Two Dudes, Two Forks, One Bowl
Team Colin at the SingleTrack Classic!
I have to say it. Phew. I’m glad the 2018 SingleTrack Classic is finished.
Well, sort of. I’d race it again right now if I could, but the SingleTrack Classic, presented by Pulse Racing, at Hardwood Hills, was my third weekend on a row of racing and the fourth race in five weekends.
On April 29th, I did my third bike race of the year (P2A) and totally crushed last year’s time. After a weekend off, I embarked on 3 Saturdays of Awesomeness: the Epic 8 Hour (which I did solo, and half on my single speed–95km); the Long Sock Classic (which I did on my single speed, with a podium finish–74km); and Saturday’s Singletrack Classic (a paltry 44km–and the same time as last year despite a much tougher course).
I. Am. Done.
My body hasn’t recovered, but it will. One day.
I’m just relieved that all the racing is over.
But not really. I spend each year waiting for the Spring races to come, and then I race like crazy, and I”m tired, and each race is awesome, and they’re all really really tough, and I keep racing, and then they’re done and my life is a cold and dark place…
Until the fall race season starts!
Also, I’m kidding. I love racing, but my life is pretty amazing without it too. Aside from an awesome family (and amazing group of riding and non-riding friends), there is plenty of riding to be done that’s not white knuckle race-pace, my new club (The Lapdogs) have a billion club rides reach week, and really, life isn’t JUST about cycling. I know, collective gasp, but it’s true.
Plus there are still a bunch of awesome races on the slate this season. They’re just not hammered together, weekend after weekend, like the Spring and Fall ones.
So, the SingleTrack Classic is in the books. Gotta say, Glenn and the folks at Pulse make magic. The course is always exceptional, piecing together a whole bunch of the best bits at Hardwood (and some in reverse), but this year, the course designer added some new stuff, and I hated how awesome it was. I hated it because it was so hard. I hated it because it took every ounce of energy and flow. I hated it because I can’t stop dreaming about it. In an uncharacteristic embrace of the language of the youths, Oh, Em, Gee. Wait, did I get that right? Oh-MG? OM…GEE? Oh Whatever.
That new stuff tho…
I’m pretty sure that Glenn and Hardwood totally use the early spring racers as little worker bees, to test and mould the new trails they carve. Yeah, we’re like a chain gang, smoothing-out the new stuff, to make it better. Yup, they’re totally using us. AND I LOVE IT.
The new stuff at Hardwood Hills is grungy, raw, and crude. It’s a wicked mix of off-camber, super tight, gnarly, steeply pitched and aggressively rolling, soft surface single track. In short, it’s the stuff of MTB dreams.
I just got goosebumps.
Don’t get me wrong, it was super hard, and really unenjoyable too, but I didn’t register for the “Afternoon Tea and Quilting” category, I registered for a boss mountain bike race, and that’s exactly what Hardwood Hills and Pulse Racing delivered in spades. Well, they delivered it WITH spades…that they had just used to carve the trail…
Yeah, that was a dad joke. Boom.
Can I talk about the weather for a second? It was perfect. That is all.
As it is every time I do the SingleTrack Classic, I was late. When my alarm sounded at around 6AM, I actually stayed in bed for a few minutes debating whether I’d even race. Three weekends in a row takes a toll on the body.
But there’s that darn Team Colin ethos: If there’s a race, I do it.
After zombie-ing out of bed, and a few problems packing and getting to the highway, I found myself barreling up the 400, knowing I’d get to Hardwood at 9:00AM and have only 30 minutes to prepare. Google Maps was spot on, and I arrived at 9:01.
Register, chat with some pals, and then hit the Team Colin Support vehicle to change, fuel, prepare my bike, drink some, and eat some. I was zipping around like a Benihana chef. It was a harried pace to get ready, but with the energy of Hardwood sinking into my skin, I was finally looking forward to riding my bike. My buddy, Geoff Ess, won registration to the race in my last Team Colin Really Big Giant Giveaway, (Thanks again Pulse Racing and Glenn) and he’s fast, so I was a bit disappointed that I wouldn’t be able to ride with him, but I knew at least we’d be able to catch up after the race.
“Where are my gloves?”
“Did I drink enough?”
“Almonds! Where is my bag of emergency almonds?”
“Did I lube my chain last night? Dang it, where’s my lube?”
Fortunately, my ride was in stallar form, thanks to my guy Andrew at Cycle Solutions. After a huge technical at the Epic 8 Hour, he sorted me out right. New small ring, new free hub, new spokes. Dude is a beauty! Handsome too. Just look at him. Honestly, without support from people like Andrew, I’d never be rolling.
My Norco Revolver sang to me for the duration of the race. Awesome\.
Finally prepped, and ready to warm up, I straddled my bike and made my way to the START. I was halfway through the parking lot…
“Balingagagagagagaga” The bloody race started. What the?
Okay, so I tallied a mental list of all the pre-race tasks I wasn’t going to be able to check-off: Everything that had to do with warming up and stretching. Aw, c’mon!
It’s okay though, in my current physical state, I had already decided to take it easy at the race. I honestly wasn’t even close to recovered after the 74k grind at the Long Sock Classic last weekend, because I hadn’t recovered from the Epic 8 Hour the week before that. My body was in a giant deficit of nutrition, fuel, and rest. Soreness! I had lots of soreness, but not much energy.
I weaved through the 1 lappers queuing up to the START corral, and saw, in the distance, the tail end of the starting pack. “Take it easy Colin, you’re not ready for this”, my lungs yelled.
“Take it easy Colin, your body isn’t ready for this!”, my legs screamed.
But I wasn’t listening to me. I was racing!
Yeah, race mode took over, and I was tearing at the first climb like a pro. I was low on my seat and aggressive on my pedals.
“BUT I DON’T WANNA RACE TODAY. I JUST WANNA RIDE!”, I wailed to no one in particular.
Nope. Not today.
I was ripping!
And I ripped right past Geoff. Wait, what?
Yeah, I caught up to my pal.
I figured it would be short lived because he’s jack-rabbit fast, but he said he wasn’t feeling it, and my pace was close to his.
Soon enough, after the grind of the first climb (that wasn’t a grind for me this time), we were riding together, chatting and catching up. It was nice, even though I knew it wouldn’t last long, and he’d take off at any moment.
He didn’t. We settled into a comfortable cadence of brief periods of dialogue, calming moments of silence, and easy rolling–even though it was a pretty fast pace for me.
By 6k into the race, we were pretty much riding alone, and he said “This is great, we’re just two guys riding their bikes in the forest”. Yup. Great indeed.
After riding pretty much alone for the entire 5:41 of the Long Sock Classic last weekend, and pretty much all of the 8:23 in the Epic 8 Hour two weeks ago, it was nice to play bikes with a pal.
Don’t get me wrong, Geoff may have been having a slow day, but his slow was a blistering pace for me. Dude is fast. I waited for my body to revolt, but for the time, I was enjoying the camaraderie. Geoff is smart and funny, and always interesting.
We rode past the exterior perimeter fences, on the east side of the road, close to the lookout. It was terrific. I nailed the rocky descent on Coffee Run both laps, cursed at the awesome new stuff both laps, and paid homage to the challenges I faced last year at my first solo Epic 8 Hour. I also paid homage to the clearing where, a few years ago, I had to get off my bike and take a knee. I paid the same homage as I bombed through it a second time too, not even thinking about stopping. Stop and take a knee? Nope. Not this year.
Geoff and I rode, and chatted, and rode and chatted. We were overtaking a few riders, but then Geoff pulled ahead and out of sight. I put some pepper into my ride, and struggled to catch up. After a few climbs, I saw him. He was two riders ahead of me. I passed a rider, he was still two riders ahead of me. Dude was giving it. I passed another rider, and so did he. Dude was on fire. Finally, I caught up. We rode and chatted, and rode and chatted.
And before we knew it, the lap was over. And before we knew it, the race was over.
Despite a tougher course, and my weakened physical state, my time was exactly the same as last year. However, last year, I was 92/110 overall, and this year I was 84/110, (and 37/55 in my age category, compared to 36/43 last year). I’ll take it.
What a great day. Riding with my buddy through beds of trilliums, with the springtime smell of wild garlic and rebirth. You can’t ever beat that feeling.
It wasn’t easy, and it was rarely fun, especially with those “wee climbs”, and that time my downward facing toe, in full grind, got crushed between my pedal and a tree stump, but it sure was awesome.
Neither of us was on the podium, so we took a look at the vendor area. I demoed a Cannondale e-bike for a little rip courtesy of my guy Cannondale Neil, and we settled under the beer tent to collect ourselves. Great to see fellow Lapdog, Andrea Bee after the race (even though she was nursing a little spill–I hate it when a rider crashes, especially a pal).
I caught up with Scott and Shannon, and the Elmsleys. Even had a chance to thank Glenn for another epic rip.
And if the day couldn’t get any better, as I was getting ready to shower and leave, a racer passed me, and asked if I was Colin. What a coincidence, I am. He said me he read my blog, and told me to ‘”keep it up”. I never know where my blog posts land. Heck, I don’t even know how many people even read my posts, so it’s awesome to hear from someone. Thanks Marius!
Geoff and I hit the Flashback Cafe in Barrie for a post-race meal of open faced sandwiches, a shared Greek salad (yes, two dudes, two forks, and one bowl) and pancakes.
And I almost didn’t race… How silly of me.
The 2018 SingleTrack Classic. So awesome.
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