It soon became their dream to share this paradise with others who were also infected with this passion. So a holey (yup that is spelled correctly) alliance was arranged; with DanOfSubstance and his mountain bike race promotions company Substance Projects. Dan already had a gravel race series (called the Stuporcross...his name, not mine...), so in collaboration with Linda and Craig the Howling Coyote was born. A new race in the Stuporcross series, through the trails and gravel roads of Mono, Ontario.
In planning, Linda and Craig wished to have sweeps. (Sweeps are folks who ride behind the racers, ensuring no one gets left behind, and assisting any racers in need). It's been 6 weeks since my crash breaking my collarbone and ribs. I still am not in condition to race, but I thought that sweeping would be a good test for my repairing bones....so I offered. SingleSpeedSarah had already offered to sweep the 80km version of the race (PeterF ended up joining her as sweep...both on fatbikes!), so I offered to sweep the 40km option. (And I am glad I didn't do the 80...Sarah and Peter were out there for 5.5 hours!!)
So, Sunday morning Johnny (who was racing the 80km) and I packed up the truck and headed up to Mono. A very nasty, frosty cold windy morning....but it was great to see so many members of the mountain bike race community, after weeks of me being absent.
Photo by BarryC
Photo by TedA ApexRacePhotography
And from my perspective, the race was amazing. Now I realize, many if not most race reviewers are all rainbows and unicorns...all races are great, amazing, phenomenal. That's not me, at worst I will call it as I see it...at best I won't comment at all. So, as I saw it...this race was amazing! It was great to see the race from the sweep perspective. I could take it easy pace-wise...chat with folks, encourage struggling riders, converse with marshals, talk to volunteers. I could skip the hills.
OK...as sweep I had to cover the entire course (the 40 km course). So, I couldn't skip the hills. The hills were brutal. Dan always seems to do this in his races...long, steep, long, never ending hills. Brutally sweet challenges. I can still feel my heart rate bursting though my forehead...
Photo by Christina
But the hills made for spectacular views...the fall colours beginning to burst from the greenery. And as sweep, I could take the time to enjoy them.
Photo by SteveS
The volunteers were all pleasant and engaging...encouraging racers to refuel, hydrate, and maintain the pace. Some volunteers were Dan's team/family, some like myself were racers who chose to volunteer support for various reasons, and some were locals providing community support for the event. The community support was evident and encouraging...in fact the mayor of Mono baked pies with local ingredients as prizes!!
Photo by BarryC
The feed stations were minimally stocked, but the meal options at the finish were amazing. Hot and delicious, meat-eater and vegan options. I believe the finish meals were also prepared by locals. I think these people want us to come back!
However...possibly the most memorable piece of the event was the proliferate gravel road options; quiet country roads rolling through the hills and forest of the county. And so often, within view of the gravel were obvious trails winding through greenery...nature's enticing call to the mountain biker. A place of dreams to the gravel rider/mountain biker. I will have to get up there simply to enjoy the riding sometime soon.
The Lapdogs chose to ride together and finish together as a team in honour
of their fallen comrade Steve Hart. Steve passed unexpectedly, but
peacefully in the days prior to the event. I did not know Steve well...just the
occasional 'hello', but I feel like I do after hearing all the stories and anecdotes.
By all accounts he was a special soul, which perhaps explains why he went
too soon. Quick with a smile, or laugh...a master of trash talk, a devoted
hardworking teammate, and a powerhouse on the bike. My sincere
condolences to all of Steve's family and friends.
So there you have it. If you missed this race, you missed a great one. If you were there, you survived the cold, and the hills...and you loved it...good on ya!! I'm betting you'll be back.
(I had to drink enough to see the logo on the glass)
As for me and my injury recovery, I survived the experience fine. A little achey for a while after, but OK. And I have been able to get on proper mountain bike trails this week.
Photo by BarryC
But how can I complain when there are so many friends in similar or worse circumstances. Barry with a recently separated shoulder, Valerie broken collarbone, SuzyQ shattered leg, and now Linda broken leg surviving getting hit by a truck!! Some tough ladies!! (Ya, you too Barry!). I wish you all the fastest healing possible!
And now I have about 25 extra pounds to lose. Some beauty fall riding to get into. And Dan's fatbike series to look forward to!