Tzouhalem Stages

On Sunday I was up in Duncan and rode in the first ever Tzouhalem enduro. One thing I learned is that I am terrible with trail names. I’ve ridden at Tzouhalem a number of times before but really only knew a couple trail names. The Island Cup Series team posted the Trail Forks listing of the stages but I couldn’t tell if I had been on the trails before or not.

The event itself was a lot of fun. It turned out I had ridden pretty much all of the trails before, but I still felt like I was racing some of the stages ‘blind’. Some of the trails I had only been on once before so didn’t really know what was around each corner. Other trails I was familiar enough with but didn’t know where the end of the stage was.

Overall I was pretty happy with how the race went. No crashes, one close call with the front starting to wash out. I knew I was pushing on some corners. I think I could have pushed harder through some of the earlier stages, but I was having some wrist issues during the week and wanted to last all five stages.

According to Strava I set quite a few PRs on the trails. I really felt like I was flying down Double D, which is always a fun trail to blast down. Add in a closed course and it is easy to say that Double D was my favourite stage. I think I also did great with the chip sensors this race. I actually got a comment from the volunteers at the end of stage 2 on how well I was able to tap and get the beep.

After the last stage it was back to the parking lot for some recovery food and drink.

Results were posted later and I placed 29/61 in Intermediate Male. Tzouhalem Race Placement

This has left me in 18/72 for the series. Series Placement (4 races)

One of the things I really liked about this race was that the intermediates raced the exact same course as the experts. I’ve always been curious about how well I stack up against the experts but have never been able to really compare times. Well, my total time was 14:58.0. The last placed expert had a time of 14:41 😂 I would have been DFL in expert. Maybe I am in the corret category after all.

Chafe Adventure

Last weekend Sue and I headed down to Sandpoint to ride in the Chafe 150 Gran Fondo. It was quite an adventure. The drive down was long, and except for the border crossing, uneventful. Sandpoint is a neat little town with lots of great amenities close to where we stayed.

Here are some pics from the drive down.

The day after we arrived, we had a rest day before the ride. We went out for a great breakfast, did a little shopping around looking around in town, and generally relaxed. We also went for a short spin to keep the legs fresh and took in the pre-ride festivites of appies and drinks by the lake.

Early to bed and early to rise. Ride time!

The weather was looking a little iffy. In fact, in the start area it started raining a bit. I had brought them with us to Sandpoint, but hadn’t installed them on either of our bikes. Thankfully that stopped before we headed out.

The first section of the ride was an amazing backcountry road through some gorgeous farms. We got to the ‘big’ climb and I zipped up it with ease. At the top I waited for Sue and we both took off a layer. Soon we turned on the the highway portion of the ride. Overall the ride wasn’t difficult. The riding was gorgeous, but right next to the highway for 90% of the distance. The aid stations were well stocked and the volunteers were awesome.

Nearing the end of the ride I was wondering where we were. I hadn’t seen any signage in quite a while and didn’t really know where we were. After a couple more turns I suddenly recognized the location and how close we were. Woohoo! 130KM in the bag.

Beer, festivities, and Mexican food greeted us at the finish. Unfortunately the wind also kicked up so Sue and I didn’t stick around too long.

A shower, a hot tub, a little rest, then we headed out to find some dinner (yes a second dinner).

Our final day in the area saw us head down to Coeur d’Alene to do some shopping and sightseeing. Another nice little place once we got off the main highway.

Drinks and dinner in Sandpoint that night, then all too soon we had to pack up for the trip home.

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.