Monday, 20 June 2011

The Test

I wasn't feeling the blog this morning, but as I'm sitting here drinking my coffee and listening to Regan groan behind me (okay, it's not what is sounds like, he's lying on the couch with a broken collarbone and shoulder blade for those who missed that info)....I just downloaded my Garmin from the race and reflecting on the ride. This was my first year at the Test of Metal, and it was a pretty neat experience. I think the past 2 years of BCBR covered almost everything on the course except the 9 mile climb (which isn't quite 9 miles but feels like 47 miles!!), but I've never ridden it put together like this so it was a new and exciting experience.

Over a 1000 starters for this one day race, sells out in something like 10 mins, this is one of those events that every cyclist has to try at least once. In my infinite wisdom, haha you'd think I'd learn, but how I do like to suffer....I thought I'd try to ride with Catharine Pendrel for as long as I could. Sounds like a good idea, right, but the start was incredibly fast (faster then day 6 of the BCBR), and I seem to have racer's amnesia and forgot just how long the start climb is up through the residential neighborhood. Needless to say, I was able to hold pace for the majority of the climb, but definitely blew a little around the 10 min mark. At this point local Brandi Heistermann and Jean Ann Berkenpas passed me and I was pretty near in survival mode for the next 3 hours.

I started coming around a little through Robb's corners, I mean how could you not get a surge of energy bombing through, what, 30 bermed downhill corners!! Coming through the feed zone for the first time and starting up the dreaded 9 mile climb I saw Jean Ann only 100 feet in front of me. Not quite 9 miles of slo-mo chasing brought me to within a stealthy 15 feet of her, but I wasn't able to close the gap once we crested the final road stretch of this climb and I found myself all by myself as I watched the pack in front of me disappear up the road. By the time I reached the final climb, with an absolutely amazing view overlooking a remote valley, the group and Jean Ann were no where in sight in front of me.

Enter Ring Creek Rip (I think that's what it's called)....a super fast, super long, super loose and super rocky double track, that seems like a single track decent. With a little hooting and hollering (how can you not have fun ripping down almost 10 km of uber fast trail...especially after having climbed for a good solid 50 mins) I put it in my big ring and hit speeds of 50 km/h on this section...giggle, giggle. I don't think I can count on both hands the number of people I passed in the bush with flat tires...thank goodness to tubeless tires!!

After bombing through these trails, we were kicked into the plunge which was rougher then I remember (though this was the first time I've ridden this on a hardtail) and pretty greasy. The infamous plunge is a pretty steep tight section of singletrack with a lot of wet roots and rocks. Having done this in the dry and on a dually the past two years without batting an eye, I wasn't prepared for how hard this trail can be when wet. Haha, nope, I definitely didn't clean it this year, and after 2 hours of hard riding up to this point I was more then a little tired and bouncing all over the trail.

Popping out onto the gravel road climb back up to the feed zone for the second time, I finally had the chance to do some solid pedaling, and what to my surprise, a muscle starts to quad, I've never had that muscle cramp before. But after 45 mins of descending after almost an hour of climbing, yup, I guess that's to be expected. After hitting the feedzone for the second time, we move into Crumpet Woods for the last twisty flowy and fun singletrack of the race. At this point I think my lack of planning with regards to nutrition intake during the race really caught up to me, one more Gold - Honey Stinger Gel would have really helped. I struggled through this fun section and was pretty relieved once I popped out on the pavement for the final push home.

Crossing the final road and hitting the long gravel path back to the finish, old BCBR and TR partner Jeff Neilson caught me, and just like old times he pulled me into the finish line. Finishing at just under 3:07, I missed my goal of sub 3 hours, and finished 4th in the elite women's category (57th overall); but I did end up having a really fun ride and like always, it was a great day to be on the bike.

2 weeks until the next World Cup in Mont Ste Anne, 2 weeks to find my fast!!!!

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