MTB provincials was a fairly successful race. Finished up 13th, after an exciting battle for 12th.
The course up at Highlands Nordic was sweet, just like everyone said after the early pre-ride. Nice flow, some tricky rock lines and a tolerable amount of climbing. Conditions were also perfect, with everything being dry aside from the creek crossing and a bit of moisture left from the morning dew.
My start was great....hard to mess up when you get called up to the front! Mixed it up with the leaders till about mid way up the climb, when I realized I was near blow-up territory. Settled down a bit, let some faster guys by, then just rode hard and as smooth as I could manage. I found myself with Anton for quite a while and we were working together a bit. Managed to pass/drop a couple guys up the climb the second or third time.
Had a nice bail lap 2 I think where I flipped over the bars. Not to sure what I did, but it was a shocking surprise. My bike flew a good distance while performing aerials for Anton's amusement, and landed softly upside-down on the saddle, resulting in some severely bent rails.
For the rest of the race I would have to get used to my saddle being up steeper than those BMX'ers would point theirs. Did not help the lower back!
So I survived and still rode strong until the next incident. A flat. Wasn't an instant one, and I tried to ride it out, but it got to the point where my rim was smashing all the rocks, and I was risking it folding off in a corner. So, I stopped, grabbed the CO2 I borrowed for Teammate Megan, loaded it, threaded it on......and........crap how to you fire this one? Who would have thought that you have to back the cartridge out to release the air? Meg probably told me to do this, but I guess I can be pretty stupid when adrenaline is pumping.
So I stood off to the side asking each rider for a pump as the flew past. Jon Slaughter hooked me a CO2 cartridge, thanks buddy, but I had that. A bit later a rider with a broken derailleur hanger came by and got me rollin again. I chased hard, and made up a lot of ground in little time, but wore myself out a bit entering the last lap. Never quite caught Anton, but I did get Caught by Tyson who had crashed bad/bonked earlier. We came to the base of the first hill close together an I held him off till I pulled out of my pedal at the top of the hill. I was mad, but it wasn't that big a deal. I'll get him another time.
The 13th place finish gave me the points I needed to not only hold on to 10th in the series, but to move into 9th! Stoked to rep #9 next season and try and beat it! 9th is not a true reflection of my provincial ranking, as the top 5-10 guys don't get the opportunity to race the full series. I do feel like a consistent top 20er now though..
So on to Paul's now. Could write soo much about this race cause its soo looong, and this year was soo exciting, but I'll try to keep it brief.
So race started at 8am temp hovering around 5c, and the sun barely up. I took the hole-shot, and rode hard in the lead. Not because I thought I could hold that pace the whole race, but because I wanted to bring out my competitors, and get them excited. This lead to the formation of a lead group of 4. Me, Jerome, Neil and Imad. I wanted to ease off a bit, but the 2 Kunstadt guys were relentless and set a pace hard for even a 80km race. I hung in there confident with my endurance, sure they would crack before me, or if not that I would have that edge in the end.
Maybe 10km in, our group took a wrong turn, as a dirt biker was blocking the trail we were supposed to enter. We were now riding the last bit of the first 40km, and actually made it back to the start before realizing what happened. We turned back and rode hard to get back to the course quickly. Once back to the site of the mistake, other 100km riders where passing through properly, so we joined them and started to work our way back through the field. I was forced to let the 2 Kunstadt riders ride away, as I was stuck behind traffic, and didn't want to be overly aggressive with passes. Besides whats the rush? there was still over 80km to go! So I stuck with Jerome for a bit, and we talked some strategy. The plan was really just to settle in, and let the course kill everyone else. "they have no idea whats coming in the last 60km"-Jerome
So I settled in, and took my time working back to the leaders. It took till after the 40km mark to catch single speed phenom Zak wheeler, who was the "never got lost" leader. There were still 3 up though as the Kunstadt guys where joined by Rob Parniak, who apparently also did a little off course extra mileage. I was starting to catch glimpses of these guys as the trail doubled back, and it felt good. I held back from riding too hard and catching them too soon.
I caught and passed Imad quickly as he had hit a tree and was too injured to finish. The other 2 took until after the mid way point. The three of us rode together until my first attack was thrown down. Did this on the big climb I remembered dropping Benno on 2 years ago (65ishkm in?). It was a good one that popped Rob, but I couldn't give it what I wanted as my lats cramped bad from riding hard standing. Did I mention I 1x9'ed it with a 40t? not a smart idea, but I was too lazy/cheap to install/buy a new front derailleur.
So it was down to me and Neil now. He seemed quite strong still and I was wondering what I was gonna do about it. First sign of weakness was when he offered to lead the single-track to "allow me to rest my mind". Could he really be that nice? or did he want to ride slower? I think slower.....
Second sign was when he did lead, and rode really slow. So slow that I was tempted to attack, but I felt it was too soon and I had my place planned.
Final sign was him asking if I was a good sprinter. This just proved he had no idea what was coming. With about 20km to go, 80 in the legs, 3 monster climbs to come and some tricky single-track he really thought nothing left would break us up? I answered "ya.....you don't want it coming down to that".
So my place of escape was the steep gravel road, that pops up like a wall after a left bend. You know, just after the big gravel road dip? This was the place because I knew I could recover on the long decent just after, taking me to the base of the never ending climb, and that I could build a gap up there, to seal the deal.
So we hit this climb, and I ride up beside him, and start to pass. He matches me, so I ease off. He does too, then I surge hard and hold it, and he cannot match. I look back and see him struggling. I'm free!!! Finally free. Man was I excited. I smiled the whole way up the never ending climb, and finished feeling strong enough to do it all again.
5:42 would be the time, in much slower conditions than last year (dry sand), and with an extra 5-10km. For sure it was another record breaking time, but the detour will said otherwise.
Brought home the grand prize - a spin bike! and another awesome crown made of spokes.
Another unforgettable day on the bike in the Ganny!
Now its time to mess around on a cross bike. Guelph on Sunday?