Waking up early in Squamish we quickly got our things together, ate breakfast, boarded some coach busses and said goodbye to tent city. Day 7 was upon us and it was going to be a day full of lasts, but one big first.
In Whistler we had some time to get sorted. Use washrooms, find bikes, be attended to by medical, make last minute tweaks, then it was time to start lining up. Lining up for day 7. The race had flown by.
The first few waves started and as we got closer to the start my nerves melted away to a deep sense of satisfaction and pride. Then we were off. Some small course changes were made the night before so our final day was supposed to be 28km and 1400m vertical.
The road section was intended to spread us out and help us warm up. Unfortunately it want long enough and in the first single track there was quite a clog of riders that left is standing for a couple minutes.
Onward we went and very suddenly we were in the first aid station. I sailed through that again and kept riding.
We hit some steep downhill loose sections that had many riders walking. Myself and a couple others rode through picking up a couple spots. Not sure what I did but on one steep line I filled my left shoe with dirt.
At one point we got back on the road to gain some elevation. This was a paved road too, open to traffic, with many large dumptrucks going back and forth. I made a quick stop to empty my shoe then set out for the climb. Quit a grunt up that road.
Dropping into trail again was a nice relief. Again it got steep and I was behind some less technical riders. Thankfully many people were great about moving out of the way for riders who had the ability. There were two riders running down the trail that had no option but to keep running in front of me since there was no easy way for them to get off the trail. No big deal since they were faster on the uphill.
Throughout the day there some great trail features that were fun to ride. A couple big rock faces, steep chutes, ladder bridges and more. With about 5km to go I came across a rider with a flat. For the first time after offering help someone took me up on it. He had a flat and someone else had given him a tube but his CO2 canister hadn’t inflated it properly. Inpsecting his tube, I ntoed that someone had given him a road bike tube. Odd that someone would even have that with them. I grabbed a fresh tube from my pack and we set out changing the tube and pumping up the tire.
I got rolling while he finished up putting his wheel back on. The final few kilometres are a bit of a blur. The final descent was still pretty technical. Not steep but full of sharp rocks. Suddenly we dropped out of the trail, crossed some train tracks and a bridge. There it was, the finish arch. One final high five to Bob, a victory arm pump and there were the finish line attendants handing out the buckles. Sue and the kids quickly found me and I shed a few tears of joy.
I’ve been thinking about this race from the very first one. The last few years I’ve read all the online coverage I could find and dreamed about doing it and getting that belt buckle. There I was with a finishers buckle hanging from my neck. Incredible.
The entire race was a lot of fun, and this was in large part to my support crew. Sue did an amazing job cheering on the racers and me in particular. Never knowing when I would see her on course lead to many surprises discovering her cheering.
The final few days of the race the whole family was involved. The kids were also amazing in their cheering. Not only that, but their support over the last year has been unwavering and that has been a tremendous burden off my shoulders.
What a week! I cannot wait to get a belt to put my buckle on.