56. Dirty Enduro 2017

Ganaraska Forest, (Paul’s) Dirty Enduro, 60k, and Me

team-colin-dirty-enduro.jpg5 years ago, at the end of my first year racing, I did my first Paul’s Dirty Enduro, 30k distance. When I got to the race, a friend was standing outside of the Ganaraska Forest Centre Quonset hut.  He was doing the 60k.  I couldn’t believe it–he was going to actually ride 60k.  On a mountain bike!  The very idea was as foreign to me as flying to the moon.

And he looked so damn cool.  He DRESSED the part, he was PART of the cycling establishment, and he had a strong cyclists’ PHYSIQUE.  In a word, he was BOSS.

And I knew I could never be like him.  Like, ever.

On Saturday morning, as I was getting ready to leave for the Dirty Enduro (the new and rebooted Paul’s), I was walking past my hallway mirror and saw my reflection.  I was wearing a hip cycling shirt (last year’s O-Cup shirt, and cool cycling baggies.  “Hmm”, I thought.

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Team Colin (post race).

Then I NOTICED something.

“Um, am I seeing things, or is that someone else looking back at me?”.  I was looking at a cyclist. The cyclist in the reflection had calves that belonged to someone who spends a LOT of time pedaling up and over logs, roots, and rocks, and clawing up nasty hills (and as a bonus they were pockmarked with bruises, cuts, poison ivy scars, and chain grease that never seems to wash away), his forearms belonged to someone who regularly grips handlebars for hours and hours trying to stay on his bike, and his upper body was that of a speed rider.

The cyclist in the mirror was me.

I DRESSED like a cyclist, and I LOOKED like a cyclist.

And then I REALIZED something.  I was going to (Paul’s) Dirty Enduro TO RIDE THE 60K DISTANCE.  I was the a guy who could race 60k on my mountain bike.  I WAS a cyclist.

But it didn’t stop there.  It got even better.

I FELT something: I felt awful.  I had tired legs, a still sore shoulderneck (yes, an actual body part), and numb wrists.

Okay, that’s not the great part, but the reason for feeling awful was pretty great. My body was tired, sore, and numb because I hadn’t recovered from last weekend’s 90k at the Epic 8 Hour

…or from the Great Albion Enduro 40k the week before that…

…or from the two cyclocross races I did the week before that…

…or from 80k at the Kingston XCM the weekend before that.

…or from the three weekly series rips in between.

All told, in the last five consecutive weekends, I booked close to 350k of race pace pounding.

Awesome.

Let me just say, I do not have the training or physical condition to do 5 big races back to back to back to back to back, and I’m never going to win races or stand on the podium of a race (unless there is a Clydesdale category and only two other Clydesdales show up).

Let me also say the cyclist in the mirror also had side gut flaps (because you really can’t hide 250 pounds), but that just didn’t matter on Saturday morning.

It never really matters. Who cares what I weigh, which part of my body oozes out of my waistband, and whether I win or not. I’m only ever racing myself, and in the month of September, I raced against Team Colin a whole lot.  I WANTED to do 5 consecutive races, I had the ABILITY to do 5 consecutive races, I had the DRIVE to to 5 consecutive races, and I DID 5 consecutive races.  I feel like I popped this September (and this race season). I did my first marathon distance race in the spring (and my second, and third…), I rode as hard as I could as often as I could for the rest of the season, and I kept jumping headfirst into new and awesome bike things (the 24 Hour and my first night ride, soloing the 8 Hour, racing with the worst cold ever experienced by modern human…).

And that gets a giant BOOM.  Yup, Team Colin is feeling pretty groovy, which is kind of a nice departure from my usual “Team Colin sucks, boo hoo, I’m such a bad rider” posts.

It’s time for a Race Report.

Race Report: (Paul’s) Dirty Enduro.  Ganaraska Forest (September 28, 2017)

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Team Colin and Simon.

I met a friend, Simon (and his friend Mike) before the race.  Great to see a familiar face. After a few words from the organizers, and a note about our purpose for the day–to raise money for CMHA (more on that later)–the race was on.  The long sweeps of double track at the start served as a neutral start.  There was no bunching, and it was easy to seed ourselves.  I zipped up to about mid place in the pack, and stayed there pretty much for the duration.

I wanted to ride with Simon. He pulled far ahead (I thought) so I worked hard to maintain his pace.  A few km in, I realized he was actually a bit behind me.  I figured he’d catch me when I faded later in the race, but it never happened.  It would have been our third race to finish together, but instead I got to watch him cross the line just after me.

The first 30k were uneventful.  Despite a busy and sleepless week that lacked any real recovery from the Epic 8 Hour last weekend, I felt strong and confident. It was a beautiful day, the crowd was awesome, and I was riding my bike at one of Ontario’s biggest and awesomest trail network.  Plus, because of the epic summer of racing I had, I wasn’t simply riding to finish.  I was riding to race, and I was riding hard.

At some point, I was even riding with Lenka!  I came upon her, in the distance, bridged the gap, and actually passed her.  If you know who Lenka is, you know that I am NOT in the same league (or anything) as her, and something was definitely wrong with the picture.  After a few km in front of her, I missed a turn, she passed, and order was restored in the galaxy.  She took a lead and kept building it.

And I was still riding hard.

Then, at pretty much the halfway point of the race, when I would have usually finished the race, and after a staggeringly fast, intricately technical, and really really hard double track descent (that was probably the longest and gnarliest I’ve ever done in a MTB race, and really really took a lot out of me), we hit a WALL: a long, mean, nasty, hill on top of a hill on top of a hill.  Yeah, a three part hill.  It was the race equivalent of a billboard that says “If you lived here, you’d be home by now”.  Pretty sure the organizers were reminding us we could have done the 30k…

And the Ganny was reminding us we were IN THE GANNY.  I hatelove (also a real word) the Ganny.  It always pummels me. Tight and twisty single track, challenging and technical double track, gruelling climbs (and even more gruelling descents), and the strange ability to occasionally lull riders with some sweetly flowing sections, only to punch us in the throat with an unexpected corner, log over, or something else that hurts.

The trails in the Ganny are no apologies, Rule 5, MTB.  And if you don’t like it, there’s a kid’s race at 3:00.  Really, there was a kid’s race that started at 3PM.

The course was tough and unforgiving, and by 40k, I had enough.

I was no longer riding hard, I was riding a really hard race.

The course also had some marking challenges.  With such a huge event, and two years of growth since the last one, the organizers had their work cut out in order to make the race a reality, and more than a few of us stood on course, in the middle of the race, scratching our heads and wondering where to turn after a long shot in the wrong direction.  It was frustrating, but only mildly so.

By the 45k aid station, I was kind of cooked.  My pace was a mess, I wasn’t confident, and I was making silly mistakes.  I rallied a bit in the last 5 or 7k, and even nailed the last jump at the FINISH, but it was far from a strong ending.

  • 60k.
  • 4:45.
  • 1200m of climbing.
  • 26/54 overall.
  • 14/34 in the 40+ age category.
  • Lenka beat me by 16 minutes.

End of Race Report.

So the race was pretty great, and who cares about whatever small challenges we faced trying to find the course.  This is MTB.  We didn’t register for a quilting bee, and the challenges just added to the awesomeness.  I think the organizers did an amazing job with the resources they had.

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The legendary Bob Ramsay.  100k.  No gears.  Awesome.

In fact, after the race, I was talking to my friend, Bob Ramsay (a literal Single Speed legend, who at 50 something, placed second in the 100k with a time of 5:40).  He told me there were problems accessing volunteers, and by race day there just wasn’t enough time to finish.

I can only imagine the time, energy, and money that goes into a giant race, so thanks to Ben and Ashleigh Logan of Fontaine Source for Sports (in Peterborough–for a job well done.  So awesome.

Oh, and can I talk about the post race meal for a sec?  The chilli was spectacular.  And the peanut butter and bread at the aid stations?  Awesome.  And the spectators, and the jump at the end, and the organizers, and the registration table, and the map…  Honestly, the volunteers made the day a pretty awesome experience.  Thanks.

Before I finish, I want to talk about Paul Rush.  We rode the Dirty Enduro for a reason. Well, two reasons.  First, to be boss on our bikes. Second, and more important, to raise money for CMHA.  The second reason was probably stuck somewhere in the background for most racers, including me, but make no mistake, we were raising money for the Canadian Mental Health Association.

For those who don’t know, the Dirty Enduro was formerly known as Paul’s Dirty Enduro. It ceased being Paul’s two years ago, on the 20th anniversary, and took a year off.  Over the years, Paul’s has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for mental health education and suicide prevention.  The ride is named after Paul Rush, who faced mental health issues, and secretly kicked at depression for years. Here’s a great article from the Globe & Mail about Paul.  Paul was a fan of long rides, and he loved the Ganny. He was a big boss cyclist, a friendly giant, and from what I’ve read, one heck of a guy.  I can’t think if a better reason to get on a bike, than to support his memory–especially since we so often don’t talk openly about mental health and suicide.

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See that tagline “For Mental Health”?

Like a hidden trail feature that jerks your handlebars off course, or an inescapable rut that swallows your wheel at high speed, mental health issues and suicide are always around us, and always a part of life.  In the world of MTB, in our personal and professional lives, and in our families.

My father killed himself.  He battled quiet demons and addiction for most of his life, right in front of our eyes.  We never knew.  If CMHA can continue to do their work, and if we can be a small part of helping people overcome and/or deal with their demons, that’s awesome.  And if it’s on a bike, even better.

I didn’t intentionally race for my dad, or Paul, or the CMHA.  I rode because it was a Saturday, and there was a race.  But whether we were actively aware of the importance of the day or not, together, we rode for an awesome cause.

Ride.

 

Thanks again to the amazing volunteers, Kerri Davies, CHMA, and the amazing Dirty Enduro sponsors:

  • Fontaine’s Source for Sports
  • Bob’s Watch Repair
  • Ganaraska Forest Centre
  • Laser Helmets
  • Norco
  • OCA
  • Outdoor Gear Canada
  • Shimano
  • Tree Top Trekking
  • Wolf 101.5

 

Congratulations to the Overall winners of the 2017 Dirty Enduro:

  • 100k Overall:  Paul Cooney
  • 60k Overall:  Jamie Burr
  • 30k Overall:  Brendan Jeffery
  • 15k Overall:  Cole Zufelt

Congratulations also to Facebook’s Mountain Bikers Ontario guy, Steve Bator for a win in his age category for th3 15k.  Boom.

A complete list of category winners is on the OCA website.

 

PS. It was great to see so many of Dan’s people at the race.  Simon and Mike, Peter and Donna, Chris, Lenka, David, Bob, Guy, Will, and so many more.  I took a selfie with a few of them, but for some reason, it didn’t capture.

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Lenka and Donna.  Two fassssst racers.
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Dirty Enduro 2.0 Podium crowd.
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Team Colin closes the race.  Nice hat.

Something to say about this post, my blog, mountain biking, or just bikes?  Something to share about bikes?  Comment on this post, or send a message to teamcolinblog@yahoo.com. And if you want, follow this blog, or like the Team Colin Facebook page. That’d be pretty cool.

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55. The Epic 8 Hour

What.

The hell.

Was that?

The Epic 8 Hour, presented by Pulse Racing, at Hardwood Hills was an absolute killer.

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Photo courtesy Apex Race Photography

I thought I was registering for a bike race.

I thought I was going to ride a little 10k lap, on a few sweet trails at Hardwood Hills.

I thought it would be challenging, and fun, and awesome, and EPIC.

I didn’t think I’d be riding my bike on the surface of the sun.

Holy crap, it was a scorcher.  Like, face melting, core draining, electrolyte zapping, take-off-your-jersey, scorching hot.

“How hot was it?”

It was so hot, three of my water bottles spontaneously combusted.

It was so hot, a rider in front of me spontaneously combusted.

It was so hot, by the end of the day all the sand on the “Lookout” had melted into glass.

It was so hot, that when I rode to my pit area, it was an actual Dali painting.  Aww, I really needed that clock…

Dayam, it was H. O. T.

Race Report.  Fall Epic 8 Hour:  Hardwood Hills.  September 20, 2017 The race started at 10 AM, and my first few laps were strong and consistent.  I held back and did three laps in an hour and 58 minutes.Noon.  The sun rose in the sky, and my lap times dipped, but I still felt okay.2 PM.  The sun hit full force, and I slowed to a crawl.4 PM.  The sun actually got hotter, and I’m pretty sure I crawled with my bike strapped on my back for a few laps.I WANTED 10 laps.  I NEEDED 10 laps.  I could TASTE 10 laps.  I was READY for 10 laps.  I was primed, and fit, and had been looking forward to my first 100k MTB ride for a while.In the end I rode…I’ll get to that after the Race Report.The course was a mix of long and sinister double track climbs, a few harrowing and rocky double track descents, some nastily awesome rooty bits, some awesomely nasty dusty bits, a bunch of sweet technical trail features, and plenty of tight but flowy single track.  The course ended with a shot on the Joyride 150 wall, a zip through the solo pits, a crunchy grind up a hill that was more wall than hill, and through some sweet BMX track with sweet jumps, rollers, and berms, before the START/FINISH/TIMING area. In truth, it was pretty much a perfect 10k of riding.End of Race Report.

So, how many laps did I do…

The day before the race, I was dialled:

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Andrew making my bike sing.

My bike was freshly tuned (Thanks Andrew Maemura of Cycle Solutions); my kit was washed; my alternate kit washed; I had 20 litres of water and a bunch of pre race, race, and post race food (pasta, chicken, fruit and vegetables); I packed my cycling shoes, my other cycling shoes, a helmet, my other helmet, gloves, more gloves and LOTS of chamois cream; I had electrolyte this and energy gel that; a tent, a zero gravity chair, and my tool (and other stuff) table; I even packed extra non-spandex clothing.  I.  Was.  Ready.

Mother Nature:  “Let me just see if I can turn the heat up a wee bit…”.  It was the planetary version of “Hold my drink”, but nobody, not even Mother Nature, was going to put down their drink because it would have either evaporated in a flash, or be drained by a thirsty rider.

It was like Mother Nature wanted to see what I look like poached.

“How hot was it?”

It was so hot, and I lost so much sweat, my pee was the consistency of salt.

I have a saying.  “If you’re going to be, just be epic”.  And as much as I try to live with that mantra in mind, really, I don’t mean truly EPIC.  Usually, I just refer to the fact that if you’re going to do something, do it to the best of your abilities.

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Photo courtesy Apex Race Photography

For example, if you’re going for a ride, and it’s going to rain, don’t cancel.  Ride in the rain and be epic.

If you’re riding and you see a sweet trail feature, but there’s also a B Line without a feature, ride the heck out of the feature (Unless it’s a race.  Or if you’re tired.  Or if it’s really big).

If there’s a race, do it.

If you want to take a picture, lay in the dirt for the best shot possible.  Wait a sec, that’s Ted Anderton from Apex Race Photography.  AWESOMELY EPIC SHOTS APEX!

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If there’s a jump in a race, jump it! (Photo courtesy Apex Photography)

If there’s a glass of water, drink it.

If poutine is on the menu, order it.

If there’s a book, read it.

Okay, so clearly, there’s a sliding scale when referring to the word EPIC.  However, whether it’s work, family life, or on a bike, really, I just want to be or do the best I can.

And so, it was a Saturday and there was a race, so I raced.

I could have registered as a team of 4 or 6…

Or, I could have registered as a tag team…

Or, I could have registered as a solo rider.

Yeah, right.  Why on earth would anyone register to do an 8 hour race solo?  Like 8 hours on a bike.  Who do I think I am?  I’m not ready for an 8 hour race.  There’s no way on earth I could do an 8 hour race.  Ride for 8 continuous hours?  Like, be on a bike, without a real break, for 8 hours?

That’s nuts.

So…I registered as a solo rider.

Um, what?

Yeah, I registered as a solo because it’s EPIC.  Really, it’s a no-brainer.  The word EPIC is even in the title of the race.  Sliding scale? Pfft.  Epic is epic.

I knew it would be hard, and I knew I wouldn’t enjoy it, and I knew I would drag my body through a the wringer. However, looking back, I had no idea it would be as hard as it was.

Even though the course was easy enough (despite a few nasty climbs)…

And even though my bike co-operated like a seasoned champ…

And even though the crowd, and the organizers, and most of the riders, were awesome…

That heat.  It slaughtered me.

I know we all have something that drives us or holds us back, but I have to wonder about the biology involved in propelling my 250 pound body up, over, and through a tough MTB course.  Compared to a lighter rider my power to weight ratio falls short.  Maybe that’s what keeps me slow.  Maybe it’s a matter of one too many bags of savory sweet potato chips (and dip!).  Maybe it’s a lack of physical conditioning.  Whatever it is, it’s a thing, and it slowed me down.  For a full read of how slow I’ve been lately, here’s my report of the Kingston XCM on September 2.

Honestly, my last few laps were embarrassing.  I was literally gasping for air and pedalling in slow motion.  Note that I didn’t say I “felt” like I was pedaling in slow motion. I was actually pedaling IN SLOW MOTION.  I was like a mime on an escalator.

And this is where things took a turn.  While I’m disappointed with my results, I know this:  I didn’t stop.  When I wanted to retreat into the Team Colin support vehicle and nurse a cold popsicle instead of ride, I kept riding.  When I wanted to “be happy with 50k” and call it a day, I kept riding.  When my back was on fire, and my lungs were bursting, and my wrists were like stone, and my back and shoulders were a clump of pain, I just kept riding.  Sure, I stopped each lap for a 2 minute break, and sure, I stopped on course a few times in the last few laps to catch my breath, but each time, before I got too comfortable, I swung a leg over my bike, clipped in, clenched my teeth, and kept going, defiant and resolved.

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Yes, that’s a grimace.  (Photo courtesy Apex Race Photography)

Truthfully, the race wasn’t an epic life or death journey across a desert to escape a prison camp, but at the time, It sure felt tough.

And here’s where things  took an even better turn.  I call it the Matt Factor.

The Matt Factor is as follows:  Throughout the day, even from the first lap, there was a tremendous amount of respect and encouragement from other riders.

“Nice work Solo!”, “Keep it up Solo”, “You got this Solo”.  It was heartening and moving. So many riders, solo and otherwise, kept encouraging and pushing me (and everyone else).

“But why do you call it the Matt Factor?”

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Team Colin and Riot together…for the first time.  By the way, Riot and FIg are ripped.

And then, somewhere in the middle of the race (honestly, much of the day is a blur to me), something happened.  I was refilling my bottle inside my RV.  I was tired, and hot, and I wanted to quit, and my pit neighbour, Mike Tourond (yeah, that guy) came around for a lap.  He hammered on the side of the vehicle “C’mon, get out here and ride”, and he gave me a little push when I really needed it.

“Yeah yeah, but why do you call it the Matt Factor?”

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Jenn, Raf, and Me.  Nice hats!

And then, somewhere after the middle of the race (honestly, much of the day is a blur to me), it happened again. I was riding, I was in pain, I wanted to quit, and I felt a hand on my back.  The hand was pushing me.  Guiding me.  My buddy Raf, even though he was probably struggling too (although I’m not sure he ever struggles on a bike–dude is made of steel), spent some of his much needed energy to give me a little push when I really really needed it.

“Okay, fine, but WHY DO YOU ALL IT THE MATT FACTOR?”

And then, somewhere near the end of the race (honestly, much of the day is a blur to me), it happened again.  I was struggling, I was baking, I was EXHAUSTED, I wanted to quit, and Miro (who I only know in a periphery way through friends and Facebook comments), did the same thing.  As he was passing, he put a hand on my back, and gave me a push when I really really really needed it.  “You got this, Colin.  You’re almost there”.

“Seriously though, enough of this, why do you call it the Matt Factor?”

Whether passing the starting pits, where Jenn Kennedy screamed “Wohoo, Team Colin! Solo!”, or being handed a wet towel by organizer Glenn, or on the BMX track and hearing Stuart screaming encouragement, or passing the volunteers in the forest who were hoarse from screaming, or passing the kids in the solo pit who were singing for EVERY rider, or the guy in the solo pit who rang his bell for EVERY rider, or passing Dan Emsley and exchanging a brief word, the crowd was totally and utterly invested in every riders’ success.  It was remarkable.

“Blah blah blah, remarkable support, hand on a back…but that doesn’t explain the Matt Factor!”

And then, somewhere almost at the end of the race (honestly, much of the day is a blur to me), it happened again.  I was spent.  I was spent.  I was literally limping along on my bike.  It was somewhere mid lap, on the last lap, I was willing the race to be over, and I felt a hand on my back.  I thought it was Raf again.  It wasn’t.  It was Matt.  I had never met Matt before.  He put his hand on my back to give me a push.  He held it there, warm and comforting, and the race disappeared for just a moment.  “You’re almost there Solo, just keep pedaling.  The race will be finished before you know it.”.  The support, encouragement, and and genuine sincerity of the gesture gave me a push when I really really really REALLY NEEDED IT.

THAT’S the Matt Factor.  Yeah, the Matt Factor.

It was 5:30.  I was almost there.  It was almost over.  “Yeah, I’ve got this”, I thought. “Yeah, I can finish this” I said to myself.  “Keep it up Solo”.

It was my 9th lap.

I finished at 5:43. It was 7 hours and 43 minutes after starting.  The sun was perched in the sky above, taunting, and as bright and hot as ever.

I didn’t hit 10 laps.

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I’m pretty sure this was early in the race (hence a smile) and I was screaming “Love you, Ted!” or something like that.   (Photo courtesy Apex Race Photography)

It was disappointing.

Sort of.

Honestly, I waver from feeling good about my result (19/31), and feeling like I somehow failed myself (and my team).  I wanted to ride 10 laps.  I wanted to ride 100k on a MTB, and I didn’t.  I couldn’t.

Aargh.  What if I hadn’t stopped for so long?  What if I just rode a bit harder up this hill, or smarter over that trail feature?  What if I had trained just a bit (or a lot) harder?

What if?  So many what ifs.  But only one pure and simple fact.  I did it.

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Post race.  I could not move for a while.

It may only be a bunch of people playing bikes in a race, but I rode for 8 hours.  I rode as fast, and as hard, and as best as I could.  I left NOTHING on the course.  So what if the leader did 16 laps, and so what if my pit mates, Riot and Fig, finished 12 and 13 laps respectively.  I did 9 laps, and that ain’t so bad.

Next year I’ll try again, and maybe I’ll hit 10 laps.  100k on a MTB.  Now that’d be pretty Epic.  I just hope we’re not riding on the surface of the sun.

Ride.

 

PS.  I started to think “Yeah, so maybe I can be a bit less epic, but still be epic…”.  After all, I raced the marathon distance in the Kingston XCM on September 2, two CX races the next weekend, the 40k distance in the Great Albion Enduro the following weekend, 90k at the Epic Hour the week after that, and three weekly races in between.  I don’t have to do it all.  I mean…

…wait, the Dirty Enduro is this weekend, and they have a 60k distance…

Yeah, epic.

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Teamm Collinn and Glenn Meeuwisse.  We’ll be BFFs soon, he just doesn’t know it yet.

By the way, thanks again to Pulse Racing and Glenn Meeuwisse (so many pairs of consonants), Hardwood Hills, the staff and volunteers, the amazing sponsors, the outstanding spectators (literally, they were out standing all day), the awesome sponsors, the wickedly fast and talented race teams, the epic solo riders, and Mother Nature for coming along for the ride and making the day that much more epic.  Thanks also to the members of Team Colin for fielding so many needy questions from me in the days–and minutes–leading up to the race.

The results are posted here:  Epic 8 Hour Results.

Epic indeed.

 

 

And another.

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Photo courtesy Apex Race Photography

And another.

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Photo courtesy Apex Race Photography

Thanks again to Apex for making me look waaaaaay better than I am.

By the way, HUGE shout out to some of the awesome people I knew at the race:

  • Rafrider and Jenn.  You are just too cool.
  • Monika and Ironman Jack.  Dude is an Ironman, and Dudette is awesome)
  • The Bentleys (Hey Coach!)
  • Nick and Dan Emsley (Um, 14 laps Nick? Awesome)
  • Tom Beck (Are you kidding me?  13 laps on a singlespeed!  Weapon.)
  • Flat Pedal Chachies (Love the name, love the inspiration to do it solo–Rob–and love the push–Miro)
  • Backflips and Tailwhips (Thanks for the cheer at the end)
  • Brendan Arnold (Where’s that selfie we took?)
  • Christian (Always a pleasure Christian)
  • Heather (8 laps, and 3 of them were under 50 minutes…kaBOOM)
  • …and Brent (first race)
  • SupPups (2nd place.  Wohoo)
  • My frequent riding buddy throughout the day, Trevor (Great talking to you on the course)
  • Mike Tourond (12 laps?  With a broken finger something?  No way.)
  • Oh, and a GIANT thanks to my wife and kids for not forgetting who I am this month.

I’m sure I missed a few people, but you know, it really wasn’t my day.

54. Great Albion Enduro ’17

36 Seconds

September 17, 2017.  Albion Hills Conservation area.

My third race of the month (or maybe my fourth–see last blog) plus two weekly series rips.

The second annual Great Albion Enduro.

team-colin-great-albion-enduro.jpgA good time was had by all.  A good time was had by me (even though, once again, Superfly wouldn’t list me as “Team Colin”, only Colin from Scarborough).

It was a GREAT equation (see what I did there):  Superfly Racing (who know a thing or ten about how to host a great time) + Albion Hills (which has some of the best riding around) + Sean Ruppel (who is always awesome).  Put it together and the result was a wickedly fun romp. Add a dash of the Palgrave, and it was a wickedly fun romp–on two different trail systems.

With a choice of three course options:  25k, 40k, or 80k (two laps of the 40k), the Great Albion Enduro had something for every level of rider. I chose the 40k distance, and rode my Norco Revolver hardtail.  I’ve been racing marathon distances on my single speed this year, and it was nice to have a bit of a break with the distance, and to use gears–although I kinda felt like I was cheating at times when I geared down for a climb, or geared up for a sprint (but it felt soooooo good).

I also chose the 40k because I really didn’t relish the thought of 6 hours on a bike after the mess that was Team Colin at the Kingston XCM two weeks ago.

Honestly, the level of awesome at the Albion Enduro was off the charts:  steep and grinding double track climbs; super fast and flowy descents (that sometimes carried gently into the next trail, and sometimes ended in a brake-chattering, 90 degree turn); tight and twisty bits of trail; sublime technical features; a sort-of totem pole somewhere in the middle; and loads and loads of sweeeeet singletrack.  Let me say it now, the three roller jumps in Palgrave were absolute perfection, and probably the most fun few seconds of a race I’ve ever done. Yep, pretty sure I squealed “Wheeeeeee” on each of the three jumps.

To top off the awesome, at the end of the race we were serenaded by the awesomest, most hipster singer, ever.  I could have listened to that dude all day long.  Hey guitar guy, if you’re one of the three people who read my blog this month, I love you bruh (hipsters say bruh–I’m pretty sure it means brother).  He actually played three of my favourite songs while I was eating lunch.  Dude was awesome.

Second Wedge Brewing was even there offering a free beer to riders, so that was cool, even though I don’t really drink.  Uh oh, did you hear the collective gasp from the MTB community?  “A MTB guy who doesn’t drink beer!  Oh the horror”.  Please don’t tell my roadie friends I don’t drink espresso either.

Aw man, I hope they don’t take away my race license now.

I guess while I’m at it, I might as well out myself as a hugger.  Yeah, if you were at the Chalet just prior to the race, and saw two guys in a loving embrace, that was me and Geoff.  Geoff showed me a calf stretch where you dig your heels into the ground and elevate your toes.  Since there wasn’t a 2 inch curb for my toes, he offered his feet.  I dug my heels into the ground, put my toes onto his, and he held me for balance.  I may or may not have put my head on his shoulder like a tween at a school dance. Gotta say, when two people are wearing spandex, and they’re that close, there are seven points of contact (Admit it, you’re doing the visual math in your head right now).

What, I hug all my MTB friends?

Geoff was riding the 40k with a friend, super endurance runner Mike, and he thought it’d be cool if I rode with them.  Yeah right, ride with them.  Geoff is FAST (like, lightening fast), and Mike is hardcore (like, 100 miles in 24 hours without a bike hardcore).  He and Mike, together now known as Geoff-Mike, were going to “ride at a relaxed pace” but I knew that Geoff-Mike’s “relaxed pace” was going to push me to my limit.

And.

It.

Did.

Forget all the love when we hugged, Geoff is a weapon, Mike is Superman, and I’m, well, I’m me.  Beside those two, I was like a duck at the opera.

They kept a tough pace, but it was awesome to push harder than usual.

Pacing is always a weakness for me.  I either go too slow for an entire race, or I go too hard for the first 80% of the race, and ride in a haze for the end.  With Geoff-Mike setting the pace, I worked to keep up, but they were consistent, so there was none of my usual sprinting past groups on the double track and then catching my breath in the singletrack. It worked!  We stayed pretty close together for the first third of the race.  However, as I was fading, we were separated and they got ahead.  Keep in mind they were still at a “relaxed pace”…

I felt like Wile E. Coyote trying to catch the Road Runner.  I’d spot Geoff-Mike a few riders ahead, and line the course in front of them with Acme bird seed.  I’d somehow come close to catching them, and “meep meep” Geoff-Mike was gone, leaving only a flickering outline of their profile.

I threw a giant boulder off a cliff, painted a fake tunnel in a tree stump, and strapped myself to a rocket while wearing roller skates, but just couldn’t keep up. After the rail trail, Geoff-Mike got ahead me, and stayed there for the rest of the race.

At that point, I settled into my regular SLOWER pace, and enjoyed the race.  I was actually alone for a few minutes, and it was nice to be part of the forest mosaic.  I love the community of a race, but I loooooove the feeling of being part of a forest, when it’s just me and me legs, two pedals and a pair of wheels, and the whirrrrrrr of a sweet drivetrain.

That weather tho…

Superfly Racing could not have asked for nicer weather.  Does Sean have an in with the MTB gods?

The easier pace and warm sun allowed me to think about pacing, and I had a nice “A ha” moment.  No, I wasn’t thinking of a Norwegian band (okay, maybe I was).  I was thinking about my next race and how I was going to pace myself more evenly and slow down at the start so I had more at the end.  Aside from being fast, Geoff is a technical and smart rider.  Thanks for the tip buddy.

And thanks for the hug stretch.  I mean calf stretch.

The Great Albion Enduro was also great because I was pretty much free of any technical and/or physical malfunctions.  No broken cleat bolts, flat tires or dropped chain.  No flying over my bars like an amateur stuntman.  In fact, my tires and tire pressure were perfect (pretty much a first for me) and for the most part, I stayed in an upright position, remained on my bike, and kept moving forward, for the duration.  Boom.

My guy, Ted Anderton from Apex Race Photography captured this shot of me.  If you were there and haven’t bought your picture yet, go to Apex Race Photography.  Ted always makes me look better than I am, although I always have a goofy look on my face because I’m usually yelling “Hey Ted, love ya, man!”.

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In the end, it wasn’t my best race or worse race; it wasn’t the toughest, or easiest race; and I didn’t push myself through an epic journey, or to the brink of physical and emotional exhaustion.  And that’s totally cool.  While it’s nice when a race changes me in some awesome way, aside from the pacing discovery, it was just a sweet afternoon of awesome riding.

And you can’t beat that…even though I spent most of the race dreading the climbs that I knew Sean would throw at us.  Sean built many of the trails at Albion, and he loves the Green Monster and the Brown Monster.  For anyone unfamiliar with Albion Hills, the Green Monster is is a grassy grind that wrenches every bit of energy from you.  The Brown Monster is the same grind, but on dirt.  Both monsters are jerks.

Race Report.  The Great Albion Enduro.  September 16, 2017.  Albion Hills

Giant jam of riders for the first 5k, and it was so slooow going; some sweet Albion Hills singletrack; a zip along an undulating stretch of pavement to Palgrave; 5k of the Palgrave (wheeee, wheeee, wheeeeeeee!); the same ribbon of road back, but it was cut short by a steep climb up to some rail trail (Hi Elizabeth); a quick shot of rail trail (I really booked it there); and back into Albion for some more sweet singletrack. The kilometres passed and I started to think we’d get away with a Superfly race that DIDN’T have a Monster.  We hit the “1k TO GO” sign and I breathed a sigh of relief. “Phew” I thought, “No killer climb.  Oh wait, there it is”.  I guess it was Sean’s way of reminding us we weren’t there to trade cupcake recipes.  Honestly though, big climbs are only bad when you think about them.  During the race (and thinking about them after the race) they’re just part of the awesomeness that we conquer.

A little grind up the Brown Monster; and then guitar guy playing us home.

End of Race Report.

My result?  Fourth place.  2:27:49.

Third place was 2:27: 13.  Yeah, I was 36 seconds slower than third place.

36 seconds!

36 SECONDS!!!

Come on?  I was 36 seconds away from a legitimate podium spot.  I was so bummed.

team-colin-great-albion-enduro.jpgSo I took a picture of me in a 4th place podium spot.  Just imagine I’m standing on a box that says “4” on it.  And I’m closer.  Oh, and I’m not a weirdo taking a selfie of himself in front of the real Clydesdale podium.

I never race for a spot on the podium, but I’ve never been so close before.  So very bummed.  But then I realized something.  I could have easily bridged a 36 second gap a billion times throughout the race.  Sure, third place guy (I’m shaking my fist at him right now) could have found a bunch of 36 seconds throughout the race as well, but…

Hmm.  That’s all I’m sayin’.  Hmm.

A list of the category winners is at the end of the blog.

Once again, the Great Albion Enduro lived up to its title promise…

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Tammy and her boy with Team Colin

Ted Anderton from Apex photography (that’s a link to the pictures from the day) was there to capture that time I took the B Line around a rock garden instead of the boss line (probably could have bridged a few seconds there…)…

An old high school friend, Tammy, was there doing her “Goal Race”.  She set a goal at the beginning of the season to do a big race, and did…

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Some King Series peeps.

Half of the King Weekly Series riders were there racing or marshalling (hey Paul, Elizabeth, Stuart, and Kent)…

My boy Sean Thibeault was there and took 1st place on a fatbike in the 40k…

A few hundred other bike minded people were there chasing the podium, looking for a cool shirt, snatching one last ride of the season, or just being epic…

And Team Colin was there having a blast, as I always do.

Ride.

 

PS.  Before the results, did I capture the day the way you did?  Something to say about this blog, or biking, or bikes, or anything else?  Comment here, or send a message to: teamcolinblog@yahoo.com

And don’t forget to check the Team Colin Facebook page, or follow Team Colin on Instagram.

 

2017 GREAT ALBION ENDURO RESULTS (that’s a link to the full results):

40k Enduro

  • Under 18 (M):  Jack Gillies
  • 19-29 (M):  Michael Bayley
  • 19-29 (F):  Annie Nanowski
  • 30-39 (M):  Kyle Money
  • 30-39 (F):  Jennifer Bouchard
  • 40-49 (M):  Richard Pady
  • 40-49 (F):  Lisa Hutson
  • 50+ (M):  Michael Breault
  • SS (Open):  Michael Nazwaski
  • Fatbike (Open):  Sean Thibeault
  • Clydesdale:  Dan Nicks

80k Super Enduro

  • Open Female:  Sarah Caylor
  • Under 39 Male:  Liam Mulcahy
  • 40+ Male:  Tuan Tran
  • Fat/Single Speed Battle (Open):David Dermont

25k Fun Run

  • Open Male:  Jason Elisei
  • Open Female:  Jenna Dufton

 

53. My First CX Race

Wohoo, I didn’t get lapped!

Sunday, September 10, 2017.  Millbrook, Ontario.  My first Cyclocross race.

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Me.  My first CX race.  “I’m not getting lapped!” (photo courtesy Hinkel Yeung)

Trail Tours Cross, presented by Substance Projects and Bateman’s Bicycle Co.  It was the first race in the SubstanX CycloCross Series.

And, as the title says, it was MY first CX race, ever.

And, as the first line says, I didn’t get lapped.

Well, I got lapped, but not really.  I mean, I WAS lapped, but it wasn’t in my first race, and when I was actually lapped (in my second CX race on the same day), I was in the Single Speed category and apparently you’re SUPPOSED to get lapped.  Yeah, I’m a bit confused too.

But I’m not confused about this:  CX is really freakin’ awesome.  Like, totally, utterly, wickedly, giant boomedly, AWESOME.

Okay, full disclosure, it ain’t MTB, and my heart sings for MTB, but it’s really really really close.  By the way, that’s probably not the best slogan for Cyclocross.  “CX”:  It’s not MTB, but it’s really close”

It’s close because it’s very similar, but not really, and very different, but kinda the same.

Okay, now I’m more confused.

And to make matters worse, instead of being one big race with a bunch of different categories like MTB, a CX “race” is a series of shorter races with an actual crap tonne of different categories.

To put things into perspective, my last MTB race was a two lap 78k (or 37k) race, with a start time of 11:00 (or 11:30).  Trail Tours Cross was a 40-60 minute race, on a 3k lap, with a billion different start times, and 20 billion categories.  I’m sort of exaggerating, but not really.  And, because of the multitude of start times and categories, I got to do a Novice race at 9:30, and almost immediately after that, I did a Singlespeed race at 10:50.  So, my first CX “race” was actually was my first two CX races.

Wait, did that make it more confusing?

Either way, it was a blast.  Seriously, it’s the funnest.  It was so fun that I did my third CX race (or was it my second CX race) two days after, on Tuesday night, when the King Weekly Series MTB race shifted to the King Cross Weekly Series.

Aw dang it, I’m too old for this. My first cross race was two races, and my second (or third) cross race was actually my weekly MTB that became a CX series.  And I still don’t know if I should call it CX, Cyclocross, or just Cross.

And wait a sec, what the heck is a Cross race anyway?  Is it MTB?  Is it road?  Is it gravel?

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I love this shot (photo courtesy Hinkel Yeung)

Yes.  Put simply, Cyclocross is a MTB race on grass and gravel–and some trail–with lots of corners, and the occasional (somewhat-ridable-but-not-really) barrier thrown in for fun, ridden on a bike that looks like a road bike but is as close to a road bike as a potato is to a duck.

Put even more simply, it’s really just an easy MTB race, but on a different bike.  Sorry hardcore CX riders, but I’m just sayin’.

Oh wait, you don’t have to ride a CX bike, or a Cyclocross bike, or even a cross bike. Really, you can pretty much ride any bike you want.  Unless it’s a UCI Cyclocross race, in which case you HAVE to ride a CX bike, with tires that are between 30-38mm wide, and other restrictions.

Except, from what I’ve gathered recently, most CX races aren’t totally UCI and allow pretty much any bike.

So thanks for making it even more confusing CX race organizers.  Or should I say Cyclocross organizers.  Or is it Cross organizers…

By the way, here’s my bike.  Drool.

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My Norco Threshold SL.  So dreamy.

And what’s the deal with cowbells?  “Cowbell Cross” this, “MORE Cowbell Cross” that. Cowbell, cowbell cowbell.  As a genre of racing, you can’t settle on a bike, a name, or a start time, but you can agree on a style of bell?  And more of that bell?

I’m kidding of course.  CX rules are pretty deep and mighty (and they really aren’t “easy MTB races”–they’re super hard and technical) but for someone like me, it’s all a bit overwhelming.  Especially with all those cowbells ringing…

So, in an effort to make it a bit easier for newbies to join the ranks of the CX, I have a few tips and observations.  Oldbies need not continue reading.  I’m not going to get more funny, and you won’t learn anything.

Here are 12 things I learned about CX in my vast (three race) experience:

  • CX is technical and hard:  Bikes take one heck of a beating.  Like, a real crap kicking. That said, they’re only really hard and technical if you want to win.  If you just want to ride, they’re fun and awesome, and totally ridable.  Honestly, I’m taking my kids to the next race.
  • Narrow tires:  Speaking of a beating, 33mm tires are wicked fast, wicked hard, and wicked fun.
  • Tire pressure:  Make friends with your pump.  However, whatever pressure you choose, it’ll likely be wrong, but you never know.  If you’re riding a MTB bike in a cross race, increase the pressure (it’ll help you on the grassy sections).  If you usually ride your cross bike on gravel and rough road, decrease your pressure (it’ll help when you smoke a rock or root)
  • Pacing:  CX races aren’t designed for endurance.  They’re short laps in a short period of time, and require an entirely different pacing from a long MTB race or road ride. Think fast, hard, and relentless.
  • Barriers:  Every once in a while in a CX race, there’s an obstacle (or barrier, or step up, or run up…) that you have to somehow manage to get over with your bike. The pros bunny hop the barriers; the proficient riders hop off, carry over, and hop on in a one boss looking fluid motion; and the newbs slowly approach, brake, awkwardly unclip and dismount, clamber over, and clip in, in a long and horrible series of sasquatch-like grunts and maneuvers, before continuing.  Wait, is that just me?  Of course, the Joeys do this:
  • Laps:  Lots and lots of laps.  With a race time of 40 minutes to an hour, and a 2-3k course, you’re looking at 5-7 laps.  This means a pre-ride can give you a whole bunch of information about lines, timing, pacing, and other snags–that you’ll encounter at least half a dozen times in a race.  By the way, if you get lapped, you’ll get pulled out of the race.  Or not.  It depends.
  • Visibility:  With such a short course, spectators can see most of the action from one or two places.  This is good if you’re a pro and have wicked style.  This is bad if you’re, well, re-read #3 “Barriers” and imagine the same barrier over and over again–with an audience.  Hinkel Yeung was at Trail Tours Cross capturing the day.  Hinkel is one heck of a photographer, and has an awesome eye for a great shot.  Check out his photos of the race. All action shots in this post are from Hinkel.  Thanks for sharing your craft Hinkel.  Awesome.
  • Vibe:  The vibe at a CX race is pretty cool.  Lots of people, lots of spectators, and a really cool atmosphere of good natured trash talk, supportive encouragement, and bike-minded people getting together.  And cowbells.  Cowbells everywhere.
  • Terrain:  Grass, gentle single track, hard double track, sand, gravel, rocks and roots, and everything in between.  CX course designers don’t look for the easy line.  They create the hardest line.
  • Water:  Apparently, it’s verboten to have a water bottle in your cage in a Cross race and if you have one, you’ll look like a newbie.  Well, I get thirsty, and I always have one.  Plus, what if I swallow a bug?  If real CXers think I look funny with a water bottle, don’t ask me what I think of them and that infernal bell…  I’m kidding.  I really dig the bells. They’re fun.
  • Course:  In all of the CX races I’ve raced (okay, in BOTH of them) the courses had similarities.  The similarities are as follows:  They look like they were created by you and your friends when you got new bikes and wanted to have a race around your front yard. Seriously, CX is old school, “lets ride our bikes around and over stuff”, high energy ripping.  I didn’t grow up on the North Shore, and my childhood neighbourhood forest was a mess of trees with a walking trail.  When my friends and I wanted a cool off-road bike experience, we made an obstacle course around my street and tried to ride around, over, and through everything in sight.  It seems to me that same spirit runs deep in CX.  I’m pretty sure the kid from “Family Circus” is now a CX course designer.

Honestly though, what do I know?  I did a few races (and I’ll do a bunch more), but MY experience is just that:  MINE.  Your experience may be totally different.

Which is why YOU need to try one.

If you’re a CX rider, I’ll see you out there.  If you’ve always wanted to be a CX rider, what are you waiting for?  And if you’re not interested in CX, you really need to rethink that position.

Look at me, making friends with Commissaire Brad.

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Oh wait, I almost forgot to write a Race Report.

Race Report.  SubstanX Cyclocross Series #1: Trail Tours Cross (presented by Substance Projects and Bateman’s Bicycle Co.).  September 10, 2017.

Sand, grass, a sweet berm, a fast and bumpy descent, some cornering, a bit of double track, a bit of singletrack, S-turns, a splash of mud, more sand, some farm track, some more grass, a barrier, another barrier, two jumps, a step, and some grass.

And repeat.

And repeat.

And repeat.

And repeat.

And repeat.

End of Race Report.

…and a podium finish for Team Colin the single speed category (my second CX race).

team-colin-cx-substanx.jpg
When there are only three people in a category, you’re kind of guaranteed a spot on the podium.  Single Speed love.

A report of the King Cross Weekly Series, is in the PS of this post.  Hint, it’s pretty much more of the same awesomeness.

CX.  It’s fast, it’s fun, it’s awesome.

Dinga linga linga ling.

Ride.

 

PS  The Next SubstanX Cyclocross race is this Sunday, September 17, at MTB Kingston. You can register for SubstanX Farm Cross here.  Thanks to Substance Projects, Bateman’s Bicycle Co., Danone, Pearl Izumi, Joyride 150, Amsterdam Brewery, Hinkel Yeung, and Trail Tours (for the awesome land use).team-colin-cx.jpg

And here, as promised, is the King Cross Weekly Series Race Report.

Race Report.  King Cross Tuesday Night Race.  Tuesday, September 12, 2017. Centennial Park, King City

Gravel driveway, grass, trees, more grass, across the driveway, more grass and trees, a neon orange barrier, some more grass, a zip around the port-a-potty (close your mouth), grass, some flowy singletrack, some grunty singletrack, some more flowy singletrack, some narrow and winding singletrack, grass, double track, some grass, and bask to the parking lot.

And repeat.

And repeat…

End of Race Report.

So much fun.  If you want to race King Cross, come to Centennial Park in King City (not the other Centennial Park–which also has a CX race) the next two Tuesday nights at 6:00. Get more information here:  Evolution Cycles.

Hey look, it’s me, Jamie, Ryan, and Tristan (dude is faaaaaaaaast on a bike).  10 minutes before this picture, the stuff in the concrete bunker behind us was a wicked CX race.

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And Take a look at my last blog post.  I’ve listed a few other CX races there.

Also, you NEED to check out Bateman’s Bicycle Co..  Rob Bateman and I finally got to chat on Sunday.  Dude is super cool, an awesome supporter of CX, and I’m just going to say it, he’s as handsome as heck.  His shop also sponsors a Bateman’s Midweek Cyclocross until the snow flies.  Here’s a picture of me and Rob (he’s totally going to be a BFF) enjoying our podium cookies (courtesy of Dan’s mom).
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And here are a few other pictures from the day.  They are, in no particular order:  Dan’s awesome support crew (Jenn and Simon, Sherry, and Ron and Florence); the podium crowd (with bells); and some of the folks from Bateman’s enjoying a Team Colin popsicle. …oh, and maybe a shot of me.

 

52. Why YOU Need to Race CX

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Enter a caption

Gotta be honest, I really don’t know why YOU need to race CX this year.  I don’t even know why I need to race CX this year.

Truthfully, I don’t know the first thing about CX.  Wait, that’s wrong.  I know that it’s a CROSS between road and MTB.  Well. sort of.  I think

Oh wait, I also know that a CX race has fences and barriers.  Or something like that.

And I know that CX races are on grass.  I mean, mostly grass.  And other types of terrain.

Okay, so maybe I’m not a CX resource, but the world wide web is.

The Googler dictionary defines CX as:

cross-country racing on bicycles

So thanks for that Google. Try not to be so precise next time.

How about the Wikipedia

Cyclo-cross (sometimes cyclocrossCXcyclo-X or cross) is a form of bicycle racing.

Um, okay.  Worse than the Googler.

I’m kidding, there’s more.

Races typically take place in the autumn and winter, and consist of many laps of a short (2.5–3.5  km or 1.5–2  mile) course featuring pavement, wooded trails, grass, steep hills and obstacles requiring the rider to quickly dismount, carry the bike while navigating the obstruction and remount.

Okay, that’s better.  Sounds kinda cool.

Check out the rest of Wikipedia’s post here. CX

So now I know, based on my extensive research (or two clicks on my computer) the following:

  • races last about an hour, and consist of multiple laps of a short course
  • course conditions are a mix of everything
  • CX bikes are a cross between road and MTB
  • you’re probably going to have to shoulder your bike at some point
  • drop bars (or not); 33mm tires (or not); disk brakes (or whatever)

I don’t know about you, but that sounds pretty boss.  Boss indeed.

And once again, riders and racers in Southern Ontario are blessed with a horde of different CX races from which to choose.  There are a bunch of established CX races and series, and a bunch more one-offs.  If that’s not enough, there are some great new opportunities this year.  In fact, my Tuesday night races series, the King Weekly Series (presented by Evolution Cycles), is even extending the season to add three cross races: King Cross.  Awesome.

To make it easier, races like Substanx and King Cross are promoting their CX races as hybrids, and allowing (nay, encouraging) a variety of bikes and riders from different disciplines to come out:  Fatbike, SS, MTB, whatever.

I’ve never done a cross race, but with so much choice, I think it’s time.

So, for my first cross race, I’m going to try Substanx, Dan Marshall’s answer to cross, presented by Substance Projects (yeah, cool name, eh?).  Substanx is a three race series, starting this Sunday, at Millbrook (near-ish to Ganaraska Forest).  Aside from the proximity to the city, and the fact that I can actually make the date, the race is sure to be another Substance Projects wickedly fun and awesome rip.

Oh, and there’s a rumour floating about that there is a special emcee for Substanx Millbrook.  It may or may not be Team Colin.  Shhh, don’t tell anyone.  Who am I kidding, tell EVERYone.  I get to race AND talk about racing–with a microphone.  Bee double oh, em.

By the way, my second cross race will be a few days after, on Tuesday night, at King Cross.

Back to the title of this blog post.  Why do YOU need to race cross this year?  Well, Sunday is coming up, and there’s a bike race.  I don’t know about you, but that’s enough for me.

Ride.

 

PS.  Here are some links to some pretty awesome CX rips:

Sunbstanx

Bateman’s Midweek CX

Evolution Cycles King Weekly Series: King Cross

Trek Cyclocross Series

Cookie Cross @ Christie Pits (CXTO)

Mad Cross, Baseball Cross, Dam Cross, CX O-Cup, Turkey Cross, Nordic Cats…Check out the OCA Events Calendar

 

Something to say about bikes, riding, racing, cross, or otherwise?  A race to add to the list of links above?  Comment on the link above, or send an email to: teamcolinblog@yahoo.com

 

 

51. Kingston XCM

21458411_10213644608411390_968093495_oI was HOPING for vindication.

I WANTED revenge.

I NEEDED to master the MTB Kingston course once and for all.

The results:

  • Vindication: 1
  • Revenge: 1
  • MTB Kingston: 1
  • Team Colin: 0

Race #4 in the Substance Projects XC Marathon (A Little Story of Not-So-Boom)

The Kingston Marathon and I have a long back story.  Last year, I broke a few spokes about 10k into the race, then spent 15 minutes untangling them from my cassette and dislodging them from a snapped rear derailleur, and finished the race on a borrowed bike. In 2015, I couldn’t find the START line and sprinted 6k to the next Concession and back before finding the START line (10 minutes AFTER the race started). The year before that, the course beat me up so badly that I almost quit riding (not really, but it was just so hard that year), and the year before that (my first year racing) it was so hot on race day that I actually spontaneously combusted (totally true).

Alas, once again, FOR THE FIFTH TIME IN A ROW, the Kingston XCM kicked my butt.

Kicked it hard.  Like, really hard.

Honestly, sometimes it’s exasperating being this bad in a bike race.

I get it.  The reality of a race is never as pretty as it is when imagining it, but c’mon, I was ready for this race.  Driving to Kingston the night before, I knew I was in the best shape of my life:  I’ve logged about 800 kilometres of racing this season (and at least a thousand more in training); my weight is down; my muscle mass is up (I bought a Bowflex, dang it); my side gut flap is (marginally/slightly) smaller; I jiggle way less; and I even somehow managed to curtail my poutine intake (despite 4 weeks in Quebec, the Poutine Capital of the world, this summer. #willpower).

So how did I do this year?  Let’s take a look at the math:  In the half marathon last year (when I had a catastrophic technical failure) my finish time was 2:23.  So this year, I was expecting somewhere in the neighbourhood of way under five hours.

Nope.

Not even close.

In the full marathon this year my time was…

6:17.

Yeah, almost six hours and twenty minutes.  That’s over three hours per lap!  I was so late finishing, that the podium awards for the race, the overall awards for the series, and the draw prizes were finished long before I limped my poor Norco Revolver under the FINISH banner.  The parking lot was all but empty, and I swear I heard the raspy call of a vulture as a bundle of tumbleweed scuttled past me.

I felt like Klaatu, except the earth wasn’t standing still, everybody just went home.

At least Raf waited for me (love you bud), and the rest of Fatboy Nation, who cheered me on from the parking area as I crested the last climb (love you Mike and Jenn and Monika and cousin Jack).

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And it was great that Simon, who was only registered for the half but decided to join me on a second lap, finished with me.  I met Simon at the El Bandito, and we’ve been race buddies ever since. We’ve finished side-by-side three races in a row, and like every budding teenage relationship, we text each other before, after, and in between races.  I want to give him a cool nickname like “The Frenchman” or “Le Bicyclettist”, but I think I’ll just call him mon ami. Awesome.

21390425_10213109376384898_200083758_oI can’t wait until my bestest riding buddy, John, meets him.

I also met another awesome dude while riding.  Dan from Ottawa.  It wasn’t just Dan from Ottawa’s first time at MTB Kingston.  He was on a borrowed bike, and hadn’t done “one of these races in 10 years”.  I flatted about 8k in (at least my derailleur was intact…) and he saw I needed help.  We spent about 20 minutes trying to coax air into my tire, with minimal luck, and he didn’t leave until we were (sort of) finished.  At least I had enough air to limp along the course to the road crossing, and then zip up to the barn for a proper pump.  Dan from Ottawa, you’re awesome, dude.  I may or may not have etched some unsolicited advice into your brain by encouraging you to finish, but I still maintain that nobody ever regrets a FINISHED race, regardless of how long it takes.

Seriously though, six hours and twenty minutes.  Dang.

People often comment that I’m too self deprecating in some of my posts.  Well, after Saturday, I’ve got six hours and twenty minutes of “told you so” to back me up.

And the worst thing is that I actually felt strong at the end.  On my second lap, I booked all of Peter’s Loop and Sydney’s Loop (about 12k or rocky gruel) in less than 25 minutes, ripped through the last 6k, and even got out of my seat on the last climb out of the valley.

I’m replaying the race over and over in my mind.  Did I get too much into my head and slow my pace too much?  Did I actually get worse over the summer despite riding my butt off.  Did I ride through a molasses vortex at some point early in the race and have bestowed upon me the super power of the Flash–ing Yellow Light?

My buddy Geoff says I “over trained”.  Not likely.  I may be in the best shape of my life, but that shape is still largely pear-like.

I just don’t know.

Sure, it would help if I had checked my tires for air pressure before the race or maybe if I’d brought a working pump, but that only accounts for 30 minutes of the SIX HOURS AND TWENTY MINUTES!!! (For proper effect, say that with echo).

team-colin.jpgSomething happened to me, and it wasn’t just losing a lot of electrolytes.  By the way, that’s a picture of my jersey after the race.  It’s a black sleeve, and it’s not dirt.

Whatever happened to me really, really, really, reallyreallyreally, sucks.

In my defense, the MTB Kingston course is known for being technical, tight, and punishing.

But I’ve raced other tough courses.

And sure, 78k is one heck of a long race by any standards.

But I’ve raced similar distances this summer, (and I was on my single speed for the other ones (I actually felt like I was cheating this time because I had gears.)

Put in the most simple terms, this course wore me down.  It scratched away every bit of energy, clawed at my resolve, and gnawed my body into a knotted mess.  Actually, not my entire body (my usual problem spots: everywhere, and especially my back and knees, weren’t a problem) but my forearms and wrists took a particular beating.

I have to say, while I was strong near the finish of the race, back at the barn (near the beginning of my second lap), I was over four hours in, with almost half the race to go, and I wanted to quit.

It would have been my first DNF.

But here’s the thing:  Team Colin does not DNF.  It’s not in my DNA to Did Not Finish, and there was no way on earth I was going to Did Not Finish at MTB Kingston.  “Today will not be the day you Did Not Finish, Colin…” I thought “…not today, not ever.”.  So I didn’t Did Not Finish.

I FINISHED.  It just took so darn long.

team-colin.jpgI’m not complaining (and honestly, how many people have the conditioning to attempt a 78k mountain bike race) but even though I consider it a gift to even be able to tank a big race, it’s still pretty demoralizing.

I was even heckled during the race.  Because it took so much time to jam air into my tire, the half marathon riders caught up near mid-lap.  The three leaders were patient and supportive, and so were the next 15 or so riders, but then a large pack approached, and without a pause, yelled ahead and told me to stop and let them pass. No kidding.  “You might want to pull off the course and let is us pass–there’s a big group coming up”.

Um, no, I thought.  It was a tight, twisty, and very technical section, and we were hitting a boardwalk every 20 metres, so there wasn’t any room to pull aside. “As soon as there’s a chance, I’ll ease up and let you pass”, I said.

I’m sure their urgent requests good natured, and they were simply caught up in race pace, but the first few seemed unnecessarily impatient–especially since they could have announced and passed me in the brush if they had the legs to do so.

I know it was a race, but I was racing too, and it wasn’t a World Cup qualifier…

I should say that most of the pack was cool, supportive, patient, and kind with their words (as are most racers and riders I encounter) but dang, I still had four more hours to go…

As the half marathoners were passing, it was great to see so many familiar faces.  Every Dan’s Race is such an awesome reunion.  Corey was in the lead pack; Wally and Sean were pretty close behind; Tyler passed; Donna and Peter passed a while later; and Barry, Ken, Robert, Tatiana, Chris at other times.  Great riders.  Check out Tyler’s post about the race at Team Van Go.  He even gave a nod to me in his first line.  Boom.

It was also great to be in the big kid race with a few other legends that I knew (or recognized), and it’s always a pleasure to see David (and Lorraine and the boys); Nick, Dan, and Angela; Erich; and Mykal.  There were so many others that I recognized from other races too.

A list of winners is at the bottom of this post.

RACE REPORT.  Kingston XC Marathon:  MTB Kingston (September 2, 2017)

Farm track, farm field, roots, rocks, a bunch of bar checks, more rocks and roots, a lake, a flat tire (and half an hour to fix the thing), some double track, rocks and shale, boulders, a road crossing, a quick shot up to the barn to pump my tire and back to the road, a field of soy (if you build it, they will come–and make tofu, soy milk, and other soy-related products), a pretty farm lane, some sand, a barn, the sweetest flow trail east of Joyride 150, an awesome (and huge) jump line, forest, roots, roots, more roots, a bridge, another bridge, more and more bridges, “The Rocky stuff” (which was rocks, tight climbs, rocks, and rocks), a quick shot of gravel and up a rutted hill to the rest of “The Rocky Stuff” (which was EVEN MORE ROCKS), a zip around Peter’s Loop, a zip around Sydney’s Loop, 6k of some more rocks and roots, the “Drop of Doom”, and a grassy climb to the FINISH.

Lather, rinse, repeat (with an added 4k connector back to the START line, and a little stunt session somewhere in the middle), and 78k later, the race was over.

End of Race Report.

In a word, the course was tight, twisty, rocky, and technical.

And hard.

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Six hours and seventeen minutes, and a little trail rash from a spill.  I like to do my own stunts.

MTB Kingston is hard core. These folks build and maintain some of the sweetest and most technical singletrack around.  The result is an awesome and very punishing network of awesomeness, and one heck of a fun time on a bike.  Gotta say, Rob Sangers and his people make some awesome fun.

Also, the Drop of Doom is scary as hell.

The race wasn’t a good one for me, but I got to spend a whole lot of time on my bike, with some amazing people.

And so, I’ll regroup, and rethink, and ride some more and then ride some more.

And I’ll still consider it a blessing that I can even attempt the distance, and be proud that I finished each of the four XC Marathon races this year.  272k of really tough, really awesome, really fun MTB racing.  Boom.

But hear me now MTB Kingston: I’ll be back next year for my vengeance, and if the saying is true, victory is mine.

Wait, the saying is “Six time’s a charm”, right?

Ride.

Something to say about this post, or another post, or riding, or racing, or bikes? Comment on the blog, or send a message to: teamcolinblog@yahoo.com

Winners

Congratulations to overall winner, Cameron McPhaden (U35 Men), with a time of 3:39, and the other Marathon winners:

  • 35-49 Men:  Eric Jobin (4:15)
  • 35+ Women:  Jessica Nankman (4:15)
  • Clydesdale:  Rafael Olejniczak (4:38)
  • Fatbike:  Jack Padega (4:14)
  • Master Men:  Garnett Abbey (4:12)
  • Single Speed:  Joel Nankman (4:17)

Congratulations to the Half Marathon winner, David Klaver (20-34 Men), with a time of 1:40, and to the other category winners:

  • 35+ Women:  Donna Winters (2:04)
  • 35-40 Men:  Brook SMith (1:50)
  • Clydesdale:  Ken Ruckstuhl (2:14)
  • Fatbike:  Patrick Seguin (1:50)
  • Master Men:  Martin Mueller (1:55)
  • Single Speed:  Chris Frank (1:56)
  • U20 Men:  Ryan Genoe (1:59)
  • U35 Women:  Tatiana Chiesa (2:18)

21439306_10213109378384948_733766695_oThanks again to Dan Marshall and Substance Projects; Dan’s mom and dad (Ron and Florence are a HUGE support for me); Sherry, Simon, and Jenn; my wife for waiting until the end, and then letting me chat with my friends; MTB Kingston, Rob Sangers, and the Drop of Doom; Cycle Solutions; Pearl Izumi, eLoad, and the other amazing sponsors; and Lorraine (best post-race BBQ ever).

And thanks to Barry for some much needed mid-race love and support (the dude even helped me with my helmet).  Awesome buddy.

 

49. DO the Eager Beaver

It’s coming.

It’s almost here.

The Eager Beaver 2.0:  Substance Projects answer to “What’s the Epicest Bike Race Ever?”.

Yup.  Two sleeps until gravel riders, MTB shredders, CX killers, and hardcore roadies from around the province, Quebec, and the States, descend on Nordic Highlands ski hill in Duntroon Ontario, for what I can only say is one of the toughest, most rewarding races of the season–and I don’t even do the full race.

The Eager Beaver is a big, boss, giant, killer bike race.

And the best part is…wait for it…

I.

Am.

Ready.

No more cold-mageddon to deal with.  That ship sailed about a week after the El Bandito.

Lots and lots of riding in the past few weeks.  (the El Bandito 70k, 6 longish gravel rides and 2 big mountain hikes in Quebec–blog to follow soon–all of the Hydrocut–also, blog to follow soon–two neighbourhood 25k rips, and even a King Race Series Tuesday night race).  All told, 13 decent rides in 22 days.  Yeah, Boom.

And for the first time in my riding career, I am not totally out of my wits with fear before the race.  Yeah.  After taming the Beaver last year (totally not as dirty as it sounds,, and a pretty epic season so far (maybe not epic for you, but epic for me), I’ve now got 7 pretty big races under my belt, and I feel good about mounting the Beaver this year (again, not as dirty as it sounds).

Don’t get me wrong, I’m scared as heck, worried like crazy, and tentative to the nth degree, but in a healthy way, not the usual nail-biting, pant-pooping, up-at-night-sobbing-in-the-fetal-position, sort of way.  It feels kind of boss.  2/3rd place, here I come!

Yes, I’ve started measuring my place by fractions.  I’m usually between half place and 2/3rd place.  It sounds way better than 60th place.  It gets a bit confusing when I tell someone I was 13/19ths place, but whatever.

The race is going to be awesome.  I can’t wait for it, and you should come to the race too. Here’s why:

10 Reasons Why YOU Should Do the Eager Beaver 2.0

  1. You never regret a race you did, only the race you didn’t.
  2. It’s a Dan’s Race.  ‘Nuff said.
  3. If you have a bike, it’s the right bike.  Period.
  4. Where else in the province can you take a stab at a 160k gravel grinder that has up to 2,000m of climbing, 80% gravel roads, killer “Iron Cross” sections, and 5 aid stations?
  5. Choice.  50k, 100k, or 160k.  If there’s something I can now say with absolute surety, ANYBODY can do 50k.  For inexperienced riders, it may not be easy, it might take a long time (and you might even be last place), but you CAN do it.  For additional information, see point #1.  Look at my pictures.  If I can do these races, who can’t?
  6. Playing bikes with a few hundred bike minded people for the afternoon.  So cool.
  7. Mother Nature is playing too.  We’re in for some booming and crackling on Friday, and a bit of rain (or maybe lots) starting Friday afternoon.  Who wants to ride in hot, dry weather when you can ride in EPIC weather.
  8. Free commemorative, special edition, Eager Beaver glass!  On a side note, I was talking to Steve Shikaze this week.  His glass from last year is his favourite glass ever.  Well, it was until he broke it.  True story.  Actually, I think his wife broke it.  Sorry to open an old wound, bud.  Wait, I hope Dan has glasses this year.  I should probably fact-check this before publishing…
  9. Sponsors:  Salsa Bikes and Cycle Solutions are sponsoring the race, along with Pearl Izumi and a bunch of other great bikey companies.  Read: wicked door prizes.
  10. The Eager Beaver 2.0 is Team Colin approved.  This is the last point because it’s the most ridiculous one because Team Colin is a fair rider (at best) and doesn’t have the experience or credibility to actually endorse a race, but if it works for you, cool. Honestly, the only reason I ride, race, and write about riding and racing, is because I love it so much and just want to share the groovy bike love vibe.

Back to the bike choice thing.  Really, the StuporCross Series is an epic BIKE race series, and while Dan promotes the race like a gravel grinder, a CX, gravel, MTB, or fatbike is suitable. Okay, a road bike might be a bad choice, but any other bike is cool.  By the way, for anyone who did the El Bandito, the Eager Beaver is sort of, but not really, similar.  I’ll be on my Norco Threshold.  It’s super sweet!

So that’s it.  It’s going to be awesome, and I can’t wait for Saturday so I can take another shot at the…well, you know.

See you Saturday!

Ride.