This was the day I had been training for. Big elevation and lots of techy descending trails. I knew it was going to be an epic and long day. Before the start of the ride I ran into one of the guys from the bike shop who was there doing the Shimano guest ride day.
As has become normal, we lined up in the start chute and got mentally prepped for our day. Just before the first wave was about to head out, I looked down and realized I had forgotten the top tube sticker showing the elevation. A quick sprint to the tent to retrieve that and I was all set.
Heading out from the start line we rode through some neighbourhoods and quickly the roads turned skyward. Once we hit dirt the roads still went up.
Topping out felt pretty good, and the trail that greeted up was a taste of thinkgs to come. I don’t know the name of the trail, but it was swoopy, bermy, loose, dusty, and immense fun.
Back on a logging road descent I was screaming around a corner and over a bridge when I saw this gorgeous stream. So pretty that I stopped, and turned back to get a picture.
Entering a technical section I found my flow. There was talk of the upcoming rock faces, and in one briefing I heard they all had ridearounds. All too suddenly the trail forked and I went right, not realizing that left was the first rock face, and I had missed it. I could see up ahead there was a traffic jam and people were stopped. Behind me there was a pretty large gap, so I hiked my bike back up and rode the rock face! Every opportunity that I could take to hit a rock face I did. They were all reasonable and a lot of fun.
More stunning vistas were seen.
Then I could smell it! Bacon. Somewhere out there was the bacon station and we were close. A little boost to the energy level so I pedalled a little harder. On a small trail I jumped off a root, and when I landed, there it was. Beautiful bacon in the middle of nowhere. Awesome.
More climbing was in store, then we entered Half Nelson. For me, this is the highlight trail of the race so far. Huge berms, easy lofty jumps and lots of hooting and hollering. I was in a train of three other riders and we were all pretty well matched for speed. At the bottom we were all grins and high fives. The quote of the race from someone else was ‘Even my nuts have goosebumps’. All of us were tempted to go back up and try it again.
Then it was up again. Climb, climb, climb up logging road. When we got to Tsuedo Tsuaga and I reached down to put my shock in descend mode. Much to my shock I had forgotten to change it to trail after Half Nelson. Oops. No wonder that climb seemed extra hard. Tseudo Tsuaga was pretty fun as well with lots more berms and high speed. This time I was behind someone slower than I wanted, and I did get a chance to pass them. It was all good though, I was concerned about going too fast and wiping out in my tired state.
Another climb was needed to get up to Hoods in the Woods and it was a long grunt of a hill. I started to recognize parts of it that I had ridden during the guys trip to Whistler earlier in the year. Once in Hoods I passed a few people on the descent. At one corner we I could see someone taking pictures and assumed they were part of the media crew. Turned out they were just racers pulled off watching and taking pics at a trickey corner. Again I was having a good time on this trail and was flowing along pretty nicely. Other racers were kind enough to move to the side and let faster riders go.
After Hoods it was a descent on the fire road. I was hugging the left side too much when I caught a hidden sawn off branch in the shin. Nearly bit it, but managed to stay upright.
Next up was Crumpet woods where I was suffering quite a bit. It was 10km back to the finish but it felt like a lot more. Loads of uphill still then some flat root infested sections. Myself and another racer were the only people for what seemed like an eternity. I knew we were still on the right trail, but I had no idea where we were. Then I could hear some cheering and knew we must be getting close to the finish line.
Exiting the woods Sue and the kids were there cheering me on and telling me it was only 3km back. It was pretty flat too. Bouyed by nearly being done I tried to kick it up a bit, but it sure seemed to take forever to get back. Crossing that finish line was a great feeling though. Day 6 done and only one left to go.
Today was a day to celebrate. I got my bike washed, quickly ate some food, then hit the beer garden for a beverage or two. The beer was mighty tasty!
It wasn’t just me celebrating either. Shimano had a big giveaway, and there was some entertainment. Johnny Rock was on hand to play some tunes, and he was a hoot! I loved it when he ran into the beer garden for selfies with random people.
One more day to go.