Just as the name suggests...it was.
The Spring Epic 8 Hour Mountain Bike race...sponsored by Chico Racing (with SuperflyRacing in the mix)...the progenitors of epic mountain bike events...at Mansfield Outdoor Centre.
Headed up Friday afternoon with PowerPaul in the team 'bus'...
NewfieSteve and Lisa eventually pulled in and we set up the solo pit area and relaxed for the evening.
(Most of the photo creds to Lois, and/or NewfieSteve)
With the 'Riot' touch...
(I broke three ribs on lap one of this race last season...did not want to repeat that feat again!)
Then Saturday morning was all business getting ready....and more racers came pouring in, and my pit boss (and sometimes wife), Lois showed up to take care of me during the day of effort and suffrage. By acclimation (no election or votes required) Lois ended up taking care of several solo racers on this day. Special thanks to KarenSpecializedAmbassador, serious, Giant, Al, and TimTheDuke for sharing their appreciation of Lois' fine efforts during the day.
Ready to go...
me and serious...disregard the background scenery...
There were superstars on site!
Emily! Did a few laps 'for fun'.
Anyways....enough pre-amble...on with the race report.
In the paddock with serious on one side of me...he was racing solo single speed...and TheGreatCanadianSagle on the other side...racing solo. Off the start...they were gone and outta site. I just tried to keep pace with the group....which at Mansfield off the start on a single speed is a tough push. The start is a loooong grinding doubletrack (or more) steady climb...and on the single speed had my heart rate redlining right off the bat...which is ok...I need that warm up.
Then the course leveled out into a section of flattish double track to allow a bit of recovery before diving into the single track. The first half of the course was a mix of short sections of single track and more double track to allow for plenty of opportunities for passing. Which was great to let the racers get sorted out off the start. And great kudos to ChicoRacing for such a fun, challenging course!! With enough slight changes from previous years to add a bit of mystery and new challenge.
But with 175 m of climbing per 11 km lap...some long steady climbs, and some steep punchy walls....then some fast, tech, rooty descents; I found the rigid single speed a massive challenge. But that is what I signed up for. As CoachRob aptly put it...with the rigid single speed the 'ON' button is always pushed all the way in...there is no rest. It is up and out of the saddle climbing, or up and out of the saddle descending the tech...your body being your dynamic suspension. Anyways...as I said, that is what I signed up for, I wanted that challenge and experience for future races. But so much respect for the single speed veterans, like serious and Alexa who schooled me like the newbie I am.
The single speed may be so much more work, but it is also so much fun. Pure, simple, light, and efficient.
And ApexTed and his crew (ApexRacePhotography) was on site to record the pain. Looking forward to those pics!!
My first 3 laps went fairly fine...then by lap 4 I was feeling the hurt. Caught on with Karen again...and rode some sections with her...or tried to...keeping these socks in sight...
Rode some partial laps with Alexa...on her single speed; before she dropped me like the geeky kid at the prom (which was also me...).
By lap 5 I was deep in the pain zone. My ego wanted to stay with the single speed for the entire 8 hours...but my quads, and lower back were begging for gears, and my shoulders, neck, and upper back were begging for suspension. So...as I finished lap 6 (over 1040m climbing so far)....and headed up the start hill, barely able to keep the pedals spinning for lap 7...I knew it was time to switch.
And as I pulled into the solo pit on lap 7, I made the switch...(well, Lois mainly made the switch...I mostly stood and drooled...). But by now, I was mostly shattered. The geared hardtail was more comfortable, easier to ride...and likely faster at this point...but I was mostly drawn out...hashtag- nomorejuice. I finished lap 7...onto lap 8. And there was Martin mentioning he was struggling...and considering this his last lap (as he went on to do 11 total laps...). Lap 9...I took a long break at the solo pit...considering my options...I was in no contention to podium, nor did I expect to be on this day...and was near the point of no return. So, on I went to finish off the lap. As I swiped my chip for lap 9, I realized I had time to do another...but not the energy...I was done.
So another amazing Epic 8. And another great job by ChicoRacing. They have this thing down pat by now. So organized, and professional; yet fun...and always challenging. And they had Emily!!
Congrats to all the podium finishers...including some TrueGrit!
Kevin and Christine, 1st place!!
Paul and Richard (Double W...makes sense doesn't it??), 1st place!!
And some amazing performances:
Adam always KingOfTheHill at this event...first overall solo with 14 laps.
Bryant first solo single speed with 13 laps.
Alexa second solo female with 11 laps...on a single speed.
TheGreatCanadianSagle second with 13 laps, in training for Leadville.
Me and the Sagle
Al M making a comeback after taking all year off with knee surgery with 10 laps.
JohnH with 10 laps on his first solo 8.
Giant, struggled ready to call it quits at 5 laps, Lois cajoled him on...and he went on to put in 12 laps!
HeatherM completing her first solo 8.
We missed TeamColin at this event.
We missed SingleSpeedSarah!! Get better soon, please!
Then the usual post race shenanigans....
So there. The first endurance event of the season (or relay, if you did it that way). I survived intact...which is a win over last year!
And still loving the single speed. Enough that I registered to race it at this coming weekend's Long Sock Classic in Ganaraska.
No cats were injured in this post....