We came, we road, we have stories. Shannon and I headed north to the town of Mattawa to take on two different lengths of the 16th Lost in the Rocks and Trees race. It's a race on that todo list that I can now say I've done. Sorta. We stayed in town, a great northern small town, we did notice that the statue to person ratio was almost 1:1. Lot's of history up in the area, unfortunately time was limited.
Got to the race with plenty of time, did the normal prep stuff times two, you will have to read the team site to get Shannon's report. Heard the run down from the organizer, small group doing the 110 km course, I knew one person. Hmmm, should be fun. I had no idea what we were getting into, I didn't know how the body was going to feel. I was a little nervous for a rare time. Go time.
Instantly settled in on second wheel. We were told there was a little bit of single track about a k,m down the road, wanted to be at the front for this. Group stayed close and maybe 30 seconds from the trail I swung to the front. Good call on my part. It wasn't long but when I finished it I had a huge gap on the pack, then I thought, wait it's a long race, you need to work with a few of them and slowed up a bit. We were back on the road and settled in a rider from that other local country. Some quick hey have you done it before etc finding out that he had and settled in thinking he would know the way. We had a huge gap on the field 3km in, we weren't going that hard, could be a good day.
This is when the fun began, a trail split full with two options, long and easy, short and hard. Well I wasn't in front and he turned to the right up the hill for the short and hard. I followed. We both later knew this was a bad idea. It turned into a hike a bike up the side of a huge dirt hill. Once finally on the other side we saw a few riders already up the road. 1st to 7th. Bigger thing was the exertion used going up the hill. There was no easy way to climb it, burned a match or two or more. Not good. Just got my head down and started to ride with the first rider I caught and tried to recover. Took a long time for the legs to feel good and have power. I kept looking forward to some technical stuff to recover, it never really would come.
It was for the most part double track, ATV trails, logging roads, and gravel roads. I was in my big ring a lot for the first hour. There really wasn't much recovery spots. Finally started to get into the bumpy stuff with some rocky climbs and bumpy descents. It was still ATV trails and there was some pretty good washed out trails. This is when I started catching people slowly moving from 7th to 3rd. I was in my element. It also helped that we were in the shade and my body stopped melting. On one of the descents I ended up doing a free ride huck over a huge wash out section, it was brave and a little stupid. There were some big trenches that would just destroy you, it didn't get me but it did manage to burp my tire. Having a bit of a gap I didn't want to slow down to much to deal with it, in motion I prepped my pump and in a 10 second movement I was off the bike, blast some air and on again. Unfortunately a few minutes later the rear went soft again.
Attempt number 2 took a few moments longer and hearing that ping of the rim seating put a smile on my face. On the gas again I was in the fun section of tromping through huge mud sections. Some was rideable, some not the warm mud actually felt nice on the body. It was a kinda fun, mud always is. Then came the big rock sections, these too were fun to play on, I was feeling pretty good at this point and I was still having fun. Then I came into town, onto pavement, where you needed power. This is also where I caught 2nd place and got dropped by 2nd place. As we climbed the hill coming out of town I felt my legs go limp, I watched him ride away from me like I was standing still. I'm a self professed shitty climber, but I'm not that bad normally. At this point it was just over the 2 hour mark, not good. I kept motoring but again the legs started to fade more and more. I started to know what was going to happen, the July curse was setting in.
I kept trying to get in focus and telling myself it's all in my head but it wasn't. Many hills later I made the decision, it was a pretty easy one to make actually. I rolled into check point 3, I pulled the plug. I was over halfway but I knew that only bad things would happen if I kept pushing. I was fading quickly, like I always do in July. Last year during the 8 hour had I not crashed and been forced out I would have pulled the ply the next lap, the previous year I pulled the plug early also. Coming off the 24 hour less than a month ago has my legs cooked for any effort longer than 2 hours. I've decided that I will not race in July ever again. Of course this isn't set in stone.
So, here I am check point 3, happy with my decision so I just hung out. Stayed at 3 for close to an hour talking with riders coming through, the shop owner doing tech for people. Just being social. Then rode a bit more, met up with a few more organizers and chatted for a while. Slowly making my way back to the start/finish line. Still spent nearly 4 hours on the bike. The stopped time I'd glanced a few times at my heart rate. Again I knew I made the right call. A little frustrated but far from upset. Once back at the main area I chilled, cleaned the bike a little and cracked open a beer and waited for Shannon. She had a very interesting race but loved it.
So my thoughts on the whole thing. Great people, great grass routes race. If you are looking for single track and technical racing, this isn't the race for you. The guys that were ahead of me, all roadies. If you want to challenge yourself though it is a lot of fun, playing in the mud, some beautiful scenery, I do recommend that everyone does this race at least once. It is worth the drive. So what is next on my list of to do's, right now I do believe I'll be playing at the Marathon Championships this year. I have a few weeks to be ready for it. Next week will be training doing sweep for the Rockstar Adventure race. That should be fun. Today though will be a chill day. Bikes to be cleaned.