A Tale of 4 Races: Part 1
The alternate title for this post was “A Tale of 2 Races”, because the next race was only a week after the 8 Hour, and I didn’t have time to write.
And the other alternate title was “A Tale of 3 Races”, because there was a race the week after that one.
See where I’m going with this. I started writing this post in May.
I’ve been ill for four months (and consequently not sleeping or riding much). I also had to fit almost an entire race season into that time, so it’s been, um, challenging.
For the second time this season, there were four races in almost consecutive weekends. So, during the month of May I spent the weekdays between each race being sick and tired, working like crazy at school, and trying to recover from the race the weekend before while prepping for the next weekend’s race. Fortunately, a quick visit to Cycle Solutions at least put my mind at ease regarding my gear.
I probably shouldn’t have even raced this Spring, but there were races, so I did. It’s the Team Colin ethos and I don’t have to scratch very deep to uncover it. Plus, as much as I’m kinda, sort-of broken, I’m still pretty awesome…despite a few extra pounds, zero training (and some flabby bits as a result), and a respiratory plague that is still undiagnosed. Really, I don’t have to scratch very deep to uncover the Team Colin optimism either. It’s not an act. My life is awesome. It’s always awesome (even when it’s not).
Sometimes, it’s Just Not Awesome
It’s kind of sad, really. I don’t like being broken, but sometimes life happens.
I think the best way to illustrate my current state is to start in the middle.
It was 11:30PM. Friday, June 14th. I was sitting in the Emergency department of Scarborough General Hospital, waiting for the results of an x-ray on my ankle. I stepped into a depression on my back patio,and rolled it. There was a nauseating crackle as my body thumped to the ground. I almost barfed because of the pain.
A few seconds later my ankle swelled to the size of my thigh. It was just one big tube of a leg.
But I wasn’t focused solely on my leg cylinder, because I was three months into a dry cough, and every time I coughed, I had to support the right side of my ribs in order to prevent them from actually shooting out of my chest. Oh, and I had an odd neck tilt because of a cricked neck (that was somehow on the right side the week before, but moved to the left side…and I still wasn’t even sure how it cricked in the first place). And yay for me, because I was desperately trying not to breathe lest a cough foment a theatre of hackery in my throat: a cycle of breathlessness, wheezing, and dizzyness, accompanied by a harried clutch of my ribs, more neck cricking, and the occasional black out.
That cycle would happen a few times a day, it had been happening for months, and it was driving me mad.
Enough complaining. I’m awesome, remember?
Race #1: The Spring Epic Hour. May 11, 2019 (Mansfield, ON)
Chico Racing, Mansfield, 8 hours…SO AWESOME.
The universe was messing with me, but the gods of MTB were smiling on the world of singletrack, and the Epic 8 Hour (p/b Chico Racing and Cannondale) was just the first of three or four races in May.
I tried to stay awake while I was driving to the race, but the colony of frogs at the back of my throat was clawing at my esophagus and stealing my breath (and my voice), so I was worried about how I’d perform.
Spoiler Alert: I performed horribly.
Much like the first batch of three races this season, the Epic 8 Hour was a gong show of ugly.
On the plus side, I was going to play bikes for a day! Since it was my fifth Epic 8 Hour, I knew what to expect: easy first laps, hard middle laps, and really really really really really hard final laps.
During one of my (too few) laps, a dude said to me “A bad day on a bike is better than a good day on a chesterfield.” Wise words.
So what if I feel like crap, and who cares how I performed? I kitted-up, clipped-in, and rode.
And then rode some more.
And some more.
But not really.
Race Report: The Spring Epic 8 Hour. May 11, 2019 (Mansfield Outdoor Centre)
It was one heck of a tough course. On the Facebook, a fellow Lapdog accused the race of having “too many unnecessary climbs”. That wasn’t the case, because there is no such thing as too many climbs, but the intent was spot on: the Spring Epic 8 Hour was a grind. 4,000 metres of climbing per lap, 120 kilometres of singletrack, 17 mountain peaks, four goat crossings, actual rings of fire, poisonous darts, and a giant boulder literally chasing riders out of a cave.
Okay, maybe it wasn’t that bad. I mean, it was a nice cave…
Really, the challenge of an 8 Hour race isn’t the course. It’s the punishing grind of 8 continuous hours of riding, along with the ticking of the clock that taunts riders all day.
It sort of looks like this:
- Hour 1: I should have stretched. Why am I doing this?
- Hour 2: Wohoo, this is fun! Let’s do some math…how fast do I have to ride in order to do 10 laps?
- Hour 3: I can’t believe how fun this is…and is this my 4th or 5th lap…and what’s my lap time…should I eat now?
- Hour 4: This. Is. Fun. (Read that through clenched teeth, because No. It’s. Not.). Okay, if I take a 5 minute break after this lap, can I still make the cut-off time?
- Hour 5: This is really hard….I’m hungry…my ass hurts…EVERYTHING hurts…I’m tired…how many hours before it’s over…did I lube my chain last lap…did I lube my chamoix last lap…wohoo, only three more hours…wait, THREE MORE HOURS???
- Hour 6: I’m going to quit. This is stupid. Why am I doing this (because I’m an idiot, that’s why. I’m not doing this)? I have to do this. I’m doing this. Seriously, why am I doing this? Also, how fast do I have to pedal to make cut-off?
- Hour 7: One more hour? Seriously, one more hour? How the hell can I ride for one more hour? Wait, I can do this. It’s only one more hour. Holy crap, one more hour? It hurts so bad. Someone tell me why I’m doing this. Okay, only one more hour. This is literally the dumbest thing I have ever done. I’m not doing this. Okay, one more lap…
- Hour 8: That was awesome.
Yeah, it’s complicated.
You know what’s NOT complicated? Riding. Riding, however hard it can be, is never complicated. You sit on your bike, and you pedal, and between the sweet shots of singletrack, the fast double track descents, and the awesomely fun technical bits, the Spring Epic 8 Hour was everything a race should be.
I was far less than everything I should be (and can be), but that’s fine. I can’t control the universe, so I’ll just keep riding.
End of Race Report.
Eight very slow, very tough, laps. Second last place, solo single speed. Nothing complicated about that.
The Epic 8 Hour is one beast of a race (for me), but it’s also an early season chance to see all of the peeps who have been hibernating. Looking back at the pictures now (it’s July 5th when I’m finally writing this), we all look so pasty and fresh out of our dens. So great to see everyone!
Thanks to Chico Racing, Cannondale, and all the sponsors for an awesomely hard, wickedly cool, race. If you haven’t purchased your pictures yet…Apex Race Photography.
The race was exceedingly climby, and my single speed bucked against the strain. My chain slung low and started skipping. Miraculously, Pedal to the People was at the race, and dude hooked me up with a sweet chain tweak. I never get it right, and the middle of a race is NOT the time for me to adjust my chain. The charge…FREE. Thanks man. You made the day possible for me.
Thanks also to my Darcie, who was at the 8 Hour with a team of fellow Lapdogs. Darcie doesn’t have to do much for me to like her–we’ve been buds since the 2016 Steaming Nostril–but she went out of her way to help refuel me after the race. I was a bit shaky, and really not feeling the best, and she went into Protector Mode trying to jam as much food into me as possible. Thanks pal.
Thanks also to Chico Racing, Cannondale, and all the sponsors. Great day, great course, great vibe, great people. Boom