The last 3 days have been a blur. It's hard to believe after so many months of training & thinking about it, we're here. Day one is over. I'm not sure what's been the biggest challenge but there have been plenty (and I was under the false impression the training was the hard part).
I'm not sure who's idea it was but Jon Posner and I both listened intently to Chris Eatough carry on about how outrageously fun the BC Bike Race is (after he won the first running of the race last year). It was convincing coming from such a seasoned racer as Chris so we agreed we were on it in 2008. It doesn't matter how much you run it through your mind but when the adventure begins there's no turning back and you deal with the knocks as they come, and they have come fast & furious. Besides our first flight out of BWI being delayed due to what the lady on the mic said was a crew who apprently were forgotten by the cab service (then hung up the mic and told her co-worker they were out partying too late and slept in). This wrecked our other 2 connecting flights and the fun game of re-routing began. Luckily we had all day but our trip managed to take all day. But all seemed back on track once we arrived in Victoria, BC.
The next morning we realized the shuttle pickup that would run us to the start of the race was a bit further than we anticipated.
Lugging a bike box and 2 large bags 8 blocks was challenge #2.
The third and possibly most daunting challenge was getting all our gear for the 7 days of racing (including nutrition during each day) into the bags provided by the race. The exceptionally cool embroidery took my mind off the fear that not everything would fit. Kind of. Imagine jamming all this into that bag: sleeping bag, pad, riding clothing (for any conditions), spare parts, post-race clothing (for any conditions) and about 10 lbs of gels & bars & mix. DaKine makes some bomber bags as that thing was stretched beyond safe limits but it still held fast. Then I realized my messenger bag with laptop and camera was still sitting beside me...DOH!!
Another fun hit was getting my bike built only to find my forks were blown - an apparent casualty of the flight. The team of mechanics from a local shop named Bike Obsession were helpful but had no replacements.
Chris took my photo as I was attempting to not let the stress get to me, eeking out a grin. He offered the fork off his team mates backup bike but it would have been too short - still a very nice gesture from the guys expected to win. It wasn't until a local guy named Matt offered me his personal shock of his bike since he wasn't racing. He drove 25 minutes home to get it and then back - without accepting a dime. The techs didn't even charge me to change it out and instead told me to get some rest - that they'd have it dialed in come morning. Wow. I'm used to seeing pro's get that treatment but for me? I was pleasantly floored but the stress was un-nerving to say the least.
The first day of racing found Eatough and Schalk, defending champions, foiled on the prologue loop due to a grassy field that first clogged almost everyone's derailleurs then for Chris & Jeff both, ripped them off the bike. They fought back from a 40 minute deficit back to an amazing 4th place which was a breath away from 3rd after a finish-line sprint.
Poz and I were not so competitive having escaped incident at the start only to find the heat & length of climbs were the most punishing challenge of the trip so far. Poz started viciously cramping to the point of walking climbs he would normally hammer up, swearing at his legs.
Team GIANT pro, Kelly Emmet - always smiling, was trading spots with us the first hour or so - then dropped us like we were beginners in a NORBA race. Her and her team mate (Sara something) went on to win the womens race. For me, the hike-a-bike sections inflamed my right IT band to the point of searing pain. Poz and I finished best we could trading pulls with a few of the other super-friendly racers then outsprinting a few more at the end to feel better about ourselves.
We're both hurting as I sit here writing this. I believe the term "Knackered" is appropriate...
Lot of large ferns and steep hikes.
...and amazing views.
Day 2 looms as the longest day of the race: 80-some miles that will either break us, or bring us back from the catatonic state we both are currently in.
Poz, myself, Eatough & Jeff
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