The next race we headed out to was in Crowsnest Pass, Alberta. A few things stand out to me for this race. Firstly, it was our first trek out of BC for an event which led to some road trip excitement (audiobooks ftw!) and it was also the scene of me forgetting to pack something important.
The trip out was fairly uneventful with the exception of a torrential downpour which flooded out a bunch of roads we were planning to take and causing us to divert in a town we’ve never been to before. It went from clear skies to apocalypse so fast it was shocking.
Just as fast as the rain came, it went away and we safely made it to our Air BnB in Crowsnest Pass. If you haven’t been there, I really recommend it. Lovely little town where everyone was friendly and all seemed to be outdoorsy in one way or another. The place we stayed was awesome and the owner was even the head of a local mountain biking club! It also meant that they were well equipped for having bikes around.
What really made this trip particularly memorable for me is that about 5 hours into our drive I had a sudden realization: I forgot to pack my riding shoes! That means I came equipped with a lovely pair of ballet flats and nothing else. Not even runners. Shockingly, I remembered socks. Luckily, the local bike shop in Crowsnest Pass had a selection of women’s shoes to choose from and happened to have my size. It was an expense I wasn’t expecting but super lucky it worked out. What wasn’t nice was breaking in new shoes during an 8 hour race. I would be lying if I said I walked away without blisters.
The race itself was interesting. Some of it was a ton of fun, some of it was torture, and some seemed like the organizers were just testing our will to continue. The first climb was mellow but ended in everyone waiting in line for over an hour to start the first stage. Nothing cools your muscles down like standing around on the top of a mountain for an hour after a climb up. It also was the scene of men showing off how easy it is for them to pee in the woods. Which they did. All of them. Often. I won’t lie, I was jealous they didn’t have to fully expose their butt and squat as well as risk a Miss pissy pants situation. But that’s not important in the grand scheme. The excitement peaked when the man behind me took the opportunity to scrape all the dirt from his tires using a stick. The thrills of this race were clearly non-stop!
One of my favourite ways to catch my breath but pretend like I’m not about to drop dead is to enjoy the scenery. Luckily, the views were stunning and I had a lot of opportunity to stop and smell the roses (if I could breathe, that is).
One thing that seems to stand out in my memory for this race is how much time I spent alone. I know I’m always in last place but usually staggered starts means I’m just hanging out with people who started 3 hours after me (read: pro men) but in this race it was different. I spend a ton of time on my own and even ended a couple of segments with nobody at the finish line to tell you where to beep out. It was odd and one thing in particular made it even more frustrating. No matter how much bug spray I had on (deet and natural) I was being eaten alive by mosquitoes. You’d think it would be a minor inconvenience but it had me in tears and ready to quit the race. A few mosquitoes would be annoying but I was completely surrounded by swarms for hours at a time. I managed to take some pictures of the aftermath so know I’m not exaggerating.
I typically don’t mind being alone while riding and even prefer it quite often as it gives me a chance to go at my own pace and think my own thoughts but I think the combination of the mosquito torture and the gratuitous, extra long climbs made it kind of get to me a bit. Doesn’t help that I knew I was in grizzly bear territory and spent a lot of time looking over my shoulder just waiting to meet my grizzly (heh) end via some giant murdermits.
All in all, the race really was fun and I felt particularly accomplished when I got to the end of it. I was able to enjoy my beer and pulled pork with the fantastic riders there. Like other races, I’m just proud that I took it on and finished it. I didn’t give up, even when my mind and body were screaming at me to just throw in the towel and go home. That’s really what’s important.