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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 bikini...in 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 course...it was what appeared to be a new rough hewn trail with perfectly wheel spaced holes that sucked momentum and hindered any attempt at speed...like 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 it...it 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 posts...you 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 pace...no 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 with...so 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 dirtwire.tv.  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!!
 
 

 

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