Is This A Logo??

Is This A Logo??

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Eager Beaver 2.0 100 Mile Gravel Grinder - Race Review Part 2

So, we left off yesterday's Part 1 of the race review, with me heading up the third stage of the four stage MurderHorn climb...the first major climb of the race....and possibly the toughest climb of the race.  This is a portion of the race where a mountain bike would have an advantage over a cross bike.  I look at my garmin to notice my heart rate holding in the mid 170s for beats per minute, and, for me, this is not sustainable.  I remind myself that I am doing this race more for fun, rather than gunning for a podium spot...but either has to get to the top of the hill.  I have passed several riders walking the climb.  I look up and see KarenG walking the climb...and Karen is one of the strongest climbers anywhere.  With 140 or so kms still to go...I determine that I should walk until my heart rate mellows some.  So I walk the several steps left in stage 3 of the MurderHorn.  (Took me a long dang time to say I walked the climb, eh?  Not necessarily a thing to be proud of...)  Damian and his crew ride up past me.  I get back on my bike to ride up stage 4...I want to crest the climb with some momentum.  I look up to see Fig cresting the climb on his mountain bike...I wouldn't see him again until the end.  I get to the top...Damian is stopped, either recovering or waiting for friends.  I mosey on.  The MurderHorn is done...possibly the toughest challenge of the race.  However there are at least 3 very nasty climbs yet to go,  although only one (the stream bed climb) should make it necessary to walk my bike again.

Several kms up the road was Aid Station 1.  Normally, when in race mode, I don't stop at the Aid Stations unless utterly necessary.  On this day, I stopped at them feed, renew hydration, and lube the chain.  And, it totally needs to be said that the volunteers at this race were AWESOME!!!  Bottles were filled, food was found, and chains were lubed with barely a grunt from my exhausted self.

Somewhere over the next few kms I come up on a rider wearing a sleeveless orange jersey.  I mostly stayed around 50 metres or so behind him...happy to ride solo at the pace he was carrying.  The next major climb in the race was up the very harsh, rocky, steep stream bed.  It was a doable, but tough climb on a mountain was virtually unrideable on a cross bike.  I rode my bike up to where the rocks became too numerous and slick for me to ride, then shouldered my bike and ran up the climb.  I looked up to see orange jersey doing the same.

From the run up it was back into gravel roads.  At some point after the run up, I stopped to help a rider who had dropped his DurAce crank.  However, having only the same little mutitool he had there was little I could contribute, and he was attending to I moseyed on.

There was this crazy guy at the 100 mile/ 100 km cutoff....
making sure we all went the right way...and he had beer!!

Then it was into the third big climb...another very long, multi staged climb...but this time on the loose gravel road.  Soon into the climb orange jersey bailed and walked...mumbling something to himself about giving up too early...I moseyed on.

the climb...the pain...

As I was struggling up the last and steepest section of the climb...head down with the effort...the ground lit up with a blaze!!  WTF was that??  Did I just have a stroke??  Then a huge thunderclap...and it was if the sky opened under the Niagara gorge...a torrential rain fall.  And that rain kept going, on and off, for at least two and a half hours.  I'm pretty sure at some point I saw this in the distance...

Anyways, I think the rain also scared off the photogs.  Until now they regularly emerged from the most nondescript places...from the ditch on a speedy tarmac descent, from the deep rut in a farm lane, even from the cornfield on the edge of a climb.....

Blaze?  misconceptionz?  Virgil?  Or children of the corn??

Anyways...once the rain started I didn't see the photogs again.

So, several kms after the 3rd climb, I stopped at Aid Station 2.  They had beer there!!  Up came RocketDog right on my tail...on his SS mountain bike.  RocketDog and I toasted our dixie cups of beer in the pouring rain.  Refueled, rehydrated, and lubed chain...RocketDog and I continued on together; but right after the Aid Station was the gnarliest descent in the race...especially in the rain.

A very long, steep, very very rutted loose gravel laneway....and the ruts were gushing with water from the torrent...there was no way to tell just how deep they were.  RocketDog screamed down at top speed on his mountain bike...he was gone and I never saw him again.  Apparently he was battling it out with Schultzy (who had passed me at some point) for top spot in SS (how do these guys go so fast on SS???).  Reminding myself that I was in this for fun, and that my old bones are rather brittle, I made my way down the descent with a certain element of caution....enough to make it down safely.  Then into more gravel roads...alone.

At this point, and for a long, long time...I couldn't see anyone in front of me, or anyone behind me.  Alone on the gravel...which was now soggy and soft...felt like riding through a beach.  But now the grit was getting in my brakes and bottom bracket...making my only company the grinding screech of wet grit on metal.  In case you don't know it, this is one hell of an irritating sound...enough to drive one bonkers!  I'm pretty sure they use this method to radicalize people...and create mass murderers...or something like that.

Anyways...then came the last real big climb.  Loooong, steep, loose gravel road...and now it was wet, soggy, and tire sucking.  This climb is a lung busting, leg killer in the best conditions.  In the rain, my brakes and bottom bracket seizing up...I was struggling huge.  Coughing up a lung, my heart pounding in my eyes...I reminded myself that I had determined not to walk my bike again.  With the grit on metal screeching in my ears, my quads burning to just keep the grinding bottom bracket turning, I reminded myself I was in this for fun.  Still metres from the top, I relented....I caved....I walked...I may have even cried a little.

And where that tear dropped, a single black rose took root and bloomed in the pounding rain...and it would still be there today if that old man in the corolla hadn't mowed it down.  A few wobbly steps had me at the top of the hill, where I used my water/fuel mixture to wash the grit out of my brakes and bb as much as possible (I had to do this a couple of times).  So, about 4.5 hours in...with about another 80 kms to go...but now the big climbs were over...I moseyed on.

At some point the rain let up...and in the distance behind me I saw a speck...growing larger.  It seemed to take forever for them to catch me...but they eventually did.  It was Damian and his crew, working together as a pace line.  As they passed me I latched on...although they were going faster than I really wanted, I took my turn at a couple of pulls, and did my best to hold on.

Eventually, we hit Aid Station 4, and with only 25km or so to go, a quick bottle refill and we were off.  But now Damian and his crew were on fire to finish.  They tore off at Mach 75million, or something like that...way, way faster than I wanted, or could, I let them go; and again continued on my own.

That crazy guy the 5km to go mark...and more beer!

Then into the last 5km...a slog through a field of soggy know...cuz the legs weren't burning enough by now...then the finish.  Finally.  7.5 hours...156kms....I was done.  8th in my category...not great...but not so bad, considering.

One heck of an Epic day...and so many other stories than mine.  Many pages and posts only recognize the people that end up on the podium...and that's great...but there are so many other people worthy of much respect.  People attempting an endurance race for the first time...especially under these conditions (there were SO many DNF's!!!) PinoyRyder...Andrea.  Everyone who actually finished this thing deserve huge kudos.  Crazy people doing it on fatbikes...JeffS, Raf...oh, and SteveG and SeanThighbolt on fatbikes but missing an obvious directional sign to go the wrong way and make their day an over 200km day...

SteveG after 200+kms on his fattie

I know...podium...but its the fastest of the fatties....

JeffS with the new, never yet ridden carbon fatbike...

The only thing crazier than fatbikes in this race may be the SSers!!!

RocketDog's SS

Schultzy on his SS

Pinoy Ryder 100 miles on his MTB!

SteveS...100kms on his MTB!

Stories of mechanicals, flats, brake Unglued's can read many of them on SubstanceProjects Facebook Page...

These were EnglishJim's 'friends' on Saturday night (how many of those BigWheel Ales did he drink??)...but that is another story for another kind of blog...

So Dan thank you for such a memorable event!  We need more of these.  And thank you to your sponsors...the prizes from Pearl Izumi...the Amsterdam Brewery beer (love that Big Wheel Amber!)...and special thanks to Cycle Solutions who had a huge contribution into making this event happen; so if you are in TO stop in at Cycle Solutions and show them your appreciation!

So...having approached this as a fun is time to get my race mojo back...I missed the component of the next one will be a push to race, to compete.  What is the next one??

There is this one...a 5 Hour Solo/Relay race in Paisley, Ontario this coming weekend...

But I don't think I can make it to the next one may be Dan's next race...

the Kingston Trophy of SubstanceProject's XC Marathon series...
So for that I had better be on the lookout for racing mojo...must find such...

So that's it...the race apologies for subjecting you to an extra post this week...
Will you be able to handle tomorrow's regular Thursday post??

Stay posted!

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