There was to be no surprise, the May long weekend greeted us as it always does. Higher gas prices, substandard weather and of course the killer double header of the Bacon Buffet and Trans Stoney Enduro.
Since fortune favors the bold, the snow and sleet we encountered driving east from Edmonton gradually subsided, leaving only slightly cooler temperatures and a brisk wind… Nothing men like Sheldon and I couldn’t handle ;-)
Fern & Harvey were kind enough to once again loan out their MTB farm just outside of Stoney Plain, and once again, it served up lap after lap of pain. It seemed however, that I once again needed to be reminded of the important lessons I had learned the year prior:
- Don’t race hungover
- I should really get on my mountain bike prior to the first race of the season
- I’m slow
The Bacon Buffet
There are two things that make the “Bacon Buffet” special, the first is obviously the bacon being handed out in the feed zone; the second is the Houffalize climb – a quad numbing, killer climb right before the feed zone and the delivery of said bacon. The smell of bacon sizzling away while you’re blasting through the race course is both magical and slightly disgusting at the same time ;-)
As soon as the race began I knew I was in for a grind – other racers bolted up the hill vying for position (as I tried to do as well), but I could tell that though the legs were turnin’ there just wasn’t any jam in ’em.
I did my best to hold position through the first lap and a half and only dropped 3 spots despite fighting some cramping. I spent the majority of lap 2 rallying my mental fortitude for an attack to bridge the 3 people that passed me, but alas, when lap three arrived and time came to drop the hammer there was simply no hammer to be dropped… My legs were listless and I just couldn’t get them to do what I wanted. I had to change gears to damage control mode and just do what I could to hold off whoever was behind me.
The course was a monster to be honest, between the Houffalize climb and the momentum sucking terrain, you were on the gas the whole time – no respite. But, by the end of things I managed to crack the top 10, which although respectable, was definitely not my best effort.
Ah well, at least I had a good time the night before ;-)
Determined not to make the same mistakes we had the day prior, Sheldon and I both went home after a post-race pint and hit the hay. This resulted in both of us feeling pretty fresh Monday morning, albeit still a little tired.
Although we were unable to defend last years title (the “Dynamic Duo” category was removed), we planned to leave everything on the course and go deep into the hurt box.
The main difference between the two races was a reversal in the course direction and the removal of the Houffalize climb. I don’t think I’m being conservative when I say that it probably made the course 50% more fun – Though despite what you think the removal of the climb only accounted for 6% of this. Unlike the day prior you could actually get a little bit of flow going, and without the climb, it made for quicker laps all round… Something that would come in very handy for Sheldon near the end of the race.
Truth be told, doing a relay like this was a little weird since though I was racing “with” Smart, I pretty much never saw him. The benefit to this (other than not having to put up with Sheldon ;-), is that you get to chill out with all the other relay riders in the feed zone, which is pretty chill, and super fun. You can just focus on hydrating, getting some calories in the belly and getting ready to hammer out your next lap.
As the clock started to wind down, I was doing the math in my head and knew that squeezing in one extra lap under the 6h time limit was going to be tight, so I knew I had to really pound out my last two laps to give Smart enough time to bring it home.
And bring it home he did…
With just over 27 minutes remaining in the race I tagged Sheldon out sending him into the last lap, unsure of his fate. Eventually the clock wound down to single digits and I distinctly remember hearing “2 minutes remaining” over the loudspeaker – Still no sign of Smart.
Finally with 1:30 left on the clock I finally saw him crest the hill into the last stretch – Truth be told I didn’t think he was going to make it, but with luck on his side, and all the finishers cheering him in Sheldon managed to dig deep and get over the finish line with only tenths of seconds to spare… With that we managed to complete 14 laps, and were just edged out of a podium spot by none other than “Team Awesome.”
An epic end to a solid day!
I also just wanted to toss out two quick mentions of thanks:
- First: Thanks to the awesome volunteers weekend, always happy and supportive – even when the racers weren’t really feeling like grinning
- Second: To those out there with their cameras, namely David Roberts (aka ) who supplied the shots for this post – It’s always more fun to see some cool shots of you and your buddies tearin’ it up!
Be sure to walk up to these people and sincerely thank them the next time you’re out racing – Without them, you’d have no race!