21. Kawartha Lakes

The Kawartha Lakes Cycling Tour

And so, at 4:48AM, the day began, not with the cock of a crow (hehe) or the blare of a clock radio, but with the soothing sounds of “Walk In The Forest” courtesy of my Samsung Galaxy, building into a crescendo until I pressed DONE.

Why.  The hell.  Was I waking up so early?  Pfft.  For a bike race.  Why else.

Even though waking up at that ungodly hour for anything other than the call of my bladder wasn’t cool (so not cool), a bike race is a pretty solid reason.

The race started at 8AM, in Lindsay.  With a 90 minute drive, and registration an hour before the race, waking up at 4:48AM, while cruel and unusual, was necessary.  Really though, night was still actually falling when I got up.  It had to get darker before it got lighter.

Aside from being an earlier start than other race-day mornings, today was different. Today was the day me and my riding buddy, John, (two mountain biking dudes) would ride the Kawartha Lakes Classic Cycling Tour (a road race) from Lindsay up to Kirkfield, and back.  100k in total.  Sweet.

This would be my first actual road race, and I had no pre-conceived ideas, or conceptions (mis, Mr., or otherwise) about road riding. I’ve had a Giant Defy road bike (sweet carbon road geometry…) for two years, but I don’t ride it much. In fact, until today, I hadn’t ridden it once this season. Single track MTB is my jam. So, it was nice to go into an event with a blank slate. Granted, maybe I should have ridden the Defy at least once prior to the race, but it’s too late for that now.

What follows are the observations of a mountain bike rider (and his buddy) on the whole road riding thing.  Shhh, don’t tell the roadies there were strangers in their midst… Although I think they probably figured it out.

After arriving Lindsay parking the Team Colin Support Vehicle, it became an epic game of “Which One of These Is Not Like The Others?”  Spoiler alert.  It was us.  Between John and his baggy mountain bike shorts, plain blue shirt (gasp) and Fox mountain bike gloves, and me in my sausage skin kit, literally towering over and out-girthing most everybody else, we won the prize for the day.  Sure, there were a few other big guys, but I couldn’t see too many with my, well, my size.  I didn’t see lots of “us”, but there sure were lots of flashy race kits.  And flashier bikes.  And even flashier shoes.  I think the Roadie Constitution may actually stipulate shiny red cycling shoes as part of the uniform.  And guess what?  They look awesome.  The closest thing I have to shiny on my bike is me.  You know, because I sweat.

Shiny red cycling shoes.  Sweet.  Most MTB shoes come in varying shades of “dark”.

And can I talk about the socks for a moment.  Many people were wearing white knee high socks and such.  The closest you ever get to an article of apparel that’s white at a mountain bike race is “Used to be white”.

And the differences didn’t end there.  While the worlds of mountain bike and road riding both exist on two wheels, the worlds started to seem like they were galaxies apart.  I jammed everything I needed in the back pocket of my jersey, but John usually rides with a Camelback, and he was way out of his element.  He kept saying “Where the hell do you guys put your stuff?”  Although on further glance, it looked like most other riders didn’t bring gear.  Their back pockets were empty, except or a few who had an energy bar and such.  Damn.  I had a full tool kit, pump, tube, patches, tire levers, my cell phone, a water bottle (because I hadn’t ridden my road bike this year, when I arrived I noticed it only had one bottle cage) plus a supermarket of fuel: energy gels, power bars, electrolyte fizzes, and, of course, a full peanut butter sandwich.  When you don’t know what to expect, you pack heavy.

On a side note, when you pack heavy, your jersey weighs a lot.  I can only imagine how I normally look to a rider behind me:  skin tight kit, all side-gut flappy and wide.  However, with the knapsack worth of stuff in my back pockets, I must have looked like a Sherpa sitting on a donkey riding on a bike.

At 8AM, after a few announcements, the race was on.

Race Report:  Kawartha Lakes Classic.  August 27, 2016

Okay, we immediately discovered it wasn’t a race.  It was a tour.  Cool. But what the hell is a tour?

The tour started in the parking lot of a Boston Pizza restaurant, turned left onto the highway, and onto a road.  After a bit of the road, we turned onto another road.  Then, we turned onto a different road.  The tour continued until we turned onto a road, another road, another road, and another road.

Lots of roads, but what did I expect from a road race, um, I mean, a cycling tour.

John and I rode solo for the first 25k, until I needed a biological break.  Just as I finished, you know, breaking biologically, a pack caught up to us, so we tagged along.  We were on a road, and then we turned onto a road…

It was our first pack riding experience and it was waaaaay different from what we are accustomed to, but more on that later.

At about 60k, in Kirkfield, there was an aid station.  We stopped to refuel, and left quickly, before the rest of the pack.  Since it was a tour, not a race, the atmosphere was social and communal. Cool. We were off. Around a bend and up a short hill (there was minimal climbing in the race—it only had a quarter of the climbing in the Eager Beaver), and the route turned onto a gravel road (Wohoo!).  It was awesome—for about 500m.  Oh well.

We continued on that road, onto another road, and then a few more roads, before returning to Lindsay, and the tour was over.

And it. Was. Awesome…riding with the pack…sitting on a bike for 4 hours and chatting with my buddy…cruising through some sweet Ontario countryside…all of it.  It wasn’t mountain bike riding, it was road riding, and I loved it.  I especially loved the pack riding.  Here’s why:

Pack Riding:  Mountain bike riding is a fairly solitary endeavour.  Even when you’re riding with a group you have to stop your bikes if you want to talk.  Also, every aspect of your performance rests on you, and you alone.  When compared to road riding, the group rules.  There is a profound sense of community.  In “Graduation” (blog #19), I wrote about the elegance of distance riding, and in “Single Speed 101” (blog #7), I wrote about the elegance of riding a rigid single speed mountain bike.  Riding a bike is an inherently elegant occupation: It’s just you, two legs, and two wheels propelling through time and space. I’m discovering that each style of biking has a unique elegance.  The elegance and simplicity of pack riding was beautiful.  We were contained in a group of about 30 riders, and immersed in the sounds and smells of 30 souls in pursuit of the same goal.  The actual moving of air to accommodate us, and the pull of the group was surprisingly powerful.  Moreover, the reliance on the group, and the sense of community was terrific.  Also, in contrast to the white knuckle pace of mountain bike riding, the relatively relaxed pace of pack riding allowed for actual conversation.  It was also great that the size of the group insulated us against vehicular traffic.  I hate riding in traffic.  Cars seem to dislike bikes (sometimes with good reason), and the two modes of transportation are simply too different.  But in a large pack, there was at least the comfort that we were more visible than a lone rider, albeit probably a huge pain for the cars that had to pass.

Oh.  Traffic.  That’s why the ride started so early—to avoid afternoon traffic.  Okay, I get it now.

In the middle of the race, John leaned over to me and sheepishly said, “This is lame” (he read my mind).  It wasn’t said in a derogatory way, but riding with a pack simply wasn’t what we were used to.  Also, we were kind of getting freaked out being so hemmed in by the group.  Really, as awesome as it is to ride in a pack, for the uninitiated–and I was really really really uninitiate–it was pretty daunting to be moving so fast, and riding so close to each other.  Plus, riding a mountain bike is often about the adrenaline rush of barreling through the forest at break neck (thankfully, not literally) speeds, dodging rocks, branches, roots, and trees.  Riding in a pack was very different.  Instead of having a chat while floating down the highway at about 30 kph, we wanted to book it and feel the freedom of the ride. Like I said, it wasn’t bad, it was just different.  Maybe next time, we’ll push to the front so that we can lead for a while and feel like we’re part of the process.

We broke away from the pack and did our own thing.  Sometimes we drafted each other, but more often, we just rode along side of each other and chatted, or didn’t.

I was so far out of my element today, and I liked it.  And that’s awesome.

Hey, can I talk about my bike for a second?  I loved it.  It wasn’t the borrowed Stigmata that I rode for the Eager Beaver, and I’m sure nothing ever will be, but it came damn close, and was a great machine nonetheless.  My road rides are usually 25 to 50k tops, so I’ve never really tested it on a long haul, but it performed beautifully.  Sweet shifting, rock solid handling, sure braking, comfortable geometry, and unbeatable reliability.  My Giant Defy made the day that much better!

I also got to pick up a few useful bits of experience for my next big ride.

  • On my last distance ride (which was my very first distance tide), I applied chamois cream (Bag Balm from Lee Valley).  It worked fine, but that ride took place during a biblical flood, when nothing was likely to chaff.  I repeated the process this time, but it was much warmer today, and that changes things.  More bag balm next time, and I’ll need to apply it to a few more areas…
  • My fuelling for the day was spot on:  pasta before the race; an energy gel, a power bar, and an electrolyte fizz per hour; a peanut butter sandwich; and a bunch of water, banana halves, and orange sections at the aid station.
  • My pre-race preparation was stupid.  We had buffet the evening before the race, and I think I was still digesting my meal when I woke up in the “morning”.  Less (read: NO) buffet before a race next time.  I’m not sure how I’ll be able to maintain my svelte 250 pounds of Clydesdale goodness, but I’ll let poutine help me figure it out.

To sum up my experience at the Kawartha Lakes Classic, I’ve compiled 10 Reasons why I think mountain biking is way cooler than road riding.

Ha!  Got ya.  It’s not better.  Or worse.  It’s just different.  And it’s awesome.  Awesomely different. Just like mountain bike riders are awesome, roadies are awesome.  And just like a sweet run of single track is awesome, a sweet run of asphalt is equally awesome.  This wasn’t a one-off road riding experience, it was the start of my road riding.  I want to do a few more long distance road rides, maybe a full Gran Fondo.  I dunno, but the Kawartha Lakes Classic helped me understand the allure of the road, and you can’t beat that feeling.

And that’s how two mountain bike dudes became roadies for a day, and rode a cycling tour from Lindsay to Kirkfield and back, in the Kawartha Lakes Classic 100k.

Ride.

 

PS

A few shout outs:

First, proceeds from registration fees and pledges went to A Place Called Home, a local shelter that supports men, women, and families in need of temporary shelter.  If you want to donate, click here. A Place Called Home

Second, thanks to the organizers, Spokes for Folks, and the Kawartha Cycling Club.  Great job today.

Finally, thanks to all the great staff, volunteers, and sponsors who made the day purr like a sweet drivetrain.  These rides don’t happen without your support.

If you’re part of the organizational team, and I missed anyone who was an integral part, please let me know.

 

20. My Second 100k

Team Colin is officially registered for the Kawartha Lakes Classic 100k ROAD RACE! Yep, a road race. It’ll be my first road race, and it’ll be awesome. “Hey Colin, you ride a MTB, why a road race?” you may be asking. Well, there’s a race, it’s on the road, and I have a road bike. That’s why. Plus, you know that Christmas morning feeling you had when you were a kid…before you opened your gifts…when all you really want is the Millennium Falcon…and you’re nervous, and excited, and anxious, and kind of scared… Yeah, that feeling. I’ve got it right now, and I’ll have episodes of it until Sunday morning at 8:00AM, and it is spectacular.  (EDIT:  I THOUGHT THE RACE WAS ON SUNDAY, AND EVEN READ THE CONFIRMATION EMAIL, BUT MY RIDING BUDDY–WHO IS GOING TO RACE WITH ME–LET ME KNOW IT’S A DAY EARLIER, ON SATURDAY.  THANK YOU TEAM COLIN)

And if that isn’t enough, proceeds from the race help a local charity that supports men, women,and families in the area who need emergency shelter.  You can donate here:A Place Called Home

Boy, what an awesome last week or so.  The Team Colin blog had well over 100 visitors (and my various posts had waaaay over 200 views).  People seemed to honestly like “Graduation” (Riding Feels Good even shared the post.  Natch), and Apex Photogaphy snapped a super sweet photo of me at the Eager Beaver.  I usually look like, well, me, on a bike (way too much compression, bulging, and general flabbiness for me to hide, all accentuated by spandex) but they work photographic magic.  Seriously, my mom didn’t even recognize me.  Damn, I like that picture.

And it gets better…

On the weekend, I had a sweet ride in Durham Forest with my buddy John, while my family rode the double track.

On Tuesday, I raced the King Weekly Series–always sweet.

On Monday, I was invited to the Joyride 150 staff ride in Durham Forest next Tuesday. SOFRIGGINAWESOME!

And five minutes ago, I registered for my first road race, which will be my second metric century. Boom.

I’m also getting ready my most favourite, my least favourite (and hardest, and awesomest, and horriblest) race of the season: The Kingston Marathon Trophy.  It’s the fourth and final race in the Substance Projects XCM.  Seriously, I have a serious love-hate relationship with this race.  Serious love and equally serious hate.  It’s tough, it’s always hot, and it’s tough.  Dan Marshall asked if I wanted to pre-ride the course today (so he could do some last minute adjustments and such) but family commitments have got the better of me.

But there’ll be plenty of time to ride in the next little while.  Team Colin has a busy fall, and September is chock full of awesome rides and races. Here is the Riding Month At A Glance (I want to do all of them, but will most likely only do 3 or 4):

  • September 3:  Kingston Marathon Trophy (MTB, Substance Projects XCM Race #4). Here’s a link to the website:  Kingston XCM
  • September 10:  Bike Up Northumberland (a road race in Brighton to support Campbellford Hospital–hey my mom lives there). Here’s a link to the website:  Bike Up Northumberland
  • September 10:  Kelso MTB Fondo. Here’s a link to the website: Kelso MTB Fondo
  • September 11:  Forest Lea Enduro.  Here’s a link to the website:  Forest Lea Enduro
  • September 11:  O Cup at Sir Sam’s.  Here’s a link to the website:  Sir Sam’s O-Cup
  • September 17:  The Great Albion Enduro.  Here’s a link to the website:  The Great Albion Enduro
  • September 24:  Fall Epic 8 Hour at Hardwood Hills.  Here’s a link to the website:  Epic 8 Hour

Okay, it’s Two Riding Months At A Glance.

  • October 1:  Hastings Hilly Hundred (road race)  Here’s a link to the website:  Hilly Hundred
  • October 2:  Exhale MTB Race (at Fanshawe).  Here’s a link to the website:  Exhale MTB Race
  • October 15:  Sausage Suit TT (Substance Projects).  Here’s a link to the website:  Sausage Suit
  • October 30:  Overdrive Race Series.  Here’s a link to the website:  Overdrive

Number of races in the fall:  a bunch

Number of reasons to not ride in the fall:  zero.

Whether it’s a ride or a race, Team Colin is going to give it 100%.  Except this Sunday.  This Sunday, I’m going to give it 100K.  (OOPS.  THIS SATURDAY.  THANKS JOHN)

Ride

 

PS

September 3 is not just the date of the last and coolest XCM of the season, it’s also my wife’s cousin’s daughter’s wedding.  Some how, I’ve got to compete in a super tough 40k mountain bike race in Kingston in the morning, and then drive to Niagara-On-The-Lake for dinner.  I’m going to ask the laws of time, distance, and pretty much all things related to physics, to suspend for the day.

MORE PS

I think I have a problem.  I’ve been looking at that list above.  I really really really want to do most of the races…

19. Graduation

I could have titled this blog “That Time I Rode A Hundred K”, because it was my first (metric) century ride.

Or, I could have called it “That Time I Rode The Perfect Bike”, because I was on a borrowed bike that was perfect, and sweeter than sweet.

But I’m calling it “Graduation” because that’s what happened. I graduated from the Old Colin (whose longest ride prior to Saturday’s race was 50k, and that only happened on Thursday–two days before the race), to New Colin (who can ride pretty much anything). That’s right, I graduated to one of the big boys.

And let me just say this: Phew.  I was so worried prior to the race, but honestly, what a waste.  On Saturday, August 13th, 2016, I rode the 100k distance in Dan Marshall’s Eager Beaver (presented by my bike shop, Cycle Solutions) and it didn’t kill me.  Actually it was 109k, and actually it wasn’t that bad, and more actually it was actually almost easy. Not actually really easy, but not actually as tough as I thought it’d be.  Hm.

Okay, so if it was easy (or not really easy, or not as tough as I thought it’s be, whatever) I know that means I didn’t work as hard as I could have, but as a first timer riding a century, and a first timer on a gravel bike, I had no benchmark for pacing or performance.  Damnit Jim, I’m a 30k mountain bike rider!

Also, in a sense, I was totally, utterly, and grossly unprepared for the imminent gruelling experience. I got back from a 19 day, 5,300 km driving vacation, four days before the race (and only rode three times during the trip), and was full of American restaurant and/or junk food (seriously, the candy aisle in American supermarkets is a thing of beauty, and don’t get me started on the pop, er I mean soda).

However, in another sense, I’ve been preparing for this race for four years (plus a lifetime of messing around on a bike), and especially this season with the addition of a single speed to my riding.

Either way, prepared or not, I was going to race the Eager Beaver 100 (which I’m now calling the Eager Beaver 109). Dan Marshall and Cycle Solutions have been such a source of inspiration, information, and plain awesomeness for me. Dan’s Homage 2 Ice was my first mountain bike race four years ago, and he has mentored me since. I wanted my first century to be in HIS race.  The fact that it was presented by MY bike shop too was just too much to resist.

And so, on a borrowed bike, full of equal parts optimism, hope, and terror, I rode the Eager Beaver 109.

And it was awesome.

I don’t know if it was the sweet bike, my legs, my (sometimes lack of) training, the adrenaline, or the witches brew of energy gels, Endurafuel, electrolyte fizzes, peanut butter sandwiches, tortellini, bacon, beer, and granola sloshing around in my gut, but I did it.

Hold on a sec. Can I talk about my bike for a minute. I went to my shop, Cycle Solutions, for a quick check on my Revolver the day before I left for the race. While I was there, the manager, Matt Morrish suggested I ride his personal bike, a Santa Cruz Stigmata. What a bike.  Holy shit is all I can say. Holy shit.  That is all.

So the race started with a…okay, a bit more about the Santa Cruz Stigmata.  It is the sweetest whip I’ve ever whipped.  For the uninitiated, and clearly less hip than me, the youths nowadays call their cars whips–I’m transferring the slang to bikes.  Also I’m not hip.  Anyway, riding the Santa Cruz Stigmata for five and a half hours was like being serenaded by the most awesome five and a half hour-long 80s power ballad. Once again, holy shit.  By the way, I keep joking to myself that if I say Santa Cruz Stigmata enough times, Matt will forget I have the bike and I’ll magically own it forever. Santa Cruz Stigmata.

Before I go on, just a bit more about the bike. When I got it home from my shop, the day before the race, I only had to raise the seat and move the handle bar spacers. That’s it. I rode it around my neighbourhood for five minutes, and then packed it away. The next day, I raced it for five and a half hours, and it fit like a glove–a sweet, carbon fibre, glove. Santa Cruz Stigmata, you are one sweet bike.  I bet Matt Morrish, the manager of my bike shop (Cycle Solutions) wishes he had one just like mine. See what I did there.

Santa Cruz Stigmata.

I think it’s time for a Race Report.

Race Report: Eager Beaver 100. Saturday, August 13, 2016

Well, I rode the most awesomest bike.  I think it was constructed by fairies, or maybe the carbon was pressed in Mordor.  Wow.

Santa Cruz Stigmata.

The race started with a quick zip up the grassy ski hills of Highlands Nordic Centre in Duntroon, Ontario. Once at the top, we had an even quicker zip into the first rocky section, and the race was on. I started at the back of the pack, like I usually do, and just cruised. I didn’t know what to expect in terms of terrain, or how my body would react to the distance, and I sure as hell didn’t want to get a pinch flat from one of the billion fist-sized boulders, so I took it easy. Seriously, at 250 pounds, there is a lot of pressure on my bike, and I think my tires bear most of the brunt of my bad eating habits. Plus, I wasn’t going to win the race in the first 35k, and I don’t relish the thought of a crash. Crashing hurts.

The first 35k was almost like a mountain bike race. Horrid sections and grueling climbs. Dan gave us a cheat sheet, but I had my own notes (thank you Brother P-Touch) stuck to my top tube and stem, and I knew that 5 of the 6 sections (the loose, fit-sized, boulder-strewn farm track) were before the 35k mark. I also knew that most of the climbing was in the first 35k (up the Niagara Escarpment, down the Escarpment, and back up the Escarpment). So I basically set my legs on cruise control and rode. When I needed to walk, I walked. And when I needed to stop and help a fellow rider unclip her shoe (because she lost a cleat screw), I stopped to help a fellow rider unclip her shoe. Her name was Melissa, We couldn’t detatch her shoe from the pedal, and after a few minutes, I knew I had to continue riding.  I hope she made it okay.  I rode with a bunch of other awesome people in the first few hours.  Cyclists are so cool.

Just before the 35k mark, and after a few more gross climbs, Dan gave us an aid station at the 26.4k mark.

And what an aid station it was. The Johnny and Emily from Team Van Go were cooking bacon.  But it wasn’t just bacon.  It was Sport Bacon.  Between the sizzling bacon, and their and smiles for miles. It was awesome. To be honest though, the smiles weren’t even necessary–they had me at bacon.  I refilled my water bottles, popped an energy gel, fizzed an electrolyte fizz, Honeymaxxed, jammed as much bacon in my mouth as I could, grabbed a peanut butter sandwich from my food bag, stuffed it in my mouth, and I was riding again.

Well, almost.  200 metres from the aid station, the guys from Cycle Solutions were directing the 50k riders in one direction, and the 100k and 160k riders the other direction. They also had beer. I was faced with a dilemma. I had about 80k to go, a full gullet, and a mouthful of peanut butter sandwich.  But…when your buddy hands you a tall can of beer, and you’re in a hurry, you only really have one choice. You chug that beer like a frat kid.

And so, with 80k to go, a full belly and a mouthful of peanut butter sandwich, I chugged that beer for all it was worth.  Team Colin!

Awesome.

With a newly boiling belly, a bit more of that section nonsense, and a few climbs later, we hit the 35k mark, which meant the top of the Niagara Escarpment, and smooth sailing for the 12k to the next aid station.

At some point in that leg of the race–at the 100k/160k dividing point–Matt and the guys from Cycle Solutions were cheering us on from the bed of a pickup truck.  To say that Matt is enthusiastic about the sport would be like saying the bacon a few kilometres back was okay.  Matt was THE Eager Beaver.  Great times.

Second station.  Refill, stuff, and repeat (except without bacon and beer–sad face), and I was off again.

And then the rain started. Hey, here’s a funny story. A few minutes before the aid station, I thought to myself “It’s getting kinda hot. It’d be awesome if it rained a bit”. Well, it rained alright. Oh, it rained. It rained so much, there were puddles on the downhills. It rained in every direction—at the same time. For the next 50k, the rain pelted us, poured on us, and screamed at us.

And I screamed right back. It was awesome. Rain is the Clydesdale’s best friend, because I can tell you this about riders who weigh 250 pounds: We sweat.

And between the wind and the sheer quantity of water, I felt like Lt. Dan in “Forest Gump”.  I swung my legs over the bow of the Jenny and screamed “Is that all you’ve got?”. Wait a sec, Lt. Dan didn’t have legs. Whatever. It’s an analogy.

Also, never scream at a storm, especially if you’re asking if that’s all it has, because Mother Nature always has more, and on Saturday, at about 11AM, it had thunder and lightening.

To make a long story short, I didn’t get hit by lightening. So that’s a plus.

But I rode like lightening. It was 41k to the next aid station, and I started out with a group of about 5 riders. They were awesome.  We cruised along, chatting, until no one answered. I had dropped them all and couldn’t even see them behind me. So I rode.

Prior to the race, Dan told me to draft other riders. “If you don’t draft other riders, I’ll slap you” is what he said. But if there’s nobody to draft, what then? Ride, that’s what.

So I rode. Although I’m happy to report to Dan that I managed to draft a few other riders during the race…for about 20 minutes in total. Every other minute was me on my own. Boom.

Between the two aid stations, I was alone for about 35k. I passed three riders, and we exchanged brief pleasantries (“Still haven’t been hit by lightening. Eh? That’s nice.”), but that’s it. I maintained a speed between 23kph, and 28kph, with a few quicker bits, and not many slower bits. Honestly, I just cruised. Against the wind, down a hill, up a hill, I just cruised—on my Santa Cruz Stigmata.

Santa Cruz Stigmata.

And that’s when the elegance of a long distance ride hit me. The start line was a few hours ago, and the finish like was a few hours to come. It was raining, my bike was singing to me in the sweetest of 80’s rock ballad falsetto voices, and I was just riding a bike. With no beginning, and no end, and only the sound of my pedal strokes mixed with the rain, my breathing, and the constant push of my legs, I felt absolutely and utterly at peace. It was clarifying. Dang, I hate how wonky that sounds, but it is so true. Between the 60k and 80k, my life changed.

When I got to the 88k aid station, the woman behind the table asked how I was doing. I hadn’t thought much about my state. I was too busy being. I paused to think about my answer. I was surprisingly good:  I wasn’t tired. I had much more in my legs, and there was only 20k to the end. Refill, stuff, repeat, and I was off. Damn, no bacon.

I was shocked when my GPS hit 90k. Did I just ride 90k? I kept going. Somewhere in that last 20k, I had a burst of speed where I maintained between 30kph and 38kph for about 25 minutes. I was so in my zone.

Back into the sodden grass, of a farm, over the hills of the Nordic Highlands Centre, and through the slick mud, and I was done.

End of Race Report.

My wife was waiting for me at the finish line and the timers yelled “Team Colin!” as I coasted through. I got off my bike, and smiled from grit encrusted ear to grit encrusted ear.

109k. 5:30:02. 1896m of climbing.  Thank you Cycle Solutions, Dan Marshall, and Substance Projects.

And that’s how Team Colin rode a hundred k, on the perfect bike, to his graduation ceremony.  I’m not going to say I’ll ride the 160k next year, but the year after, well, you never know…

Santa Cruz Stigmata.

Ride.

 

PS.  Here’s a picture of my bike for the say.  No, you can’t have it.  Well, I guess you can if your name is Matt.  It’s a Santa Cruz Stigmata…

Stigmata

…and it’s called bike porn for a reason.  Enjoy.

18. Not An Eager Beaver

Dan Marshall’s Substance Projects is having a race on Saturday: The Eager Beaver 100 (with a choice of 160km, 100km, or 50km). Team Colin is not eager. Team Colin is terrified.

And I’m going to race it.

I’ve given this race a lot of thought. I’ve never ridden 100k. I’ve done a few 50k rides, and each of the very few times it’s been a very tough experience. My shoulders lock up, my neck aches, and my wrists cramp like crazy, sending zings up my forearms.

I am not a distance rider.

But I want to be.

I see so many riders who bang off a century like it’s nothing (and can easily ride well over a century) and I want to be part of that club. In truth, as much as I’m proud of my riding accomplishments, there is always a nagging feeling at the back of my mind that I’m not doing the full races. I do the short distance of the Paris to Ancaster and Steaming Nostril races, and I do the half marathon in Dan Marshall’s fat bike and XC Marathon race series. I won’t even be doing the full distance of the Eager Beaver.

In the past few months, I’ve reconciled my weakness—that I am not willing to put in the necessary training time to get better, and I can’t revolve my entire life around cycling—but that doesn’t mean I’m satisfied with the result. Like I said, I want to be part of that club of riders who ride a century, so when Dan’s race presented itself, I jumped at the chance. Okay, I didn’t jump–it was more like a twitch—but I think it’s pretty cool that my first century will be in a Dan Marshall race. Dan’s Homage To Ice was my first mountain bike race (a week after my first bike race ever) and he, and his series, have embraced my entry to the world of bike racing.

So, whether I’m ready for it or not, I’m jumping into the pool of…

…I’m not sure. Maybe it’ll be a pool of life-changing awesomeness. Maybe it’ll be a pool of stark, staggering disappointment. I’m not starting the race to DNF, but I still don’t know how I am going to finish.

On a side, but very pertinent note, I just got back from a three week driving vacation. Sitting in a car for 5,300km does not make for an effective pre-race training cycle.

On another side note, it is hot in Ontario right now. Like, Medieval hot.

I’ve been messaging the members of Team Colin non-stop for the past few days. “Which tires?” “Do you think I can do it?” “What food do I need?” Electrolyte what,. now?” “How many energy gels?” “How do I manage my neck, shoulder and wrist pain?” “What about spandex discomfort (read: testicle chafing)?”

The list of questions goes on, and they’re all valid questions, but I feel needy, uncertain, and tentative. Not cool.

Although seriously, which tires should I use; does anyone think I can do it; what about electrolyte caps, energy gels, and muscle pain; and how on earth will I prevent my testicles from chafing?

Mark Summers answered the last one. Bag Balm from Lee Valley. I’ve never seen a cow with chaffed balls, so I’m off to Lee Valley.

Although my wife was quick to tell me that cows don’t have balls…

But what about the other questions. Anyone? Anyone? Bueller…

Actually, the members of Team Colin have been awesome with me, answering each of my questions with patience and care.

Matt from my bike shop (Cycle Solutions) has offered to let me use his bike. It’s apparently a legendary gravel bike: a Santa Cruz Stigmata. I’m worried that it’ll be a poor fit, but Matt and the guys at the shop tell me it will help.

Dan Marshall has been literally holding my hand through the entire process.

My riding buddy, John has advised me on all things in general.

Mark has assisted me with my testicles. Wait, that didn’t sound right.

And yay, I get to do all of this on my blog, and expose myself as a lightweight in the world of riding. Wait a sec, that part is pretty cool. Under the “Colin” menu section, I talked about my first race in the past tense (more than three years after it). All of the races since have been similar, so my growth has been from within. This race is entirely different from every other one, so there are external factors that will also affect the process.

But it’s just the next step in the riding progression, right?

Well, on one hand, I feel like the worries I have are almost identical to my first race.

On the other hand, my first race was 40K, mostly on roads, and his race is 110k, mostly on gravel. To make matters worse, Dan Marshall is a sadistic race organizer. The climbs are sure to be killer, the trails are sure to be killerer, and the distance… Well, damn.

So why am I doing this race?

I’m not entirely sure. However, I can say that I think I’m ready for the race, and I know I’m definitely ready for the challenge. Plus, really, how many things in life can you do that are a total unknown. I don’t think the race will break me, but I know it will push me harder than ever before.

So, for better or for worse, on a borrowed bike, under less than ideal conditions, after three weeks of sitting and eating, I’m going to do a 110k gravel race tomorrow: The Eager Beaver.

And, as much as it’s going to hurt…

Ride.

 

 

Post Script: I just saw some videos of a few of the sections. All I’ve got to say is: F*#k!.