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No. Just No.
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Although I was waffling on whether to register for CTS 2009, I finally signed up a couple of days ago, figuring that I have to visit my family sometime this year and so I might as well do the usual routine and combine it with an event. 24 hour solo escapades are on hold indefinitely, which left CTS 2009 as the default choice.

Since Crank the Shield this past September 2008, I'd wanted to write a more detailed personal report, as compared to the event summaries I wrote for Pedal Magazine which were of a more general nature. I don't have a blog and can't see myself having one anytime soon (if ever) so the Eastern forum gets to be my de facto blog for this purpose. Having just registered for this coming year, it seemed to be the right time to do a brain dump and pop out last year's report. Day 1 is below, and I'll post up day 2 and 3 soon also.

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After the usual last minute scramble of trying to pack enough gear to handle any conditions and ill fortune, but not so much as to overrun the size or weight allotments of our provided event duffel bags, I departed for Crank the Shield. The decision to attend a stage race across the country may seem somewhat odd, since I have some of the world's finest MTB stage races such as BC Bike Race, Trans Rockies, and now the new Intermontane Challenge all located within an easy day's drive to the start. Yet to date I've never participated in any of these races, usually citing the reason that I get to ride and race on similar trails, or sometimes the exact same trails, already. Perhaps it's the typical situation of the grass always being greener somewhere else. An adventure is to do something out of the norm, and a stage race in Ontario met the criteria for the riding and racing aspect, plus afforded me with another opportunity to visit back home.

Dave Stowe of local singlespeed solo fame, and his frequent racing partner Ken Waring gave my logistics a huge boost. Dave was my wheelman to get us up to Buckwallow, and Ken putting us up at his sister's lovely cottage nearby on the Thursday night. On the way we stopped by Buckwallow which I had never ridden before as it was just spinning up operations around the same time I was relocating to the west coast. The trail network at Buckwallow was a ton o' fun. Frequent snarls of rocks and roots littering many of the trails reminded me of B.C., or at least it would if you could take Buckwallow and plunk it down at a steep tilted angle on the side of a mountain.

Later that evening we hooked up with some of Ken's other riding buds, including another singlespeeder Scott Bentley and his wife Shannon, Robin Kay from Lapdogs Cycling. In between watching ken nearly gnawing away at the tabletop waiting for his food to be served, we were treated to stories of first hand experience from other events around the world, among them La Ruta in South America, Cape Epic in Africa, and others.

The evening at the cottage was very easy and relaxed. Ken and his father who was also staying there had us set up for a trouble-free last night of sleep before departing for the event the following morning. Buckwallow was hopping with all sorts of activity, but the routine and organization was all under control, and everyone seemed quite comfortable with the final race instructions delivered to us by the Chico staff, all of which echoed the race details we were sent in advance by email. I assumed my usual spot just behind the name-brand call ups (always a bridesmaid, never a bride it seems…) while we waited for the countdown. Although we had been cautioned to remember that it was a three day race, I don't think anyone truly believed the start would be anything less than frenetic. I was simply trying to stay calm and swallow fleeting dark thoughts of seizing back muscles, hoping to avoid adding another dreaded DNF to my name for the 2008 season.

My goal for the start was simple ; keep the leaders in sight through Buckwallow and then hook on to this lead group for the 15km of paved roads that were to follow immediately afterwards before the course headed off road again. What would happen then was anyone's guess. If the quickest riders decided to pin it from that point onwards it would fracture the group immediately anyhow, but I figured at least it might give a shot and get to that point.

During our casual spin around the trails yesterday there wasn't any marking or signage up yet for the start "loop", and so I didn't know when the opening doubletrack section would bottleneck into a singletrack entrance. I suspect that was the case with the majority, if not all of the other riders so that was fair enough but it still left me a bit nervous about being caught in the wrong position at the wrong time. Compounding this was my deep-rooted dislike of flat mass starts, especially those starting from a neutral rolling speed. This has always been one of my weaknesses as a bike racer. The elbows, tackling, and body checks of other sports have never been an issue for me but I have never been able to reconcile this aspect within the sport of cycling (probably excludes me from ever liking crit races on the road too...) Consequently, rolling starts have always driven me a bit nuts since they usually end up being a gong show of who is going to be the most obnoxious in forcing their way up to the front instead of either accepting any call up to the line (or lack thereof) or else being punctual into the staging area to secure the best position from whatever real estate is left over. I'm probably in the minority, but I'd rather see every race start with a steep-ish climb, and let everyone's fitness sort out the order into the first singletrack entrance instead of their indifference to putting an elbow in someone's ribs.

Chico's layout for the first few kilometers was something of a saving grace though, as the fast wide doubletrack opener smoothly gave way to some slightly more technical sections with short climbs that featured a few rocky bits across the trail. Under casual circumstances none of these sections would have been daunting, but in the middle of a large group still jockeying for positions it was all to easy to get locked into an awkward line. This ultimately funneled into the singletrack that typifies Buckwallow featuring tight and twisty lines interspersed with roots and rocks just to keep everyone paying attention. I bobbled a spot, was chastised for my lack of skill by the rider behind me (chill dude, chill) then a bit later watched Dave Dermont fall into some bushes to the side of a rock section. Dave said he was OK, which gave me the green light to motor on to the exit out of Buckwallow.

Unfortunately, the damage was already done. A lack of aggression during the rolling start and some admittedly reserved riding in the singletrack spat me out on to the pavement a good 300-400 meters behind the lead group who were already assembled in a large pack up the road. While I was concerned with the prospect of both an escalating time gap and the extra energy cost that would be involved in riding the 15km alone, I was just as fearful of giving chase but possibly never catching up which would be the ultimate worst case scenario in terms of wasting energy. However, I didn't have the luxury of time to assess what speed the pack was moving at since every second I hesitated the further they might be pulling away. My only chance was to go balls to the wall and try to close the gap. The last scenario I wanted was to be redlining it in the first 30 minutes of a 3 day stage race, but that was the hand I had contributed in dealing to myself and so it was time to pay the piper. The split was already made, and the only question was how much I was how badly I wanted to be in that split. As the burning started to creep into my legs, I kept reminding myself of the importance of catching up so that I wasn't burning up all my matches relative to the other riders who were safely ensconced within the protective draft of the group. By this time it had become obvious that the group ahead wasn't pinning it, but when you have several of Canada's fastest riders at the head of a 20 strong group even a seemingly leisurely tempo makes it a daunting challenge for any single rider to gain ground.

Dave Dermont soon came by me, the same high tire pressure (as he recounted later) that had likely caused his slip in Buckwallow now working to his advantage, especially in combination with his 29" wheels. Foolishly, I didn't make a concerted enough effort to stay on Dave's wheel while he had a good head of steam, and was left toiling again on my own. I looked back to see if any more potential help was forthcoming, but saw nothing behind me other than an empty road. Each time the road crested up over a small rise, I was afforded some consolation by seeing the gap shrink, with the short climbs and resulting lower speed somewhat mitigating the collective drafting advantage of the group ahead, even if only temporarily. Suddenly, my focus was broken again as a group of 3 riders came up from behind me at a determined pace, including Hamish Gordon, Greg Shikaze (I think) and one other. If I had known they were back there earlier I would have slowed up to work with them, but now even their small group and the sharing of the work between them put me at a disadvantage to hang on to their wheel as they passed. They hit out with a last surge to bridge the remainder of the gap, but Greg wasn't able to follow finally broken at the 11th hour in his attempt to make the selection, and eventually destined to finish much further back on the day as a result. Over the next rise I went for broke and closed the last few meters with one more acceleration, and my pain was over for the time being now safely nestled in the group after covering approximately half the 15km with my eyeballs feeling like they were going to pop out of their sockets.

One more glance behind on a long straight showed only an empty road. We weren't setting a crackling pace by any means, but with the numbers and composition of this group it was almost certain that no one else was going to bridge up from behind. I was both lucky and determined enough to be the last and final rider to catch on, and there was zero point zero chance of me seeing the front of the group for the next 7km. I was going to take every opportunity to recover and refuel. As we rolled along I was able to assess to had made the cut. Most of the riders were solos, although there were also 3 teams (maybe a 4th that I didn't recognize?), but no women had made the group. My Cycle Solutions / Angry Johnny's Racing team mate Ted Ingram drifted back in the pack to check on me and was pleased to see that I had made it, before returning to policing the front of the group. That experience had made me appreciate why pro road teams all have earpieces, seeing as how Ted probably could have dropped back any time to easily drag me up to the pack if he had only been within earshot.

One other episode of note provided the comic relief for the day, although the reason for it didn't become clear until later. One of the other riders Glenn Meeuwisse from Hardwood Hills, had made it into the group, and I was joking with him about how he was going to provide first aid as one of the designated on-course personnel if he was with the lead group. I ended up riding with Glenn quite a bit during the stage, and later back at the camp expressed what great riding condition he was in this year, putting the hurt on me several times. Glenn's confused response explaining that he was in fact riding mid-pack all day to be a first aid sweep eventually led to the embarrassing discovery that the guy I had been calling Glenn all day was in fact Terry Schinkel from Ottawa, who in my oxygen-deprived state looked like a dead ringer for Glenn while in riding gear. While receiving my apology over dinner, Terry said he never actually noticed because we were always in a small group and every time I was yelling something over to "Glenn" he actually thought I was talking to one of the other guys. 10 out of 10 on the idiot scale for me nevertheless.

Just as we were all starting to get relaxed, the road section ended abruptly and we followed the course markings on a sharp left hander up a wide but rough and loose fireroad. The short climb put a few riders back on their heels immediately, but the carnage went much deeper at the first mud bog dismount over a series of narrow wood palettes. The bottom line was that anyone who entered this single file hike-a-bike near the front of the group stayed there, while a significant time gap opened back to the last few riders purely as a result of stringing out 20 riders hopping gingerly in cleated cycling shoes across the boards.

I was under the mistaken impression that once we were through a few bogs and back into faster tracks that the group would come together again. As anyone who was at the event would recall vividly, "a few bogs" would be akin to saying that Bill Gates has a few dollars to his name. Wide bogs, long bogs, deep bogs, shallow bogs, muddy bogs, watery bogs, stinky bogs, and every other type of bog you could describe. Throw in a couple of beaver dam crossings for good measure and that provides an apt description of day one. It certainly wouldn't have been a ride I would choose to do under normal circumstances for fun, but somehow within the context of Crank the Shield it provided a novel, if somewhat exhausting, form of shared entertainment.

The expected frontrunners of Derek Zandstra and Adam Morka or 3 Rox Racing, Peter Glassford from the Trek Team Store, and Matt Hadley of Xprezo Cycles, each of whom are top national level riders, would carry on their 4-way war of attrition throughout all the stages. They flew the coop early along with my team mate Ted who has ridden extensively in the area for several years and was very familiar with the terrain. Perhaps just as importantly, his skills as a top notch cyclocrosser no doubt came in handy for the endless series of dismounts and remounts required for navigating many of the bogs. Ted finally had to let go of the top 4 later in the day but his early efforts gave him a great finish on the stage.

That left me in the "B" group for the rest of the day. During the next few hours I saw a lot of the aforementioned Terry Schinkel, riding in the solo 40+, Dave Dermont in same, Robert Parniak, Imad Elghazal, plus the pairing of Andrew Watson and his partner Matt Paziuk riding as a 2 person team. Terry and I spent much of the stage riding in close quarters, seemingly well-matched in terms of our ability to cover ground. Unfortunately, the practical application of this didn't lend ay advantage. Terry was a brute on the flatter sections, and while I tried to take even pulls I simply couldn't match up with him in terms of raw power. Conversely, when we encountered any rollers steep or long enough that momentum was insufficient to get over the hump, my lighter frame put me at risk of leaving Terry behind. The result was a seesaw slinky effect on a micro scale that kept us together, but unable to use each other's strengths for common benefit. We spent some time with Dave Dermont also, but in the end Dave preferred to forge ahead as a lone wolf and reach the line a couple of minutes up on us as a reward. The last half of the stage was mostly a group of 4 as Terry and I collected up Matt Paziuk and Andrew Watson along the way. We also saw a bit of Robert Parniak and Imad Elghazal, but like Dave they had a bit more juice on tap and finished a few minutes ahead.

Having Andrew in the group with us was curious, given that he has race results all by himself that would far surpass the other 3 of us all put together, and therefore I was mostly looking to him to set the pace. While he was steady, he never really seemed to ramp the speed. I couldn't tell if that was because he was pacing to the level of the group around him, or whether the length of the stage did impact him somewhat. Everyone knows he's bullet fast for everything from cyclocross to standard XC distances, but I don't recall ever seeing him at many events that would be more of an enduro or marathon distance.

There were a few points where we became a bit nervous that we may have missed a course marking, but in the final analysis the work of Sean and the Chico race crew was true to form and never led us astray. We were all suitably relieved to reach the final segment after over 3 hours at a fairly intense effort level, which was a few kilometers of gravel road, but within our group only Terry had the legs to push strongly to the finish. I similarly broke away from Andrew and Matt to save myself a bit of elapsed time in the stage results in case it became relevant later in the 3 day overall classification, but it was on spent legs that I crossed the line.

Anxious to get early access to bike washing equipment, I only stayed at the finish briefly before following the directions to Camp Kandalore about 4km up Highway 35 from the stage finish. 4km felt more like 14km, and under less fatigued circumstances I would have enjoyed the picturesque scenery. At this point all I wanted was food, getting out of my wet sock, and more food. We were waylaid at a bridge crossing with an apparently non-functional stoplight. Not wanting to give Chico events a bad name in the local hosting community, we were trying to play the good citizens and wait for the light, but after what was literally 7-8 minutes we gave up and went on our way as scofflaws. One final gravel climb from the highway up and over to the campground was all that was left, but it might as well have been Mt. Everest by that time, needing the full extent of my gearing while feeling similar to what Andrew later described on his blog about having an instant bonk feeling shortly after the stage finish.

I was pleased to have arrived at the bike wash before the pileup that was to occur later. Chico had several stations, and there was some great help and supplies available from event sponsors Pedro's, but a few more hoses would have easily found use among the throngs of racers. Subway sandwiches and drinks were waiting down below as a pre-dinner snack. I probably should have taken more than 4 bites to devour my foot long sub in order to lessen the probability of choking, but hunger won out over both common sense and table manners while I did my best impression of a chipmunk stuffing my cheeks. Fortunately, Ted was there already and hauled my event duffel bag over the relatively short distance to our cabin since it felt like it weighed at least double the 60 pounds of gear I had crammed into it.

Like many people, we found drying rocks around the campground to lay out all our clothing and gear in the sun to try to have it ready for packing or wearing the next day. Use of the showers was a careful balance between trying not to be greedy with use of time and water, but yet still managing to free myself of the accumulated mud and grit that seemed to permeate every square inch of my being.

Results posted later that afternoon indicated I had finished in 3h31, giving up 18 minutes to the group of four uber riders at the front (all in my category) but only 4 minutes to the other two in my under 40 solo category to end the day in 7th spot. The over 40 crowd were ringers too, and I wouldn't have even made their podium for the stage finishing almost 7 minutes back of Ted in the lead and about 30 seconds back of Terry in 3rd spot. Full day 1 results here;

http://www.cranktheshield.com/9-19.htm

Dinner at Kandalore's dining hall was served in 2 seatings due to limited space in the hall compared to the number of participants. The food supply was plentiful, and decent in quality for the intended purpose of replenishing calories. Dinner also provided the opportunity for me to exercise my main reason for entering the event, which was simply to get to meet and talk with a new group of fellow riders. Beer was flowing, and everyone was in a relaxed mood as Sean gave us an overview of the stage 2 route, explaining that water and bogs wouldn't feature nearly as prominently during day 2, which was a relief to all the riders. More chit chat outside the dining hall, back to the cabin to prep gear for the next morning, and then nothing left but to tuck myself in for a well-deserved night of rest.

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Crank the Shield 2008 - Day 2 report coming soon…
 

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Nice write up Circlip, especially on a slow first workday after a long Christmas time off.

I have always wondered what is going on in the heads of those racers at the front, and why they are where they are. It almost seems like a fraternity club up there, or more like a racing club, where everyone knows each other and plays with each other. I still can’t fathom race times of 3H31, and probably never will. Is it because no one is ever in your way? Is it because you can follow a group and mainly trust their decisions? Or is it because the trail is always clean and clear at the front, and becomes wet, nasty, and rutted by the time the rest of us get to it? I will probably never know.

All I know is that the rest of us in the mid-pack had a much more arduous adventure and hardship getting through the stage (and subsequent stages). People always trying to pass you……you trying to pass people. Lineups and stoppages at difficult and narrow sections. Huge mud ruts, muddied water, loosened rocks, and wetter trails are all part of the adventure for us racers further back. Not to mention nutrition and body issues.

Not to sound negative or jealous (well maybe a bit), but your 3H31 sounds more like a tougher than normal day at an O-Cup race than a big, challenging adventure. I think that once you start to slog it out on a race course for more than 5 hours, true adventure and challenge really begins to materialize. And those that totaled 20 hours of arduous race exposure time over 3 days……those are the folks who experienced true challenge and hardship, and true lifetime accomplishment.

Circlip, you are an amazing racer, and an accomplished journalist, but I think you are ready to take on something way bigger than you think you can do. Something 3 times harder than you thought possible.
Then, you will have something to write about, and only then will you understand what it is like to be on the edge of collapse when body and mind are in conflict and fight over control of a challenging situation. Things like “my body was falling apart and screaming at me to stop, but my emotional determination kept on pushing it beyond its limits for the next 2 hours”, or “my heart kept on sagging as more racers past me, but I found solace in myself and maintained my self-esteem as I continued all alone near the back”, or “I thought about all the pain and suffering my family member went through before death, and that made my muscle pain pale and seem trivial in comparison”, or “I could not have quit knowing that my partner was counting on me to finish”, or “during the final hour I had this raging anger, almost uncontrollable, that surprisingly got me to the finish line and made me not care about everything else that was slowing me down”.

Put it on your “before I die list”, for 2010. You won’t regret it.
 

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In order to finish in 3h31, I believe he has put in many training hours that brought on all those thoughts, feelings, and pain! Congrates to ALL who even lined up for that race!!

Great post Ccirclip,and Ricksom please do not take this post at criticism of your accomplishment!
 

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No. Just No.
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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Ricksom said:
I have always wondered what is going on in the heads of those racers at the front, and why they are where they are. It almost seems like a fraternity club up there, or more like a racing club, where everyone knows each other and plays with each other. I still can't fathom race times of 3H31, and probably never will. Is it because no one is ever in your way? Is it because you can follow a group and mainly trust their decisions? Or is it because the trail is always clean and clear at the front, and becomes wet, nasty, and rutted by the time the rest of us get to it? I will probably never know.

All I know is that the rest of us in the mid-pack had a much more arduous adventure and hardship getting through the stage (and subsequent stages). People always trying to pass you……you trying to pass people. Lineups and stoppages at difficult and narrow sections. Huge mud ruts, muddied water, loosened rocks, and wetter trails are all part of the adventure for us racers further back. Not to mention nutrition and body issues.

Not to sound negative or jealous (well maybe a bit), but your 3H31 sounds more like a tougher than normal day at an O-Cup race than a big, challenging adventure. I think that once you start to slog it out on a race course for more than 5 hours, true adventure and challenge really begins to materialize. And those that totaled 20 hours of arduous race exposure time over 3 days……those are the folks who experienced true challenge and hardship, and true lifetime accomplishment.
I can understand those sentiments completely, and while I believe there is some merit behaind all of your points I will suggest that everyone has to battle their own respective challenges within the scope of their own capabilities. It takes a great deal of courage to sign up for a race in which even finishing may be in doubt, and those participants deserve massive respect for hurling themselves into the proverbial frying pan. You're correct that (barring injury or unforeseen physical failure) it's comforting to enter into an event knowing that the distance and duration are not an issue, from the standpoint of basic endurance, but you can only ride on the route that's put in front of you.

Yet, at the same time I wouldn't discount the effort it takes to hold a quicker pace for a somewhat shorter duration. Let's assume that your 75% and my 75% may result in a different actual speed on the trail, but it's still 75% to both of us and so the effort and strain is the same for each. However, if one of us has the ability to cover the route in less elapsed time, then that rider could choose actually ramp up their effort to 80% or 90%, for example, since they know they won't have to hold it for quite as long. Which is more difficult then? 75% for a longer duration, or 90% effort for a shorter time on course? The answer is that there is no firm answer, other than to say that everyone has the opportunity to rise to whatever level of difficulty they wish to impose on themselves.

Ricksom said:
I think you are ready to take on something way bigger than you think you can do. Something 3 times harder than you thought possible. Then, you will have something to write about, and only then will you understand what it is like to be on the edge of collapse when body and mind are in conflict and fight over control of a challenging situation.
I have notched over 400km in a single shot at Albion Hills, among other somewhat lengthy escapades. While that admittedly is a rather buff, managed trail system I don't see myself meeting your 3x criteria on a ride anytime soon. Will the official Ricksom Pain & Suffering Club membership committee still consider my application?

Ricksom said:
Things like "my body was falling apart and screaming at me to stop, but my emotional determination kept on pushing it beyond its limits for the next 2 hours", or "my heart kept on sagging as more racers past me, but I found solace in myself and maintained my self-esteem as I continued all alone near the back", or "I thought about all the pain and suffering my family member went through before death, and that made my muscle pain pale and seem trivial in comparison", or "I could not have quit knowing that my partner was counting on me to finish", or "during the final hour I had this raging anger, almost uncontrollable, that surprisingly got me to the finish line and made me not care about everything else that was slowing me down".
I like it! Sounds as if you have the makings of your own expanded CTS race report, although when I read "during the final hour I had this raging anger, almost uncontrollable, that surprisingly got me to the finish line and made me not care about everything else that was slowing me down" I couldn't help but picture you behind the wheel of a car driving up to cottage country on a typical summer Friday evening. ;)
 

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Circlip said:
Yet, at the same time I wouldn't discount the effort it takes to hold a quicker pace for a somewhat shorter duration. Let's assume that your 75% and my 75% may result in a different actual speed on the trail, but it's still 75% to both of us and so the effort and strain is the same for each. However, if one of us has the ability to cover the route in less elapsed time, then that rider could choose actually ramp up their effort to 80% or 90%, for example, since they know they won't have to hold it for quite as long. Which is more difficult then? 75% for a longer duration, or 90% effort for a shorter time on course? The answer is that there is no firm answer, other than to say that everyone has the opportunity to rise to whatever level of difficulty they wish to impose on themselves.
I do hear that as you get faster and fitter, your average speed increases exponentially. Hmmm, perhaps I have experienced that during the last 5 years......I think....

Circlip said:
I have notched over 400km in a single shot at Albion Hills, among other somewhat lengthy escapades. While that admittedly is a rather buff, managed trail system I don't see myself meeting your 3x criteria on a ride anytime soon. Will the official Ricksom Pain & Suffering Club membership committee still consider my application?
I can't say I actively condon pain and suffering, but it sure gives you a deep sense of self and accomplishment after you achieve a major goal. Some say you see answers to life and knowledge in the midst of these journeys, that would evade you at any other time in your daily life. Something you learn as you get older. Why do you think middle aged men and women do such apparently stupid things.....such as climb dangerous mountains, trek across the Artic, or paddle across an ocean, all dangerous and life threatening activities. They get into a state of seeing visions and insights that would otherwise evade them. Read the book "Explorers of the Infinite, by Maria Coffey". This book digs into the extremes of adventure seekers heads, but gives you an idea of what happens to your mental capacity when under extended physical stress. I can conclude that there is some truth to it.

Circlip said:
I like it! Sounds as if you have the makings of your own expanded CTS race report, although when I read "during the final hour I had this raging anger, almost uncontrollable, that surprisingly got me to the finish line and made me not care about everything else that was slowing me down" I couldn't help but picture you behind the wheel of a car driving up to cottage country on a typical summer Friday evening. ;)
Actually, I had this vision of beating up Adam and Sean for downplaying the extend of mud bogs in the race, and I used that anger to keep my bike propelling ;)
 

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No criticism taken......you can count on me for having an opinion.
I believe I am in the middle of that training pain these days as you say. How many years does it take to hit 3h31????
 

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Nice work Circlip! It brings me back to last September. :thumbsup:

Like Ricksom, Mrs. Monster and I had a somewhat different experience yet it was surprisingly similar in a lot of ways. The strategies we used were much the same only the names of the riders around us were different. ;)

As far as organised challenges go, I'm struggling to come up with races that would really be that much harder to finish. BCBR and the TR aren't really that hard and from what I hear, the Cape Epic and Trans Alps aren't much different. What does that leave you? La Ruta? The Iditarod? :confused:
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
thedumbopinion said:
zero point zero

...
Uh oh. A low score from the Russian judge. :D In response I've tried to up my game for the day 2 report.

Much as I wanted to slip in the phrase "zero point zero point zero" to show a daily progression, with great difficulty I have refrained from doing so.
 

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garage monster said:
As far as organized challenges go, I'm struggling to come up with races that would really be that much harder to finish. BCBR and the TR aren't really that hard and from what I hear, the Cape Epic and Trans Alps aren't much different. What does that leave you? La Ruta? The Iditarod? :confused:
You should try out this years, new first time event, Brec Epic. It would most likely make a nice relaxing vacation for you and Mrs. Monster.
 

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Or even...

thedumbopinion said:
You should try out this years, new first time event, Brec Epic. It would most likely make a nice relaxing vacation for you and Mrs. Monster.
...the Mac-Daddy of all races.

http://tourdivide.org/

Canada to New Mexico via the Great Divide. 2700 self-supported miles taking an average of 3 weeks saddle time (16-hour days), climbing 200,000 feet. Not sure it will pass Ricksom's criteria for pushing one's limit, but "may" come close. :)
 

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SSteve F said:
Canada to New Mexico via the Great Divide. 2700 self-supported miles taking an average of 3 weeks saddle time (16-hour days), climbing 200,000 feet. Not sure it will pass Ricksom's criteria for pushing one's limit, but "may" come close. :)
Hmmmmm, that may pass, but just by a hair ;)

Heh, how good do you think I am.......crap, I almost started crying near the end of Stage 2 of CTS after being out there for more than 6 hours. Not a pretty sight for my female race partner to see. But heh, we were the oldest 2 person team out there.
 

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SSteve F said:
...the Mac-Daddy of all races.

http://tourdivide.org/

Canada to New Mexico via the Great Divide. 2700 self-supported miles taking an average of 3 weeks saddle time (16-hour days), climbing 200,000 feet. Not sure it will pass Ricksom's criteria for pushing one's limit, but "may" come close. :)
Amen! Every serious ultra endurance MTBer ought undergo the metamorphosis of a Grand Tour race (~2-3 weeks long) in their lifetime. TD is the most brutiful of all. The real difference btwn it and some of the other big challenges you guys are contemplating in this thread is its self-support rules. It introduces a whole new stressor.

We've really been hoping for more Canadians to start picking this one up as A) you guys probably suffer better than Americans and B) getting to the start of such a behemoth race is half the battle. So, with a Banff roll-out, it seems the Rockies-based guys would be more inclined (at least the initial throwing yourselves to the wolves part). You can worry about how to get home when you reach Mexico :) ...and your spouses can follow you on the SPOT GPS Leaderboard.

Disclaimer: the GDMBR is a 2700 mile jeep/fireroad route down the Conti Divide. Don't come to race the continent's only off-road route expecting lots of singletrack. It would be impossible to finish in a reasonable period and too rugged to ride loaded w/ self-support anyway. Nonetheless, it's extreme. Extreme weather, 150 mile days, bivouac where you can, navigate thousands of unmarked turns, dodge logging trucks, bears, wild mustangs, lightning and hail, snowstorms. Find all your own water and food and try to pit quickly/keep moving (in towns at 100+ mile intervals). Movement is the lifeblood. Depression is a daily occurrence. Saddle sores guaranteed or your "free-entry" fee returned. One needs about 1,000 USD (not including transpo) to complete the race (ie. for food, water, beer and a few hotels along the way).
 
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