View From the Back of the Pack – Making a List and Checking it – – oh wait I didn’t check it.

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.

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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.

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Happily resting after breaking in those shoes.

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!

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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.

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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.

View from the Back of the Pack – Sickie

Well, you can’t ride them all.  With so many races it was bound to happen.  I wrote about the pre-ride in Kamloops but unfortunately when the time came I was absolutely sick and spent the day sleeping in the car as Ryan raced.  Because I don’t have content from that day, here’s a video from the Kelowna race featuring the two lovely sweeps I was talking about!

 

The View from the Back of the Pack – Surprising Wins!

After the epiphany and subsequent fun of the Vedder race, I was more than pumped to get my race on in another location.  Next up was ChainLine Kelowna.  There was something very lucky for me about this particular race: it had a short course.  This took the course down from 6 stages to 4.  Given that there wasn’t a staggered start like in Vedder, I predicted some sweep interaction and worried about how long I would take.  The short course really helped with this.  I have to say, I don’t have pictures of them unfortunately, but the sweeps were the absolute loveliest people!  They were so chill and kind even though they were stuck behind me for a while.  Absolutely lovely humans.  When you watch the video of the first stage, they were the ones starting to cheer as I left at the top (encouraging a group of hikers I also spent a fair amount of time with on the way up to start cheering too).  Overall, I can’t say enough how wonderful these two guys were and I may not have been as successful as I was without them.

Let’s talk about the race itself.  Really nice climb.  It was a bit dodgy in parts but mostly pretty cruisy.  That being said, it still took me an hour to get up there between riding and hike a bike.  There is something to be said about the view as well. I spent a lot of time just stopping and looking around at the scenery. Let’s face it, it was partially an excuse for taking a break, but to the people walking by it looked like I was overcome with the majesty of the mountains.

Achievement-wise, this race was important for a few reasons. First of all, this was the first race that I finished!!! It isn’t an exaggeration to say that I did a happy dance at the bottom and told anybody who would listen how excited I was to have finished. There was a lot of jumping and dancing as well as my fair share of high fives. It was awesome.

The second achievement, and the one which made me feel a little strange, was that I managed to get on the podium. Of course, I was my customary last in my category. But my category had 3 people in it. Podium by default counts, right?

It was exciting and fun to have my name called and go up there but I couldn’t help but feel a little embarrassed because I felt like I didn’t really deserve a medal. But I definitely kept it. The medal sits in my living room and makes me smile whenever I see it. Champagne may or may not have been bought on the way home.

There was a lot of think and feel about this race and it is definitely one of my favorites and a highlight of the race season. I also chatted with (while bragging about my finish and collecting high fives) some amazing people from Steedz racing club who I got to see again and again with each race. It’s particularly fun to start to recognize people and have them recognize you and say hi. I think I stand out as the one who looks like she’s about to die walking up the climb. Or maybe it’s the old Bottlerocket. Either way, what a great community.

View From the Back of the Pack – Pre-ride

I have a post about the race in Kelowna that I’m currently working on but the video editing is taking much longer than expected.  Honestly, I’m cutting out all of the walking I did up climbs mid-timed section as to not bore you all to death and there’s a lot of them.  In the meantime, Ryan and I are off to another race back in Kamloops.

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Car is packed and ready to roll!

This time we’ll be racing on Harper Mountain (another new one for us both) and when the course was released it actually looked okay.  I mean, anything looks okay compared to Vedder.  So, despite my concern for my body giving out from riding too much, we headed up for a pre-ride today to check out what we were up against.

Honestly, I’m not going to say much about the actual course because I’ll cover that in the race write up.  What I want to say is concerning the pre-ride itself and how iffy a situation it is.  If you’re a seasoned, advanced rider it’s kind of a no brainer if they’re new trails for you.  You’ll get an idea of what’s to come and get to have a bit of fun while you’re doing it.  You certainly won’t wear out your body or — gasp! — come across shit that looks so scary you figure you should probably just volunteer as a marshall instead of riding the race.

Naturally, those are the things that happened to me today and I’m feeling a little torn on the pre-riding front.  I’ll be more solid tomorrow morning on if I knackered my body too much or not, but as far as the nerves are concerned I went through a whole rainbow of emotions when I was out there today.

Firstly, it was great to get an idea of the climb.  Mostly because it wasn’t terribly horrific and it gave me hope that I may actually finish a full course race tomorrow.  Secondly, I honestly do believe that it’s fantastic to get a look at what’s coming up the next day in a more relaxed environment but when what’s coming up is some terrifying bumpy rocks and loose loose loose terrain it starts falling into the “scaring Sarah off” category.  We made it up and did all of stage one.  The beginning of stage one is pretty scary to be honest.  The whole first section is.  I spent quite a bit of time hiking a bike thinking “oh boy I definitely should see if they still need volunteers for tomorrow.  I can’t do this at all.”  The good news is, the trail continued and turned into some fast, fun, flowy stuff that was a blast.  I spent the whole bottom half grinning from ear to ear.

There was also some official fun to be had as they had some tents set up and a grass slalom race to watch.  Ryan tried his hand at the $100 but unfortunately fell in the middle of the pack.

I saw this as a bonus, steep hike a bike with a huge audience watching you come down and decided my time was best spent in the beer tent and waiting for the food truck to open so I could get some deep fried Mars bars.

Overall I feel like pre-riding is a great thing to do.  Honestly, for quite a while today I thought that all it did was make me chicken out but tomorrow I’ll feel much more confident having at least an idea of what’s coming up – – and what I have to walk down.

Keep an eye out for the Kewlona blog as well as the follow up on how I do in Kamloops take two!