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Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Eager Beaver 100 Mile Mountain Bike Race Report

Another race in the books...possibly the toughest one of the year!  Top up that coffee, whiskey, hash pipe (hey who am I to judge??), and pit in...cuz here is the story.

The Eager Beaver is Canada's only 100 mile mountain bike race.  It is held in Mansfield, a fun, technical place to ride if not for the geographical moraine...which means plenty of sand...adding to the challenge (means make it tough as heck!!).  I prefer my sand with bikinis and rum (no I don't were a public). 

We actually left Friday to camp on-site at Mansfield, race Saturday, return home Sunday.  The group of friends that travelled and camped together included me, Fig, EnglishJim, Jamie, and Giant.  Jamie and Fig were to travel with me but once I picked up Fig, and he loaded my truck with half the contents of his house, and three fridges worth of food, wasn't sure we would have enough room for Jamie.  Did manage to squeeze him in then meet with Giant and Jim and off we were. 

We got to Mansfield early enough to get in a nice pre-ride of about 10km of the course.  From what we could see it was challenging but a great amount of fun.  And the sandy bits added to the challenge. 
Then we got our camp site set up...

Race time was 7am Saturday morning.  As we were making final preparations and making our way to the paddock, Giant's rear wheel blew out its valve spewing air and Stan's fluid (Giant's real name is 'Flat'...cuz he always gets one).  Dan Marshall, race director/promoter actually delayed the start enough to let Giant repair (only took about 5 minutes). 

Eventually, start time, and we were off.  The race course was something like this...a 53 kilometre loop done 3 times to make 160 kms = 100 miles. There was also an 80 km option that started later at feed station 2, and this is what race Jamie opted for.  The start of the 100 miler led into a long double track leafy climb, into a double track flat, then into a twisty bit through the pines.  This pine section may have been my least favourite part of the was what appeared to be a new rough hewn trail with perfectly wheel spaced holes that sucked momentum and hindered any attempt at I needed any help being slow.  Most of the climbs came in the first section of the course...a couple of long sandy double track climbs, and sandy technical single track climbs.  Notice the repeating theme of sand...Mansfield is known for adds to the challenge, and adds to the need to pace your endurance/energy expenditure (at least for an old, fat guy...).   

One of my favourite parts of the course came immediately after feed station 2...a 150 meter fire-road descent into what appeared to be an unrideable perpendicular wall...(there was an around)...that if you approached with speed your momentum would carry you to the top with nary a pedal stroke, into a fun bit of twisty single track.  Then this single track dumped out onto a sandy fire road climb...this climb got progressively steeper as you got to the top, and ended in a very steep left switchback, testing power and endurance.  Then from this point most of the course was flat, or descents including some fun small drops that gave an opportunity to catch some air...and fun steep rooty climbing, and descending switchbacks. 

The ending of the course included a long fire-road descent that gave you the opportunity to gain a lot of speed if you dared to take the chance on sandy curves...the descent ending in a deep bed of sand...right curve into a 500 meter double-track false-flat/slight climb into the finish line;  then do it all over again. 
If you have followed my previous will know that Fig is a consummate yapper (that means he never stops talking).  His heart rate could be 600bpm and he would still be yammering.  You could ride blindfolded, if he was in front of you...just follow the yappage.  Anyways this was an actual trail in the race...aptly named for Fig...

The race started with a handful of riders pulling away...throughout the course of the day, I caught and passed a couple of riders, and got caught and passed by a couple of riders.  However, for the entire race, Fig and I battled it out back and forth.  I would pull away, and he would catch me...then he would pull away and I would catch him.  His transition times at feed stations were faster than mine giving him a chance to pull ahead, however I had to stop with less frequency as he only had one water bottle, and I had a 3 litre camelback.  This little competition made us faster...always going at race time to get dopey, space out, and just ride to finish.  And kudos to SingleSpeedSarah, who battled with us for more than the first two laps, then dropped us at feed station one when we stopped to refill our fluids...and we never did catch her again.  Ah well...I am used to women running away from me... 

Anyways, Fig and I kept at it, till the final fire-road descent where Fig chose to let it hang, and take the chance on taking the sandy curves at speed...where my crashes this year (and my age and lengthy time to recover) made me cautious, feathering the brakes to negotiate the sand safely.  When I hit the sand bed at the bottom of the descent I looked up, and Fig was about 75 metres ahead of me into the double track...I pounded it to catch him into the final sprint to the finish (as much as one can pound it after 159 kilometres and 9+ hours of riding...I'm sure we were going about 8 km/hr).  This is the actual pic of me trying to catch him...
I gained but I couldn't quite catch...he beat me by 2 seconds (Figs time = 9hrs49mins25sec;  my time = 9:49:27)...and upon stopping everything locked up...I fell to the ground in quad locking pain!
This is Fig at the finish...

All finishers were awarded with an EB100 mug and beverage to fill it we quickly recovered to enjoy.  
Yup...that is certainly helmet hair. 
Jamie (who raced the 80km option), and EnglishJim (who managed two laps) were at the finish waiting for us...and Giant rolled in a little later completing his first 100 miler. This is Giant (his nickname is not a result of his size...)

By the way, many of these pics are courtesy of  You can check them out here
Overall, it was a great weekend, spent with great friends doing something we all love.  I came in second in my age category (does it matter there were only 3 of us??).  Fig is 45 years younger than me and is in a younger category, but we have our 'friendly' rivalry.  I pushed myself to the limit, thanks to Fig's stubbornness...just as it should be (although I hurt for two days afterward).  And, as always, Dan Marshall (SubstanceProjects) put on an awesome race...the weather was perfect, the course was huge challenging fun and Dan's events always promote a casual positive atmosphere.  I wish more riders would get out and support and enjoy his events. 

What is next on the race sched?  The Garden City Classic on Sept 15th.  Otherwise, making a life, making a living, and in between that riding, training.  Till then...

Stay posted!!


Sunday, 18 August 2013

Tour de Caffeine - fun in suffrage

So my friend/nemesis Unglued (yes another British friend), invited me to go on a ride with him and the race team/cycling club he belongs to, the Lapdogs.  The ride, titled the Tour de Caffeine is a 240 km road ride through central Ontario visiting local coffee shops.  Yes, 240 kms (that's about 140 miles for all you codgers...or Americans)...hence suffrage!!  Pit in, hold on...the story goes like this...

(Just so you know the cat-pic-theme of this post is at the request of EnglishJim...these British...)

Anyways, back to the and Unglued actually started from his house, and rode 30 kms to the ride start at the Cherry Bomb Coffee Café in Toronto.  After a bit of a meet n greet (There were about 30 other riders), an espresso and pre ride scone (provided by the Lapdogs, thank you!!), and the ride was off...first leg was about 80 km to Café Domestique in Dundas.  Of course, yours truly (that means me), had the first the first 20 km...a slow leaking flat...just my luck.  However, luckily, Larry (who was manning the sag wagon), was way faster at changing a flat than me and had me up and running faster than I could find a tree to pee behind!!  Thank you Larry!!

Eventually made it to Café Domestique, for a bit of a lengthy stay, for the group to refuel and rehydrate...then it was time for leg 2...the leg of hills.  Leg 2 was about another 80 kms, starting with Sydenham hill...a long steep winding lung-buster of a climb.  Several kilometres later was Bell School Line hill...another long steep climb followed almost immediately by the long climb of 6th Line Road.  The hills really strung out the group...into several small groups...and these smaller groups eventually made the way to the town of Erin where we stopped at the Shed Café/Coffee Shop to again rehydrate, and eat.

The last leg was a 50 km bomb down Mississauga Road, however several kilometres were unexpectedly gravelled; and the gravel was rough.  Enough to shake my bike to the point where my saddle pack zipper split and, unknown to me at the time, the contents spilled out behind me.  A rider behind me alerted me, so I had to veer off, leave the small group I was with, to search and recover the equipment I had lost.

Now I was all alone...the riders behind me were not yet in sight...the riders I was with were well ahead.  So, I needed a full out 45 minute TT effort to latch back onto another group (after 200 kms TT hurts!)...Kinda felt like the doofus that goes all out for a Strava segment...

Anyways...I eventually ended up back at my truck at Unglued's house. Then I had to quickly get home, as Lois and I had made dinner plans with friends!  7 hrs and 51 minutes of ride time (almost 12 hours in total adding stopped time and travel time)...made for a long one.  Over 6000 calories burned!!  Made for an great day!  Thank you to Unglued and the Lapdogs!!

So how did I follow up the Saturday 240 km ride??  Sunday had me join Centurion and Fig for a 100 km ride!!  In case you are not familiar with these two ride partners check out the post 'Centurion the Destroyer'...they piled more hurt on my suffering body...

Monday, I took as a rest day...Tuesday as a weight workout day.  Wednesday and Thursday were lengthy MTB days, including one day of a 2 hour morning ride with Fig, followed by an evening riding with CptSydor, VVagabond, and JDuffet chasing my fat butt around our local trails.  These guys and gals (VVagabond, is a gal, CptSydor''s significant other...don't worry...she will kick your arse all over the trails!) are all great riders...I felt like this the whole time...

Our local trails are a great workout...lot's of hills!  Friday was a weight workout day, Saturday a short easy recovery type of prepare for today (Sunday) another long one with Centurion and Fig...and anyone else who will join us.

There are three very tough races in September, that all of this is preparing me for.  The first one, next weekend, may be the toughest one of the year.  It is dubbed The Eager Beaver... a 100 mile (160km) MTB race in Mansfield.  It will be a killer!!!  Fig and EnglishJim are also doing this race...just hope Jim keeps his clothes on this time...(in case you haven't been following...Jim tends to always find a way to end up nude in public...)

Other than NakedJim...I am looking forward to this race!  I will let you know how it goes!!

Stay posted!!

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

DoubleTrouble (Two Race reports) – Epic8 – Six in the Hood

So almost fully recovered from a recent crash (physically recovered anyways; the mental thing is still questionable, the mental thing is still questionable, the mental thing is still questionable...oops), led me into a double race weekend.  Saturday August 3rd was the Summer Epic8 hour relay race, which I entered myself and NewfieSteve into as a two man team.  Sunday August 4th was the Six in the Hood 6 hour relay race, which I entered myself and Fig (Steve did not want to do both races) as a two man team.  So if you are masochistic enough grab a coffee, beer, or whiskey and pit in to enjoy, endure, or at least tolerate the race reports.  Here goes!!

Epic 8
So the Summer Epic 8 (second of a three race series), was held at Hardwood Ski and Bike.  EnglishJim, Fig, NewfieSteve and me headed out at 6am.  Jim and Fig were soloing the race, NewfieSteve and I were a two man team (We were team DaNoofie N DaNative).  We set up our pit and settled in for the start.



Fig and Steve


So if you remember my race report for the Spring Epic8, Steve cramped up mid race requiring me to do a double lap or two to allow him to recover.  Therefore we decided ahead of time that I would do a couple of double laps again, to be proactive and eliminate the possibility of Steve cramping up mid lap.  This strategy worked well for us, and kept Steve going full out, however the double laps with only a single lap rest in between, left me quite wiped.
The course for this race was plenty of new twisty single track (about 9 kms in total); while this type of trail is fun to ride it is not my forte (that means I am not fast on this stuff).  Give me roots, rocks, hills, or just head down hammering on endurance and pain tolerance trumps my skill level...and I am ok...but I am slow on the twisty stuff.  However, I was fortunate to have Steve as a he is a rocket in this type of trail.
We had an ongoing battle with friend and competition dskunk (his nickname is Dave), who was also on a two man team in this race.  I must have met dskunk 3 or 4 times on the race course (and by ‘meet’ I mean him passing me and leaving me in the dust, dammit!).
Actually, the best part of the race course may have been Marshall station #4...because the Marshall in attendance looked a whole lot like this...

At least that’s how she looked to an exhausted, old mountain biker!
Anyways, I need to give Kudos to my friend Frank (his nickname is Frank), who did this race as his first race ever...and he solo’d it and got in 11 laps!!  Well done Frank!
In the end, I got in 8 a team we got in 14 laps...which got us 6th place (just 3 seconds short of 5th place!).  Not great, but not bad...actually it was a great improvement over last year.  The good news is that after the Spring 8hr race, and this Summer 8hr race DaNoofie N DaNative are second overall in the series.  So we need to kick butt in the Fall 8hr coming up in September to take the series championship!!
Fig got in 13 laps, which got him 6th place in the solo category...and we learned something new about EnglishJim at this race.  Check this out, only if you dare...


Apparently, to keep his Jersey from chafing his sensitive nippies, Jim applies electrical tape as protection...and has been doing so for years without us knowing...but now we know...and so do you!!  J
Sorry Jim...

Six in the Hood

So, exhausted, sore, and exhausted (yes, double exhausted)  Fig and I were on the road at 7am to do it again at the Six hour race at Port Colborne near the Robin Hood Flour plant (Hence the name Six in the Hood).  This time Lois was able to attend and help out in the pit.
The bike:

Fig and Lois

The Pit


We were not familiar with the course, so this was a new one for us.  As it turns out, it was again almost entirely tight twisty singletrack...and to top it all off it was mostly loose gravelly least I was getting a lot of practice on my weakness!
Fig took the first lap.  The course was about 12 kms long, which made for 40-45 minute laps for us.  On my second lap I washed out in some loose rock and clipped my left forearm on a sharp stone (not Sharon unfortunately).  I was quickly up and back at race pace, but the arm felt funny.  At the end of the lap, as Fig peeled off to do his lap, I headed to the pit to refuel, rehydrate, and check on my arm.  The arm had a short, but deep, puncture wound...and was bleeding heavily.  That ‘funny’ feeling in my arm was blood running down my arm into my glove.  I rinsed, and wiped as much of the blood off of me as I could and headed out for my third lap.
I didn’t even think about the arm during my lap, just concentrated on going as fast as I could...and pulled into the transition area at the end of the lap to pass the baton on to Fig as he took off for his final lap.  Lois was waiting at the transition are, and the first thing she said as I walked over was “Oh my god (OMG??), look at your arm!!”.  Well, there was a lump the size of a large apple on my forearm!! 
Not quite this big...but almost...


Actually, it is hard to notice lumps on my arms cuz they normally look like this...



Just kidding...actually there was a St. John’s medic station 10 steps from the transition area, and Lois dragged me over to them.  They cleaned, and dressed the injury...and advised that we go to emergency immediately...but I knew it wasn’t that bad...
Actually this is what it looks like is healing well.


Anyways, Fig had a great final lap...and in the end we ended up with 7 laps in...good enough for 5th place (and again, just several seconds from 4th).  Not bad, considering ...and it was great fun!!
Props go out to Short Hills Cycling Club.  They hosted the race and this was the first time they did it as a relay race...and it was fantastic. 
So, now, will work on recovering this week...then I have been invited on a 235 km group road ride this coming weekend...should be fun.  I’ll let you know...

Stay posted!!