September 17, 2017. Albion Hills Conservation area.
My third race of the month (or maybe my fourth–see last blog) plus two weekly series rips.
The second annual Great Albion Enduro.
A good time was had by all. A good time was had by me (even though, once again, Superfly wouldn’t list me as “Team Colin”, only Colin from Scarborough).
It was a GREAT equation (see what I did there): Superfly Racing (who know a thing or ten about how to host a great time) + Albion Hills (which has some of the best riding around) + Sean Ruppel (who is always awesome). Put it together and the result was a wickedly fun romp. Add a dash of the Palgrave, and it was a wickedly fun romp–on two different trail systems.
With a choice of three course options: 25k, 40k, or 80k (two laps of the 40k), the Great Albion Enduro had something for every level of rider. I chose the 40k distance, and rode my Norco Revolver hardtail. I’ve been racing marathon distances on my single speed this year, and it was nice to have a bit of a break with the distance, and to use gears–although I kinda felt like I was cheating at times when I geared down for a climb, or geared up for a sprint (but it felt soooooo good).
I also chose the 40k because I really didn’t relish the thought of 6 hours on a bike after the mess that was Team Colin at the Kingston XCM two weeks ago.
Honestly, the level of awesome at the Albion Enduro was off the charts: steep and grinding double track climbs; super fast and flowy descents (that sometimes carried gently into the next trail, and sometimes ended in a brake-chattering, 90 degree turn); tight and twisty bits of trail; sublime technical features; a sort-of totem pole somewhere in the middle; and loads and loads of sweeeeet singletrack. Let me say it now, the three roller jumps in Palgrave were absolute perfection, and probably the most fun few seconds of a race I’ve ever done. Yep, pretty sure I squealed “Wheeeeeee” on each of the three jumps.
To top off the awesome, at the end of the race we were serenaded by the awesomest, most hipster singer, ever. I could have listened to that dude all day long. Hey guitar guy, if you’re one of the three people who read my blog this month, I love you bruh (hipsters say bruh–I’m pretty sure it means brother). He actually played three of my favourite songs while I was eating lunch. Dude was awesome.
Second Wedge Brewing was even there offering a free beer to riders, so that was cool, even though I don’t really drink. Uh oh, did you hear the collective gasp from the MTB community? “A MTB guy who doesn’t drink beer! Oh the horror”. Please don’t tell my roadie friends I don’t drink espresso either.
Aw man, I hope they don’t take away my race license now.
I guess while I’m at it, I might as well out myself as a hugger. Yeah, if you were at the Chalet just prior to the race, and saw two guys in a loving embrace, that was me and Geoff. Geoff showed me a calf stretch where you dig your heels into the ground and elevate your toes. Since there wasn’t a 2 inch curb for my toes, he offered his feet. I dug my heels into the ground, put my toes onto his, and he held me for balance. I may or may not have put my head on his shoulder like a tween at a school dance. Gotta say, when two people are wearing spandex, and they’re that close, there are seven points of contact (Admit it, you’re doing the visual math in your head right now).
What, I hug all my MTB friends?
Geoff was riding the 40k with a friend, super endurance runner Mike, and he thought it’d be cool if I rode with them. Yeah right, ride with them. Geoff is FAST (like, lightening fast), and Mike is hardcore (like, 100 miles in 24 hours without a bike hardcore). He and Mike, together now known as Geoff-Mike, were going to “ride at a relaxed pace” but I knew that Geoff-Mike’s “relaxed pace” was going to push me to my limit.
Forget all the love when we hugged, Geoff is a weapon, Mike is Superman, and I’m, well, I’m me. Beside those two, I was like a duck at the opera.
They kept a tough pace, but it was awesome to push harder than usual.
Pacing is always a weakness for me. I either go too slow for an entire race, or I go too hard for the first 80% of the race, and ride in a haze for the end. With Geoff-Mike setting the pace, I worked to keep up, but they were consistent, so there was none of my usual sprinting past groups on the double track and then catching my breath in the singletrack. It worked! We stayed pretty close together for the first third of the race. However, as I was fading, we were separated and they got ahead. Keep in mind they were still at a “relaxed pace”…
I felt like Wile E. Coyote trying to catch the Road Runner. I’d spot Geoff-Mike a few riders ahead, and line the course in front of them with Acme bird seed. I’d somehow come close to catching them, and “meep meep” Geoff-Mike was gone, leaving only a flickering outline of their profile.
I threw a giant boulder off a cliff, painted a fake tunnel in a tree stump, and strapped myself to a rocket while wearing roller skates, but just couldn’t keep up. After the rail trail, Geoff-Mike got ahead me, and stayed there for the rest of the race.
At that point, I settled into my regular SLOWER pace, and enjoyed the race. I was actually alone for a few minutes, and it was nice to be part of the forest mosaic. I love the community of a race, but I loooooove the feeling of being part of a forest, when it’s just me and me legs, two pedals and a pair of wheels, and the whirrrrrrr of a sweet drivetrain.
That weather tho…
Superfly Racing could not have asked for nicer weather. Does Sean have an in with the MTB gods?
The easier pace and warm sun allowed me to think about pacing, and I had a nice “A ha” moment. No, I wasn’t thinking of a Norwegian band (okay, maybe I was). I was thinking about my next race and how I was going to pace myself more evenly and slow down at the start so I had more at the end. Aside from being fast, Geoff is a technical and smart rider. Thanks for the tip buddy.
And thanks for the hug stretch. I mean calf stretch.
The Great Albion Enduro was also great because I was pretty much free of any technical and/or physical malfunctions. No broken cleat bolts, flat tires or dropped chain. No flying over my bars like an amateur stuntman. In fact, my tires and tire pressure were perfect (pretty much a first for me) and for the most part, I stayed in an upright position, remained on my bike, and kept moving forward, for the duration. Boom.
My guy, Ted Anderton from Apex Race Photography captured this shot of me. If you were there and haven’t bought your picture yet, go to Apex Race Photography. Ted always makes me look better than I am, although I always have a goofy look on my face because I’m usually yelling “Hey Ted, love ya, man!”.
In the end, it wasn’t my best race or worse race; it wasn’t the toughest, or easiest race; and I didn’t push myself through an epic journey, or to the brink of physical and emotional exhaustion. And that’s totally cool. While it’s nice when a race changes me in some awesome way, aside from the pacing discovery, it was just a sweet afternoon of awesome riding.
And you can’t beat that…even though I spent most of the race dreading the climbs that I knew Sean would throw at us. Sean built many of the trails at Albion, and he loves the Green Monster and the Brown Monster. For anyone unfamiliar with Albion Hills, the Green Monster is is a grassy grind that wrenches every bit of energy from you. The Brown Monster is the same grind, but on dirt. Both monsters are jerks.
Race Report. The Great Albion Enduro. September 16, 2017. Albion Hills
Giant jam of riders for the first 5k, and it was so slooow going; some sweet Albion Hills singletrack; a zip along an undulating stretch of pavement to Palgrave; 5k of the Palgrave (wheeee, wheeee, wheeeeeeee!); the same ribbon of road back, but it was cut short by a steep climb up to some rail trail (Hi Elizabeth); a quick shot of rail trail (I really booked it there); and back into Albion for some more sweet singletrack. The kilometres passed and I started to think we’d get away with a Superfly race that DIDN’T have a Monster. We hit the “1k TO GO” sign and I breathed a sigh of relief. “Phew” I thought, “No killer climb. Oh wait, there it is”. I guess it was Sean’s way of reminding us we weren’t there to trade cupcake recipes. Honestly though, big climbs are only bad when you think about them. During the race (and thinking about them after the race) they’re just part of the awesomeness that we conquer.
A little grind up the Brown Monster; and then guitar guy playing us home.
End of Race Report.
My result? Fourth place. 2:27:49.
Third place was 2:27: 13. Yeah, I was 36 seconds slower than third place.
Come on? I was 36 seconds away from a legitimate podium spot. I was so bummed.
So I took a picture of me in a 4th place podium spot. Just imagine I’m standing on a box that says “4” on it. And I’m closer. Oh, and I’m not a weirdo taking a selfie of himself in front of the real Clydesdale podium.
I never race for a spot on the podium, but I’ve never been so close before. So very bummed. But then I realized something. I could have easily bridged a 36 second gap a billion times throughout the race. Sure, third place guy (I’m shaking my fist at him right now) could have found a bunch of 36 seconds throughout the race as well, but…
Hmm. That’s all I’m sayin’. Hmm.
A list of the category winners is at the end of the blog.
Once again, the Great Albion Enduro lived up to its title promise…
Ted Anderton from Apex photography (that’s a link to the pictures from the day) was there to capture that time I took the B Line around a rock garden instead of the boss line (probably could have bridged a few seconds there…)…
An old high school friend, Tammy, was there doing her “Goal Race”. She set a goal at the beginning of the season to do a big race, and did…
Half of the King Weekly Series riders were there racing or marshalling (hey Paul, Elizabeth, Stuart, and Kent)…
My boy Sean Thibeault was there and took 1st place on a fatbike in the 40k…
A few hundred other bike minded people were there chasing the podium, looking for a cool shirt, snatching one last ride of the season, or just being epic…
And Team Colin was there having a blast, as I always do.
PS. Before the results, did I capture the day the way you did? Something to say about this blog, or biking, or bikes, or anything else? Comment here, or send a message to: firstname.lastname@example.org
And don’t forget to check the Team Colin Facebook page, or follow Team Colin on Instagram.
2017 GREAT ALBION ENDURO RESULTS (that’s a link to the full results):
- Under 18 (M): Jack Gillies
- 19-29 (M): Michael Bayley
- 19-29 (F): Annie Nanowski
- 30-39 (M): Kyle Money
- 30-39 (F): Jennifer Bouchard
- 40-49 (M): Richard Pady
- 40-49 (F): Lisa Hutson
- 50+ (M): Michael Breault
- SS (Open): Michael Nazwaski
- Fatbike (Open): Sean Thibeault
- Clydesdale: Dan Nicks
80k Super Enduro
- Open Female: Sarah Caylor
- Under 39 Male: Liam Mulcahy
- 40+ Male: Tuan Tran
- Fat/Single Speed Battle (Open):David Dermont
25k Fun Run
- Open Male: Jason Elisei
- Open Female: Jenna Dufton