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Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Crank the Shield 2012

So it has come and gone.  Chico Racing’s Crank the Shield…and very sadly, it may be the last time Chico Racing does the Crank.  If you are not familiar with the Crank, and too lazy to click on the link I expertly provided, the Crank is a 3 day stage mountain bike race held in the Haliburton Forest region of Ontario; through the Canadian Shield…hence the name.  So, here is my experience at this years Crank.

First, a couple of ‘Thank Yous’ are in order; Richard (DickBall) for lending me his bike (if you missed it in a previous posting, my bike has gone to bike heaven, and the 2013s are not yet available, so I am bikeless).  Lending a bike is no small thing, especially for the Crank, where a bike can really take a pounding, so many, many thanks Mr. Ball. 
Since losing my bike I have obtained a new bike carrier...
Second, thank you to Chris.  Chris has a cottage in Haliburton, actually within a 10 minute drive of the start of the Crank.  And Chris graciously invited everyone he knew who was racing in the Crank to stay at his cottage on the Thursday night saving us all a 3 hour drive up on Friday morning for the 11am start of the Crank.  Chris’ cottage would put most homes to shame (a pic is below), high class accommodations to say the least…so thank you to Chris. 
Taking advantage of Chris’ offer included me, NewfieSteve, EnglishJim, NotherJim, John (Jean Luc Picard lookalike…and soundalike), Stefan, and Alex.
You tell me they don’t look the same…except MTBJohn is much better with the ladies…

Day One started with it raining at 8am….and it rained the whole damn day.  What does that mean?  Mud! 

And slippery singletrack…the only thing worse than sand, for mountainbiking, is mud!!  Energy draining, lung busting, gravity assisting, tire slipping mud!  The trails in day one included the Dog Head, Red Trail, Chico Loop, Chico Trail (all of these somewhat technical twisty singletrack), Hydrocut (a very rocky and hilly doubletrack), and Lookout Hill (an incredibly long, loooooong, very steep sandy climb).  Also along the Hydrocut was the Beaverdam…an actual beaver dam that resulted in a 50 metre stretch of 2 to 3 foot deep pool of water.  This was actually a godsend to ride through because it cleaned the mud off the drivetrain. 
This is me riding through the beaverdam at the 2010 Crank (no beaverdam pic from 2012).

At about the 4hour 30minute mark I hit the 1km to go sign…and I was coming up on another racer who was in front of me so I said, “Seriously, we are already done?” (I expected to be out about 6 hours).  The other racer said, “Are you kidding?  It has been long enough!”, as I passed him about 500 metres from the finish line.  My time on day one was 4:35.  What I did not realise, was that the racer I passed just short of the finish was my buddy Chris (yes Cottage Chris)…sorry, Chris.  NewfieSteve followed 15 minutes later, and the rest of our crew wandered in later.  A rainy, muddy, wet day one was over!!  Off for showers, supper, and recovery (beers)!


Day Two was sans rain, and we actually had to ride a couple of kilometres to the start line.  Everybody got lined up and the race started off immediately into singletrack, which created a huge bottleneck.  And the first half of the day was twisty, muddy singletrack…which is definitely not my forte…but it is what NewfieSteve and Chris excel at.  Chris left me behind right off the bat…and NewfieSteve dropped me somewhere mid-singletrack.  Eventually the singletrack opened up into gravel road where I managed to reel in and pass Chris.  Then the road gave way to the hilly, rocky doubletrack of the hydrocut where I was hoping to catch NewfieSteve.  However, struggling through the technical singletrack of the first half of the day had sucked the energy out of me, and I just didn’t have it to catch Steve.  When I came up to the 1 km to go sign I knew it wouldn’t happen.  When I crossed the finish Steve was there, and he had beaten me by 4min.  We road back to the camp where it was time for recovery.

Before I get into day three, there was a bit of an incident over the previous night.  The Crank the Shield is a 3 day stage race; however there is an option to race two days (Saturday and Sunday), for those who don’t want to do the entire 3 day.  The race organisers (Chico Racing), put us up in a high end summer camp (Camp White Pine) and there were 9 of us racers in our particular cabin for the first night. 

 However, for the second night we had a couple of extra racers who were doing the 2 day.  Sometime during the night I woke up to the strangest sound…and EnglishJim was awake wondering as well.  It sounded like the noise was coming from the rafters of the cabin…and it sounded exactly like a squirrel chewing through the shell of a very thick walnut; only very, very much louder. 

Apparently, one of our new campers had picked the bunk directly above EnglishJim’s (bunkbeds), and the new camper had a serious problem with grinding his teeth in his sleep!!!  I had never, ever heard anyone grind their teeth that loud!!  And if he wasn’t grinding, he was snoring!!  Luckily, I can sleep through almost anything, so once I realised what the noise was, I got back to sleep.  EnglishJim was not so fortunate, and was up all night…and had developed a serious hate for the new guy!! 

Anyways, back to the race.  This time we had to ride 15 kilometres to the start of the day 3 race which was at SirSams Ski and Bike.  This was great as a warm up because it was Zero degrees Celsius to start our day!!  The beginning of day 3 race had us climb up the ski hill, then the trail was a bermy snake down, then a twisty climb back up the hill, followed by a steep very technical downhill (aptly named Rockyroad), then the race opened up into gravel road, then a good 10 kilometres of hydrocut (the same hydrocut from day 1 only opposite direction…which meant we got to ride through the beaverdam again!!), and several kilometres of technical singletrack including Big Ben’s trail (VERY technical), the Pass, and Normac (very hilly!).  The day ended with about an open kilometer sprint to the finish line.  Day 3 was by far my best day; I felt strong and fuelled the entire day!  I finished several minutes ahead of Chris, and almost half an hour ahead of Steve (although Steve lost at least 10 minutes to repair a flat) to conclude our friendly rivalry.
This race is tough on the body…we were all battered and worn.  The pic below is what my hands looked like.

Now before I get flooded with masturbation comments…which is what happened when I posted this pic on my facebook (thank you to all my so called ‘friends’)…anybody who REALLY knows me would know that if that is what I was doing, it would be my forearms that would be chafed, not simply my palms.
So Crank the Shield 2012 is in the books…and unfortunately may be the last CTS ever…very sad.  Chico Racing does a great job promoting these events...and the Crank will be missed...hopefully they bring it back in some format. 

Results from the Crank are here.

I took Monday off to recover…Tuesday it is raining…so will be back at it Wednesday; have to prepare for the upcoming race on Saturday.  The Fall Epic 8 Hour race…NewfieSteve and I are tag teaming this race.
Will keep you posted!!

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