Monday, September 21, 2009

Bow 80 insanity

This is a long one but worth the read... the pic is actually from last year at Keystone in much nicer conditions than this year`s race.

So, for some reason I decided to race the bow 80, an epic loop in Kananskis country, near Calgary.

The day started out wrong, with a 4:50 wake up, an hour drive out there in the rain and darkness, and the car thermometer reading 6deg C. I drove out with co-worker Kate Scallion, and we had her sister, Magi's bike in the car too, as Magi had just flown in from NS visiting her mom. When Kate and I pulled into the parking lot at 6:40am, it was raining very hard and still dark. We sort of looked at each other and said, "we could just turn around and go home".

Anyway, we kept getting ready, and I headed out in the rain and blackness into the woods for an early morning bathroom stop. It took me a long time to get all layered up, followed by a 5min ride up to sign in. At registration just as I was leaving Brian Bain (who drove Magi out) rushed in and said Magi couldn't find us. Kate was already looking for her, and I pedaled off looking too. I went down to the car and couldn't find her, and while I was there I quickly strapped my booties on, and then sprinted back to the start at race pace.

I got to the start and the `potential delay` had not happened, and I missed the start by 5min. Anyway, it wasn`t the end of the world and I took off and caught the first stragglers in about 2km. The next 20min was spent with explosive efforts passing tons of people, then slow behind them in singletrack. Then I stopped to take off my headband and a winter jacket (it had stopped raining, was semi day-light now and I was hot). A bunch of people passed me back, but then I re-passed them in a few min. After about 1:20 of riding I had passed about 150 of the 230 racers, and it was much easier going. I had some awesome passes, as in sliding through grass on the inside of corners with one foot out...

Eventually I settled into a slow and steady race pace, just passing a few people here and there. At feed zone 1 I was doing quite well, I ate a bunch of food, and changed from my orange rubber fisherman`s gloves to a winter Louis garneau pair (people were making fun of my orange ones, but they were warm until water ran down the cuff`s)!

Just after FZ1 I knew there was a super steep 1hr granny ring climb, so I stopped in a small creek and pedaled a bunch to clean the mud off my chain (a dude passed me there and got chainsuck while I was cleaning mine, it was kind of funny). So I rode this climb forever, and because I was way back in the field my goal was to ride it clean, which I did. This was quite a feat, as it is super long, very technical, in a race, and wet. Oh, did I mention that from 1900 to 2205m it was snowing! Yep, we had sideways sleeting snow, and 2cm on the ground. It was pretty neat riding, up in the alpine with 5m visibility and snow everywhere except on the trail where it had melted.

Eventually I got to the top of Cox Hill (with only walking the last 10m) said hi to the volunteers (who had inflatable palm trees coated in snow, and gummy bears) zipped up my layers, and blasted down the descent. Now the descent is super fun, pretty fast, rocky, and technical, I had a blast. However, after 5min my metal brake leavers got my wet snow coated hands very cold, and soon they were numb. Another 5min and I got to another volunteer station where I got them to get my coat out of my camel back, put it on me, and zip it up, as my fingers couldn`t do it.

Another 10min of descending and I reached the bottom and blew by a sign that said `last chance to drop our`. I rode by it to fast to really process the info, as I had been contemplating dropping out as I was only at 40km and my body was getting cold. The only reason I did not stop was I was afraid I would have to wait 3hrs or so, and just freeze, besides, I was dreaming of sitting in my car with the heater cranked, (I figured I could get someone else to turn the key as my fingers couldn`t). So I rode, and rode, and rode as hard as I could just to try and warm up. At the lower elevation it was now raining and there was about 4cm of standing water on the trail. By FZ2 I was cold.

I decided to keep going, as I couldn`t really stop. I figure if I stopped and wasn`t in a vehicle I had about 5min before hypothermia set in. So to try and get warm I would swing my arms in circles and run up hills pushing my bike with my forearms. About at this point I got to trail that had all the trees coated in snow, and bent over from the weight of it. So I had to push my way through them and get all the slushy snow dumped on me. Eventually my core temperature was still dropping, and in desperation I stopped and saw that my zipper would pull up another 5cm (with my teeth). After 5 tries I got my head band out of my pocket, and had to push my wrists together to undo the buckle on my helmet. I tried to pick a gel out of my pocket but was unable to at this point. I could have stuck my jackknife into my hand and not felt it, I was numb clear up my forearm. Somehow I hung on and was able to brake a bit when really necessary.

Oh yeah, I couldn`t blink right, I don`t know if my eyelids were frozen, or if there was just so much snow and water in them. My Oakleys were super dirty but I kept them on just to keep the big chunks of snow and mud out.

With 15km to go I stopped at a checkpoint and begged for gloves or mitts of any sort. A volunteer, Graham, gave me his bike gloves (which he had to put on my hands) and he got a gel out of my pocket. I weaved off, and the only reason I kept racing was because I couldn`t stop without freezing.

For the last 15k it had stopped raining, and with the head band and dry gloves I came around a bit and was able to finish.

From the finish I dropped my bike, and Mrs Bain took me to the first aid trailer, where I stripped down (my clothes looked like I rolled in a mud lagoon) and sat in a blanket and a sleeping bag for an hr with a bunch of other near hypothermia cases. Brian Bain looked especially bad, and would convulsively shake every 10min or so. The first-aiders were excellent, and even gave us hot chocolate.

After I recovered and a volunteer found my car and drove it up, I got some dry clothes on and went out into the bright sunny day. It turns out Kate and made a very smart decision and stopped at FZ1 when she was too cold to peel a banana, Magi never found her bike and went to work instead (very smart!!!), and 50 or so people finished. I ended up 5th overall and 3rd in my category, and won a big belt buckle. I also won a big Dakine hydration pack, which I gave to the volunteer who lent me his gloves. I am very thankful for his gloves, that I got my booties even if I missed my start, and for all the incredible volunteers that were on the side of the trail covered in snow.

So, the moral of the story is, don`t do a race that you have to wake up before 5am for, and don`t race in the mountains if it is below 10deg with any precipitation.

I am now alive and warm, with the furnace going in my house in Canmore...just me and the mice.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

my house

Oh yeah, my house here in Camore has a ton of mice, I caught one eating a power gel, and another one eating my granola!!! The granola was just too much, so I rigged up a live trap with a peanut in the jaws of a pair of pliers, and then a bucket balanced on the plyers, so the mouse ate the peanut and the plyers fell over, and the bucket fell on the mouse. I caught 6 this way and had to drive them at least 2km away so they wouldn't return, that was getting tedious (although I did let a few go downtown - suckers...) So now I finally got some snap traps. Here is a picture of one of the mice getting ready for the snap trap.

Where's Waldo now...

So post Hadley Challenge bike race I spent a few more days at home. I got put to work clearing trees and cutting firewood, in 3 days we did 20 big hardwoods.

Eventually I flew out west to Kamloops, unpacked, repacked, and headed for Canmore. I am now in Canmore getting paid to build bike trails! Yes, you read that right, I'm finally making money to build trails. There are 4 of us on the crew building IMBA style trails (read wide and easy) with 2 mini excavators (I operated one a few days ago for a few hrs, it was scary how tippy it was going down hills). I am getting to flag and design most of the trails, and layout a new race course for nationals next year.

In my spare time I went for a hike to the top of 2600m Mt Lady McDonald with co-worker Kate Scallion. Then last weekend I did a road race hill climb time trial up Mt Revelstoke. It is a 27km paved road with a very nice grade, and an elevation gain of 1600m. I was super tired the day before the race, but had a decent time trial and was able to hold onto 1st by 30sec or so for a time of 1:15:44.

Tomorrow I race the Bow 80, an 80km mtb race through epic trails in Kanaskis country, lots of it up into the alpine.


Catherine, Adam, Sarah and I all piled into Sarah's truck and drove 12hrs from Windham to Fredericton. It was a miserable drive, and my legs were super cramped from the race, and then sitting on a bench seat in the back of the pickup, but, we got there all in one piece.

The 4 of us hung out with my parents for a few days, and ate great veggies from the amazing garden. We went over to Grand Manan, one of my favorite places anywhere, and had a great time hiking the coastal trails there.

After a few days and an oncoming hurricane, we headed back to Fredericton to help flag the race course for "the Hadley Challenge". This was a 26km point to point race that my dad Eric organised on the trails that Adam and I had build while living at home. The race turned out very well, it was raining a bit, but no one got lost or hurt too badly, and everyone had fun. I won and so did Catherine. For awards, friends of ours made ginger bread men as medals, so they were the best tasting medals of the year!

US Cups

From Bromont Keith, Kika, and I headed to Mount Snow Vermont. We had a great ride at the kingdom trails on the way. I stayed in a bed and breakfast called the Grey Ghost, which was good, but it had maybe 40 seniors living there, who would have sermons and play bridge (in a very serious way) all day, so I felt a bit like I was in an old folks home. Luckily mid week Sandra came and bailed me out and we got a different place.

After Bromont I had completly worn through my brand new pads, and half way through the back plate of the brake pads, so I replaced them, and somehow in the process I got some air in the system. So I took my bike to the shop there in Mt Snow, and the mechanic worked on them for a bit, then said he didn't have the right syringe, took my bike off the stand, said he couldn't fix it and he squeezed the back brake...SQUIRT!!! A massive jet of fluid shot out and coated my pads and rotor... 3hrs later and a few calls to sram he figured out that he had opened the wrong screw, and broken a seal. Eventually he bled my brake, and it seemed fine, but the next day during the race I got air in it again.

So, my race kind of sucked, I had to pump the brake maybe 15times to get any stopping power, and then keep it dragging to maintain that force. I finished well back in the field.

Post race Peter Glassford and I went to hang out with a good buddy of mine, Ben Moody, in Plymouth NH. Ben used to race xc, but now places top 3 at some of the US DH races. We rode amazing trails at Bens, and had a great time, until I got sick with fod poising. It started at 3am with stomach cramps, and I thought, "oh why did I eat so much" then I went to the bathroom and had explosive direaha, annd at that point figured out that there was more to the situation than met the eye. Another 2hrs of trips to the bathroom, and then finally I puked a few times, and by 6am I was ready for bed. The next day was miserable, Peter drove me 5hrs to Windham NY, and I just sat there with my eyes closed and head in hand not saying much for the whole drive. I think I ate a banana by mid afternoon.

Fortunately I recovered fairly well, and was ready to race 2 days later. I had a good race and steadily moved up through the pack, 2 riders/lap to finish 14th. I rode really well, and had a lot of fun, so I was happy to finish off the last important race of my season this way.
Catherine fed me for this race, and I think she bonked, got heat stroke, and sun burn doing it, so thanks for feeding me! Also, Adam and Sara were there cheering like crazy, so that was good too.

Bromont World Cup

Bromont World Cup: I had a good race here, not my best of the season but a good one none the less. My knee had been bothering me ever since I crashed on it at Mount Ste Anne, so my training and confidence had both suffered.

Off the gun it was super muddy and there was so much mud flying through the air from everyone's tires that I basically closed my eyes/squinted and rode super hard to get to the climb. I moved well up through the traffic, and had a decent first lap for around 70th place. The race was super muddy, and I consistently moved up a few places each lap. I quite enjoyed riding in the mud, it was super technical, and very hard just to be able to climb many of the features. I finished 45, and was happy with my race. Afterwards I ate watermelon for about 10min, and then hosed off buck naked in front of the first aid building (I had about 1/2 a cm of mud caked everywhere, and there was no way I could get clean otherwise!)