73. DO the El Bandito

My Sincerest Apologies

Here’s the thing about my blog:  it’s all for fun.

I don’t have bottom line with the blog.  I don’t monetize it (yeah, like that would be a possibility even if I wanted to); I don’t get free stuff; and there is really nothing in it for me aside from the fun I have writing about the fun I have on a bike.

It’s way fun.

However, whenever I can highlight or showcase a race, a race organizer, my bike shop (or any other shop), and/or anything else awesome and bikey, I do.  It’s a small thing, and I’m not sure it has any weight, but still, I like the illusion of being part of something..

So, last year I did a post about the inaugural El Bandito bike race, and (apparently too cheekily)  I told people to NOT DO the race.

Some people missed the irony.

Therefore, to be clear, tomorrow’s second running of the Substance Projects El Bandito (the first race in the Stuporcross series, presented by Dukes Cycle) is going to be awesome.

Do the El Bandito!

DO the El Bandito!!!


Honestly, even though last year was the first time for the race, Dan Marshall and Substance Projects are seasoned organizers, and the race was a polished incarnation of bike heaven.  The race almost immediately became one of my favourite races.  Like, ever.  I also wrote this blog after the race too!

So I’ve compiled a list.

The Five Absolutely Best Reasons to DO the El Bandito 2018

  1. Um, it’s a bike race.  Specifically, it’s a Substance Projects rip (see above), and that’s awesome.
  2. It’s 40k, 70k, or 140k of pretty much every rideable surface that exists.  Seriously, the only surface you won’t ride tomorrow is the wooden plank at Mattamy Velodrome (and I’m pretty sure Dan Marshall is actually working on rectifying that as I type this).  Pavement, doubletrack, grass, gravel, dirt, the surface of the moon (see Note 1).  Everything, and that’s awesomer.
  3. Northumberland County.  They DO bike tourism.  They LIKE cyclists.  They welcome us on their roads and in their businesses.  In a world that sometimes uses cyclists to clean the hoods of cars, that’s even awesomer-er.
  4. Free swag. Seriously, Dukes Cycle (love the folks there) are giving each rider a FREE download of an Apex Race Photography shot from the day. And if that’s not enough, riders also get a pair of sweeeeeet socks.  That’s even more awesomer-er-est  (damn, I’m running out of superlative suffixes).  Ted Anderton and Apex are magicians with a camera.
  5. Community.  Since this is a smaller event (although it should be YOUGE), it’s got a terrific, close-knit, relaxed and communal, feeling.  The people there won’t be MTB, or road, or Cross, or gravel, or fathike.  They’ll be cyclists, and that’s really really really, um, good.  (what, I ran out?)

I could go on.  I could literally list a billion reasons (see Note 2) to race tomorrow.

But I won’t, especially since my last post was well over 3,000 words.

Honestly, the best way for you to find out if I’m truthful is to register tomorrow.  I don’t know much, but I can guarantee that have an awesome time.

And a tough time, and a hard time, and a challenging day, but mostly an awesome time.

Bring any bike and a bit of cash to the registration desk, and ride.  You can even pay for a one day race license.  It’s that simple.

So that’s it.

Almost.  I want to say this before I end, and I think it’s kind of important:

I’m pretty much everyone else out there on a bike.  I ride a lot–and I really don’t even ride that much (and I’m not even that good of a rider), and I don’t know as much about my bikes as I should (as I exposed last week), and I’m not an expert on anything.

Sorry, but it’s true.

I’m also accused of being too self deprecating,”But that’s my thing” I always tell my friends.

However, because of this blog, and likely because of my energy and “Colin-ness”, I frequently get email from people who are thinking about racing, but are reluctant to pull the trigger on registration.  They list a variety of reasons for not racing.

By the way, I got lucky.  My introduction to the world of cycling was actually THROUGH racing.  True story, prior to my first race, I HAD NEVER BEEN ON A SANCTIONED MTB TRAIL.  I mean, I spent my youth on trails in the ravine, but proper MTB trails didn’t exist back then.  Riding was a solitary winter training experience at Joyride 150, and a summer fitness experience around my neighbourhood.  Then, someone (actually, Mark Summers and Scott Bentley) told me to race.

And I did.

And I’ve never looked back.

The people who send messages are worried about:

  • their relative fitness level
  • the start line
  • getting passed
  • and so much more.

I was worried about that stuff too (and so much more).

It’s all crap.  Not a single worry actually comes to fruition.

Actually, instead of encountering problems,  my world broadened like I never imagined, and cycling became a huge part of my life (and so much more).

I don’t know what I can say to the people who are sitting on the fence, but I can say this

There are pros and joes in every race.  Nobody cares who comes last, and honestly, nobody really cares who comes first either.  If you ride, you can race.

The start line is a whole bunch of nothing.  It’s not elbow-to-elbow, white-knuckle, shoving and jostling.  It’s communal and supportive, and waaaaay easier than I thought.

People announce their passes and wait for a safe chance.

And that’s it.

To recap:  All good, no bad.

I don’t even want to start talking about the good stuff because there are just too many awesome things to list.  Plus, it’s way better to experience them uninfluenced by me.

Although, note that I always say “awesome”, and not “easy” or “simple” or “fun”.  Racing is hard.  Period.

So I’m going to go to bed this evening, and I’m probably not going to sleep (although that’s just because I NEVER sleep, and not because of the race).  I’ll wake up early tomorrow morning, drive to the race, and ride as hard as I can.  I’m probably not ready, and it’ll probably be pretty hard, and I might even regret my choices at various parts of the day, but I’m going to give as much as I can.

When it’s done, I’ll have accomplished something that a few years ago was too much even contemplate.

Hope to see you there.



Note 1:  The surface of the moon is not part of the El Bandito.  I was joking.  Sorry for the confusion.

Note 2:  Also a joke.



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