive for!
Anyways...the the podium celebration was held down the road at Trestle Brewery, yes...a brewery!!! I tell ya...Dan's races are awesome!!
The winning ladies...Sarah first, Jenn second, Hollie third.
I managed second place singlespeed, eeking out a spot ahead of Dean.
Jack was first but was so fast he skipped right past the podium!!
(He left his beer prize though....)
Beer prize with silver medal...Dan's races always great prizes!!
And always great swag and draw prizes...
there was even an EagerBeaver mouse pad!!!???
(These were not my prizes...I scooped the pics of someone elses treasure.)
So there ya have it...another great day at another of Dan's races. There is one more in the Fatbike Series...Kingston. Be there...or you will miss it!!???
OK...not that posted!!