Ventured my way down to Hardwood Ski and Bike last night to join in the fun of their weekly series. Most times this doesn't jive with my training but every once in a while the planets align and all hell breaks loose. Went out for a warm up lap of the course I'd planned on racing, Heather wanted me to blow out the legs tonight, I was a little excited. The course was somewhat what i remember from last year's 50 km but being older my memory seems to be going. Nothing to exciting, a little bit of climbing, fast flowing corners with a few little tech parts. Basically a perfect warm up for Saturday.
Hardwood draws some big numbers every week and splits them up among 5 courses. When i first started to race this was where I used to come for the competition. It hasn't dropped in any means. As I rolled up to the line, ok more way at the back of the pack as the little ones all seemed to remember to stage themselves, all 60 of them I had a few interesting people roll up beside me. Numbering somewhere around 4-5 pro/elites, a couple junior experts and a couple other people that are slightly known in the Canadian cycling world. Now you know that this is already starting to add up to bad things. 10 plus really fast riders stuck at the back of a huge pack of riders about to start a sub 30 minute race.
The horn goes and it didn't take long for lots of squeezing in the nicest way. I jumped on Jacob's wheel where he seemed to know a great line that included jumping over some random log. The double track splits and rejoins about 50 feet up and this is where things went bad. Yes 30 seconds into the race as the packs merged two riders mixed together the wrong way and went down. The pack managed to stop or swerve around them with no added injuries. In some ways this was a good thing because it did get the 10 of us out front, less chance of us causing crap when were separated. There was some bumping and smack talking till the bottom of the first climb when the pace instantly quickened.
The next few minutes were pretty intense, pulled a couple riders in that had and stayed on the gas keeping Tristan only a few second ahead of me. He was my carrot for the day. I know he can out power me on the open trail but I could catch him in the single track being smooth. I wanted to beat my 24 hour tag team partner, no reason, just because. I kept inching forward on him and then it happened. Just over the half way mark he stalled and I got by him. Back on the gas, my legs felt great lots of power. Then it happened to me. I hit a bump and i felt a shift, I thought I knew what it was but told myself can't be.
Some random glances back I still had 10 seconds or so on Tristan, I felt it again. It was no illusion. I was over 2/3 the way through now and sitting 4th. Of course the worst thing to happen, my front wheel washed out jammed the bars and dismounted. This was all Tristan needed to get by me. Quick recovery but I knew things were bad, I could turn my handlebars like a throttle. Not good and turning it didn't make me go any faster. Back on the power I figure I would go for as long as I could where it was still safe. This meant if the bars started to go left or right I would stop besides that i could work through it. I had to back things down a bit in the single track, every bump caused a shift
Two guys were able to take advantage of this and got passed me, I still kept up a good fight when I could and as I came closer to the line I almost pulled Taylor back in, self fear of the bars right at the edge of not safe had me let him go and crossed the line 8th. My hands were aching a little from death gripping the bars. It may have been a fun race but it turned into a mini Ontario Cup race. For me it was nice to finally see what my legs can do. This was the first time they have not been trashed going into a race. It was a huge confidence booster going into the 8 hour. There be some power in those legs.
Tonight will be a nice chill spin with the Molly Monster followed by another once over both Anthem's. I think this may included double checking every bolt on both bikes. Just because.
Disclaimer: No children under the age of 8 were run over, pushed off the trail or yelled at during the race.