Ken and I raced the Iron Lung XC last weekend in Canmore, up at the Nordic Centre. You couldn’t really choose a more picturesque local. Canmore is a really beautiful place.

I drove up Saturday night and got to Ken’s around 7:30pm, just in time for dinner. Kerstin, Ken’s better half, not only cooked up a wicked chicken curry and rice dish, but homemade cookies to boot. The plan was to eat dinner, have a glass of wine and hit the sack early. That said, we didn’t quite stay to plan…

In the morning, I woke up at 5:30am feeling a little foggy after only about 4 hours sleep. Still, by the time we hit the road, I was feeling good and ready to get on the bike. I think it was pushing a balmy +4 degrees at race time as we stood around at the start line fighting off random shivers. Once the race started though, we and headed strait up a switchback hill the cold was forgotten and attention shifted to my heaving lungs and straining quads.

Ken and I race in the Novice category, and I have to admit, though that’s entry level, it’s also a catch all. You end up with riders that could race Novice and riders that could race Expert. Having raced three now this year, I see now that you can bet the spectrum will be broad, and there will be a few riders that are simply worlds away from me in skill and fitness. The Iron Lung was a really good example of that. The gun went off, and BAM! a group of about 6-8 riders took off from the rest of us and we never saw them again. Well, that is until the end of the race when I rolled across the line and they were standing around, chatting and already looking rested.

The really cool thing about this race though was that although, yes, Ken did beat me, we were reasonably close. Ken finished 12th and I was 14th. There was a 3 min spread between us. This was encouraging to me because even though I want to be way, way faster than Ken, it’s nice to see that we’re in the same ballpark fitness-wise. This will make riding together as a team at the Transrockies a lot more fun, for both of us.

Here are some shots from the Iron Lung, and a short vid I took at the Devonian Drop section of the course: