Day 18/45 – Going the Distance

To anyone who's been reading along with my journey, you'll know that I'm not great at climbing… or distance. Throughout this 45 day challenge I must say that my endurance has improved, however, it's definitely not where I'd like it to be yet. Recently I was asked by the organizing team at the Innovative Fitness Adventure Challenge (http://www.ifac.ca/) in Port Moody to check out the mountain bike portion of their 3-part challenge. At first I was completely stoked. In fact, I wanted to do the whole challenge: kayaking, biking, and running. Then I took a look at the biking course and realized it was 17km and thought, "oh no what have I done?" BUT, not to be dismayed by a seemingly giant distance (I'm basically toast after 4km usually) I called up my buddy Bryan (of the unicycle fame) as a road cyclist and cyclocross star extraordinare to hold my hand through this harrowing experience.

When I picked Bryan up it was apparent we were a mismatch. Not including our foot and a half height difference, we were definitely geared out and dressed for different outings. The person who took this picture even said, "you two weren't riding together, were you?"

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Even though I was terrified of going such a distance (and so much of it steeply uphill), we set off with determination and excitement for something new. I have to say…. we had a lot of fun! Luckily on race day, the course will be marked for everyone because Bryan and I definitely got lost and had to backtrack quite a bit. Somehow we still made it to the 17km by the end and tested our exploration abilities.

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The trails themselves are a combination of paved and gravel walking/riding trails through the park, residential roads, and proper trail climbs complete with roots and rocks. There are some downhill segments but definitely beginner-friendly and easily done on a cross country bike.

What was not ideal, however, was me on a full mountain bike and Bryan on a cyclocross bike. We took turns leaving each other in the dust: him climbing over flat, grippy surfaces like a champion, and me shredding anything downhill or with less traction like a bat out of hell. What WOULD be perfect is either an enduro or a cross country bike. Don't be like us. Dress and gear appropriately.

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There's still time to sign up for the Innovative Fitness Adventure Challenge (https://raceroster.com/events/2017/11617/innovative-fitness-adventure-challenge?target=blank) which supports two charities: Physical Literacy For Life and I AM SOMEONE Ending Bullying Society. The race itself is September 9th. If you want a fun day out with friends and a very BC way to get some exercise go ahead and sign up. If it's not your thing, come out and cheer the awesome folks who are out there killin' it or donate to one of the participants.

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Day 28 – My First Race!

The North Shore Mountain Bike Association here in BC runs enduro races called Fivers every couple of weeks in the summer.  It’s a great way to get out and have some fun at any level yet still feel the excitement of a race.  It’s only $5 to enter as long as you’re an NSMBA member.  Through this 45 day challenge I have kicked around the idea of finding something to race but was always too intimidated.  When I saw last night’s race course posted on the website, I couldn’t resist.  The climb was manageable, I knew 3/4 of the trails really well, and I had a day to try out the last trail.  Ryan and I scouted out the trail I’d never been on before (Oil Can) the night before the race to make sure I was actually able to do it.  It was challenging but went well.

Overall, I had the very achievable (I think) goal of just finishing the race before they took all the timing sensors down.  If I didn’t come dead last, that’d just be gravy.  While I’m still waiting for the results with other people’s times to be posted, by the looks of my Strava I went faster than I ever have before on those trails so in a race against myself, I definitely won.

 

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All day yesterday, I was filled with nervous energy.  I was so worried I’d crash, not finish, hold people up so they got mad, and any other number of panicky things that popped into my mind.  This led me to pacing around Ryan’s living room, waiting for him to be ready to leave and asking the VERY important (at the time) question:  “should I brush my teeth!?!?”  Just in case you’re curious, the answer was, “if it’ll make you feel better and calm down, go for it.”

After nervously lining up to get my timing chip and signed in, I got on my bike and headed up.  It was at that point that I realized that this experience was strikingly similar to….. just riding my bike.  I will admit, knowing you’re on a timer on the actual trails probably led me to be a touch zippier than normal, but for the most part I felt calm and confident just like a normal day on the trails.  Everyone was absolutely lovely.  No one made fun of me for being a newbie or slower than others and we were spaced out well enough that I only had to let someone pass me once in the whole course.

Ryan was waiting for me at the finish line which was the best feeling in the world.  Getting cheered on and also knowing that my very tired body got to stop soon left me beaming with pride.

After the race, we headed to Norco John Henry Bikes who were the sponsors for this ride.  They had food and drinks and a really fun mini bike race.  Yes, we got on the mini bike and raced.  No we didn’t win.  But it was a ton of fun and a great way to get to know the community of racers I’m in.

If you have a low-key type race like this near you, I highly recommend checking it out, even if you’re nervous.  If you’re upfront about your newness, I find that people are really understanding and kind.  Hopefully this is just the start of my racing career and I look forward to posting more race stories in the future.

Day 17 – “Bikes are made to fly”

Day 17/45 was an extra special day for me. I had planned a day by myself in Whistler, but while I was booking my lift pass, I came across the GT Bikes sponsored Women's Camp that they run at the bike park. I was immediately sold. A camp for female riders, run by female coaches! What's not to love?

I do love riding with my male riding buddies but I have noticed a difference in approach between them and female friends and sometimes you just need someone to explain something a certain way for it to work for you. That being said, upon arrival and sorting into skill groups there were more "intermediates" than expected and we had a sheepish person come up and ask us if we minded terribly having a male coach that day. Of course it was fine but it was really lovely that they asked. I'm so happy we got the instructor that we did. He was AMAZING. He explained things so clearly and was really great with feedback and pointers.

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The real excitement came from the new skills I learned. After some basic skills progression we headed down to do some actual jumping! My friends…. I got off the ground! It was scary but felt SO good. A lovely follower on Facebook messaged me a while ago about my skill progression and she said when she was starting she was told that "bikes were made to fly" and that when she first jumped she knew what that meant. I have to say I was completely shocked when I left the ground and didn't immediately fling out of control or spontaneously explode! While the jumps are still small, I did almost clear a couple of them which is very exciting.

There was one other victory and that was a big, scary rock rolldown. Our coach showed us what to do but said we didn't have to give it a go if we didn't want to but I knew that I'd be mad at myself if I didn't at least try. After one wind up and chicken out, I walked back up and came back to it and did it! Thanks to our lovely coach for snapping the amazing picture of me accomplishing this. I also had my GoPro on that day and captured some of these moments.

When the day of riding was over, we all headed in for some snacks, drinks, and prizes. GT Bikes was there with some great swag as well as some stuff for raffle. Grand prize was this beautiful GT Bikes racing jersey and I was completely shocked and delighted to have actually won it! I've worn it since and it's amazing. My whole torso is like a giant vent with a lovely breeze rippling through.

The day in Whistler was fantastic and I found myself accomplishing things I didn't think I could. I can't wait to go back!

Taking it Easy and Giving Back – Days 6-11

I know, I know.  It’s been a while since my last update.  I have been riding, riding, riding while trying to balance personal life and what little work I DO have.  In my last post I mentioned my knee acting up from overuse.  I decided that I should take it easy with how I’m riding and what I’m riding.  Most of the pain was coming when I pedalled so I tried to shuttle, walk up any climbs, and head to the pump track a couple of times so I could stay on my bike.  It was important to me to stay committed to this project but not do permanent damage to my body.

I really enjoyed the “slow down” time as it gave me a chance to work on some skills and try some new things.  On a shuttling trip to Mt Seymour I was able to try some new trails and work on skinnies which ended up in this success:

Trust me, after trying that about 10 times and always chickening out after the first little part, this was an awesome achievement!

I also spent a bit more time at the pump track with my unicycling friend, Bryan, and got to watch him fool around on his uni.

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He even let me give it a shot even though I’m WAY too short for it and my feet couldn’t reach the pedals if I were to attempt to move.

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Hopefully he can get his hands on a smaller uni and I’ll give it a try again.  The pumping practice also definitely paid off when I got back out on the trails.

There was also a special day in the mix this week.  On Sunday, the North Shore Mountain Bike Association (I believe in conjunction with NSMB and Mosaic Homes.  Correct me if I’m wrong) had an open trail day where any member of the community could sign up to help out with some trail maintenance.

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I got to spend all morning with some awesome folks digging a big trench, setting up a little bridge to go over that trench, and filling in other parts of the climb trail with ‘gold.’

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The morning flew by and was really fun (which was surprising considering it involved digging a hole) and the lovely sponsors for the event, Mosaic Homes, even donated lunch for us all as well as some prizes that got given away.  Overall, it was a fantastic first experience and I can’t wait for more trail days to come.  If you have anything like it in your area, I highly recommend going to give back to the community and to the trail networks that you enjoy.  The other thing I learned from this is if you plan a ride after an event, remember ALL of your gear.  Hiking boots do not grip to pedals well.

Lastly, I had a great run for day 11.  My knee was finally feeling better and I broke my own record for pedalling up from the Mt Fromme parking lot.  I made it allllllmost to the Crinkum Crankum entrance.  This is roughly 2-3 times my previous record.  I was so excited.  As for other out on the trail that day:  if you passed by a woman on a blue Transition Bottlerocket singing Selena Gomez or Justin Bieber on the climb… that was me.  I’m so sorry you had to be subjected to that but it was what was on the radio on the drive and it kept me going.

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That day 11 ride yielded a number of records, as my Strava showed afterwards.  It was a great day out and a nice, long ride by myself and it felt full of personal achievement.  Onto day 12 and some exciting stuff coming up for this week!

 

In case you missed the challenge.