Where to start??? Not staying on site on the Friday night was a great idea. Had a pretty good sleep but was woken up to pouring rain. Trust me when I say I tried to pull the covers over my head far enough not to hear it. I pretty much had the car ready to roll the night before,put the bikes on the roof and waited for my Mom and Aunt Ruth to show up.
The weather did start to improve on our way to Albion and by the time we got there it was almost nice. Got things setup and did a once over with everything that was going to happen during the race etc. Then pretty much got into my head. I'd already heard the the course had been altered once because of the rain over the night.
An hour before the race I was dressed and rolled out for an easy warm up, as much as I had a long time to race I still needed that little bit of spinning. I knew the start was going to be cruel. There is roughly 2400 racers total and in the start coral roughly 400-450. Yep that's a lot and I want to be near the front of all that craziness. Mom was in the start area by 11:30 with one of the bikes. 2nd row. Perfect.
Of course this is just about the time that the rain started up again. Spotted Erick from Solidworks. He was able to roll up beside me. He was my big competition even though he was now bumped to the over 40 crowd. He was 2nd at both the Ontario 24 hours last year. My game plan. Stick with him. He also pointed out Francis from Team Kinetic my big threat in the division.
The count down and we were off. The start loop was pretty slick and the first climb that is used to break people up turned into the first run of the day. This payed off and split up the pack a bit. Got back on track and continued to pull riders in including Erick and Francis. First lap we came through together. The guys got a bit of a gap on me when I couldn't get my chip back in my shorts. Don't ask. I carry my chip in my front right short.
It' wasn't a huge gap but enough that they were out of sight, no worries. The rain didn't stop The course was still pretty much ridable the second lap but the bike was already looking like hell. The plan to rotate bikes every 3-4 laps changed very quickly. Rolled into my transition tent, swapped bikes and was off. Saw Jacob on the way to the timing tent and let him know what was happening with the bike already. Back brakes were already gone after two laps.
Coming into the 3rd lap the rain still kept hammering down. The first 3 km section of trail started to become unridable. Once I hit the road section I was able to clear the bike enough for it to roll. Awww yes this is how the race started. The mud was beginning to build and this was that wonderful mud that cakes perfect in between forks and wheels. Kept pushing but the lap times slowed a little with the hike a bike section. Bike rotations happened every lap now. My wonderful sub 24 lbs Anthem X1's were now somewhere around 45-50 lbs.
4th lap was pretty much the same. Brendan went smoking by me not realizing it was me. Race kit was pretty much solid black with caked mud. The 5th lap actually got faster, the rain had stopped and sections started to become ridable again. This was a good thing because my shoulders were taking a bit of a beating from all the hike a bike. I did one climb cyclcross style. Unfortunately a full suspension does not shoulder very well. Coming into the timing tent I was a little bewildered. Everyone was stopped.
The boys at Chico were forced to change the course and were holding people till 6pm. You had the option to attempt the 3 km section or wait it out. This was my first chance to talk with Francis. He was in 1st but waited it out. Of course I was concerned on my lead over 3rd. I was up about 30 minutes at that point in the race. When they let us get back on course I did want most would do. I waited and gave Francis a good lead before I jumped in the pack. This was probably the most enjoyable lap even though we still had to run the first section of trail. Things were good, hmmm that's not right.
Yep it started to rain again. For this lap I had Mom meet me mid way for a second feed, with the longer lap times my nutrition intake was less than it should have been. Had to play catch up but in very controlled rate. I let her know when I picked up the bottle that I was going to switch clothes, bikes and get my lights on at the end of this lap. Lights needed to be on by 7:15. I took about 10 minutes to scrap off the mud, change kits etc. I opted for a rain coat since it had become a pretty steady drizzle at this point. I wanted to stay dry for at least a half lap.
This was where the fun began. The course became pretty much drag a bike. The skill learned was how to clean out the mud quickly After the first section I headed into the first road section. I start to pedal and nothing is happening. Look down. What the hell. Shit. Snapped my derailleur. So a couple good things of this. I broke it right at the best possible place on the course. I was only about a 10 minute push/walk back to my transition tent. Next up was I was fighting overheating, that rain coat idea was not good and trapped to much heat in. I was sweating pretty good underneath. My support crew motored quickly to get the lights on the other bike which they barely had time to get the mud off of as I changed jersey's for the 3rd time. Went back to the marshal station I came off at and continued losing roughly 35 minutes from the time I pulled off to getting back on.
The course did become almost unrideable again. The sections that had held up till now were skating rinks. I switched the bike into the granny and left it there. I wasn't risking blowing another derailleur. I just kept my head down and eyes looking at 10 feet ahead. The weather is going to clear, I will get to ride my bike. I kept pushing/walking/coasting and the odd time pedalling.
When I came into my transition tent I asked a couple marshal's on what was happening with the course and race. It was still a steady rain, the section of the course that was normally a great sponge was now beyond it's absorption rate. They said that there were talks about shutting things down but they were not sure of much at that point. I quickly changed my bikes. I had to get to the timing tent to find out what's happening. Talked to Matt of Chico and he said at that point they were going to keep things going. The weather is supposed to clear.
Ok, I needed to get things sorted out, I knew I lost some time with the bike failure, I also knew I needed to get some nutrition back in my system. I made the decision to go back to my tent and get warm, eat, get refocused and setup for the long night ahead. By the time I got back it was about 9:45. Got things setup with my support crew. The plan was now changed that I was going to chill for at least a half an hour, let my legs get some recovery. We wanted to wait for the rain to stop. My strenght is riding the bike not pushing it. What I was hoping is that with the little break any time I lost doing this would be made up by having some fresher legs than the couple guys ahead of me. I could ride a little harder and pull them in.
Unfortunately this plan went to the shits. The boys were shutting down the race for midnight. I didn't get this info until it was to late. I was far from ready to jump back on the bike. AKA no clothing, was wrapped in a huge blanket getting my core back up to temperature. Also trying to get food in. We had no idea on the time splits to everyone. We also didn't have full information on what time they were stopping things, what time riders could still go out at etc. Our site was a little distance from the timing tent. Well I went from 2nd overall to 3rd to 4th in about 2 hours of confusion.
Am I pissed, a little, disappointed for sure. I've worked hard for this race, I was battling for the lead and had a couple wrenches tossed into the spokes. The weather, straight out this was the hardest race I have ever done. This was not a mountain bike race but more a pushfest. A couple upsides of things. My knees, well lets just say I did a race that worked every possible weakness that my body has, knees etc. They were awesome. What would it have been like if I was actually able to ride more??? End result was 4th division 5th overall.
The damage, one Shimano XTR carbon rear derailleur, multi pule disc brake pads. My back is a little trashed but overall I'm feeling really good. I will be meeting up with the boys for tomorrow's single speed ride. I need to hear Andrew's stories about his weekend. Congratulations Mr. Watson.
Here is a little idea of what the mud was like. This was my race kit for the first 6 hours of the race. Mom washed this in the lake once to get the worst of the mud off
After 2x through the washer.
The thank you's. First off Mom, Aunt Ruth and my sister for supporting both myself and Jenn's fiance. Rick did great. With out the 3 of them obviously the race would be done almost as fast as it started.
Jacob and Shane. Part of the Monday night something. Thank you so uch for keeping my bikes rolling.
Jacob spent pretty much the whole race at my site and would barely get a bike cleaned and rideable before I came in to trash it again. Like clock work when Jacob went on his lap Shane took over. Guys I owe you huge.
So some random thoughts, because my body is not as trashed as planned is not changing to much for the race schedule. I am thinking about doing the Hardwood summer 8 hour now. I'll keep things a little low key for the next couple weeks and just ride for a little bit of fun before picking it up for August and September.
There is more but Ill add that tomorrow, For now rest.