Training has never really appealed to me. Training for the NIMBY was essentially doing big laps at Tiger Mountain (taking advantage of the new Master Link trail) or going for huge laps at the Tokul in Fall City where I would ride up trails that I used to only descend. I don’t think I ever had a day of riding where I rode the same length and vertical as the NIMBY without stopping, but from when I registered to race day I made an effort to ride a lot.
In mid April I suffered a rib injury that put me out for a few weeks. I had the biggest case of my life on a sketchy step up. I continued training on the road bike a little. It was really painful for a few weeks. I ended up doing some ski mountaineering to get some bonus cardio too.
I loaded up my truck on Thursday and headed north. I spent some time with friends in Vancouver and Squamish. I rode some classics in Squamish on Friday (50 Shades of Green, Credit Line, Half Nelson) as a warm up for Saturday. I had felt under the weather all week with some congestion and this was quite apparent during my laps in Squamish.
Then, the unthinkable happened. I was driving out to the beach to relax and my truck fell apart. Ball joints popped out and the CV axel broke.
Trailforks coursedescription here
Wet. Cold. Snow almost to valley bottom while driving through Whistler. Forecast was at 5 degrees Celsius and raining all day. I had slept about 5 hours. The remedy to my delirium was classic: a run to Tim Horton’s for a latte, B.E.L.T. bagel, and doughnut. Who said you can only eat CLIF brand products on race day…
Mass start XC races are hilarious. I think that’s why I like racing XC; well there’s always the heckling, sketchy passing, and beer afterwards as well that make it worthwhile. 332 people took off from North Arm farm at 10 am.
Lap 1 down Radio Tower was super chill. There was no point in passing anyone because the group hadn’t thinned out yet. I occupied my descent time trying to air off of every feature, spray dirt, and heckle. Apparently I roosted a cameraman on the outside of a berm. We popped out of the trail onto gravel road that we descended into an off camber 70 degree corner (sketch).
Lap 2 was the big one. We climbed up Happy Trail, Waco Connector, NIMBY, and Let it Go. It was like 3,000 ft or something. This climb is very technical and as much of an upper body workout as lower. We climbed up rock gardens, slabs, tight corners, and root sections. It goes on forever and I pretty much just blacked out halfway through. I got to pass a few people but I was trying to save some gas for the descent down Overnight Sensation that was a segment for Redbull Downtime (a race within a race). Once topping out on the climb I had planned to stop at the feed station to re-up on water. I had 2 sips left in the bottle. I passed the feed station and there were about 12 to 15 racers there stocking up – AIN’T NOBODY GOT TIME FOR THAT! I kept hammering.
Dropping into Overnight Sensation was buck wild. I went hard the whole time because I would have liked to win the Downtime segment of the race. I had ridden this trail about 3 times before, once while racing the Pemberton Enduro 2 years earlier. The rocks had a layer of slime on them from the pros riding them, I put my front wheel into a wall of dirt and heard a sound like a balloon popping, “Oh lord… not again,” I thought, thinking of last weekend’s flat. I stopped and squeezed the front tire real quick. Just a burp! YES!!! Hop back on and keep pedaling. I made it down all of Overnight without crashing. People were fairly good about letting me pass and I was more or less satisfied with my run.
Lap 3 was hell. I was gassed after the big descent. The lap consisted of short punchy climbs that I just didn’t have the strength left for. Lots of people were hiking them, myself included. A few were literally like uphill trials riding; hopping up rock slabs, navigating through wet baby heads, pulling over roots. I stopped at a feed station near the end. The final descent seemed to never come, but when it did, it was righteous. There were some optional 12-15ft jumps (long table, right handed hip) near the bottom that I just couldn’t say no to. It was a great way to end the single track. We then hammered for a few kms through loose gravel before finishing in wet grass.
I hung out for a while until my category got announced. I got to enjoy some awesome food and beer, as well as some complimentary gin and tonic. I was washing my bike when they called it. I figured I would have got whooped. Later when I checked I was 7 mins and one place off podium. Maybe next year.
Thanks to Joyride for the support, and I am glad to be a new addition to the team! I’ll see you all at the rest of the CDC races!