What a weekend. It's the only way to start. This could turn into a typical two day post about a race because of all that happened. There were a few points on the Saturday that the ability to even get out of mid northern Ontario began. For some resin hurricane Iambitch decided to make it's way to Ontario instead of some tropical island down south. Whiteouts, slow traffic, snow plows, and trees down seemed to be the order of the morning. That was what I was in for if I could ever finish packing. It's a very exciting thing to wander around your basement with a headlamp on trying to find stuff. The power outage just added to the excitement. Some how I managed to not forget anything.
South bound finally and I'd already got a warning on what I was driving into from Shannon. I figured it would be clear by the time I headed to her work. Little did I know, forced detours by closed highways, the thoughts of making it to the race began to start. A quick visit to Shannon's work had me playing with baby race horses.
The trip continued and the weather instantly changed for the better. Seems that for the first time the land of rainbows and butterflies was farther south. When you head this far south you need to do what any couple does, we went to Niagara Falls and did a few tourist type things, none of those included wax museums or casinos. On came the options of where to stay. A few checks on the portable computer thingamabob with some borrowed Internet found us heading to Port Colburne for the night. Staying close to the race was a great idea.
I have to rave about this place a little. We stayed at Canalside. It's a restaurant with a couple rooms above. First off food, fantastic, service fantastic, beer selection, yep fantastic with a list of some locally brewed beers which needed to be tried. Yes the beer was great. Making are way up to the room, huge with kitchen etc. Would we stay there or recommend to others, most certainly. We are already thinking about a trip down this summer with the road bikes to tour around wine country. It's the type of place that you can stay for a few days without being forced to eat out.
On to race day. Sun was up, a good crisp air, it was looking like a perfect day. It was. After the quick low down at registration headed over to the course for a lap. It's seems like it's not very often that I race some where that I've never ridden. Add that to the fact that my body has not seen or responded to single track in almost 4 months I figured it may be a good idea to ride around once. I was joined by the Monster clan rocking the Misfit's. Trail conditions were perfect. We cruised around the course, I started smiling. It felt great to be riding over, stuff. Full lap done it was just about time to pick up the pace.
Start time, staged in the first wave of 5. lined up with the 3 Liberty team riders and Shorthills local fast guy JC. Intensity has not been on the books, not for a while. I knew this would hurt and since I'm not known for being fast in the first 30 minutes of any race I had a bit of an idea of what may happen. Go time. a quick funnel in to the first single track had me in the middle of the pack. Left and right turns with my eyes crossed was probably not a good thing. It showed. In the first 2 km I probably dabbed a foot more than it was in the pedals, It didn't take long before the gap opened, by this time I was red lined, I tried to regain my breathing and slow the pace a little but race mentality is hard to control. It wasn't the fitness that seemed to be the problem, I had forgotten how to ride single track and when I did seem to remember it was a far from good form.
Continued to push and avoided crashing and blowing up for the remainder of the lap crossing the line with a time that surprisingly enough would give me 3rd in my division and a top 10 overall. Instead of sitting back and relaxing and enjoying a great result to start the season I jumped back in the lineup and went for another lap, this time at a sane pace. I just rode my bike, enjoying the scenery, enjoying the single track, enjoying not being on the trainer. Riding ability began to return, I was loving being on my bike. As I crossed the line the question was asked, "want to go again" Sure, I needed the time in anyways. I rode sweep with 2 of the club members talking a little this and a little that. New trails to be built, etc.
The Shorthills Cycling Club put on an amazing show, great course and an amazing way to kill the winter blues. For me, it was a great way to start the season, 4 hours of riding my bike outdoors, some of that was on the roads but 4 laps of the course left me anxious for spring. My bike on the other hand is still locked in the trunk and will be dealt with later today. It's not looking to happy. Photo's later, time is short this morning. I must saw thank you to the girl, Shannon who was so patient as I went out for another lap, followed by another. Watch out she could be chasing me around in the near future.