89. The XCM SSIT…WTF

The 2019 Sausage Suit ITT…

Wohoo, what a great race!

Which is what I’d be saying if I had a great race.

I did not, in fact, have a great race.

I mean, IT was a great race (because um, Substance Projects), but it just wasn’t a great race for ME (because um, me).

Actually, it was a great race for me too, because I came first in my category…

Team-Colin-SSITT-Sausage-Suit-XCM-Substance-Projects.jpg
Yup, 1st place Clydesdale.  (photo courtesy MTB Mykal)

But not really because I think I came dead last overall (finishing almost an hour after I should have), on exhausted legs, empty lungs, a deflated spirit, and soaked to the bone..because IT RAINED FOR EVERY SECOND OF THE RACE.

But it didn’t matter because Dufferin County Forest drains like a sieve (and IT’S DUFFERIN COUNTY FOREST, which is to say that it’s so very awesome) and I think actually rides better in the rain.

To recap:

  • Great race…but not for me
  • Substance Projects is awesome…I am not awesome
  • 1st place Clydesdale…DFL
  • Rain, rain, and more rain…but who cares, it’s Dufferin County Forest

So, it’s complicated.

Oh, and to make matters even more complicated, I was there to serve Dufferin County Forest a big dish of vindication, after suffering my first ever DNF at last year’s SSITT (held in October), when I attempted unassisted flight, and bashed my melon on a boulder.

Complicated indeed.

Okay, so this is the part in my blog post where I usually talk about all the struggles that I had getting to the race, or the essential gear that I forgot, or how much of a mess my body is, but I’m not going to do that this time, because–and I can’t believe I’m saying this–there’s no need to.  I actually made it to the race on time…without any driving challenges…and all my gear…and I had a restful sleep the night before!

I know right, that NEVER happens.

Boom.

Also, there’s no need to talk about mess that is me this year because I cannot add a single detail to anything that I’ve already said about my wretched state, other than to say “I’m still a mess”.  I’m probably worse:  I’m still suffering from a lack of training, I’m still doing this dizzy-stunted-cough thing, and I’m seeing a respiralogisting doctor next week in an effort to get to the bottom of whatever this is that ails me.  That is all.

I think it’s time for a Race Report.

Wait, first this race needs a bit of context.

It rained.

A lot.

It was raining when I parked my truck.  It was raining when I registered.  It rained when I was changing, and it rained when the race was starting.  It rained for every second that I was riding.  It rained when I finished, it rained during the podium, and it rained when I was loading my bike, while I was changing, as I was leaving the forest, and on the drive home.

It rained.

Sometimes the rain was a mist.  Sometimes the drops felt like kittens kissing my cheek.  Sometimes the sky opened all at once and spilled it’s contents like, well, like a bag of water.  Sorry, that’s the best I could do.Team-Colin-SSITT-Sausage-Suit-XCM-Substance-Projects.jpg

How wet was it?  Who cares, I didn’t register for a lesson on scrapbooking.  It’s early season MTB, and a little bit (or a helluva lot, like, a lot) of rain is not only expected, but it’s kinda boss.

Plus, the trails at Dufferin County Forest are exquisite.  I can’t think of a better word to describe them.

Race Report:  Sausage Suit ITT XC Marathon #2.  April 20, 2019 (Dufferin County Forest)

What the heck is an ITT?

I’n not entirely sure, but I think it has something to do with starting from inside a trailer…

Actually, it stands for Individual Time Trial, which is just a fancy way to say we started at 30″ intervals, in order to avoid bunching up.

Also, it was a cool way to start a race.  Um, hello, we rolled out of a trailer.

And we rolled right into the rain.  Did I mention it rained?

It rained.

A lot.

It rained on the awesome, winding downhill off the start, it rained as the course wound around the dips and rises, and rock gardens and log overs, and winding climbs, and furiously fast descents, of some of the sweetest singletrack around.  Seriously Dufferin County is less than 100k from Toronto, but it’s like riding in another world.  So awesome.

Pretty sure the first 5k was entirely singletrack.  In fact, aside from a few brief double track connections (like momentary), the course was a festival of singletrack, that was far beyond my expectation for an early season race.  The seamless connections between trails was sublime, and the awesomeness was only punctuated by a zip through the an Aid Station, and a ridiculously fun “heckle maze” of wicked trackstand corners and fun obstacles.

The trails and conditions were so fantastic, that I actually forgot it was raining a few times throughout the race.   I also forgot that it was April 20th.  Damn good times.

It rained, it was awesome, and I was horrible.  No lungs.  No legs.  Sooooooo slow.

I’d like to say I was tentative because of the rain, but the course wasn’t even slick, or maybe I was tentative because I spent the race looking for that logover where I DNF’d last year (I was going to pee on it), but the truth is that I just didn’t have it.  I didn’t bonk, I didn’t blow up, it just wasn’t there.

The course crested a quick climb from the bottom of a valley, and into a sprint along the driveway, to the START/LAP/FINISH.

Lather, rinse (and then rinse some more because it was really really wet), repeat, and 48k later, four and a half hours after starting, I finished the race DFL.

No legs, no lungs, and even slower than the first lap.Team-Colin-SSITT-Sausage-Suit-XCM-Substance-Projects.jpg

I don’t embarrass easily, but it was demoralizing and humbling to finish the race in direct view OF THE ENTIRE CROWD, who were cowering from the downpour under a tent at the FINISH.  Ugh.

End of Race Report.

Okay, so here’s the thing:  I don’t want to belabour the point, but I had plans for this season:  I was going to be in better shape, I was going to have more training under my belt, and I wasn’t going to be such a chump…but none of these things happened. In fact, I think the opposite happened, but I still did it.  I’ve been wondering lately whether my base health and core conditioning are enough to finish a big race, and the answer is yes.  It won’t be pretty, it won’t be easy, and I may ride through the FINISH line to a hundred or so tactful but oh-so disappointed eyes, but I will finish.

And I even had fun too (although fun is a relative term to a cyclist).  Honest.  I was a prune, I was exhausted, and my legs were numb, but it was one heck of a great way to spend a rainy Saturday afternoon.

Before I finish:

I’m really mad at Dan Marshall.  He’s my guy, but I’m really really cheesed at him.  I’m kidding, of course, Dan is my guy, and I think he’s more excited to see me on the podium bere.  You can’t fake that kind of enthusiasm.  Love him.

Team-Colin-SSITT-Sausage-Suit-XCM-Substance-Projects.jpg
“Team Colin!!!” D. Marshall (photo courtesy MTB Mykal)

The Sausage Suit ITT is usually a late season fun race that’s either 15k or 30k.  It’s a blast, and at the end of a season, a 30k rip is like sleep walking.  That’s what I was expecting.

And then Dan moved it to the beginning of the season, and made it race #2 in the XCM.

I wasn’t expecting a 48k, MARATHON DISTANCE SLOG, which is what it became.

And despite the punishing distance for an early season race, and the rain, and my poor health, and my weak condition…IT…WAS…AWESOME.

Wait, did I mention that I was first place Clydesdale, because I was the only Clydesdale in the race?  Pfft, who cares, they didn’t show up and I did.

Oh yeah, one more thing:  VINDICATION!!!  Take that Dufferin county Forest.

Ride

 

PS

Were you there?  Anything to add?  Comment on this post, or send a message to: TeamColinBlog@yahoo.com.  And don’t forget I’m always cool to receive a Friends of Team Colin post about your race, your bike, your trails, or anything else you want to say.  More info here.

Want to know the coolest part of the race?  The post ride-chill.  With the rain, everyone took cover under one of Dan’s giant tents (because dude is one hell of a great host) and it was like a family reunion–you couldn’t move an inch without bumping elbows with (not your) Uncle Whomever, or (not your) Aunt Someone.   That vibe us hard fought on the part of Substance Projects, and it’s no surprise their races are legendary for the community they promote.  Giant shout out to the Substance Crew, and especially Dan’s mom and dad, Florence and Ron.  Hi Florence (I think she reads my blog)!  Love you guys.

Oh shit, my mom reads my blog too (well, sometimes–she thinks they’re to long) and I don’t want her to feel let out.  Mom, Florence is “other mom”.  She’s awesome.  You’d love her.  “Other dad” Ron is equally awesome.  In fact, I started racing the marathon distance because Ron once said “It sure would be something if you ever did the longer race”, and I wanted to make him proud of me.  100% true.

Longest PS ever!  Boom.

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One thought on “89. The XCM SSIT…WTF

  1. As always, your blog is sooo interesting. It’s great to see you are out to win this year and have already succeeded even when you aren’t feeling your best(and I know that is a stretch).
    You’re amazing!
    Have you dried out yet?

    Like

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