Sunday, January 13, 2013

... And now for the rest of the story.

Yes, we are well into the offseason now. This past race season saw the Burnt Helmets in three Ontario Cup races, one 24hr race, a team triathlon, a two-day tour around lake nipissing (just under 300km), and what was likely the last Crank the Shield as Chico Racing has reposition itself and will no longer be solely focused on Mountain Bike racing.

Anyway, back to recaping the last two events this past season. My 'ride around the lake' was shortened to a one-day 'out and back' as my Cousin got married on the Saturday and I did not want to miss the big event. So myself and two others left from North Bay and rode out, in some of the worst wet and raining conditions I might add, to meet up with the group just west of Golden Valley at a road side picnic and rest stop. Fortunately, by the time we arrived the weather had changed dramatically and it was sunny and warm - which helped dry us off. Much to our dismay the group hadn't encountered any bad weather following their early morning departure from their overnight stay at the Beausejour Inn and Restaurant in Alban, Ontario. On arriving at the rest stop, we had about 20 minutes to eat and prep as we were soon on our way back towards North Bay. This would be my first 160km (a.k.a. Century Ride) road ride. Now, I have ridden this same 'out and back' route several times in the past as Amy's parents have a Cottage out that way. However, this would be the first time I've ridden out in back the same day. It was a tough day nonetheless, especially since I lost contact with the group and missed the final rest stop before reaching North Bay. Regardless, it would prove to be a good warm-up to what was to come in September for Crank the Shield.

Going forward about one month, we are prepared for our 2nd time entering the Crank the Shield race... and what would be my 1st time racing the full length course. We arrived on the Thursday afternoon at the course, a beautiful fall day, to pickup our race kits and in addition each of us purchased a 2012 Crank the Shield jersey - at the time not knowing it would be the last CTS. We enjoyed fantastic company and a great dinner with Gary, an old roomate of Deny's from college. Gary was also kind enough to put us up for the night as he resides in Haliburton which is quite near the race's start at the Haliburton Forest.

Race Day#1 morning saw a continuous light drizzle of rain, just enough to be annoying. The start of the race seemed to drag as we had to gear up in the rain and stand around waiting for 11AM and the official race start. There was the typical build-up to the start, but as with most distance races the "GO" is somewhat anti-climatic. Following the long gravel road towards the the entrance to the singletrack, the hope was the field would thin out before reaching the singletrack that might present as a bottle-neck. For the most part it worked, the bottle-neck was lessened but the course would take a beating as a result of that continuous light rain. The hours seemed to blur together as the afternoon progressed and when I crossed that finish line on the first day moments before 5:30pm - I have never been so glad to see the end. Dave and Denis were there to greet me, having had time to freshen up and change their clothes. Having seen my ease with 'Rockstar Service' during our previous entry in Crank the Shield, both Dave and Denis joined me this year and what a blessing it was! Unfortunately, there would be a casuality that first day... my Chamois Bike shorts. Having spent much of the day in wet weather the chamois material and shorts separated resulting in my ripping the bottom of them at somepoint during that afternoon - oh, well it would be easy cleaning as I tossed them into the trash.

Race Day#2 was a little dryer and would prove to be a warmer yet equally gruelling day in the saddle. A total of 80km consisting of a mix of singletrack, fire road, and paved road. The start was a short 1km doubletrack section before jumping into singletrack and an instant bottle-neck. As the field thined the course began to flow. Again it challenged me with singletrack obstacles and features. I made my way thru the course refueling at each aide station along the way and was able to enjoy the beautiful vistas as the afternoon brought the sun which warmed things dramatically. Late afternoon came as I neared the finish. I had been on the heels of a small group of riders for about the last 10km and in the final 2km I caught them. Pushing thru I managed to cross the line in front of three of them. Yet another long day in the saddle as I would again cross the line just before 5:30pm.

Race Day#3 was cold and frosty. The race itself was beginning to take its toll on me. The ride to the start we'd learned from previous was about 13km and gruelling it would be as keeping a balance between quickly ticking off the kilometres and fighting the windchill would be difficult. Arriving at the start, there was ample time to warm body parts and prepare for the final day's race. I guess it was either the earlier morning start or maybe the windchill froze my brain, but somehow I neglected to take a five-hour energy booster before the start and I was one hour into the race before I realized something wasn't right. At the first opportunity I took the five-hour booster but it would still be rough as it took time to take effect. At this point, I could already feel the tiredness taking over. Even the thought of the boost from the caffine in the five-hour wasn't enough motivation to want to continue, but I pushed onward. It was another hard hour before I started to feel positive as the five-hour gave me energy and I came to feel alert again. Continuing to push forward I could hear the loudspeakers from the finish area in the distance.
The singletrack had us looping back and forth for what seemed like hours until finally breaking out onto the fire road that led to the finish line. Unknown to me at the time, my Mom and In-laws in addition to my wife (the only one whom I knew was to come) had made the journery from North Bay. As well, both Jenn and Amy (along with little Nolan) would also make the trip to see Dave and Denis finish. Unfortunately, after waiting for my arrival for sometime my Mom and Inlaws had to leave. As luck would have it, this was only a short time before I would final cross the finish line (just before 3:30pm) and complete the race. I have to say, it was quite an adventurous way to celebrate my 40th birthday!

Now I'm sure you're asking yourself, "How come it took so long to update us?". Yes, well... It has taken a long time to recover fully from Crank the Shield. As well, my interests shifted a little this fall and many of you might also know that I've recently become a certified Spin Instructor and teach weekly classes up at the CFB Fitness Centre.

Hopefully big things are in store for 2013... stay tuned for what it will bring and the races the Burnt Helmets will be in. Thanks again for spending your 30 seconds with Scott! Well Okay... maybe more like 35 seconds. :)

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