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.

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.

Weather Avoiding

I knew today was going to be a wet ride. After I got up I could hear the rain pounding on the roof. I grabbed most of my wet weather gear and headed out any way. I was meeting some people over at Partridge and I decided to do some trails at the dump first.

As I started out, I wasn’t entirely sure where I was going to ride before getting to Partridge, so I headed out Shock Treatment. Puddles everywhere. I meandered a bit, thinking I had lots of time. With 20 minutes until I was supposed to meet up, I realized I was waaay behind. I just don’t have the same fitness I had in the summer. Imagine that.

I took a couple shortcuts before hitting Trillium, then down to Partridge. I arrived thoroughly wet and muddy.

We roamed around Partridge hitting a fun loop, but avoiding some of the larger lakes that dot the area. My hands were cold and wet, but not too bad off. My feet were aching though. Normally they warm up and are fine but I couldn’t keep moving enough to get the blood flowing to keep them warm. The descents were fun and messy. There were more than a few two wheel drifts through the sloppy mud.

Exiting Partridge, one of my riding buddies gave me a ride back to Hartland where we all got changed.

Mud everywhere. Caked onto my knee pads, shorts and shoes. Anything that wasn’t muddy, was soaked. Getting into dry clothes was nice, but without a towel, I also transferred a bunch of mud. We stopped for coffee and a bite to eat. Felt great to get something warm on the inside. Back home I filled up on some soup and tea.

Then it was off for a shower to clean myself up.

Rides like that remind me of when I first got into mountain biking. We’d ride in any weather, get messy, and have a blast.

Motivation Hills


Since the BCBR I’ve been struggling with motivation to get out and ride. I may have turned a corner though. The annual guys trip is coming up and I better make sure I can hang with everyone for the few days of riding. 

To that end I decided to get out for a ride today and try my legs on some hills. I was going to do Munns but remembered I have blood a few days ago and that might not sit well. Instead I hit up a few other hills. 

Didn’t feel great, and my heart rate was sure jacked up, but it was a gorgeous day to be out on the bike. It hurt, but I loved it. More please 😄

Duncan Double

Yesterday I headed up to Duncan for a ride at Tzouhalem.  I’ve ridden there a few times in the past, but there is something about that place that still gets me turned around. The guys I was riding with know the trails pretty good so once again I was lead around. It’s getting a little better, but the couple times I have been the one leading the ride, I second guess myself quite a bit.

The climb up was mostly on single track and meandered a bit. I noticed pretty quickly that the day was turning out to be perfect, though there was a lot of water on the trails still. We made our way to the inconic rest stop overlooking Cowican Bay.

  
After the break we did a quick stop at the cross then started heading down.

   
 We hit some of the more technical downhill trails, then made a run down Double D.

After getting back to the truck we headed for home after a quick stop at the Cowichan Bay pub for lunch. 

Turbulent Years

Today I headed out to the dump for a ride. The skies were a little turbulent and I wondered if it was going to dump on us. A few times it sprinkled, but the rain held off. The wind never stopped though and a few times while the trees were swaying pretty hard we could hear them creaking and rubbing against each other.

We started off by heading to the far South side of the park along Shock Treatment before coming back and climbing up to the switchbacks. The goal was to get to Daves Line and Southridge. We kept running two different groups of people which was kind of funny, but also a bit frustrating since I think we were faster than them. After Southridge and Fun Trail we ended up on Madonna and N Trail before making our way back to the North end, destined for Skull. Before Skull I had the brilliant idea to try out Low Craft Warning. I hadn’t been on that trail in years and I had forgotten how big some of the rock faces were. We made it to the end without dieing, though I almost endod right at the end.

Soon after cleaning off the bikes I was talking with my riding partner, and the skies opened up. Good timing!

Different Consequence

Today’s rides was a lot different than last week. I decided to ride out to the dump even though it was pretty cold when I started. I warmed up pretty quickly, though my hands took the longest to unfreeze. I met up with a friend at the dump and we started to ride.

Pretty soon I realized there was a lot less standing water over last week, but it was still pretty mucky. The rocks were also stil pretty slick, a combo of still being wet, and lots of moss. My friend pointed out that even though it hasn’t rained, it really hasn’t been warm enough for everything to dry out properly.

The first route we talked about was a trip to Trillium, then down South Ridge. This changed into a trek to Green Ribbon/Hot Cherry. I then said no to those since I was starting to get a bit tired, and those trails do require some mental acuity (they are pretty technical with some high consequence). We ended up going down South Ridge, hit some trails lower down, then I made my way home.

My plan for getting home was to take the parks Southern exit over to Munns Rd, then take the Goose home. I wasn’t sure if that would be longer or shorted, but it would be different than going home along Interurban (flat and boring). The downhill on Munns was fun, but where I hit Munns meant a couple big uphill sections, which on my mountain bike, really weren’t all that fun.

Overall, great ride. Would recommend 🙂

Donation Uncoordinated

Since I am doing spin class on Thursdays, I thought it would be a good idea to move my blood donation to a Friday so that I could still do both. My first test of this happened this past Friday. I donated for the 77th time, and other than it taking a while to get through the process, the whole thing was pretty easy. 
Sunday however was a different story. Originally I had planned to ride to the dump, do a tour, then ride home. I evicted against that for some reason, and in retrospect I am very glad. On the trails I felt pretty bad. My heart rate would shoot up and I would easily get out of breath. It reminded me a lot of riding at altitude in Rossland actually. I felt slow and sluggish and uncoordinated. The ride was also very, very wet.

  
Still, I was glad to have gotten out for a ride and to get some fresh air and exercise.

Tour de Victoria 2013

What can I say about the Tour. It is a great course, but this year was incredibly hard. The weather was a big part of it, but my body was a bigger factor.

In the week leading up to the ride I got sick. It wasn’t a head cold, but rather I was lethargic, had a fever, bad headaches, couldn’t sleep well, and generally felt gross. By Friday I felt I was 100%, and on Saturday I felt ready for the ride.

Saturday I prepped everything for an early morning departure, including getting my fender installed on my bike again. However, when I woke up Sunday I wasn’t feeling 100% any more. I actually felt like I had another cold coming on. Before heading out the door for the ride I popped some cold meds and hoped for the best.

It was raining as I left, so I had dressed with tights, booties, and a vest with arm warmers. This is way more clothing that I had worn for any of my training rides, and I hoped it wasn’t overkill. I made my way to the start line, and immediately needed to use the can. Thankfully I made it back to my bike before everything started.

I was thirsty though, and I remember thinking that was odd since I had plenty to drink the day before. I kind of chalked it all up to nerves, though it was a different feeling than most cases of nerves I had felt.

We started off, and thankfully the rain had let up a little. The group motored out to Langford, and by the time we got to Ocean Boulevard, people had started to string out. By this time I had also downed half a bottle of water already too. As we ascended Ocean I could feel my legs weren’t as strong as most of the training rides I had done.

We continued on out into Metchosin, then hit Lombard, which was a nasty little climb, then Lindholm. Lindholm was an eye opener. My legs had nothing in them. The was less than 40KM into a 140KM ride and my legs were drained and tired. Not good.

I also realized at some point that I was behind on my nutrition already. Aargh. I was paying attention to how I was feeling and not watching the time. At the first aid station I filled up with water and quickly grabbed a few snacks. My goal of 5 hours was flying out the window, and I knew it. The weather was a factor in that, but so was I.

We remounted and continued on, passing the 100KM rider start. There was nobody there, so we zipped over to Atkins Rd. Last year I caught up to and passed a bunch of 100KM riders on Atkins. This year, it was eerily empty. My first 40KM I felt like we had a good speed, but somehow I must have been slower than last year.

We tackled Munn’s and I was seriously hating that hill. It is always a good challenge, but this day, in the wet it was awful. I was in a way lower gear, way earlier than normal. I was exerting myself too much on this hill. When we got to the last pitch I stood to try and grunt it out over the top, but my wheel started slipping on the wet pavement forcing me to stay seated. After the ride I looked up my Munns climb timed section and I was two minutes slower this year over last.

Ross Durance was brutal too. At one point I couldn’t make it up one of the hills, so I dropped to my granny ring (my bike has a triple ring setup). I hadn’t used the granny in years. I was beginning to feel very defeated. My spirits were dropping quickly. My legs were still feeling dead.

As we neared the Brentwood bay school aid station I realized I hadn’t seen Sue. I was a little concerned, but I was more concerned about me. Do I drop out and turn home, or do I continue. My legs were fine on the flat sections, but the hills were very difficult. At the aid station I took on more water and food, and made the decision. I had trained months for this event. Hours in the saddle away from family. Summer vacation was planned around when Sue and I could ride. I had to keep going.

I left the aid station and a few minutes later realized I had forgotten to pee. The long climb along West Saanich road wasn’t too bad since it was gradual so I kept going. As we got to the backside of the airport, the wind started to pick up. If it was windy there, it was going to be brutal on the Sydney side. Thankfully I was riding with two others and we could draft off each other.

We got to Wane rd, crossed the highway, and started heading back toward town. That was a good feeling, but looking at my watch I knew that I was way off the pace I wanted. We stopped again at the aid station and I check my text message to see if Sue had sent me anything. I got so distracted that I forgot to pee yet again.

As we were passing through Sydney I told the two guys I was riding with that I needed to stop. I told them to go on without me, and I reassured them I would be fine. I felt much better after I peed, but then I got into the really windy part. I quickly realized how foolish I was sending them on without me.

Somewhere during al this I kept getting sweat in my eyes. There was so much rain coming down that my helmet pads were releasing all the built up sweat and gunk in them, and it was running into my eyes. It was very painful, but also dangerous as this was happening on descents and I couldn’t see very well.

I soldiered on through the wind, through Cordova bay, then through Mount Doug. Turning onto Ash I faced my nemesis hill. I knew it wasn’t going to be pretty, and I knew that I would have a bit of time to recover after this hill. Three quarters of the way up my legs gave up on me an I had to get off and walk. Talk about killing my spirits.

Remounting I tried to keep my speed up, but then I noticed my bike computer was on the fritz. My speed was reading 0, yet my cadence was at 160 RPM. And my distance was glued to 107KM. Sigh.

On Arbutus I was going around once corner when all of a sudden my rear wheel hit a pothole hard. It gave me a big jolt, but it was quite eye opening. I hadn’t seen a thing, and imagine if my front wheel had hit it?

It seemed like I was OK, so I kept going. Through Cadboro bay, and up the hill to Beach drive I went. As I got onto Beach drive my back end felt a little off. Sure enough my tire was low. Likely a snakebite from that pothole. I figured it was pretty slow so I pulled over (right before the timed section start) and decided against replacing it, and instead chose to top it up with CO2. Fairly quick, but still difficult with cold wet hands.

I started the timed section and tried to do my best on it, but by the time I got to the Oak Bay Beach Hotel, my tire was low again. I pulled over and knew I had to change it this time. I took off my soaking wet gloves and got out my tools. I struggled to get the tire off the rim, and it was because of the tube being stuck to the tire. My hands weren’t working all that well and I was starting to get down on myself.

Then a support vehicle pulled up. They asked if I needed some help, and I was all set to say no, but realized the folly in that. They were there to help, so I accepted. They jumped out with a floor pump, and in no time got the tire reseated, the tube inflated, checked the spin on the tire, put the wheel back on the bike, checked the brakes, and handed my bike back. Big thanks to those guys! I also realized that it wasn’t my glasses that were fogging up on me. There was something wrong with my right eye. Everything was foggy and hazy in that eye. A little disconcerting.

I was in the home stretch, but now I was really cold, and still soaking wet. I got past the golf course, and could see King George Terrace. The last big hill. Some friends had planned to watch from there, but with the weather the way it was, and with me being so much later than I had planned, I was sure they weren’t going to be there. When I got to the second ascent, I put my head down and powered up the hill. A wave of emotion hit me. I had gotten through all the hard bits and could now coast home. Head down still I glanced over and could see one of my friends cheering me on. It turned out that 5 people I knew were cheering from that spot. Those are my SuperFriends! Thanks guys.

Down the backside of King George I gathered the will to keep going. Ross Bay, Clover Point, Beacon Hill then downtown. Nothing could stop me from finishing. The sun had even come out at this point. Then I needed to pee again. Aaargh. I stopped at Beacon Hill Park, then made my way to the finish.

After I crossed the finish line I heard Sue call me. I was relieved she was OK. I was happy I finished, and had endured that, but was so bitterly disappointed in the day. Even now, a week later I am disappointed in how I fared. I grabbed my bag from the bag check and we got a little warmer. We went to go get in line for food and a beer, but we couldn’t do it. The line was huge and we were cold and wet. We gave someone our food and beer tickets and just headed for home. I wasn’t in a mood for celebrating anyway.

My official time was 6 hours eleven minutes, and my goal was to break 5 hours. My 2012 time was 5 hours 8 minutes.


View The Tour de Victoria 2013 in a larger map


View The Tour de Victoria 2013 in a larger map

Total distance: 141.60 km (88.0 mi)
Total time: 6:17:41
Moving time: 5:40:43
Average speed: 22.49 km/h (14.0 mi/h)
Average moving speed: 24.94 km/h (15.5 mi/h)
Max speed: 60.91 km/h (37.8 mi/h)
Average pace: 2:40 min/km (4:18 min/mi)
Average moving pace: 2:24 min/km (3:52 min/mi)
Fastest pace: 0:59 min/km (1:35 min/mi)
Max elevation: 250 m (820 ft)
Min elevation: -16 m (-53 ft)
Elevation gain: 1524 m (4998 ft)
Max grade: 19 %
Min grade: -17 %

Tour Wait

Well, my last big ride before the Tour de Victoria is done. Bill and I hit up the three big climbs of the Tour course. He turned off while I continued. I had planned to try and make 4.5 hours, but I fell a bit short. Kangaroo road was pretty torn up. Looks like they are planning on widening the road and lots of heavy machinery has been on the road. This has made the road more bumpy than normal.

Munns was as fun as usual. After that I headed out along Wallace, turned on to West Saanich, then turned right on Stellys X Road to take me over to Island View Rd, and Mitchell Farm. From there I started to follow the Tour route home, but realized I would go way over on my time, so I mentally figured out the quickest route home.

All in all a decent ride, but I was pretty knackered by the end. I don’t think I could have done another 40 km. Ride day could be interesting. I’ll rely on drafting and adrenaline to get me through.

Next week I plan on a short (ish) three hour ride on flat (ish) terrain just to keep myself limber.

Then the Tour. Can’t wait.


View Three Big Hills Sept 7, 2013 in a larger map


View Three Big Hills Sept 7, 2013 in a larger map
Total distance: 103.88 km (64.5 mi)
Total time: 4:19:56
Moving time: 4:05:01
Average speed: 23.98 km/h (14.9 mi/h)
Average moving speed: 25.44 km/h (15.8 mi/h)
Max speed: 64.07 km/h (39.8 mi/h)
Average pace: 2:30 min/km (4:02 min/mi)
Average moving pace: 2:22 min/km (3:48 min/mi)
Fastest pace: 0:56 min/km (1:30 min/mi)
Max elevation: 256 m (839 ft)
Min elevation: -11 m (-37 ft)
Elevation gain: 1139 m (3738 ft)
Max grade: 13 %
Min grade: -12 %