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aka Taprider
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Part 3

Again the logging road downhill required lots of pedaling, but finally we were able to turn off the road onto the trails that lead down to Cumberland. Bucket of Blood went by pretty easy, but on the rolling trails near the bottom, my brain began to get wobbly and the Different Bike single speeders passed us seconds from the finish. But at least we were on the podium for the first time tonight and had moved to 11th overall.

Leg Human Grass Youth Lawn

Alternative yoga? Or Racers recovering in Cumberland?

Footwear Arm Leg Flowerpot Jeans

Another form of recovery in Cumberland. And which group is leading on GC?

Day 4 started before 5am. We were required to take buses and two ferries to get from Cumberland to Earl's Cove on the Sunshine Coast to start our 59km ride to Sechelt by 11am. Today was also a big step into the unknown, I had never cross-country raced more than three days in a row before, and to my surprise I was hyper to get started.

Mode of transport Transport Watercraft Water Boat

BC Bike Racers posing for promotional photographs (that's me in front!).

After a short neutralized start, we hit a minor hill climb, then proceeded to roll up and down along a Hydro line right-of-way. On one of the downs I passed the 1st vet team, but soon after my water bottle and cage tore off and proceeded to be run over by the pack. Then Mike had a flat tire. We wasted time at first trying to make use of the "Stans" sealant, then ended up having to fix the tire the old school way by inserting a new tube. By the time we got going we were far behind. The right-of-way dumped us out onto a paved road and Cote was waiting to pace us up to the closest pack. Due to lack of a water bottle I lost time at the next feed station, having to take my pack off, remove and refill the hydration bladder. Back onto rolling logging roads, right-of-ways and short sections of single track we began to catch up. Cote was waiting at the next feed zone and told us the 1st and 2nd vet teams were just ahead. Cote then did a massive pull at the front of our little pace line, before pulling over exhausted at the base of the next logging road climb. His sacrifice put us in sight of the Gerick team. Mike and I pinned it, going over our figurative red lines, to pass Gerick and put a gap on them.

We entered a single track, then on crossing a cut block we saw the 2nd vet team (Different Bikes) bushwacking up to the trail. They had briefly gone off course, but the single speed gearing proved to not be a detriment, as they were able to walk up the steep hill faster and disappeared over the horizon to the start of a 12km primarily single track downhill. Mike asked me to lead, but on setting up the pass I clipped a branch and broke my ultra light rear brake lever clean off. I wrapped the remaining end and cable around my shifter, took one big endo on a switchback (luckily into loam), then learned to brake much earlier. Our total time losses for the day weren't great, but the first vet team to finish (Spike Shooter) was only 5 minutes ahead that day. We were 3rd vet team again and had moved to 10th overall.

I would like to thank James Wilson and crew of Obsession Bikes. When I woke up during the middle of the night I saw them working away, fixing my brake, under a portable generator powered light.

Day 5 All the Shore riders were looking forward to 58 km ride from Sechelt to Langdale through the Rat Race and SprocKids trail networks. However, there was not a home town advantage for many Shore teams. The Different Bikes team collided with each other on an early road section, and Pat had to close a gaping wound in Andrew's leg with gauze and an inner tube. The Shore Girls Don't Cry team had a mechanical that cost them almost 50 minutes. Even NHL player Trevor Linden, who took part in a one day celebrity ride to help the race to gain media attention received stitches in return.

Meanwhile the survivors near the front of the vet group were getting devious. Spike Shooter was ahead but insight, Gerick was pulling the pack to catch up, we were hiding and not pulling our share at the front. After we caught Spike Shooter, the Gerick guys suddenly sat up to maneuver me to the front while Mike was at the back. Unbeknownst to all of us we suddenly came to a single track downhill, "what luck". I could take it easy on the following road climb, stop at the feed zone, and let Mike and the others catch up. Sandy of Gerick then became very friendly and tried to strike up a civil conversation, luckily I was clear headed enough to interpret this gesture to mean that Randy was suffering and Sandy was trying to slow the pack. Therefore, I attacked up a smooth road climb, and to my surprise got a gap on the group. I then rode at a steady state, knowing that Mike had the short bursts of power required to catch up. Shortly after that we entered a maze of trails.

Clothing Tire Wheel Bicycle frame Bicycle wheel

Team Gerick in the lead.

Adventure race course marking is much different than normal cross country races. There are no arrows, just small bits of tape at junctions. A team that is smart and works together can get a huge advantage, the faster downhiller goes ahead and slows at intersections to interpret the pattern of the tape, allowing the second rider to catch up and ride at their steady comfortable pace. In one case though, I thought we had a bit of a home town advantage where tape was sparse at a fast downhill intersection, but after hearing how Chris Cooney on the lead moto (the motorcyclist that rides ahead of the leaders to flag the course each day) lost much time trying to bench press his 250 lb (120 kg) moto over a 4 foot (1.3 m) log that blocked the course, I regretted complaining and was more than pleased to see that there had been more than just one piece of tape.

We were the first vet team to reach Langdale, then turned around to watch the clock to see how much time we gained on our competitors. Not quick enough to move ahead of Gerick overall, it was instead the carnage the trail inflicted that moved us up to 3rd vet overall and 9th team overall. Andrew of Different Bikes could not finish, and one of the Spike Shooters was bleeding from the face and had a knee the size of a melon.

We sheltered in the shade under a semi trailer, resembling a pack of panting dogs, waiting for the ferry and non-air-conditioned school bus (aka easy bake oven) to take us to Squamish.

Day 6 Andreas Hestler, playing a dual role of both racer and Race Director, had asked Grant Lamont of Cheakamus Challenge fame to design a "killer" route for the second to last day. I had not slept well the night before thinking of how we were going to lay everything on the line to try to claw 40 minutes back from Gerick over 72 km from Squamish to the north side of Whistler.

The so called neutralized starts were becoming fast road races, and one of the hardest parts of the day, everyone that remained competitive was fighting to be near the front before the first bottleneck, meanwhile stringing everyone else over the countryside. Amazingly I was feeling fitter faster and younger every day (more like 27 not 47) and was hanging with the pros at the front of the pack to the first bottleneck. After climbing out of Cheakamus Canyon, we worked with one of the top open category teams (Kevin Phelps and Julian Hine of Whistler). Understandably the Bicycling Magazine team from California didn't want to work with us, and kept trying to shake us on the paved sections before the primarily single track last half of the day.

I had been looking forward to Trash, one of the first trails near Whistler, from the beginning. I had imagined the less technical/skill oriented racers would be having melt downs and yelling "this isn't a @#$&#! mountain bike race, it's a rock climbing crag". But what we actually experienced was local Julian stepping off his bike for an unrideable boulder and first contacting the earth with his eye brow, not his foot, and semi-pro teams struggling with broken ribs and bikes. Another Shore rider, Dave Howells (teamed with Denis Fontaine) had earlier in the day had a melt down of a more serious type, he was evacuated from the course and received four IV bags.

For most of the past Cheakamus Challenge races, once you reach Function Junction, you have a feed zone and one big climb before the finish. Instead we chased this phantom feed zone over to the west side of the Valley, did a big climb, a technical downhill and River Runs Through It (equivalent to racing around a BMX track for 15 minutes) before FINALLY capturing the badly required feed zone. After guzzling much water and Elite electrolyte replacement, we started the most feared climb of the day, the Yelp d'Huez, 27 or 34 very steep switchbacks (depending on who's counting), the steepest, rockiest, loosest more difficult downhill of the week, and a little more up and down on single track before the finish at Meadow Park.

Soil Terrain Games Mountain bike Off-roading
River Runs Through It.

Part 4 continued at
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