Some Awe At A Race.
I raced my single speed in the Substance Projects Sausage Suit ITT on the weekend; a 30k romp around the Team Van Go trails in Dufferin County Forest. There is usually no shortage of the word awesome in my blog, and there was definitely no shortage of awesomeness to be had at the race.
Because riding a bike, racing a bike and everything about a bike is…wait for it…awesome.
And here’s why the Sausage Suit ITT was awesome. It wasn’t because of my performance, which was really really good, and it wasn’t because of the course, which was even more really really good, and it wasn’t even because of the weather, which was really, sublimely good for mid October. It was awesome for all of these reasons, and for one more big one: the people.
Dan Marshall is a people, and he’s awesome. His cast and crew are people, and they’re awesome too. The Team Van Go folks (the ones with the super cool VW camper vans) are people, and they’re farfegnugen (That’s German for awesome, right?). All of the racers are people, and they were awesome even when they were passing me. All the Team Van Go dogs, aren’t people, but they’re pretty awesome too.
Looking back, it was a perfect race. 74 (awesome) people raced, and a few dozen more (awesome) people came to support us.
In all, about a hundred people.
And that’s a lot of awesome.
But here’s the thing: Races usually change me on some way or another. Something momentous ALWAYS happens during a race that transforms me. At the Sausage Suit, there was no life changing realization about the universe (or bikes). There was no epic journey of discovery (about the universe, or bikes). There were no feelings of massive euphoria, crushing disappointment, frustration, or accomplishment (even though I gotta say, racing a single speed is always pretty beast, and comes with an inherent sense of accomplishment). Really, the day was just a bunch of people, getting together in the forest, to enjoy a beautiful mid autumn day–on bikes (even though some weren’t on bikes because they were behind the Substance Projects registration table, or they were under a tent in the middle of the forest–thanks Liz, you’re the best–or cheering on their loved ones from the sidelines, or sniffing each other’s butts). The dogs, not the people.
Also, since it was a late season race, and would be the last race of the season for many, nobody was amassing points, worried about the next race, or trying to perform, so the relaxed atmosphere was even more relaxed than Dan’s usually relaxed vibe.
Oddly enough, there probably were a few life changing realizations…and probably an epic journey…and some massive euphoria…and crushing disappointment…and frustration…and accomplishment. It was a race afterall. But I was too busy having fun to notice.
Because for every second of the day, I was playing bikes with great people.
Funnest Race Report Ever: Sausage Suit ITT (October, 15, 2016)
Befitting the name, the Sausage Suit ITT wasn’t a regular MTB race. It was not only a race that openly acknowledged we were a bunch of people stuffed into sausage suits, but it also had a time trial element: Riders started at 30” intervals, and either did one 15k lap, or two.
Janet Eagleson started each of us with enough energy and gusto—15 SECONDS–to carry us through the first bit of the–THREE, TWO, ONE, GO—race. And with her blessing, we rode.
We were at the top of a ridge, with a gentle descent to a pine forest, and almost immediately into the “Awesomely Fun, Horrible Pain-In-The-Arse” area. Although I think it’s actually called the Heckle Loop—even though I was heckled nary a once.
The Heckle Loop is the tightest, twistiest, coolest terrain park north of Joyride 150. It wasn’t impossible to ride, but almost. Without any speed or momentum, and only trees, pedals, and balance, it did a great job of centering us for the task at hand. Between the tight, tree lined berms, and the ramps, skinnies, and logs, it was like a day at the spa. A bike spa. Heckle Zone? Pfft, it was a huge chunk of peace. After navigating a few hundred metres of Zen, the race kicked into gear.
Well, I didn’t have gears, so I stayed in the same gear, but the race started.
We left the garden for a quick zip across some of the only single track we’d see that day, for a shot up a sweet, twisting, climb, that led to more and more sweet single track, some sweeter climbs, more and more sweet single track, a billion log overs (some of them were absolutely giant, and some were gianter), and then more single track. There was a sweet switchback climb knocked me off my ride for a quick hike a bike, and a few log overs that scared the awesome out of me. There were even a few ramped skinnies to keep us even more on our toes. Awesome.
We hit a few stretches of double track, but they were scattered, and never lasted more than a few metres. The Sausage Suit ITT was a single track spectacular.
That is, until what I thought was a sign announcing the Gorina Hill. It was Gorilla Hill, but I had a tough time deciphering the sign when I was in the middle of my race pace heart attack (vision is often a challenge during 2 hours of sustained cardiac arrest). I had a weak line, and had to dismount for an embarrassing walk. What am I saying, there is no line I could have taken that would have seen me ride my single speed up that hill.
I got on my bike just in time to see Ted Anderton from Apex photography. He snapped this pic.
After shucking my way up the Gornia, I heard the awesomeness that was surrounding the START/FINISH line. Fun people having a fun time. Bells, whistles, and general whooping. It was a quick pedal towards the end, and I found myself at the bottom of the first hill. My family was waiting to see me lap, and I had the wheels to book it, so I sprinted up the hill, and around the post, to start my second lap.
Lather, rinse, repeat, and it was over.
Except near the end of the second lap, I chugged a beer with a gorilla. Don’t ask.
Sad face to see the end of one of the last races of the year, and the end of the Race Report.
30k, 2:24:36, 680m of climbing, and, cue release of doves, 3rd place Single Speed!
While deeper investigation may reveal there were only 3 single speed riders in the 30k distance (and one more in the 15k), I finished only 15 minutes after the first place SS rider. There were over 70 riders at the Sausage Suit ITT, and a small handful of us chose to do it without gears. I earned my spot on the podium.
What a great time. I have to say, the ITT format was unsettling for me at times. Honestly, for the first 20 minutes or so, I felt like I was getting passed every minute. Not sure, but I think it’s because for the first 20 minutes I was getting passed every minute or so.
Although seriously, at the start of the race, how did the next rider after me catch up to me–at the bottom of the first hill. He left 30 seconds after me, but I think he transported directly to my tail because I’m pretty sure he passed me within the first 30 seconds. Fortunately, I was in the middle of finding my zen, and he couldn’t pass until we left the garden. Take that, guy who can zap through space and time.
And hey, thanks Joyride 150, for giving me the skills to nail the Heckle/Zen Garden/Zone without stopping.
Anyway, with all of the faster riders out of the way, I had a chance to sit back (and stand up, grunting) and finish the race at my own pace, without the polite “Next chance, if you don’t mind song of the better riders to diminish my buzz.
After the race, we all gathered around the podium, and the cheers of support, and howls of sincere laughter, shone a light on the MTB family that lives in my heart.
A few of the dogs even stopped cleaning their genitals long enough to populate the podium in place of the absent riders. After a bunch of lengthy goodbye chats, and a quick shower in the Team Colin Support vehicle, we met the Team Van Go passel at the bonfire for a few minutes of post race chat before the drive home.
It’s funny, Dufferin Forest was the site of my first official mountain bike race 4 years ago (the 2013 Homage), and the sights and sounds and smells felt so familiar. Riding there is always a homecoming of sorts, and it gave me a great perspective on the last four years. I finished the 2013 H2I without a familiar face in sight—and it felt like it was the start of something big in my life. On Saturday, I finished the race with family and friends close by—and now it is my life.
Nothing momentous occurred at the Sausage Suit ITT, but a whole bunch of moments combined to make the day one of the highlights of the season.
Wanna see my bike?
I bought a new fish eye lens for my camera. Awesome.