10 July 2009 | Race Reports
BC Bike Race: Days 3-7
BC Bike Race Day 3
So after getting stuck behind some slower folks in the singletrack on Day 2, Ryan told me “you need to start faster.” Then he listed off all the people who were in front of us at the start (which was, I admit, a lot of people). I was really surprised at how hard everyone was starting- it wasn’t much slower than a normal XC start. He was right though, so I resolved to start hard on Day 3. We got into the singletrack in a pretty good position, and ended up riding with a group of about 6 guys through some fast, buff trails. About halfway through the stage, there was a pretty long fire road climb, and our group broke up a bit. At the top of the climb, we passed through the first aid station and then dove into some tight, technical trails.
This was the start of a long, steep and fast downhill through trees, down rock faces and eventually out onto some loose fire roads in a clear-cut area. Then it was into some more trails that climbed up for awhile (at this point- based on my brief glance at the elevation profile of the day’s course- I thought we had all the big climbs out of the way, and I was looking forward to the finish.) And then we came out onto a pretty steep fire-road. Just when I thought we were at the top, it turned and kicked up again. And again. And got looser. And it was hot. I wasn’t expecting any more steep climbing, I was tired, and honestly all I wanted to do was get off and take a rest. Just get off and stand there. Only my pride (and knowing how much Ryan would heckle me if I got off and walked) kept my little granny gear spinning. Then I could see up ahead that the course was going to go back into singletrack (finally! a downhill!) It was singletrack all right, but it was still going UP. Eventually we started going downhill- which was great- but the trail was very technical, and at this point I was pretty tired and losing all my skills.
Partway through the downhill, a spectator/course marshall told us, “4 km to go!” That gave me hope- how long can 4 km take? Apparently it can take a LONG time. After plenty of technical singletrack, we finally popped out onto a fireroad, but the course kept going, and going. Did she mean 4 MILES? We rode by Wendy Simms, and I asked her how much longer to the finish??? Only a couple of minutes. We finally made it to the finish, and I was WORKED.
I tried not to even think about the fact that I had 4 MORE DAYS OF RACING.
BC Bike Race Day 4
I guess during a Stage Race you usually have at least one crappy day. Well, today was my day. The start went up a paved road, then turned onto rolling dirt road for a few kilometers, so things stayed together for a while and once again, people were HAMMERING. My legs were tapped, and as I was struggling to stay on the back of a group 30 minutes into the race, I decided maybe this was a good day to rein it in a bit. Not go EASY, but not bury myself. Just keep it steady. There were a lot of fire roads and doubletrack, and a lot of trails with overhanging branches (Ryan doesn’t like branches touching him or getting his feet wet. At least his feet stayed dry today.). I was riding slow, and was feeling bad about it- the slower I ride, the longer it takes to get to the finish.
At the second aid station, a volunteer told us, “20k to go, and it’s mostly downhill.” We left the aid station and the next section of (uphill) trail was loose enough and steep enough and I was tired enough that I was walking. Then we had a short fire-road descent followed by a 15 minute fire road climb. Doesn’t sound like much, but when you are hurting and you are expecting “mostly downhill,” you might get a little grumpy. Every now and then it would seem like we were going to start going downhill, I would shift into my big ring, and it would kick back up and get looser. (Now, let me explain something. I am a big fan of OVERESTIMATING time and distances and amounts of climbing when you are telling someone how long they have to go in a race- at least then they are pleasantly surprised when it is easier/shorter than they expected…) When you are feeling bad, and someone tells you that the next 20k are going to be “mostly downhill,” you desperately want to believe them. Ryan and I were both grumpy (luckily not at each other) and I was beginning to ride a little faster because my grumpiness was beginning to trump my tiredness.
Eventually we did get a few km of fun downhill trails that popped us out at the finish. Finally! It was our longest day at 4:10:00.
BC Bike Race: Day 5
After how bad I felt on Day 4, I wasn’t expecting much for Day 5. Again, we started on the road, and again everyone was going for it at the start. We climbed up through a quarry on some sandy roads and I was feeling pretty slow. Eventually, my legs started to open up a bit, and I actually started to feel GOOD. We got to ride some fun trails and most of the day’s climbing was on trails- which is WAY easier and takes less of a toll mentally than climbing fire roads. The highlight of the day had to be the 45 minute descent into the finish. (Yes, 45 minutes of AWESOME downhill.) The trails were fun, fast and it was clear that a lot of time and energy had been put into building them. (the lowpoint for Ryan had to be getting hit in the head with lots of branches AND having to wade through a river…) Overall it was a great day, and I was pleased to feel my legs starting to come around.
BC Bike Race: Day 6
Stage 6 was awesome. I had great legs (I think they were getting used to the abuse at this point), and the trails were so much fun. There was a good bit of climbing, but most of it was on trails. It was one of those races where you feel like there was no way that you climbed up high enough to be descending so much. At the bottom of the first long downhill, my triceps were sore, and my hands were tired of holding onto the brakes. The trails were a good mix of the tight stuff and some really fast trails (plenty of roots and rocks, of course). The course designers did a great job of laying out the course- there wasn’t anything that seemed to drag on too long, no break-your-spirit fire road climbs just lots and lots of FUN trails.
And all of a sudden, only one day to go!
BC Bike Race: Day 7
I heard that Stage 7 started off going pretty much straight up a ski slope, so I didn’t waste any time warming up (that’s what the first half hour of the race is for, right?). Katerina asked Waldek if he brought any trainers for us to warm up on- she was so dead-pan I thought she was serious…for a VERY brief minute.
Anyway, we did indeed start off going straight up a ski slope, and I think everyone had to get off and hike one steep loose section of the fire-road. We climbed up and up and up, and I was feeling great. Then we finally got to the downhill. And then we switch-backed down an old logging trail for a long time. I got really good at switchbacks. It was kind of a bummer, after all that climbing to not be rewarded with some fun trails, but I guess everyone could use more switchback practice… The rest of the course was a mix of steep fire-roads and river trails. It was pretty fun, but I guess I was expecting something a little more “epic” since we were at Whistler, and it was the last day. I suppose Stage 6 in Squamish was a pretty tough act to follow. Anyway, it was a short day- just over 2 hours- and that’s it, the end of the 2009 BC Bike Race. Ryan and I won all the stages and the overall in the Open Mixed category, and we are still talking to each other. (Actually, we got along really well and never had any problems. So there, naysayers!)
Things I learned
- Staying on top of eating and drinking is CRUCIAL for me- I think I drank about twice as much as Ryan almost every day. Riding with a Camelbak, while not that comfortable, made it so that I could be drinking while we were riding technical trails and during long descents. Carrying a Camelbak also meant I could fill it with clif shot mix and extra salt- because at the feed zones they only had water and some other drink mix that was pretty gross. I was also able to skip the first feed zone most days.
- our legs really CAN feel better the last few days. My best days were days 5-7. When Ben told me that his best day at TransRockies was the last day, I didn’t really believe him. I thought maybe he meant his legs felt great CONSIDERING HE RACED FOR 6 DAYS IN A ROW. But my legs actually felt better, so that was a nice surprise (especially after my lack of zip on days 2-4). But everybody is different- it was clear that some folks were SUFFERING those last few days.
- Having a professional staff makes a difference. Not that I just learned this, but the LUNA team staff is the best out there- hands down. Thanks Zeph for going through the bikes every day, and keeping my bike working flawlessly. Thanks to Waldek for working out all the logistics, giving us the best massages and providing all the comic relief. And thanks to Sarah for cooking us delicious food every day.
- Ryan is really, really fast. Even when he is going slow.