Saturday, September 22, 2018.
Hardwood Hills, ON.
The Pulse Racing Fall Epic 8 Hour.
Seven hours and 32 minutes. 10 laps. 100k. 2,200m of climbing. 4th place in the single speed cat.
Gotta say, I was in my groove on Saturday.
Awesomely epic…and awesomely sore. Here’s the thing, I ride a lot, but as much as I’ve started considering myself a “competitive MTB racer” I’m not really a traditional athlete, and I feel like my body just isn’t conditioned for marathon riding. Sure, I can limp to the end of a long race (on a hope…and a prayer…and electrolytes), but really, it’s a big struggle for me, so post-race recovery is, um, long and painful and long.
Here’s my body’s post-race recap:
- Immediately after race: sore, cold, and stiff, but I got my 100k pin! Waiting around for the podium was cold, but I didn’t want to leave my peeps to get a sweater.
- 90 minutes after the race: With the podium done, I returned to my pit area, tidied my gear, stowed everything in my RV, showered. I should have been on my way home to see my family, but I was absolutely baked, and while I was toweling dry, I sat down to nurse the soreness. Before I knew it, I fell back onto my bed, wet from the shower, wincing from the pain, and sawed a forest of logs. When I awoke–an hour later–I was shivering, and still as naked as God made me, but at least a bit more rested. And sore. I was sore. Yay, there was a naked and drowsy sore dude fumbling around a darkened RV in the middle of a barren parking area. That’s not at all awkward.
- 4 hours after the race: Walking up the stairs of my house without the use of bendable knees. That’s always fun.
- That night: Dreadfully horrible, restless and fitful, semi-sleep.
- The next day: The day is pretty much blurry and I’m not sure what happened. Again, conditioning. I think I slept and ate and winced and cramped and slept.
- 48 hours after the race: What the? EVERYTHING still throbbed. There were aches on top of the hurt pieces, and every body part was so very tired. It was so bad that I did some yoga and stretches with my wife and daughter (worst 15 minutes of my life). I want to talk about the salt bath that I had, but it’s just too embarrassing (I’m 6’2″, my bath tub isn’t, ’nuff said). And yay, I got a crazy cramp that night, just under my sternum that spasmed and cramped and took my breath somewhere far away. Sleeping was impossible, teaching was laboured, and everything else revolved around periodic “oofs” of pain.
- Four days after the race: The aches had finally subsided–a bit–in exchange for absolute exhaustion (although the sternum cramp persisted). Plus, the crisp autumn air during 8 consecutive hours of sweating (along with no jacket during the podium, and some unfun naked time in a chilly RV) gave me a cold. Woohoo, snotty and congested, spasming from some sort of upper rib situation, and nodding off like a zombie narcoleptic. Oh, and I’m pretty sure Hardwood Hills had issued some sort of Community Safety Release warning about sightings of a large, naked, wincing, men in an RV…
- Five days after the race: ” Um, this isn’t good” I thought at 6AM, trying to rouse my body to get out of bed, “I’ve got a race in two days (the Northumberland Humbler–70k of MTB nirvana)”. This thought was followed by deep regret and dread “Wait, I have to get back onto my bike AND race for 5 hours IN TWO DAYS!!!” Seriously, my butt cheeks hadn’t even started un-chaffing, and my muscles were still a knotted mess.
“Hold on”, I thought, “I get to play bikes AGAIN for another full day at my favourite place to ride…”.
Cramps be damned, I had 48 hours to steel my nerves (and un-steel my muscles), and prep for a race.
Which led me to my doctor, an X-ray clinic, and the Ultrasound clinic next door, on Thursday afternoon. Gotta say, spending a day at the doctor, two days before a race, is not fun. Fortunately, my doctor informed me that based on my performance in the race and such, I didn’t have a concussion from my spill at the Kingston XCM a few weeks prior, and she was happy to see that my arms were getting better (and not broken), and so what if I wasn’t recovering (and I was still sore) because I wasn’t completely falling apart, and the results of my x-ray and ultrasound–if they were bad–would be in before the next race.
And then, while I was filling a prescription, I realized something.
I was proud of Saturday. Like, damn proud.
How on earth did a lumpy chump like me transform into a cyclist who can tackle a solo 8 Hour–on a single speed no less–and nail 100k?
Riding. That’s how. I rode. A lot. And I rode hard, and I rode for fun, and I rode with purpose, and I just rode. Of course, not nearly as much as I WANTED to–and looking at my current state of ouchiness, clearly not as much as I SHOULD have–but I rode.
So, in a rare moment for me, I can clearly say I’m so proud of what I did at the Epic 8 Hour. From my performance, to my physicality, to a wicked picture or three, to the actual details of the day (solo, single speed, unsupported, and an almost-podium finish), Team Colin had a good day. Boom.
And wait, did I say fourth place? You’re probably thinking there were only four riders in the category, right? Nope, there were five of us (six including a no-show), and I was 15 minutes behind fourth. That’s only 1.5 minutes per lap. Yes, I know some of the heavies didn’t show up (I’m talking to you Mike, Tom, and Sarah) but the results of a race are only ever based on who shows up, and I SHOWED UP.
AND I CAME FOURTH!
I was even within screaming distance of an 11th lap. Okay, screaming distance might be pushing it, but still, compared to my first kick at an 8 hour, when I did 8 laps, “almost 11 laps” is an actual triumph. Of course, my first 8 Hour was that time I rode on the SURFACE OF THE SUN WITH ACTUAL FLAMES LAPPING AT MY WHEELS FOR 8 STRAIGHT HOURS. Bitter much? Yep. I will never forget that experience for the simple fact that it was not only my first ever shot at a truly epic bike race, it was the absolute toughest race that I have ever, and will ever, do—EVER–for the rest of my life.
Race Report. Fall Epic 8 Hour: Saturday, September 28, 2018. Hardwood Hills.
It wasn’t warm, but it wasn’t cold. I started with a dickie (hah!) which I thought I’d doff after the first hour or so, but wore it all day. I was sort-of comfortable in bib shorts and a jersey, with full finger gloves, but the temperature made the snot factor pretty high. Also, I learned something important about the temperature at which my arthritis really kicks in. It’s Saturday. That’s the temperature when my joints say “Hold my beer”.
However, arthritic cricks and cracks or not, I was definitely in my groove on Saturday.
Better yet, the course was utterly sublime.
HOLYCOWITWASAWESOME!!! Seriously, the trails at Hardwood are…um, well, they’re the trails at Hardwood, so I’m pretty sure it’d be hard to find a bad course, but the mix we rode on Saturday was an especially sweet blend of spectacularity, wickednessism, and funfunfun. I’m pretty sure Glenn consulted MTB Jesus (sorry mom) to design the course. True, I’ve never seen a singletrack that I didn’t like, but Saturday’s course was perfection: grungy double track, tight and twisty singletrack, cool technical features, punchy climbs, tree-lined bar checks, fast and flowy singletrack, a bit of spongy loam to keep it interesting, and one heck of a blisteringly rocky descent. There was even a sweet jump that I nailed on each lap (natch). So much wicked fun.
Boy, I was in my groove on Saturday…
With all the bossedry of the course, I booked my first 5 laps in 3.5 hours, and knew I had a buffer for the times that would come. In end-of-summer shape, the first half of the race was fun, and I was strong. Plus, at that speed, the passing hadn’t really started. The passing that happens late in an 8 Hour is demoralizing, challenging, and just plain sucky. I actually had words with a particularly aggressive rider on my last lap.
For the first six laps though, it was just a blast to be out for a rip. Boy, I was just in my groove on Saturday…
The 7th lap was less fun.
The 8th lap was the very opposite of fun.
The 9th lap was actually worse than the exact opposite of fun. A LOT worse.
Honestly, I don’t remember much about the 10th lap because by that time the delirium set in, and I wavered between joyful glee at the impending finish, and the out of body experience that only comes when your body is out of…well, everything.
I guess my groove was temporary…
The thing is, that no matter how you slice it, no matter how you think about it, or the weather, or the course, or whatever groove you think you’re in, a solo 8 Hour race is supremely challenging, and just really hard.
And so awesome. It’s such a contradiction, but it’s so true.
The race was hard (like, really hard), but like all things, it finished (eventually), and when it was over, I sort of missed it.End of Race Report.
So here’s the thing, I joke about not having any strengths, and maybe I’m really not that good at the bicycling, but I do have one strength. I like riding. It doesn’t help me go fast, but in an 8 Hour, it lets me just ride. And keep riding. And keep riding. And regardless of how hard it is, by the end of it, I can look back at one heck of an awesome experience.
Before I end, I gotta talk the BFF Factor. The 8 Hour brought out so many of my BFFs: from my guy Andrew at my LBS (Cycle Solutions) the night before; to the organizer, my BFF Glenn; to my other race organizer BFF Superfly Sean; to my Joyride 150 Family (who even brought my pal Drew Bezanson), it was terrific to see the community out in full force. Rob Ell was there, my guy Tyler (who helped me finish the last 8 Hour) was there (even though I didn’t see him), Adam, Miro, Kaitlyn Ess (hi Elaine), and fellow Lapdog Lenka Bee were there. Ted and Apex were in the bushes, Alex Gee (we’re not BFFs yet, but we will be) was there, and a whole bunch of Team Colin supporters, including Lester, who told me an awesome story of being laid out for a year (that’s not the awesome part), and feeling stoked reading my Race Reports (AWESOME!). I also met a new BFF, Todd, who was riding my exact bike: A Trek Rig SS. So awesome. Dude soloed too, and he even wore plaid.
Oh, and I got to finally meet my guy Danny Ell, who rode his first O-Cup this summer (and won), and came second place at the 8 Hour in his tag-team. Hearing him yell “Team Colin” as I lapped was wickedly cool.
Thanks to Pulse Racing, Hardwood Hills, Trek Store, Skratch, and the other sponsors for a wicked day on a bike, and an awesomely fun event.
And that’s it.
So, I’ve ended every single blog post in the past two and a half years with the simple call to “Ride”. Every single blog post.
But not this time.
I want to end this post on a simple text message I received, two days after the race, from my guy Mark Ess. He is a legend. He is my hero. He pushed me into my first race, and has counselled me throughout pretty much every step since. His opinion of my riding means more than I can explain.
It was the first real time he got to see me in a race, and I was nervous (to say the least).
“You were awesome out there! I love the way you can push yourself and have no boundaries…good on ya.”
Thanks pal. I can say this Mark, you can be damn sure that I will continue to….
Ride (sorry, I had to)
Okay, I just can’t get the picture of my next-day bath out of my mind. If my legs were under water, nothing else was, and I sat up like a shivering Whack-A-Mole, and if my torso was under water, my legs were bent up in a pasty white pyramid of thigh, and if I was scrunched up in the fetal position trying to cover top and bottom, one half of me was uncovered and bobbing like a turkey in brine. None of the bath experience was pretty, all of the bath experience was embarrassing, and I will NEVER again have a post-race bath.
By the way, if you were there, tell me about it. Comment here, or send a message about YOUR experience to: email@example.com, Seriously, my FOTC page is kind of an awesome thing. And don’t forget to check the Team Colin Facebook page, or follow me on Instagram.
- The Northumberland Humbler (September 29@Northuberland Forest)
- The Sausage Suit ITT (October 13@DUfferin County Forest)
- The Howling Coyote (October 21@Mono Community Centre)
- Team Colin Day (um, Night)@Joyride 150 (first week in November@Joyride 150)
A few pics from @Simon.Kocemba (follow his link to see these and more):