57. Sausage Suit 2017

Did somebody say “Sausage Suit Fest”?

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Socks!

What can I say about the Sausage Suit ITT that I didn’t say last year?  It was the same awesome course; pretty much the same awesome people; and the same awesome Team Van Go..rilla.

It was:  Dufferin County Forest, Substance Projects, Dan Marshall and his crew, and some of the best MTB riders around.

What a great day on a bike!

The 2017 Sausage Suit ITT was so very, um, what’s that word…awesome.

I, on the other hand, was a shade less than awesome.  In fact, I was so very UNawesome. It was the same story that I experience all too often: I felt strong, I pushed hard, I rode well, and my results were, um, what’s that word…crappy.

Even though I rode my bike so much over the summer…

And even though I raced five straight weekends in September–almost 350k of race pace ripping…

And even though I did about a billion races this season–including seven marathon distance races…

My time was…wait for it…five minutes faster than last year. Five lousy minutes. Honestly, I think I spent five minutes last year peeing in the middle of the race (What?  I drink a lot of water), so after all my hard work this year, my results for the race were pretty much the same.

To make the sting worse, instead of my single speed, I rode my geared Norco Revolver hardtail.  Yeah, I had gears.

Five stinking minutes (read that like a quick grumble, through gritted teeth, while you’re kicking a pop can).

But enough of that.  It’s not new, it’s not news, and it really doesn’t matter because it was a Saturday, there was a race, and I raced.  Also, I think I wrote the same thing for my last few races.  For some reason, I’m just not performing as well as I’d like to on my bike this season.

Seriously though, what a great day on a bike.

Here’s what I wrote on my Facebook after the race:

It’s a wrap!
The 2017 MTB race season is officially finished, with yesterday’s rip through Dufferin County Forest, at the Substance projects Sausage Suit ITT. 30k of sublime single track, in one heck of an awesome place to ride. I placed, um that’s not important, and had an absolute blast. What a great way to end a terrific race season…

Sublime indeed.  Dufferin County Forest is single track nirvana:  awesomely technical, wickedly rocky and rooty, spectacularly climby, and scattered with absolutely boss log overs.  Last year, I said “When a tree falls in Dufferin Forest, and nobody’s there, does it make a sound?  You bet.  ‘LOGOVER!!!'”.  The log overs were awesome last year.  This year, I think they were even better….

…and terrifying.  I’m 250 pounds, and I ride in the big ring.  So, aside from the terrifying prospect of a giant endo on the downward side of the logover, every time I tracked over the logs and bashed my chain ring, I winced and waited for the horrifying “TINK!” of my chain exploding under the horrific pressure.

I’ve only ever truly ridden Dufferin Forest on my single speed, and it has a much smaller ring that doesn’t hit the logs. Plus it has a sort-of chain guard, and a big burly chain.  My Revolver?  Not so much, and with my constant cross chaining, my chain is a ticking time bomb that really doesn’t need an excuse to snap.

It was so nerve wracking.  I rode a 15k lap, with a billion log overs–twice.  By the end of the race, my shoulders ached from all of the worried tensing after I lifted my front wheel, bashed the log, and waited…

My chain didn’t break!

Seriously, what a great day on a bike!

Even the weather cooperated.  For a mid-October race with a mean forecast, I was expecting a mixed bag of lousy rain, biting wind, crappy course conditions, and plenty of “Ugh”, but the weather and the trail conditions were perfect.  Sure, compared to riding on the surface on the sun like I did in the Epic 8 Hour a few weeks ago, it was about a billion degrees cooler, but it was still bare legs and arms weather.

Wait, can I talk about Team Van Go for a minute?  Man, I love these people.  Amazing energy, terrific attitude, and super chill vibe.  They’re like the Fonz of the MTB world. Seriously, when they bump the side of their fist on a tree, the jukebox starts.  No joke. I’ve actually seen Johnny do it.  Here’s a link to their blog about the race.  I can’t say more about the course that they didn’t.

And I can’t talk about Team Van Go without talking about the awesome things they do in Dufferin County Forest.  Without their hard work and stewardship, the trails at Dufferin Forest would be half of what they are.  The forest would likely be a tangled mess of B-Lines, and the Nirvana that is would likely be more like Nickleback.  Yeah, I just ripped on Chad Kroeger (I tried to think of a lame 90’s band to counter Nirvana, but it’s a proven fact there are no lame 90s bands.  Well, NSYNC and Backstreet Boys are from the 90s, but they’re just a bunch of pretty boys and not actual bands).

And just like that, I just nailed a Chad Kroeger rip AND a Backstreet Boys/NSYNC slag.

Seriously though, I get the sense that some of the stakeholders in Dufferin County aren’t playing well in the sandbox, and it sounds like there’s a bit of a mess lately.  It’s great to know that Team Van Go and Johnny are at the helm of an effort to work together not only to maintain the status quo, but to move forward in the spirit of collaboration. Thanks Team Van Go, and keep up the great work!  I can’t wait for next year.

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Johnny, Tyler, Johnny’s dog, and me.  From this perspective, they kinda look like my kids.

Looking back, I can’t believe the SSIT was the race that almost wasn’t.

When I was packing my bike to leave for the race, I did a little bunny hop on my front lawn (because when you move your bike five feet from your garage to your vehicle, you ride it, and when you ride it, you ride it like a kid) and snapped two spokes.

It sounded something like this:  “Get rad.  Wohoo!  (plink-thunk) Aw, c’mon”

It was 10:32 AM, the race was starting at 1:00, and it was an hour and a half away from my home.  That left me with two and a half hours to finish packing, shower, get to my bike shop (Cycle Solutions, which is about 30 minutes away from my house in the wrong direction), and make it to the race.

It was what I can only call a half-ass shower.  Literally.  That’s an uncharacteristic cuss from Team Colin, but entirely accurate.  I dried myself, finished packing, and flew to my bike shop. Fortunately, Mike Delat (totally my guy) pulled the quickest spoke change/rim true/cassette overhaul (because my cassette is ALWAYS a mess) ever.  I felt like an indy car racer–a half showered, Formula 1 racer.

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Under the not-so-watchful eye of Captain Jean-Luc Picard, Mike makes my bike sing in record time.  So great to have you back at the shop buddy.

He finished and I looked at the time.  It was 11:20.  Traffic would have to cooperate with me if I was going to make it to the race on time.

I made it with 20 minutes to spare.

I changed into my kit, and, since it was that kind of day, I forgot to close the curtains of my RV while I was changing.  To that end, I’m deeply sorry to my fellow racers for the horrific experience of seeing me change into into my kit (okay, squeeze, writhe, and jam into my kit).  It ain’t called the Sausage Suit for nothing…

Nonetheless, what a great day on a bike!

And what a sweet way to end the 2017 Spring/Summer/Fall race season.  I stepped so far out of my comfort zone, and absolutely shredded a bucket of milestones:

I rode hard this season (although I never rode as hard as I know I could), and I rode lots this season (although not as often as I wanted), but I finished every race with a smile and tale to tell.  

And the 2017 Substance Projects Sausage Suit ITT, regardless of my sub-par performance, was a tale indeed. 

After a very wet, and time consuming pack-up with Substance Projects and his parents (man, these folks work tirelessly to make these events happen) I even hit a burrito stand on the way back home with Dan.  Okay, it wasn’t a burrito stand, it was the Bar Burrito in the Tanger Outlets at Cookstown, but whatever.  We even took a selfie.  Dan hates pictures.  I love pictures.  I won.

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Um, I think I’m looking more and more like Tin Tin.

What a terrific way to end a great day on a bike!

Let me say it loud and let me say it clear: BOOM.

I can’t wait to see what the 2018 season has in store for Team Colin…

Ride.

 

 

PS.  Thanks to Dan Marshall, Substance Projects, Team Van Go, Dan’s mom and dad, the staff and volunteers at Substance, and the unbelievably generous sponsors.

Also, the 2017 season isn’t really over.  I’m planning on a few more CX races, I’m organizing Team Colin Day, Um, Night @ Joyride 150 (Tentatively November 11.  Wait for details), I’ve got a sweet review of some winter apparel (courtesy of C2 Apparel), and hopefully a winter full of fatbike awesomeness.

Always great to see the Emsleys.  Nick shredded the course while dad, and a slightly maimed mom, cheered.

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From L to R:  Angie, Me, Dan, my arm, Nick
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