Saturday, September 27, 2008

Stage 3

We left the camp around 9:30 for a police escorted 17 km neutral ride on the road. It was supposed to serve as a warm up before a quick staging and the start at 10:00, but it was so cold and the pace was so slow that I don't think anyone really got warm. Anyway, we only had to wait around for about five minutes before the gun went off. I had managed to position myself in the front third of the start again, and things were looking good right from the get go. The hills hit us right away, and the first 15 km or so were nonstop climbs that reminded me of the power line sections of the Ore to Shore and fast, rocky, technical descents. As an added bonus, I don't think I had to get off my bike once before the first aid station. I was thinking to myself, "now this is what I came here for." My legs felt great, and I was constantly picking off riders on the long climbs. Just when I thought it couldn't get any better, it did. I got into a nice working group for a longish dirt road haul, and then we had to slow down for a sharp left hand turn. Low and behold, we were on honest to goodness singletrack. The rest of the race was alternating sections of dirt roads and singletrack. Not a bog in sight. I was in heaven (if you can look past the fact that I was also in fairly great deal of pain from the cumulative effects of three straight days of racing). I crossed the finish line in four hours and some change, and that was good for 30th on the day. This pushed me up to 32nd overall with a time 15 hr and 14 min for the 245 km in three days. All in all, it was a great event. I didn't much care for the bogs and all the walking, but now I'll know what to expect next time. I do think I'll go back, but probably not next year. Hugh and I are batting around the idea of each tackling our first 24 solo next fall, and I don't think I could fit in the stage race as well. But you just never know. Ride tomorrow at Boyne 10 am. WNR @ HQ with a 6:00 start time. Until next time.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Stage 2

Stage 2 didn't start until 10:00, so I was able to have a pretty mellow morning getting ready and shoveling as much breakfast as I could down the gullet since I knew we were going to be in for the longest day of the race. We had to retrace our steps to the finish of the first stage to start the second, and that made for a nice little warm up ride. I got into a good starting position, and I was feeling pretty good right out of the gate. I did have a nice high speed crash within the first half hour or so when my rear tire slid out on a slippery descent. Fortunately, the bike was fine and I only ended up with a little trail rash and bruising where I landed on my right hip. This was definitely the mother fu**er of all the stages with just over 45 uninterrupted kiolometers of the ATV/bog thing to start the day off right. After that, we got a brief respite on some Hydro Cut trails (what we call power lines). Aid Station 2 was at the bottom of a big climb, and after that it was was about 10 more kilometers of the ATV/bog thing. The stage finished on a loose, sandy gravel rail trail of 18 km. It took me 6 hours and 40 minutes; and when I pulled into the finish, I was very, very far from a happy camper. Fortunately, the camp for night two was fantastic, and that soon put everyone in a better mood. The cabins and showers were awesome, and the food was off the charts for both dinner and breakfast. All of that, coupled with the fact that we were over the halfway point had everyone in a better mood when it came time to start stage 3 on Sunday morning.

I stole this picture from someone on the internet, but it gives you some idea of what I'm talking about with the bog ordeal.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Stage 1


What do you pack for this sort of thing anyway?

Sarah and I arrived at the start of the race on Thursday afternoon. After a quick hour spin on the trails of Buckwallow, we set up camp next door at the KOA and set about the task of packing up our bags for the three days of racing/volunteering. We each received a big red Crank the Shield duffle bag that would have to hold all our gear (clothes, sleeping bag/pillow, riding gear, spare parts, toiletries, etc.) It turned out we really didn't have to do this since Sarah found out in the morning that she could drive the truck each day. Still, it was a good exercise in order to prepare for some race down the road where I won't have that luxury. We woke up to fairly mild temperatures on Friday morning and made our way over to the start of the race. I got dressed and got the bike ready while Sarah went to her volunteer meeting, and then she was off on her way to Aid Station 1. This left me all alone with a bunch of Canadians for about half an hour before the rider's meeting and the start, but I was able to pass the time chatting with other racers (280 of us) gearing up for the big unknown. And I really mean the big unknown. Since this was the first running of the event, nobody knew what to expect (including the race directors). The gun went off right at 10:00 and the madness that is mountain bike racing began. The first 10 km. or so were on the same trails that Sarah and I had ridden the previous day. We just rode them all at a much faster pace. They were fairly technical with a lot of exposed rock and tight corners. After about 45 minutes of this fun, we shot out onto the road and made our way to the first ATV trail of the day. This area of Canada is known as the Canadian Shield (hence the name of the race) which means there really isn't a whole lot of dirt on the ground. Instead there is mostly exposed rock and hard clay. Since there is no dirt to speak of, any water that falls from the sky or springs from the ground pools instead of drains. This leads to one of the biggest challenges of the race: large, long, deep pools of muddy water that Canadian's affectionately refer to as bogs. Occasionally, you can ride your bike through them; but for the most part you have to dismount and carry your bike through knee to waist deep muddy water. Needless to say, after a while this gets to be a real b**ch. And so the rest of the first day's 80 km. were alternating sections of ATV/bog trails and dirt fire roads. You'd get a good steady pace going on the fire road sections and then BAM: back to the bogs. I was able to keep a pretty positive attitude about it since everyone was in the same boat. I was even joking with other racers about all the dismounting and remounting being good practice for cyclocross season. So anywho, after 4 hours and 38 minutes Stage 1 was in the books. From the finish, we had to ride about 7 km to Camp Kandalore where there was a nice bike wash station set up and Subway sandwiches waiting for us. After cleaning the bike and shoving some chow down the hatch, I retrieved my bag, went to my cabin, and set about finding a shower to rinse off some the nasty mud that was covering almost my entire body. After that Sarah and I were able to hang out for a little bit on the docks and have a beer before dinner. There was a brief awards ceremony for the top riders and a preview for Stage 2 after dinner. Since we were looking at an even longer day in the saddle for Stage 2, I hit the bunk before 9:00 for a little reading. I'm pretty sure I was asleep by 9:30 in order to rest up the next days adventure.


Sarah volunteering at Aid Station 1.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Quick Update From the Road

I'll keep this short and sweet because I haven't had a chance to download data or pictures yet. We just finished up our intense immersion into Canadian mountain bike culture, and all is well here with our neighbors to the north. I finished up stage 3 this afternoon, and I wound up somewhere around 30th overall in the men's solo 40 and under category. I felt great today (except for the numerous scrapes, bruises, and a sore a**). The legs held up really well, and I'm happy with the way things turned out. Look forward to a stage by stage report once I return stateside. Right now, I'm sipping on a glass a Hurradura Anejo and waiting for our pizza to arrive at a Travelodge in Bracebridge, Ontario. Thanks to Chris for keeping up with the WNR report in my absence. I'll see you all at Kipp Rd. on wednesday night with stories to tell. Thanks for reading.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

WNR Report 9-17-08

With Pete & Sarah off to Canada for the Crank the Shield 3-Day MTB Stage race, we expected a lighter-than average turn out. Fortunately we gathered a decent showing; Chris, Rob, Scott & Matt arrived in the Meadow behind Boyne for a gorgeous evening ride...the last WNR of the Summer (Autumnal equinox is 9/22.) With the days getting shorter, we are starting the rides a little earlier & with good reason, it was getting pretty dim by the time we returned @ 7:30! As for the ride, we mixed up the planned route a bit to head straight for the new downhill section which is getting some traffic & is showing some signs of wear & tear but is just too sweet to pass up. We followed up the single track climb & opted to try a new section on the return (trail 13 according to Boyne) & it turned out to be a much nicer path than climbing up the "Shower Head" hill. We even saw a couple other riders enjoying the sweet single-track, two riders had their ride cut short with a broken/loose crank & Rob & I caught up to JB & Jeff Ford who must have had a great ride because they were gone before we started & finished after us (nearly 2 hours.) It's nice to see other riders out having a good time. As for next Wednesday, we have chosen to ride the NCT starting at Kipp Rd. We're starting early - 6:00 to make sure we can see our way home. We'll be riding with lights soon enough.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Note From Chandler Hill

I picked up Chris and Matt yesterday morning for a little jaunt south over towards Maxwell Road. The weather was a balmy 58 degrees with a slight drizzle, and that's pretty much how it stayed for most of the day. From there, we rode the N.C.T. south to Thumb Lake and back. Chris affectionately refers to this ride as the 24 miles of pain, but either I'm getting stronger or the hills are getting smaller because it really didn't feel nearly as bad as normal. Even after some major overindulgence the night before at Short's and LuLu's down in Bellaire. For those that haven't had the pleasure, the ride is one of the truly epic rides in the area. Packed into those 24 miles are 4,916 feet of climbing and almost no signs of civilization to be found. The trail crosses one dirt road and one paved road. Other than that, you've pretty much got the woods to yourself. It's got great singletrack, great climbing, and even a few sketchy/scary little bits to boot. We did spot some other riders for the first time yesterday, and they were getting ready to ride a smaller section at the south end. It was nice to see some other riders on the trail. The geared Quiring 29ern that I'll be using for the race (I just couldn't decide what gear to run for the damn singlespeed, and I just paid a good chunk of dough for the geared bike this spring specifically for racing so that's what I'm taking to the race) performed really well in spite of nasty wet and messy conditions. Overall I feel pretty good. I'll take it easy now leading up to the race, and I'm fairly certain I'll be out of luck for any internet access over the coming week so this may be it for a while. Rest assured I'll be having fun and doing my best to represent for the team and for Michigan with our neighbors to the north. In the meantime, ride well and be good. WNR @ Boyne this week (in the field not the Bartley House) @ 6:15. I won't see you there because we'll be across the border by then. Over and Out.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Countdown

One week from today I'll be right in the thick of it. I'll have one stage under my belt and be getting ready for the start of stage two. I'm really excited. Since it's my first foray into the world of stage racing my only real expectation is to have three great days of good epic riding. There's not really anything else I can do from my end. The bike appears to be in good working order. I put a new cable on the rear der. and trued up the front wheel. Both repairs have worked flawlessly so far after a few hours of riding. I'll do a long ride tomorrow with the boys down at Chandler Hill, but after that it'll just be a couple of easy spins and resting for me. I'm pretty sure all interested parties have been informed, but on the off chance no< the ride tomorrow is starting at the Maxwell Road trailhead of the N.C.T. @ 10:30. Have a good weekend.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Hugh's Humongous 50/50

For a new option this year Benson, Roy (Hugh's brother), and I set off from the start @ 8:30 for a 50 mile mountain bike ride. I decided to add a little extra punishment and ride the singlespeed. It was a great day for riding with cloudy skies and temps. in the high 50's and low 60's. The ride ended up being 47.4 miles with 5693 ft. of climbing in just over 4.5 hours. I topped off my bottles, grabbed a banana and some fig newtons and swung my leg over the road bike and set out for the second 50. In retrospect I think I should have done the road section first. I just don't like road riding nearly as much as mountain biking. So after spending all morning ripping up sweet singletrack, it kind of sucked to be on the road with all the cars and sh*t. At any rate, I bailed after the first 25 mile loop on the road. Still I ended up with just under six hours in the saddle, and since this was more prep. for the stage race than anything else I'm happy with the way things turned out. Plus, I'm feeling good enough to get out again this afternoon. That's nice. WNR @ Bartley House this week for a 6:15 start. Hope to see you there. Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Happy Labor Day

Hope everyone had a great Labor Day weekend. I labored, so mine wasn't that much fun. But the best part of the year is here now, so let's all make the most of it. I certainly plan to. I'm ready to start putting the final touches on my preparation for the big canadian adventure. I'll be putting in some more hours during the week, and the next two sunday's have some big rides scheduled. This sunday is Hugh's Humongous 100. I will do 50 of those on the dirt with only one gear. The sunday after that will be a long ride somewhere with the boyz. I think right now we're leaning towards the 24 miles of pain section of the NCT that includes the infamous Chandler Hill. The other option is the NCT from Kipp to Sturgeon. Either one sounds good to me, so I might just leave it up to Benson. The wednesday after that we'll be hitting the road for the great white north (actually the race is about due east of here, but we do have to head north initially in order to get there without a boat). In unbike related news: I went sailing with JT yesterday on his new boat, and it was awesome. The wind wasn't even that great and it was hotter than s**t, but I still had a great time. We have plans to go again next tuesday, and I'm looking forward to it already. WNR @ HQ tonight. Bring an appetizer to pass. Oberon currently on tap in the shop. See you there.