Tuesday was a solo ride on the Venge out to Moffat to score a buttertart, but the buttertart shop was closed! WTF! Dar must be sick/vacation/drunk?? No signs or anything…so nothing to do but head home. Total ride…60 km at an average of 33.5 km/hr…for 1hr and 48 minutes.
Wednesday morning was a solo ride, Venge, for 30km. Then in the afternoon NewfieSteve and I made for a local MTB ride. It was a great reminder, after the last weekend of camping and riding foreign trails, of how lucky we are to have some of the most fun, challenging trails right here in our own back yard.
Thursday was a one hour ride on the Venge at a 33km/hr average. The only point of real interest in this ride was how close I came to hitting a squirrel while screaming down a hill at 60km/hr. Honestly, my life flashed before my eyes!! And you know how squirrels will sprint to get out of the way when they notice you? This one looked undaunted!! Like he could care less!! Either suicidal or brave?? Didn’t even drop his stupid walnut…I think this was Chuck Norris’ pet squirrel.
So Friday and Saturday again had me off my bike. Why?? Fig and Centurion convinced me to do Victoria’s 100 bike race with them on Sunday. Victoria’s 100 is Canada’s only 100 mile mountain bike race (or so it is billed). The problem isn’t only that it is 100 miles (160 kms), which is stupidly long for a mountain bike race; but that it is held at Mansfield. While Mansfield has some of the most fun, technically challenging singletrack around, there is so much sand. Deep sand. Energy sucking, wheel sliding, tire spinning, bike sinking, speed negative sand.
Even Mars doesn’t have that much sand. By the way have you seen the latest pic sent from Curiosity, the Mars rover? (if you don’t know about this you should look it up)
Anyways, as always, I digress…back to topic. Sand belongs at the beach (I don’t even like it there)…not on a bike race course. While I had originally had this race on my schedule, after doing a couple of races at Mansfield this spring (the XC Marathon Challenge 2, and the Spring 8 Hour Epic), I had opted out of Victoria’s 100 because of the sand…and the fact that it was 160 stupid kilometres!! However, Fig entered it, then convinced Centurion to enter…then they both cajoled me all this week until I capitulated (look the big words up…cuz I’m not really sure what they mean either). The other challenge with this race, is that generally it’s the top racers that enter a race this difficult. While I am working hard (very hard, dangit!) to get better, I am far from being a top contender. As of yet, I am still a fat (compared to the competition) wannabe. Fig is 12 years younger than me, very fit, and athletic; Centurion is an experienced cycling machine. This is a pic of Fig and Centurion comparing their quads.
About what I have going for me is what some may call toughness, some may call stupidity, what I consider my willingness to tolerate pain more than many might. But, damn…I knew this was going to hurt.
So race Sunday started great. Fig and I were going to carpool, Fig was to pick me up at 4:00am (yes 4…two hour drive, race start at 7:00am). 4:10, no Fig…text message…twice…no answer. 4:20 start packing my own car. 4:30 on my way to Mansfield alone. I get to Mansfield in time…register get ready…Centurion has shown up by this time and is getting ready as well. Fig rolls in, in a bit of a panic…and very apologetic…slept in…dumbass. He gets registered quickly. Finally, EnglishJim rolls in…WTF??!! He had decided to register, last minute, for the 80km (there was an 80km option for this race). Well! Could this be a fun day after all??
The race was 3 laps of 54 kilometres, with 4 feed stations along the way (including at the start finish). And we were off. I am typically a slower starter, and take some time to properly warm up. About 10 kms in I caught up to Fig, and passed him on one of the few gravel road sections; and surprisingly he didn’t hold on to me. There was one gravel road section that was 4 – 5 km long, and was a great chance to ignore the pain, hammer, and make up some time. Otherwise most of the course was very fun, technically challenging singletrack. About 40 km into the first lap I came down a descent into a bog of sand…surprise, and paying attention to the sand I was sure I saw a directional arrow out the corner of my eye, pointing left…so left I went. After a km I was wondering…something didn’t seem right…another km…no bike tracks…f’n shite!! I have gone the wrong way! I took the opportunity to take a ‘nature break’…I had been holding it for a while (sorry too much info?...happens in a mtb race you know). I headed back…yup took a wrong turn…now back on track, but an extra 4 km to my lap. Had Fig, and Centurion passed me?? Had everybody?? I hammered!! It’s amazing how a little adversity can be motivational.
About 13 km from the end of the first lap, I was flying down a steep hill, hit the bottom where the trail curved gently to the left, when I felt the front wheel start to wash out in the sand. Just as I thought, ‘I can pull this back.’ Boom!!! I was down!! In a 30 km/hr tangle of bike, sand, bush, and Metis. The outside of my right shin had struck something hard…like the handlebar or a small stump. I scrambled up, inspected the bike; it was all good. Got on, and hammered!! It’s amazing how a little adversity can be motivational. I told myself not to look down, cuz the shin felt nasty. I looked down…it looked nasty!! It looked like someone had stuck a softball under my skin!! But it wasn’t hugely painful so I continued on…however every little brush with a twig, grass, or bush reminded me that it was injured. I finished the first lap in about 3.5 hours. Filled up my water…I was almost out as I hadn’t stopped at any of the stations along the way…and I was off for lap 2.
Fatigue really started to set in about halfway through lap 2…I was hurting. Hands, shoulders, neck, back all started to hurt; and I was tired!! All I could think about was napping. I made it to the end of lap two, and asked the officials at the start finish about Fig and Centurion. They had not passed this checkpoint yet!! I was still in front of them!! Damn…that meant I had to keep going! Off I went for lap 3.
I was still hurting…and so fatigued! I stopped at feedstation one…for chainlube, water, and food. The gentleman manning the station asked how I was doing (I believe he is Dan, the race organiser's dad). I told him I was hurting. He asked me if was going to keep going. I said yes, cuz the two guys who talked me into this mess were still behind me. He laughed and said if I was going to keep going, to make it worthwhile and finish strong. And dammit he was right!! I needed that kick. Off I went. Now, immediately off of feedstation one is the longest, steepest, longest, longest hills I have ever seen on a mountainbike trail…I got about 1/3 of the way up when I spun out in the sand. I unclipped…and thought dammit, my bike muscles are tired, my walk muscles need some work; and I briskly walked the hill. As I climbed I heard another bike or two pulling up to feedstation one. Damn, are racers catching me?? Near the top, I got on and hammered!! It’s amazing how a little adversity can be motivating. Whoever was behind me I left them behind. (Thanks, Dan's dad!!)
In a race like this, this long, it’s amazing how long you can go without seeing another racer. I did pass a few people who were hurting as much or more than I was. However, I went for hours without seeing anyone but the volunteers manning the feedstations. About 15 km from the finish, still alone on the trail, I had to pull over for another ‘nature break’. As I leisurely went about it…I heard bike noise coming up the trail!! WTF!! Is someone catching me?? I whipped Mr. Happy back, and got on my bike and hammered!! I wasn’t going to drop a placing…especially to Centurion, or Fig, after managing to stay in front after all this time!! I did finish strong…considering my condition…to EnglishJim cheering me on (EnglishJim had successfully completed his 80km race…way to go Jimbo!!!). I finished in 11 hours 52 minutes. I beat Fig by 7 minutes. Centurion had dnf’d (packed it in, quit, stopped) after lap 2 with stomach issues and mechanical issues (both not uncommon in a race like this). There were a lot of dnf’s!! Again, not really surprising in a race like this…especially with the heat 30ish degrees Celsius and humid. And surprisingly…very surprisingly, I finished 3rd in my category!! I was very, very happy…felt great, considering how crappy I felt!! Thank you Fig, and Centurion for talking me into this!!
So…after post race chat, recovery beverage and food…we packed up and headed home. The end to a great, memorable day! However, tragedy on the way home. Topic for another story…RIP Black Beauty.
Until next time…