Gnarnaimo Blind

A couple weekends ago I rode in the Gnarnaimo Enduro. It was part of an all mountain championship where racers did the enduro on a Saturday, then an XC race the following day using the exact same equipment. Logistics only really allowed me to do the enduro race, so I signed up for that. All the other enduro races I’ve done this year I’ve had the opportunity to preride the course. This was not the case with this race though; I rode it completely blind, never having ridden in the area.

The race went pretty well. The trails were very dry and loose. During the pre-race briefing we were warned about how loose they were. The first stage was a blast. Long downhill, very flowy, good jumps. I wish I could get a second run down those trails they were so fun. I skipped a couple jumps not knowing what was behind them.

I headed up for stage 2 and got set. Dropping in was pretty steep and I started in on the switchbacks pretty quickly. They were pretty loose. Coming up to one right hander I could see the trail dropped away pretty steeply. That was when disaster struck. My front tire washed out, the bike dropped away and I was launched down the trail. It felt like I flew quite a distance and all I could see were all the rocks in the dust. Amazingly I managed to land on my hands and slide, absorbing the worst of the impact. I had to run back up the hill to retrieve my bike. A quick lookover to ensure there was no damage, a quick check up the hill for the next rider, then I was off again. A couple turns down the trail I went to slow down and the lever for my rear brake went to the bar. I almost panicked thinking I was in big trouble. A couple pumps though and the brake came back. At the end of the stage I tapped the receiver and took a seat to recover a bit.

I headed up for stage three. I could feel some scrapes and some possible bruises forming. I was covered in dust too.

Stage three felt like it was a long way up the hill. I was starting to feel tire so I walked more and rode slowly. At the top I took my time recovering and drinking some water. I got myself settled, went to the start tent and got set. I headed off for my final stage. I sure got beat up on this one. It was really long and very bumpy. Lots of roots, dips, and a few drops. I had no idea where the finish was so I had to keep pushing. My arms were getting fatigued though and I couldn’t hold on to the bars very well. I had to either slow down, or death grip the bars (death grip being all fingers on the bar and none on brakes). I tried a little of each until I couldn’t take it any longer. I grabbed the brakes and slowed down. Crossing the line I was grateful I had completed the race.

Gnarnaimo Enduro

I’m happy to say that I placed 27th out of 46 racers. Pretty decent. This also leaves me in 16th overall having done 3 of the 4 races so far.

I am still not sure how many races I am going to be able to do this year, but these three have been a blast.

Signed Exploring

Sue and I signed up for the Chafe 150 a while ago, so we’ve been doing quite a bit of training for it. The plan was for us to do some rides together, but unfortunately that hasn’t happened very often.

With all the training I did last year, I got a little bored of riding all the same awesome roads over and over again. With this training I’ve concentrated on some hills and on exploring new roads. Victoria has a lot to offer for cycling, and I have taken it for granted in the past.

Conditions Weaving

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Clean bike before race day.

Hammerfest Enduro was today and couldn’t have been under better conditions. Clear blue sky, tacky trails, lots of racers. I pre-rode the stages yesterday and did my best to recover fully for the race today. Seemed to have worked.

I got my chip and started getting race ready before the briefing when I discovered a very loose spoke. None of my tools fit it, so I swung by Scott’s Trek Bike Shop van to see if he had the necessary spoke wrench. He didn’t, but we managed to use a leatherman and a set of vice grips to get it (and one other) tighter.

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Racers briefing. This is what 185 strong looks like.

Racers briefing was the normal stuff, and soon we were off. We were requested to hurry to our first stage, then we could take our time after that (the goal being to spread people out). I got up to stage 2 in fairly good time, rested a bit, got set up for my stage and got in line.

Soon it was go time and I took off. This stage was pretty long and I managed to remember all the little bits I thought were important. I bobbled a couple corners, and was pretty slow on one sharp corner, but overall I felt pretty good. At the end I tapped my chip, didn’t hear the beep, tried again before realizing it had fallen to under my wrist. I lost a few seconds there.

Then came the second climb to the top. I got to stage 3 and there was no line up at all. I sat for a bit to recover before I got setup for the descent. Again I punched it as best I could. Bobbing and weaving through the trees, pumping the dips, prejumping rises and logs. The end of this stage had a bit of pedalling so I tried to save some reserve energy for that. I ended up passing one other racer on the stage before getting to the end and tapping the chip.

Once again, the climb up was in order. Even slower this time I walked more than I had the other ascents. At the top I sat for a bit, drank some water, had some food and let my legs come back before stage 4. The longest, with the most pedalling.

Lining up I felt ready for the final stage. I knew it was long and the bottom half had lots of twists, turns and pedalling. I tapped my chip to start my time and I was off. I felt pretty good on Pumpinator railing the switchbacks and turns. I nearly washed out on the same one I nearly washed out on yeaterday, but managed to keep upright and moving.

After lots of pedalling I got to the end tapped my chip and I was done. Wow, lots of fun.

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Back at the car I got into some other clothes, returned my chip, ate some food, and waited for the results.

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Post race loam coating.

After a bit I went and got my chip times. Woot! Pretty happy with them.

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Chip times. Look at the second column of numbers, on rows 2, 4, and 6.

After quite a bit of waiting I ended up having to go before results were announced. I later learned that one of the guys I was chatting with came in first place! As for my results, I had to wait until I got home, but I’m more than happy. I tied for 16th out of 60 racers.

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Another great race done. I am not sure how many more (if any) I will get to do this season. Big bonus that was just pointed out to me was that I am currently 9th in the series after the first two races.

Lagoon Sitting

Sunday we headed out to Witty’s Lagoon for some dog walking and exploration. The walk down to the beach was lush and green which is was a big change from our normal summer trips. The Sitting Lady falls were also rushing quite nicely.

Enduro Chip

A couple weekends ago I took part in my first enduro race. The premise is there are a few timed sections, then some non-timed liason sections. Each racer rides to each timed section under their own power, then races as fast as they can down the trail. Most of the timed sections are downhill(ish) trails.

The Bear Mountain Enduro was close to home and seemed like a decent race. There was a new trail that was built, so I wanted to make sure that I knew it well enough to race, so I headed up to practice a few times. The new trail was pretty fresh, but well built. Unfortunately it was also pretty rocky and had a long flat secton on blast rock; making stage 1 a very energy draining one.

First Practice

Second Practice

Third Practice

Overall practice was fine. I felt like I knew the sections well enough to race and not die. The things I didn’t know were the exact start and end points of each stage. THe other downside for me was the Chainsaw trail had some huge jumps, and I am not a jumper. Still, I figured a way around most of them so I could hopefully keep my time down and still not have to make the jumps.

Come race day I got out to Bear Mountain and got my timing chip. The racers briefing was all pretty normal stuff, and soon we were off. Sue and the kids arrived just as I was heading up to stage 1, so I stopped to talk to them. Most of the intermediate field then got ahead of me, so when I did get to the stage start, there was a long line, and plenty of waiting.

The weather was deent enough, but super, super windy. Stages 2 and 3 weren’t really affected, but the first stage was getting hit pretty hard. This cooled everyone down that was waiting. Soon enough it was time for me to drop in. I tapped my chip and I was off. A couple corners in there was the first little jump (maybe a couple feet high). As soon as my front tire left the ground a huge gust of wind took the bike out from under me. Landing awkwardly I felt something hit my right leg, but somehow I managed to stay on the trail, and on my bike.

I gathered myself and kept going hitting the rest of the trail the best I could. At the end I tapped my chip and stage 1 was in the bank. My calf was killing me though and when I finally looked, it wasn’t pretty.

Yeowch

I headed down to stage 2 where I knew Sue and the kids would be watching. I lined up, and sent an estimate to Sue of when I would be taking off. When it was my turn I got set up, tapped my chip and I was off. I mostly remembered the trail and did my best to keep light on the bike and to roll as smoothly as possible. Then I flubbed a corner. Then I really flubbed the next. Deep breath to calm down and re-focus. I could hear Sue and the kids cheering up ahead, but all I could think about was my race run. I got it together and managed to hit the rest of my lines on the stage.


Looking like I know what I am doing.

Sue and the kids said goodbye as they passed me on my way to stage 3. I lined up and waited my turn, dreading the first section of this stage. Off I went, dropping into the big rock roll, skipping over the first couple gap jumps. Up ahead I could see the big ones, but I could also see somme newly created ride arounds. These threw me with some indecision. I managed to mostly hit them, but messed up one slowing me down on a smal uphill. At the end of stage 3 I tapped my chip and I was done. My first enduro race was over.

I waited around a bit for results, but it was taking too long so I headed home. Later I found out I placed 13 of 42. Pretty decent I would say. Later that got bumped down to 14th but I’m still happy with that. The shower when I got home did not feel very good, but I did manage to clean up the injury pretty good.

Next up is the Parksville enduro next weekend. Looking forward to it.

Capable Experience

Today is a big day for E, and for us (his parents). I got up extra early and dropped him off at the school before 5am for his first school ski trip. We sent him with lunch money for the cafeteria, a couple snacks, and his snow gear. We won’t see him again until approx 7:30.

Over the past couple days I’ve realized we don’t give him enough credit for how capable he is. And still I wanted to point out where each and every thing we sent with him was.

After I dropped him off I realized I hadn’t reminded him he had Kleenex (he has a cold). I reminded myself that he will figure it out. Once home, I climbed back into bed and was startled when I realized that I didn’t double check his money was in his pocket. He’s 12, surrounded by friends and chaperones. He won’t starve. He can figure this stuff out, and if he doesn’t, he will still survive.

Kids growing up and branching out is incredible to watch, but also hard to experience. I remember the days they were born, lots of milestones, and good times. I know he will come back with incredible stories of the day, and will have a renewed sense of independance from this ski trip.

Driving Fixes

Do Not Disturb While Driving is a relatively new feature in iOS. I turned it on as soon as it was available for my phone, but today I turned it off for a very big reason.

I love the idea of the feature, and overall the implementation just works. I feel like there are some missed feature though. Namely notifications around received iMessages. If I am driving while the feature is turned on, and someone messages me, there is a reply to them letting them know I will get back to them soon. Unfortunately when I am no longer driving, I don’t get a notification about any messages received, so I don’t know to read my messages. A big pain really.

This has bitten me enough times to sour me on DND While Driving (at least until Apple fixes this).

Frustrated Devices

I’m getting increasingly frustrated with gaming on iOS. I am a casual gamer and do not enjoy epic games that involves hours of time. I much prefer games I can play for a few minutes, then walk away from.

For a while it was a pain when a game forced me to choose between an iPad version and an iPhone version. More often than not there is a universal iOS app now that supports both platforms.

However, my frustration kicks in when game state cannot be synchronized between iPhone and iPad. I am still in the scenario where I have to pick which platform I want to play the game on, and not be able to switch between devices.

Not all games are like this though. In fact I have a couple games that work between iOS devices, including our Apple TV.

My wish for game developers, when creating a universal app, would be to put some time and effort into supporting iCloud based data so that players can switch between devices seemlessly.

Family Rocks

Family day 2018 was partially spent out at French Beach today. It was a glorious blue sky day and the waves at the beach were pretty good. Sue, the kids, myself and my mom all explored the beach with the dogs. We launched sticks and wood for later rock targets, we looked for interesting rocks, and played on the logs. Great fun today. We even watched a sea lion frolicking just off shore.

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Tacky Compare

Back to back riding days is pretty awesome. I am in between jobs right now so I can get out mid week for some rides. For these two rides I lucked out in the weather department, but also on the trail conditions. Super tacky right now, and with the rocks drying out, there seems to be traction everywhere. Well, almost everywhere.

 

I still notice how much fitness I have lost since the BCBR though. I was looking back through Strava though and realized I was doing some long rides by this point in 2017, but they weren’t as big as I recall.

In Feb, I see the above rides, and that is it. I really shouldn’t compare myself to last year’s self since I was in a very different place a year ago. I need to look back at last years riding with fondness, and not try to outdo last year.