43. Long Sock Classic

It Was the WORST of Times.  It Was The BEST of Times

Ganaraska Forest.

The Substance Projects Long Sock Classic.

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Long Socks! (I look like a tap dancer)
  • 70k of Ontario’s finest single track.
  • 1,600m of relentless, punishing, climbs.
  • Rocks and roots.  Trees and sand.  Grit and grime.
  • One boss Cannondale Trail SL single speed.
  • And lots and lots of teeny tiny poison ivy sprouts.

Over five hours of rolling time.

It was race #2 in the Substance Projects XCM.

Was it fun?  Nope.

Was it easy?  Heck no.

Was it worth it?  You bet.

Was it awesome, and memorable, and totally boss?  You bet…TIMES A BILLION.

Okay, so maybe it didn’t feel that way during the race…or immediately after the race…or the next morning, when my knees were fireballs of stiffness, when my lower back was a lava pit of torment, when my legs were wobbly stumps of ache, and when my new body part (now known as my SHOULDERNECK) was a lump of knotted agony.

But some time the next day (as soon as I could walk upright, and as soon as I had the strength to move all body parts independently and not look like a zombie when I wanted to see something to my left or right) it was totally worth it…and utterly awesome…and absolutely boss.

But mostly, the 2017 Long Sock Classic was a reminder of how awesome this MTB thing really is.  If the Kingston O Cup was a reminder of our mud roots, the LSC was a giant wake-up call that this awesome MTB thing can also be really tough sometimes.

Prior to the race, I was worried about the distance.  I’d never attempted 70k on a mountain bike and the magnitude of the undertaking wasn’t lost on me.  By the way, I never even contemplated racing long distances until earlier this year when, on a whim, I decided it was time to race the big kid distance of P2A.  After registering for the full P2A, I figured “What the heck, might as well register for the long course in the XCM as well.

However, the 70k at P2A a few weeks ago was mostly smooth surfaces, with little climbing, on a gravel bike.  Even the 50k of the H2i didn’t compare.  And 70k at the Ganny–a trail system renowned for nasty climbs and horrible awesomeness–was another thing altogether.

And because, well, I still don’t know why, I decided to register on my single speed.  “Sure” I thought “Sounds about right.  I’ll just ride further than I’ve ever ridden, without gears…”.

What was I thinking?  I don’t know.  I honestly and truly don’t know.  I’d like to say I was being intentionally hardcore (grrrr) but I wasn’t (and I’m not).  I’d like to say it was puffed-up confidence, but it really wasn’t.  I’d like to say it was “for the challenge” but honestly, when I registered I had no idea what I was getting into.  I think maybe it was just because I thought “Hey, it’d be cool to do it on my single speed” when I was registering.  I should really work on my self regulation.

In any case, I was high on hopes, and (felt) up to the challenge.  It was my 5th race in 7 weeks (my 7th race if you count 2 weekly series races), so my legs and lungs were in good spring shape.

Here’s what I wrote on the Team Colin Facebook page the night before:

The Team Colin support vehicle is packed: my helmet is washed; my bike is clean (my chain is literally gleaming); my kit is ready; and I’ve got a bag of electrolyte fizzes and energy chews, a tool kit and pump…  I know the first 45 minutes will be spent with tight muscles and tighter lungs, and I’ll be panting like crazy until I warm up, and I know that I’ll feel strong and fast (for me) from that point until about the 90 minute mark. But then my back will pack up and go home, and I’ll finish my first lap in a goodly amount of pain about 15 minutes later…  I’m not doing this because I like it. I’m doing this because I LOVE it. Each year I dread the “Hill on Top of a Hill”. But not this year. This year, I’m looking forward to it. Bring it on LSC!

Okay, full disclosure.  I may have employed a bit too much bravado when I wrote that.  I was wrong to talk about the Hill on Top of a Hill like that, and I don’t mind saying now I spent a good deal of time apologizing to the “Hill on Top of a Hill” during the race.  Once again, I’m sorry for taunting you, “Hill on Top of a Hill”.  My bad.

Kidding aside (okay, I’m not kidding–I’m sorry Hil, it won’t happen again), the LSC was also a great reminder, via a sucker punch to the gut, that no matter how much you plan, and regardless of how meticulous you are in preparing, nothing beats a last minute checklist to ensure you have your damn water bottles before beginning a 35k lap.  I did not complete the aforementioned checklist until AFTER the race started.  So, I was halfway up the first climb before I realized I was dry.  I can’t believe that I actually contemplated racing without water for a moment.  Fortunately, sanity caught up with me pretty fast, and I turned around for a quick zip back to the start.  With two bottles of water snuggled safely in my bottle cages, I looked at my GPS unit, and saw that I only lost 4 minutes.

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Coming back to the START for my @$&! water bottles.

4 minutes.  No problem.  It’s a long race, I’ll make it up…

Yeah, I can say that now, but on Saturday all I was thinking about was my spot on the podium.  I’m kidding, I wasn’t thinking about my spot on the podium (because there is no podium spot for me).  I was panicked.  It was the beginning of a long race, and I wasn’t thinking.  So I sprinted (well, whatever qualifies for a sprint when you’re Team Colin–to the casual observer it may look like “just riding”, but inside I’m on fire and giving it everything I’ve got) for the first 15 minutes or so.

And here’s the thing about a 15 minute sprint at the beginning of a long race.  It’s stupid. Like, really stupid.

But I booked it anyway.

At least I now had water.  Yay, water…

After burning all of my matches on the fire road after the second START, and then all of my reserve matches just after that on the climb to get to the “Hill on Top of a Hill” , and then my extra reserve matches on the “Hill on Top of a Hill”, I was done for the day.

And I was only about 6k into the race.

I was 6k into a 70k race and I was spent.

And I didn’t have gears.

Aw c’mon.  Really?  I was on my single speed?  What was I thinking?  Oh yeah, I still don’t know.

I’ve always said that I feel every ounce of my weight in the Ganny.  Every turn, climb, and obstacle is a challenge.  Sure there are a few descents, but they’re usually rooty and rocky, and take almost as much concentration and energy as the climbs.  Oh, did I mention my single speed has a rigid aluminium fork?  Yeah, so that’s nice.  Now, to be clear, there are some sections in the Ganny that I can really groove on, but riding in the Ganny is like riding through a giant, heartless, really really really mean, bank.  And the Bank of Ganaraska is one tough lender.  Because whatever joy you take in riding, the BOG (Bank Of Ganaraska) collects interest and a pound of flesh afterward.

And early spring in the Ganny is a special treat.  It’s a bit soft and spongy, and the blanket of last year’s leaves conceal a delightful web of deep ruts, rocks, and other special treasures.  It’s like knocking on the door of the Bank of Ganaraska on Halloween. Instead of a trick (or a treat), the BOG jams a twig into your wheel, punches you in the throat, and steals your bike.

And then it collects an ATM fee

Hey, at least I wasn’t worried about stick wrecking my derailleur–BECAUSE I DIDN’T HAVE ONE.

But I had water.  Yay water…

Okay, so enough complaining about my single speed and the Ganny.  I wasn’t at a tea party, and I was riding the bike I chose.  Besides, what was I expecting, an espresso and a paceline?  Boom. See what I did there?  A little roadie zinger.  Also, there were plenty of riders who smoked through the course way quicker than me.  It likely wasn’t the bike, or the Ganny, or anything else.  It was me.

Race Report.  Long Sock Classic:  Ganaraska Forest (May 20, 2017)

The first few hundred metres of the LSC is a gentle climb up some double track to a fire road.  If I was with the pack I’m sure it would have been close and tight.  When the course hits the fire road, things open up a bit, and I’m sure the pack of riders became close and tight AND FAST.  The fire road is an undulating ribbon of deep sand, gnarly ruts, and dislodged boulders.  It also either goes straight up, or straight down, which means riders are alternately chugging to keep pace on the climbs, or white knuckling it on the descents.  Either way, both options take a great deal of skill and concentration. Take a read of Riot’s Race Report.  He didn’t forget his water bottles, and he nailed the atmosphere with the other riders who didn’t forget their water bottles.

After the fire road, the track turns up a gentle, winding, climb that brings riders to the bottom of the “Hill on Top of a Hill”.  It’s a 2k grind up that part of the hill, and leads to the bottom of a steeper hill.  It’s brutal.  This year, the climb was rutted deeply, and covered with leaves and branches for an extra bit of challenge.

But we all did it, and nobody died on the hill. Kinda felt like dying the second time I did it, but alas, I wasn’t so lucky.

Immediately after the HTH (Hill on Top of a Hill), the LSC hit the first bit of single track for a long section of awesomeness.  The trail was tight, twisty, and FAST.  It was a quickish 10k zip of sweet single track, punctuated by little shots of double track. Lots of space for passing.  Oh wait, I was waaaaay behind the pack so there was no need to pass.

But I had water.  Yay water…

I finally caught up to Angie Emsley, one of my racing buddies, who was taking a stab at her first marathon distance. She was riding strong.  Nice work Angie!

Liz was waiting at the aid station with some much needed cheer and nutrients. Some e-load, bananas, chain lube, and jujubes.

I took a 2 minute breather.  I wasn’t tired, but I was trying to pace myself for the long ride ahead.  Angie stopped for a second, and left ahead of me.

The 12k or so after the aid station was tough.  The track was raw, tight, and twisty.  I was feeling the full effect of my early sprint, and the alternating climbs and zig-zagging was relentless and punishing.  Like I said earlier (and last year too) I felt every ounce of my 250 pounds.

Strangely enough, however, my body wasn’t the mess I had anticipated.  The early sprint really hit me, and I was slow moving.  Also, most things ached, but my usual trouble spots hadn’t ignited to Pain Level: Inferno.  I was really slow though.  Did I already say that?  Because I was really really really slow.

The last 5k was a swoosh down some awesomely fast and slightly technical double track, with a bit of single track nirvana thrown in for good measure, and then a grunty climb. After 2 hours and 27 minutes of riding, I hit the Start/Finish for a short recoup and refresh, before realizing something.  My race was only half over.  I was riding for 2 hours and 27 minutes, and I now had to do it all over again.

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One lap done, one lap to go.  Ugh.

It was the same with my first marathon distance race the month before, the H2i. You know, there is no amount of positivity and awesomeness that can negate how hard it is to finish a really tough lap, and then have to start all over again. I knew every climb, root, dismount, and rock that was waiting for me, and it was a killer the first time.  I was so bloody tired and spent.  Clipping in for the next half was really really tough.

But I did. I pedalled, and I pedalled, and I got off my bike a few times, and I pedalled some more, and I finished.  My friend and mentor Dan Marshall (also the organizer) once told me “You know how you finish a race?  You pedal”.  That’s what kept me going–knowing that if I pedalled enough times, I’d eventually finish the race.  There were times when I was looking at the metres rack up on my GPS, not kilometres, and there were times when I just didn’t want to pedal, but I did.

And there were a few times when I had to dismount for a climb, and just walked alongside my bike for an extra minute because I couldn’t fathom having to get on my bike again.

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A little bunny hop at the end.

But somehow, I pedalled enough times.  I nailed the HTH, the awesome first sections of singletrack, the aid station, the nasty bit after the aid station, the swoosh of the last 5k, and I finally saw that last climb out of the forest and up to the FINISH line.

Here are the full race results.  Pretty much everyone else was faster than me.

End of Race Report.

Easy2?The Bank of Ganaraska collected a bucket of interest from Team Colin at the LSC, but I paid back every penny.

And, I now have a new qualifier after the race.  But it’s not a BUT, it’s an AND.

I did the Long Sock Classic full marathon distance AND I did it on my single speed.

And I’d do it all over again in a heartbeat.

I’ll just make sure I’ve got water.

Ride.

 

PS

As always thanks to Substance projects, Dan Marshall, and the amazing sponsors.  And thanks to Dan’s mom and dad, Sherry, Jenn and Simon, Liz Grootenboer, and Dan’s awesome team of staff and volunteers (especially the day’s cook, Lorraine), and my wife (tireless supporter and photographer) and my kids (cheerleaders, horn blowers, bell ringers, and little bits of awesomeness).

If you read this and have something to say, make a comment at the bottom, or send an email to me at: teamcolinblog@yahoo.com

Oh, and since there were only two Clydesdale racers in the marathon distance, I placed second.

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Two Happy Clydes

 

Post Race Recap (Wednesday, May 24–4 days after the LSC)

After my first kick at a marathon distance last month (the H2i), I was in rough shape. Like, really rough shape.  I spent the next week recovering.  After P2A a few weeks ago, I was also a mess for a few days.  However, after Saturday’s race, I spent Sunday out with friends, and Victoria Day cutting the lawn and playing with my kids.  Sure, I was tired and a bit sore (and yes, I had a loooong nap on Sunday), but I wasn’t completely zonked. In fact, I even raced last night, and I felt amazing.  Hmm.

42. Why YOU Need to Race a Weekly Series.

Wohoo. It’s The Middle of the Week!

team-colin-King-Weekly-Series.jpgWait, what?

I know what you’re thinking:

Ugh, it’s the middle of the week.

Last weekend was so long ago, and next weekend is sooooo far away.  Hump Day…the day before Hump Day…the day after Hump Day…

Ugh.

That’s not what I’m thinking.  I’m thinking:

Wohoo, it’s the MIDDLE of the week.

Because whichever day it is in the middle of the week, it’s a weekly series race day–and that’s awesome.

So very very awesome.

I’m tired, I have work legs, I’m behind on every chore that ever existed, and my back and shoulders are still a mess of aching tightness, but for about an hour this evening, NONE OF THAT will matter.

What will matter will be my legs and my lungs, the trail, and the trees, and an hour or so of white knuckle, kick-ass, fast-paced shredding, with a bunch of awesome bike minded people.

Weekly race series.  Boom.

A few weeks ago, I gave a complete list of other alternatives to a weekly series race.  They included

  • Laundry
  • Cutting the lawn
  • Washing the dishes
  • Doing homework (what, I’m a teacher, I call it homework too)
  • Watching tv
  • Cleaning your bike after racing the Epic 8 Hour or or other big boss awesome race (the only REAL acceptable option on this list)
  • Any other mundane daily task that flesh is heir to

To be clear, I just quoted part of a line from Hamlet’s “To be, or not to be” soliloquy.  He didn’t have a bike, but if he did, I’m pretty sure he would have said “To ride, or not to ride” instead of sulking about his castle wearing his little tights and taunting poor Ophelia.

For me, a weeknight ride is a stolen ride.  It’s stolen from all those things listed above. But all those things can wait.  It’s true.

Riding can not wait.  It’s more true.

The dishes will either grow legs and walk away, or somehow they’ll get done.  The grass will get longer, but you can cut it tomorrow.  The laundry isn’t an issue because we’ve all got something else in our closet to wear, and if we really want to wear last week’s dirty pants, we can just take them out of the hamper and put them on (really, they were okay when they hit the pile, and they’ll be okay if we put ’em back on for another day.

But a missed riding experience is something we can never get back.  The trail will never be the same as it is today…it could rain tomorrow…my bike might get stolen..there could be a zombie apocalypse…

Really, with those options, I think we’d all be fools if we DIDN’T race in the middle of the week.

It’s odd.  Riding has kind of (but not really) taken a back seat for me lately.  In the past month and a half, I did 4 big races, two weekly series races, a few little rides here and there, and 5 blog posts, but I  feel like I have to spend weekdays recovering from a weekend haul, and haven’t been riding as much as I should.

And that’s the great thing about a weekly series race.  I’m registered for a season, so the details (and even the decision) have already been established.  Having a definite date and time planned for a weekly ride is a great thing indeed.  Oh, and I get to play bikes with friends.

What?  You’re not a racer?

You feel intimidated?

You don’t think you can do it.

Well…

Yes you are a racer–everyone is a racer.

There’s no need to feel intimidated because weekly races are ALWAYS chill, casual, and relaxed.

And yes you can.  If I can race, ANYONE can race.

Here are five reasons why a weekly series is awesome:

  1. They’re less than an hour long
  2. The organizers will answer any email questions that you have, and help you through the whole process
  3. The people who race weekly series are the people you want to know (just trust me on this)
  4. They’re a great way to introduce yourself to a big race experience, and they’re not as tough as you’d think.
  5. While there are riders who are there to COMPETE, most are there just to ride hard. So, if you’re really worried about riding with a big mean group, seed yourself at the back of the pack, and within a few minutes, you’ll probably be riding alone.

Oh, and here are three simple rules to doing a weekly race:

  1. If you need to pass someone, ask, wait for a good spot, and announce which side you’re passing on.
  2. If someone asks to pass, pull aside when you can, and tell them to pass.
  3. Stick around after the race to chat with other riders.

By the way, I usually race the King Weekly series on Tuesday nights, but I’ve raced Durham too, and I plan to take a stab at each of the following this summer: Kelso; Coulson Hill; Durham; Hardwood Hills; and Albion Hills.  I’ve got links to each race after this post.

With all of the great weekly race series to choose from, and the now discredited list of alternatives, it isn’t a tough choice. Honestly, there is no better way to experience some great racing, some great camaraderie, and some of Southern Ontario’s awesomest trails.

And if you choose not to ride in the middle of the week, just remember Hamlet.  He didn’t ride, and look at what happened to him.  It involved a sword, some poison, and a bit of agony…

Ride.

PS

A few lines that didn’t make the blog:

Hey Laertes, instead of a duel, let’s go for a rip?

Shall we ride a lap, lady?

Frailty, thy name is a cracked frame.

Neither a non-rider or a non-racer be…

This above all: to the ride be true.

Something is rotten in the state of my cycling shoes.  Methinks tis my socks.

Links to weekly series sites.  Click and race!

And here’s a link to a Race Calendar blog that I wrote a while back.  It’s got bigger races, bigger awesomeness, and a summer full of great riding!

41. O-Cup # 2

Did I Ever Tell You About The Worst MTB Race Ever?

O Cup #2 @ MTB Kingston.  What.  A.  Race.

What was it?  Was it a MTB race, or a Tough Mudder?

Wait, it was a Mountain HIKE race (see what I did there)?

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Mudfest! (photo courtesy Sean Hickman, MTB Kingston)

For my fourth race in five weekends, I thought I’d take it easy, and I registered for the Sport Men category (24k) in the Substance Projects, Scott O-Cup #2 Race (presented by Plastiglas and powered by Caterpillar), at MTB Kingston.

24k at MTB Kingston?  Pfft.  Easy.  After the freezing cold 40k windstorm that I struggled against in the Steaming Nostril, the 50k rainy mess that I conquered on my rigid single speed at the H2i, and the constant challenge of the 70k wind tunnel of Paris to Ancaster, I figured I’d seen the worst of Springtime in Ontario.

Me:  Is that all you’ve got Ontario?  Some wind and a bit of rain?  Hah!  I mock you and your weak weather!

Springtime in Ontario:  Hold my drink…

Stupid Team Colin and his arrogance.  Stupid Team Colin for slapping Springtime in Ontario in its metaphorical face with his riding gloves.

Stupid Team Colin.Team-Colin-O-Cup

“It’s my fifth year of racing” I thought “I’ve seen it all”.

I could not have been more wrong.

O Cup #2 was an absolutely gnarly, awesomely boss, mountain bike race.  I hated almost every second of it. Here’s why:

  • It was cold, damp and muddy.  (or, in Team Colin language, it was “Brrr and ick”)
  • I chose the wrong tires and couldn’t find purchase on most climbs, around corners, and just trying to pedal
  • I hiked my bike more often than I biked my bike
  • My drivetrain is now a rusted string of orange used-to-be-a-chain
  • My brake pads are not
  • I don’t think I’ll ever get the outside (or inside!) of my shoes clean
  • I don’t even want to try to clean my socks–mostly because I think they’ve just been through enough
  • I used the wrong lube (okay, I didn’t use any lube because forgot to lube my bike after cleaning the drivetrain the day before), and had to actually dunk my bike into a stream on my last lap in order to have a working drivetrain
  • Despite my best efforts with a hose after the race, my bike is now a mud encrusted heap of what was once carbon perfection

I could continue, but I won’t, because for every second that I hated the race, I loved it even more.

O Cup # 2 at MTB Kingston was AWESOME.  Here’s why:

  • It was one heck of a boss ride
  • It was MTB racing at its finest

End of list.

O Cup #2 at MTB Kingston was soooooo MTB from start to finish.

What, we thought a sealed bottom bracket was just a conversation piece?

We thought disk brakes were something bike manufacturers made just for fun?

Nope.

After the race, I heard some riders saying things like

“Well that was an expensive hike”

“There was just too much mud”

“It should have been cancelled”.

If you were one of those people, I hate to say it, but I think you got it wrong.

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Team Colin Post Race: MUD & SMILES!

Our bikes are bred for the awful slop that Mother Nature threw at us on Sunday:  they yearn for muddy chain suck and the strain of trying to crank up slippy-sloppy climbs; they pine for the chance to (try to) shift through ten pounds of derailleur mud; and they ache to be spinning on mud-encrusted wheels that look like more like fatbike tires than the 2.2 Rocket Ron’s I (should have) put on the night before.

 

So what if our tires looked like homemade “Gift for the Cyclist in your Life” crafts on Pinterest after we rolled through a the carpet of pine needles on mud drenched wheels?

That’s MTB.

So what if it was really hard?

That’s really MTB.

So what if it was muddy?

That’s totally and thoroughly MTB.

And so what if  we’ll probably never again feel clean, and our bikes creak instead of purr, and there’s still sandy grit in our bodies where sand should never be, and…

That’s the heart of MTB.

I don’t say this in a chest-beating, full-of-machismo, way.  It’s just what we DO on a mountain bike.  We ride.  And no matter what the weather throws at us, or how the course conditions cry havoc and let slip the dogs of mud, we ride.

Seriously, did Neanderthal racers complain when their mountain bike races were held in a gruelling mess of knee deep primordial ooze?  No.  They said “Ooga booga, Ugh! Ugh! Ughhhhh!”, which , roughly translated, means “Awesome, it’s muddy, let’s race!  And could somebody please invent padded cycling shorts!”

Our bikes were bred from greatness, and designed to perform in precisely what we faced on Sunday:  Mud, and grime, and water, and more mud and grime and water.

I know I always say this, but we didn’t bring a teacup to a garden party, we brought a mountain bike to a race, and Mother Nature did everything she could to make it boss. The weekend before, at P2A, Mother Nature challenged riders with the strongest wind ever recorded on earth (totally true), and on Sunday, Mother Nature challenged us with a week of biblical rain.  Clearly, Mother Nature is hardcore.

And that’s awesome.

Besides, where’s the fun in going to work on Monday and saying “I did a mountain bike race on the weekend.  It was sunny, warm, and easy”.  If we wanted easy, we’d be tooling around a golf course wearing plaid socks and a heinous pair of walking shorts, deciding whether we need to chip the next shot.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that (golf, the socks, or the shorts–okay, maybe there’s something wrong with the shorts…).

We chose to spend Sunday playing bikes in the mud.  Boom.  These guys came just to watch.  Great to see you Angela, Dan, and Nick Emsley!

Team-Colin-O-Cup-Emsleys

Besides, when you see pictures of the pros, are they clean and pristine, and riding on easy street?  Nope.

Unless it’s golf.

Before a Race Report, I want to talk about the trails for a sec.  It’s usually not cool to ride when it’s muddy because our tires inflict so much damage on soft trails (Um, that’s why it’s called shredding).  People work hard to maintain trails, and mud riding can wreck all the hard work. Worse, the cycling community seems a bit salty these days whenever the question of trail closures and mud comes up.  Maybe it’s because this is a particularly long wet season, or because it’s been a horribly long winter.  Regardless, the sentiment reared its head a few times on Sunday, so I spoke to Rob Sangers, the owner of the private property where the race was held.  Rob is a HUGE cycling advocate and devotee. These are his trails, and he (along with a legion of MTB Kingston volunteers) made sure the trails were as good as they could be for the race, and they’ll be working hard over the next few weeks to repair the damage–which was likely substantial.  Aside from the fact that the race took place on only a small portion of MTB Kingston’s network, this was a calculated risk on their part.  They knew the challenges, and faced them head-on by reinforcing many of the trails with gravel and sand in the days leading up to the race, choosing trails that were rideable in the rain, and designing much of the race on motocross and farm track that was less susceptible to water and wheels.  Rob said “I’m not afraid of work. I’m a farmer.”  Indeed.  He’s got the right attitude, the work ethic, and the access to equipment to make it happen. This isn’t a group of riders spending a Saturday morning with a wheelbarrow and a shovel, this is a massive crew of trained individuals…with tractors.

Rob and MTB Kingston weren’t at the mercy of the OCA, and it wasn’t hubris or greed that made this race happen, it was love and passion for all things MTB. All parties collaborated prior to the race (and toiled to prep the trails), and will continue long after. In fact, they’re still working to make sure the trails are better than ever when the water finally subsides and the animals find their way, two by two, back home.

The result of their planning and dedication was a truly remarkable racing experience.

Wait, did somebody say Race Report?

Team-Colin-O-Cup-Commissaire-Jeff
Commissaire Jeff and a clipboard that means business.

I did the 11:45 start, in the Men’s Sport 45-49 category (boy, there sure are a lot of categories in an O Cup race).  The 9:00, 10:00, and 1:45 races followed slightly different courses, but the meat and bones of each course was fairly similar.  The meat and bones of the course, if you haven’t gathered was covered in mud, and it deteriorated throughout the day, causing a great deal of re-routing and section closure.  Commissaire Jeff, Rob, and Dan displayed a remarkably chill attitude when faced with the massive changes.  By race time, the 8k lap had been reduced to about 5k, and little did I know during my wave even the number of laps was reduced from 3 to 2.

Race Report:  O Cup #2 at MTB Kingston (May 7, 2017.  Glenburnie, ON)

The first bit of the race was a awesome.  There was a quick shot along a crowd-lined slope, through a barn, onto a 1k pump track (with some superbly dialed berms), and up a sweet farm track for a long-ish but gentle climb.  Then, we were back past the Start/Finish area for a hero sprint, and down into the valley along another farm lane.Team-Colin-O-Cup-Start-2

Then it really got awesome. The descent into the valley was our first introduction to the mud that would follow:  Deep, flowing, thick, and nasty–and this was on a wide downhill!

The course improved and as soon as we were under the forest canopy.  Everything dried and the course was fast and dry. No it wasn’t.  It was horrible.  The trails for the next kilometre were a mix of calf deep sludge, mud covered roots, standing water, and slick, sucking, muck.  I mostly walked, and rarely rode.  It was a SLOG.

When the course wound deeper into the forest, there was a nice stretch of mostly rideable single track.  Of course, “nice” is a relative term, and relative to the day as a whole, it was only marginally nicer than the previous trek.  It was slow and slick, and took every bit of concentration not to slide into a tree or kiss the muck.

Prior to the race, Dan suggested I ride with studs on my tires to help with traction. I always say “There’s already more than enough stud on my bike…” but he was right. Studs would have helped.  He’s also right when he laughs at me each time I make that joke because I am not the picture of studliness.

Studs or not, the last 500 metres or so of the race were totally unrideable for me. The mud was calf deep, and seemed even stickier than the rest.  My bike just wouldn’t roll. Worse, by this point in the race, my drivetrain was a hulking mess and I couldn’t crank on the pedals without my chain jamming into my chainstay The climb up to the finish line, and the 90 tight and steep corner at the top was a nice touch, and would have been great without mud, but alas, mud was the word of the day and, and mud it was, so I scampered up the hill as best as I could and bowed my head so the crowd couldn’t identify me.

Team-Colin-O-Cup-StartThe second lap was a case of lather, rinse, repeat–except in mud.  By this time in the day, the course was at its worst.  I pedalled when I could, trudged through the same slop, and just tried to finish the lap.

I didn’t discover the last lap was axed until I was finishing my second lap.  I was prepared to tough it out for another, but I’m glad I didn’t have to.  My time was 1:40 for 2 laps, and a total distance of just over 10k. Yeah, it was that bad.Team-Colin-O-Cup-Emcee

Congratulations once again to everyone who raced.  The results are listed on the OCA website.

It’s just too bad the emcee was so lame…

End of Race Report

The honest fact is that races like this are really really really tough.  It wasn’t a long race, but my lap time was over 45 minutes, and the difficulty of the terrain was so challenging.  So what did I do?  I pedalled a bit and walked a lot and walked some more, until I finished each lap.  I figure, you can’t finish a race dreading it, and you certainly can’t finish it by not moving, so I kept at it. Eventually, the race has got to stop, even when it feels like it won’t.

But you know, there was a plus side to the race too, because I had my bike with me. With all the shouldering, lugging, and dragging, I think we really had a chance to bond. I touched it in special places.  It’s a good thing I was wearing gloves.

Team-Colin-O-Cup-Start-2There was another plus, and it didn’t involve forbidden bike love.  I stuck around to see the Elite riders in the 1:00 wave.  By that time of the day, the course was absolutely mangled, but one by one, they sprinted past, and one by one I saw them nail the climb across the valley before entering the forest, and one by one, they RODE UP THE LAST CLIMB.

It probably wasn’t easy for them either, but they did it.  What a great reminder of what we aspire to, and what a great example of boss riding.  When I dreamt of MTB as a kid, it was races like these that made me want to ride.

Because that’s MTB.

We’re all MTB.  Seriously, anyone who did the race is now a member of the “MTB League of Bossness” (not a real organization).  Making the choice to enter the race was enough of a BOOM.  Starting the race after seeing the course conditions was another BOOM. Finishing the race was, well, that’s just damn epic.

Team-Colin-O-Cup-Band
“I’m with the band”

You know what else is MTB?  Substance Projects.  Slick event, fun time, and there was even a live band.  Yeah, a live band.  Literal mic drop!  This group of local high school students was amazing.  They had a tight and mature sound, and played covers, along with a few originals.  The future of rock in Kingston is safe.  Well done boys!  The Banters.  Check them out.

Back to the O Cup.  For those who took a look at the weather on race day morning said “Been there, done that” and decided not to race. That’s too bad, because sometimes it’s nice to be reminded of the true spirit of mountain biking.  There is no HTFU (and I really don’t like that term anyways), but there is a whole bunch of GIYBAEESOIBYDCGAAH (Give It Your Best And Enjoy Every Second Of It Because You Didn’t Choose Golf As A Hobby).

Maybe I’m seeing this wrong.

I don’t see the glass half full or half empty, I see it as 100% AWESOME.  The half full part is filled with the potential of what’s to come, and the half empty part is the experience of something awesome, something learned, and something DONE.  There are always a million reasons NOT to ride, and sometimes only a few reasons TO ride, but I have yet to regret the decision to ride.

Or maybe I’m just seeing AWESOME.

Now that I’ve “been there and done that”, I can say this:  I’d do it all over again in a heartbeat.  Bring it on Springtime in Ontario.  Bring it on.

Oh, and the answer to the title of this blog (Did I ever tell you about the worst MTB race ever?):  It was awesome. The worst MTB race ever was awesome.

Because that’s MTB.

Ride.

 

PS.  Hey, did you race on Sunday?  What did you think of the course?  The band?  The mud?  The awesomeness?  Did you clean your bike yet?  Comment on this post, or send an email (teamcolinblog@yahoo.com).

A HUGE THANKS TO:

  • THE SPONSORS
  • SUBSTANCE PROJECTS AND DAN MARSHALL
  • OCA
  • COMMISSAIRE JEFF
  • MY RACE PHOTOGRAPHER FOR THE DAY, NORMA MACLELLAN
  • THE SMOKIN’ CARNIVORE FOOD TRUCK
  • THE BANTERS
  • MTB KINGSTON
    • Rob Sangers
    • Kyle Sangers
    • Wally Stanton (the dude who put a bridge in for us)
    • Sean Hickman (the dude who also took an awesome pic of me)
    • Peter Dawson
    • Chris MacFarlane
    • the MTB Kingston Youth Race Team (who used one of their practices to help)
    • and EVERY MEMBER of MTB Kingston who will be working to get the trails back in shape

Nothing would have happened without these people (and probably many more that I don’t know about).  Thanks again.  Many of us just showed up and raced, but you made the day an awesome reality.

BOOM!

News: Demo Fest Cancelled

Noooooooo.

We’re not going to play bikes tomorrow.

We’re not going to meet a few thousand bike minded people (love that saying) and talk about the greatest thing on earth:  MOUNTAIN BIKING.

We’re not going to have pancakes in the forest.

We’re not going to play on Joyride 150’s jumps and skinnies, and ride with the Ride Guides people.

We’re not going to see the staff and bikes from: Bicycles PlusBoyds SportsCycle LifeCycle SolutionsEvolution CyclesImpala BicyclesSpoke O Motion, and Station Ski and Ride (those are all links by the way, click on them).

And we’re not going to see bikes from: Giant, Norco, Specialized, KHS, Cannondale, Trek, Santa Cruz, Devinci, Liv, Pivot, Rocky Mountain, Scott, Yeti, and Staran, and support a few local businesses: The Copper Branch, Hy-Hope Farms, The Merchant of Meat, and Primal Pizza.

Nope.  None of that stuff.  DMBA DEMO FEST IS CANCELLED.

And that’s awesome.

Yup, awesome.  Gotta respect DMBA for making the right call and cancelling tomorrow’s Demo Fest.  It’s been raining all week, it’s not going to stop tonight, and there is just too much water on the trails.  Because of the DMBA, the trails will live to be boss for another day.

20170505_155034.jpgRespect, respect, RESPECT!

Part of the DMBA mandate is to “preserve trail opportunities”, and cancelling tomorrow must have been a killer decision–especially given the amount of time and money that must have gone into the event, not to mention the few unreasonable people who might complain–but ultimately they have done exactly what we need them to do.  They’ve shown exactly why they exist.  They exist so that our sport will be protected.

We can’t ride on Saturday, but the trails will be there all summer, and with people like the DMBA advocating for US, protecting OUR trails, and giving US events like the Demo Fest, the trails (and the spirit and vibe of biking)  are sure to be there for many summers to come.

It ain’t easy making tough decisions, but it’s called the high road for a reason, and DMBA just took it.  All of us know this philosophy too well.  When there’s a fork in the trail, and one side has a log-over, we nail the logs.  When there’s a killer hill to climb, we attack it (and sometimes even repeat it).  When our friends are playing golf and scrapbooking (not that there’s anything wrong with that), we RIDE OUR BIKES hard and fast.

And now, thanks to the DMBA, all that great stuff is protected just a little bit more.

If you’re really itching to ride tomorrow (and I know I am) here are a few other alternatives to Demo Fest:

  • Feel like an indoor rip?  Take a shot up to Joyride 150 and try their new Flow Trail.
  • Really really really want to ride OUTSIDE tomorrow?  Check the Team Colin Facebook page, or send Team Colin an email (teamcolinblog@yahoo.com). Rumour is that a ride is planned exploring his famous “South Scarborough Loop” (a teeny tiny bit of road, lots of paved trail, a few climbs and other surprises, and a view of the lake).
  • Can you wait until Sunday? If so, make the trip east, O-Cup #2 at MTB Kingston (presented by Dan Marshall and Substance Projects) is on Sunday.  MTB Kingston has been busy all week making sure the trails are ready for the downpour (sand, gravel, rerouting, and so on), and ensuring the trails won’t sustain any damage. Seriously, check out the Substance Projects Facebook page.  These folks CARE about the trails and are knocking themselves out to make the race a reality.  Dan, Substance Projects, and MTB Kingston support us, and it’s time for us to support them. Cold and (torrentially) rainy, with a chance of snow?  Can’t think of a better time to crush it on a bike.  Boom.
  • Behind on your chores?  Spend a bit of time catching up.  Seriously, with three races in April (and three in May…plus a few weekly race evenings), I am behind in everything that doesn’t have to do with bikes.  My bikes are tuned, and my kits are ready to go, but my garage is a mess, my lawn needs a rake, the shower may be growing things, and the laundry pile is threatening to topple on one of my kids if they put one more sock on top.
  • Forgot to observe Star Wars Day?  Say hi to Chewie, Han, Leih, Obi Wan, Luke, and the droids (even though they aren’t the ones you’re looking for), and watch a Star Wars movie (hint, episodes 4-7 are a good place to start)
  • Forgot what a non-biking weekend looks like?  Read a book, watch a play, sleep in, snuggle someone, bash the mud off your shoes from last weekend’s P2A (or is that just me), clean your bike, visit a bike shop, spend the day in your pajamas and binge watch a new show, get caught in a Youtube Vortex, or otherwise revisit your non-biking life that usually gets put on hold during riding season.
  • Want to support our sport so there are many Demo Fests in the future?  Renew your DMBA membership.  DMBA, YMBA, IMBA, HAFTA, GORBA, Team Van GoSCMBC, Shorthills, WCC, MTB Kingston, whatever.  Each of us should be a member of one of our organizations.  Each name above is a link.  Get clicking!

I’m not glad the Demo Fest is cancelled, but I’m happy that our trails and our sport will remain strong and healthy because of the great leadership and forward thinking of the DMBA.  I really believe that we’re stewards not just of our trails, but of our natural environment, and it’s nice to have a reminder about the effects of our actions.

So what if we can’t play bikes and eat pancakes tomorrow.  There’s plenty of summer ahead of us.

Ride…just not at Durham tomorrow, and probably not for the next few days (unless you’re racing in Kingston).

 

 

PS.  Hey, anything to say about the trails, riding, or bikes in general? Comment, or send me an email at: teamcolinblog@yahoo.com

In no time, we’ll be doing this again:

team-colin-King-Weekly-Series.jpg

 

 

 

40. P2A 2017

Well, That’s That

Paris-to-Ancaster-Climb
The Martin Hill Climb

P2A: Canada’s Spring Cycling Classic.

P2A:  The fifth anniversary of my first bike race ever.

P2A:  The cycling equivalent to root canal.

Boom!  And so, the day started.  Not with the cock of a crow (hehe) or the gentle chirping of birds outside my bedroom window, but with a BOOM.  A loud, crackling, thunder clap. Mother Nature was angry at something.  Like, really angry.

And so was I.  It was 5AM, I was about to take a stab at my first full P2A, and the thunder woke me up 90 minutes before my alarm (which was set for 6:30).  The day was going to be tough, and Mother Nature added her signature to it.  Call it pathetic fallacy.  Call it whatever.

I say:  Not cool Mother Nature.

SONOTCOOL.

The night before the race, I posted this on the Team Colin Facebook page:

P2A Eve. Is your bike nice and shiny? Bags packed? Energy gels gelling? Whenever you make it to bed tonight, I hope your sleep is filled with dreams of boss gravel, chutes of horrible mud, rain, wind, and a big grunty climb at the end of it all. It’s P2A, it’s awesome, and it’s going to be epic. Sleep well, and wake-up ready to punch P2A in the throat.

Well I wasn’t going to punch anything in the throat at 5AM.  All I could think about was the cold torrents of rain slapping my bedroom window.

I managed to fall asleep again, but still.  SONOTCOOL.

I woke again at 6:30 and felt a bit better.  For me, nothing can diminish race morning nerves and excitement.  This year’s P2A would be my fifth time doing the race, but only my first kick at the full distance.  I was EXCITED.  I was in okay enough shape, and eager to test myself, but the best part was that after the race this year, there’d be no qualifier:  No saying “I did the P2A” and have to add “but only the St. George distance”; no feeling that I only did half the race; and no feeling that I could have done more.  I had NERVES too, and that part of me was on overdrive.  I was hoping for a finish time of around three and a half hours, and the prospect of being in the saddle for that much time on such a cold day was humbling; the prospect of pushing my body to my limits was numbing; and the added prospect 30-50kph winds was, well, it was terrifying.

To add to the NERVES, I was still recovering from the gruelling mess that was the H2i two weeks prior, and the muscles in my new body part (known as my back/shoulders/neck/legs) hadn’t unknotted (which is why I was still in bed).

But then, EXCITEMENT kicked back in.  I was going to do a big kid race, and I was anxious to test my physical and mental limits (okay, I’ll get out of bed now).

Boom!  More thunder.  Well, so much for that.  I was pant-crapping terrified.  Every single worry of my first race five years ago came floating back at me.  How would I handle the cold…what if my new (to me) bike got angry and I had to deal with a technical…what about the rain…the wind…the crowds…the mud chutes and last climb and cramping and…

Dang, was it still like this for me after 35 races in the past four years?

Yes.  Yes it was.  Laying in bed I felt a healthy respect and awe for what I was about to do. It wasn’t going to be easy, it probably wouldn’t be fun, and it was sure to be horribly awful at times, but when it was over I was going to be sore and drained, and aching–hold on, I’m getting to the good part–and content in the knowledge that win or lose (likely lose), finish or not (50-50 odds), I would have given it all I had.  The excitement started to build.  This was going to be MY Paris to Ancaster, and I was going to OWN every second of it…

Boom?  Aw c’mon thunder, I was on a roll there.

Oh well, time to start the day.

The next few hours were a blur.  Get out of bed, jam some breakfast in my belly, do a pre-race checklist, pack the van, drive to Ancaster, pick up my number plate and registration kit, drive to Paris, find parking, change, stretch, pee, stretch some more, worry a bit, wonder if I should pee again, find Carl, my race buddy (who I met at Team Colin Day, and got to know the day before with a sweet warm-up ride),get into the start paddock. worry a bit more, adjust my glasses and gloves…

Boom!  With the report of a musket firing, the race started.  Hey, what’s with the BOOMS today? First it was Mother Nature smashing clouds together, and now it’s a dude in a boss beard, beside a bagpiper, starting the race.

Paris-to-Ancaster-startIn the first few seconds of the race I realized something.  Initially, I thought Mother Nature had a thunder storm to mimic the nerves and terror of P2A.  Nope.  Mother Nature had a thunder storm to mimic the epicness of the day.  She wasn’t angry, she just wanted to play bikes too.

Awesome.

Race Report:  Paris to Ancaster.  Paris, Ancaster (April 29, 2017)

With a bag piper playing us up a gentle climb, we turned onto the gravel driveway of an industrial area (that was now doubling as a Bike Water Bottle Recycling Centre), and onto the first stretch of rail trail. The pace was slowed by the sheer volume of riders, but passing was sort-of possible.  Carl and I chatted a bit, and kept each other in sight.  After a few k of the trail, we turned up a sharp, fist-size boulder strewn punchy climb that took most of us off our bikes.

Waiting for us at the crest of the quick climb–lurking for us–was the wind.  It defied us to keep pedalling.  We had 60k to go, and we were supposed to punch P2A in the throat, but it was a struggle just to keep the bike moving forward.  I think it’s safe to say that no cyclists have ever experienced a stronger head wind.  That’s probably, most likely, almost certainly, true.

We skirted a farmer’s field, onto a bit of windy road, a bit more windy gravel, some more windy gravel, a bit of windy road, and then took a shot at a sweet P2A SECTION.  A “section” is gravel grinder-ese for “rotten-awesome part”.  But it really wasn’t that bad.  A quick detour onto a farm for a little rip around a field.  The trail was bumpy, and the wind kept taunting us, but we kept at it.  Back on the gravel road, we continued against the onslaught of wind.  Every second against the wind was an absolute slog. The headwinds were brutal.  Even riding with a cross wind was tough.  Tailwinds were…well, I don’t remember much tailwind.  That’s the thing about a point to point race.  If the wind is coming from Point B, and you start at Point A, reprieve from the wind doesn’t exist.

This is where it’s good to have a race buddy.  Carl and I took turns slicing the wind, and our pace was strong.  It was a race after all, and while we weren’t pushing for a spot on the podium, we were pushing for the sheer joy of being AWESOME.

More gravel, more roads, more sections.

Paris-to-Ancaste-Chyla.jpg
A little gravel goodness (photo courtesy of photographybychyla)

More WIND!

Some of the sections were fun.  Some weren’t. The few thousand riders ahead of us had blended the sections to the consistency of oatmeal.  It was slow going, but everybody was in the same boat.  We hit another farm section for a long, soft, bumpy traverse between two fields.  It was fast moving, but zapped my energy.  At the far end of the field, we crossed the hard packed washboard that jackhammered my shoulders and killed my pace. Finally, the reward at the end of the section was…a sinking mess of driveway that drained the last bits of energy.

Some more field, a bit of road, and then we met with the 40k riders at the halfway aid station. Carl and I took a short break and I refilled my belly and my water bottles.

Immediately after starting the second half, we were met with the 70k/40k Rail Trail Logjam.  It was a 15 minute stall-a-bike, and it was a giant drag.  To be walking beside your bike when you want to RIDE is a horrible feeling–especially since we wasted time recovering at the aid station just a few k back.

On the road again, and battling the gruelling wind, it was another mix of more sections, single track, gravel, rail trail, road, and a few small villages.  My legs still felt strong, and I maintained a constant attack.  Passing slower riders, I’d look back often and see they had latched onto us for a draft.  But it never laster for long because they couldn’t keep the pace.  Group after group latched onto us and dropped shortly after, and we kept at it.  It was awesome.  There were plenty of faster riders that day (896 of them, to be precise), but it felt great to have the wheels and the legs to keep pushing.

Attacking climbs 50k into a race was a pretty humbling thing for me.  Only 5 years ago, I raced my first P2A, and marvelled at the stronger riders, and here I was, now one of them.  We were just booking it.  That subtle boom I felt in my chest the first time I tackled Paris to Ancaster (St. George distance) was now the thundering BOOM of my heart pushing me harder and faster.

Boom indeed.

Somewhere in the middle, I saw my guy, Ted Anderton from Apex Photography.  That was nice.

We hit the first big mud chute.  Gotta say, it was much less epic than years past.

Paris-to-Ancaster-mud-chute.jpg
Walking the Not-So-Epic-In-2017 Mud Chute (Photo courtesy of Apex Photography)

The condition of the mud made it unridable, so it was another drag of a walk-a-bike.   After that, more gravel and rail trail leading up to the second mud chute.  The wind really started to kick in, and the exposed trail was an absolutely killer.  We hit the second chute, and again, it was a bit less epic than past years.  At the bottom of the chute, it was a quick shot along Mineral Springs road to the finish line, which was at the top of Martin Hill.  The Martin Hill climb pretty much haunts my race nightmares year round, but this year, it wasn’t as bad as I expected.

It wasn’t easy, and I had to walk a portion of it for the first time (I am honestly blaming my 28 tooth cassette), but really, it was just a hill.  It was a big one, and it was steep, and it was at the end of a long race, but it was just a hill.  How do you finish a race?  You pedal.  How do you climb a big hill?  You pedal.  Or you walk.  The simplicity of it is pretty startling.  Throughout the race, when I had the legs to sprint, I sprinted.  Now that it was too steep to ride, I had to walk.  So I walked.  No biggie.

Also, when you take a closer look at the hill, it’s really only 700m of the gruelling stuff.  Pfft.

As it is every year, the crowds lining the hill were awesome, However, this year, my family was there and I got to high five my boy as I passed.  He ran beside me through the finish line.  As always, the finish line was everything that I’ve come to love about the sport:  People cheering, riders basking, and buckets and buckets of epic awesomeness.

And just like that, it was over.

End of P2A Race Report (NOT the St. George distance).

Hey, here are two fellow bloggers who nailed the day pretty accurately.  Have a read:

P2A:  It was cold.  It was windy.  It was awesome.

What, you were expecting a beautiful sunny day?  Well there’s no fun in that…

Paris-to-Ancaster-PostAnd here’s where things change gears a bit (see what I did there).  I was expecting a transformation of some sort (like I experienced in the Eager Beaver last August).  I undertook a pretty epic journey at this year’s P2A and I wanted to feel something epic inside me as well. But it wasn’t there.  Had I become inured to the experience?  No.  In fact, quite the opposite.

The transformation was there…

The satisfaction was there…

The realization of the depth of the experience was there…

But all of it was gentle and quiet (which is rare for me because I am the opposite of gentle and quiet). The journey of the day wasn’t finishing the course.  The journey of the day–the transformation of the day–wasn’t the DAY at all.

It was a slow burning culmination of 5 years of epically awesome boss choices.

Every part of the race was a choice.  From waking up, to driving 90 minutes to get there, to my warm up ride with Carl the day before, to what I wore, how my legs propelled me, and what kept me pushing when my body begged me to STOP.  I chose to be cold, and cramped.  I chose to have snot dripping from my nose and wipe it on my sleeve.  I chose to do the full distance even though I was terrified.

I chose to race even with the knowledge that so many were waaay better than me.

It was the same for everybody who raced P2A.  WE rode and trained.  WE registered and shined our bikes.  WE packed our kit bags, woke up early, and CHOSE to get out there and give it our best.

And whether we rode the 70k or the 40k.  Whether we rode a $10,000 piece of bicycle art or $100 piece of, well, you know.  Whether we rode beside our kids, on a tandem, solo, or with a group of buddies, we all made the choice, and we all have a story to tell.

Paris-to-Ancaster-3
Steve Shikaze (Ride Cycle Spin), Team Colin, and Carl

I have a story to tell, and it’s boss.  And so what if  I didn’t punch P2A in the throat.  I embraced it and let it become part of me.  P2A wasn’t AGAINST me.  P2A just wanted to CHALLENGE me to be a better ME.

When I started this blog a year ago, my first line was “My name is Colin.  I’m a rider.  I’m a dad.  I’m a husband.  I’m a teacher.  I’m a racer…”

Well, in April of 2017, I raced the Steaming Nostril (Runny Nose Distance), the Homage to Ice (full marathon, single speed), and P2A.  I can now say this:  My name is Colin.  I’m sore.  But it was MY choice to be sore, and it’s awesome.

3:40:08.  17/41 in the Clydesdale Category.  897/1426 Overall.  My 40th blog.  My name is Colin, and P2A was MY race this year.

Ride.

 

PS.  So, what have I learned about P2A in the past 5 years?

Here’s a completely, totally definitive list of 9 things:

  1. Shoulder your bike and walk the mud chutes.  A mud-caked bike doesn’t work.
  2. The Martin Hill climb really isn’t that bad, and there’s no point worrying about it, because it won’t change and it doesn’t care.
  3. Water water everywhere…  Drink lots of it to avoid cramping.
  4. Ride whatever bike you want.
  5. Register early.  Wave 1 or 2 if you’re doing the 70k and want to avoid the rail trail logjam.
  6. Pass when you have to pass.  Stop when you have to stop.  Book it when you can.
  7. Weather is weather.  It’s going to be unpredictable and crappy.  Dress appropriately and pedal your bike.
  8. Ride.  Just ride.
  9. Remember to remember all of it.  Breathe it in, soak it in, experience it.  Celebrate that you ARE there.

Hey, did I capture the day for you?  Were you there?  How’d you do?  Anything to add, ask, or say?  What’s your story?  Comment on the blog, or send an email to: teamcolinblog@yahoo.com

Paris-to-Ancaster-Behind

And THAT’S how you write a 2,730 word blog.  Sorry for the length this time.