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No. Just No.
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hope you enjoy the final installment of my personal reports from each day of the inaugural Crank the Shield. While these reports may seem at first glance to contain many tales of adversity, it is exactly these aspects which make it a compelling event for participants. Let's face it, we don't choose mountain biking because it's easy. If that were a pre-requisite, our personal entertainment would be limited to watching sitcom reruns on the couch. We do it because we want challenges, and more importantly want to see how we might respond to and overcome those obstacles. If I could choose to enter one and only one event again next year, I would go for another round at Crank the Shield, which is exactly why I've already registered for 2009.

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While I had managed to unwind and distress reasonably well on day 2 both after the stage and throughout the evening, there was still an undercurrent of strife buzzing in my head as a result of a very ragged performance on stage 2 during which it seemed I spent most of the 4 hours and 47 minutes staving off a complete meltdown. I closed my eyes knowing that the missing link was a solid night of sleep, which would be akin to activating a "reset" button of sorts. Ideally, the next sound I wanted to hear was team mate Ted waking me up at a mutually agreed upon time of 6:30am, once he had returned to White Pine from his overnight stay at Angry Johnny's house.

A few times I was woken into a shallower state of rest by shuffling in the cabin, which one would have expect from 10 other people shifting around in sleeping bags over top of plastic-encased mattresses. I didn't want to rouse myself to a full waking state by looking around or checking my watch, and instead managed to drift back into a deep (and deeply needed) slumber each time. Finally I heard my call to action in the form of Ted's none-too-soft footsteps and morning greetings entering the door of the cabin, with all the discretion of a boot camp bugle revelry. I lifted my sleeping mask, learned it was already quite bright outside, raised myself into a sitting position and to my horror discovered that no one else was in the cabin. All the shuffling noises which had been sending me in and out of a dream state were not occurring during the night at all, but instead had been the sounds of each 10 of my fellow cabin dwellers gearing up and departing for breakfast. I lunged for my watch which confirmed my fears - 7:40am. Damn! Oh ya, still need to completely swap and adjust an entire rear brake system too. Double damn!

I'm guessing everyone else left the cabin one by one thinking that someone else would wake me up, or that I'd wake myself up like any responsible person would do (as if I could hear my watch alarm through the industrial strength earplugs anyhow), or that Ted would have actually been there at 6:30am. The last ones out the door probably wouldn't have even noticed me up on the top bunk nestled into my sleeping bag. No use crying over split milk though. My brain told me that my first emergency was to eat breakfast, since without food and energy I wasn't going to make it very far on the stage. I don't even recall what I wore over to the dining hall. It might as well have been a set of Power Rangers pyjamas for all I cared at that point.

Doing my best impression of Usain Bolt sprinting to the dining hall with 10 minutes spare before the end of breakfast, I managed to cobble together a plate full of the last dregs of yoghurt, eggs, and other bits scraped out of the corners of their containers that nobody else had thought fit for consumption. In more favourable times I might have just taken a pass on these remnants, but at this late juncture I was happy to keep my eyes toward the ceiling so that I didn't have to look at it, voraciously wolf it all down, and simply be grateful to have any food - period.

After this feast of necessity I double-timed it back to the cabin at a similar pace, giving me just under 60 minutes to pack up, get changed, install a new rear brake, sign in for the stage, and get myself into the start pack. On the positive side, Ted was good as gold on his promise to deliver my shoes in pristine dry condition, making it 3 consecutive days of cozy, dry shoes for starting each of the stages. That fact alone probably would have been enough to get me lynched by my fellow racers if they only knew.

Near the start I located Johnny and Brandon McGregor, another of my Cycle Solutions / Angry Johnny's team mates who usually likes to present himself to the world as an alternate fictitious persona named "Biff Pedachenko" oddly enough, as an homage to classic Russian literature. Johnny tasked Brandon to help me get the brake replacement in progress. It was a solid old-school Hayes brake, a type which I had not used in a while so it elicited some brief flashbacks of bikes of yesteryear, but facing the prospect of otherwise heading out on the course with only one operational brake I was pleased as punch to have a potential solution. After installing the lever, caliper, and routing the line we discovered that the rear caliper's post mount didn't have enough lateral play to match with the position of my rotor, and scrambled in the bottom recesses of the toolbox for a few shim washers to compensate. A couple of quick squeezes was all I was going to get as an operational test before heading out. I pulled, the lever moved, the brake engaged. Enough said!

We received our customary stage profile and description from Sean Ruppel at dinner the previous night. Although Sean drew a few jeers from the crowd while promising an absence of mud and water from stage 3, he did seem to be sincere in his claim and eventually won the hecklers over with his usual self-deprecating wit. While I had enjoyed the challenge and variety of days 1 and 2, which in their condition were more what I would have considered a single-discipline adventure race than mountain biking, I was salivating over the prospect of what was being billed as more traditional trails and singetrack for the day 3. A couple of much more prominent spikes in the elevation profile stood out.

I was not yet sure how my legs would respond after the arduous day 2, but as a lightweight climber I still guessed that the longer and steeper uphill grades would likely challenge other riders as much or more than it would me. Having lived on the west coast for almost 5 years, I'd come to realize that people out there who don't like long steep climbs and descents tend to find other recreational pursuits. It's not that the riders are necessarily any more fit then in Ontario. The constant rolling terrain, lacking in any extended rest periods on descents breeds its own unique kind of fitness within Ontario riders. However, developing a frame of mind that becomes comfortable with the concept of climbing for 30, or 60, or even more minutes at a time is a mental skill that is difficult to replicate without the pre-requisite landscape.

Brian Bennett had once again worked his magic with another session of massage therapy the previous afternoon. All I wanted was for my back to hold out for another few hours. We were blessed with our 3rd day in a row of dry skies, low humidity, and ideal temperatures that are often the hallmark of fall season riding in Ontario. Thank goodness, since I'm not sure how the first 2 stages would have played out if it had been raining on one or both days.

We were also about to be treated to a new start format on this day, with a neutral (non-competitive) police-escorted road ride of about 15km to the official staging and start area. Although we were expecting sublime temperatures as the day warmed up, at the time of the neutral rollout the air did have some bite to it, especially considering that we would be traveling at a slightly higher speed for a while on the roads. This road ride, although no doubt introduced as more of a logistical necessity than anything else, designed to get us to where we needed to be to start the stage, was a welcome occurrence in several respects.

First, it gave everyone the opportunity to warm up in a more gentle manner instead of being launched from the line at warp speed for a 3rd straight day like the running of the bulls. Next, it afforded all of us the chance to take in some of the gorgeous surroundings without being in the midst of race pace and heaving lungs. I must admit I felt some pangs of jealousy toward anyone who lived in the area and was able to count these playfully rolling, forested roads among their regular routes. At the rollout we learned of the unfortunate retirement from the event of Terry Vanden Heuvel, who had ridden a solid stage 1, and a fantastic stage 2 to climb ahead of me in the under 40 solo category, but emerged somewhat broken from the effort with knee issues.

Once we began moving and spilled out on to roadway, it became clear that this group had a unique energy to it, not just from the sheer size of a pack 270 strong, but also because of the ever present background hum of so many knobby tires that made our passing resemble a large swarm of orderly bumblebees. Joanne Uhlmann of Gears Racing, the women's over 40 solo leader and I took the opportunity to introduce ourselves to each other, and her effervescent personality showed itself off immediately.

Gord Ruder, who I had ridden closely with for early parts of the previous day before he left me in the dust, was unable to access his middle chainring, and nearly took out several nearby riders while his eyes were aimed downwards at his front derailleur and giving it a couple of sideways kicks in an attempt to free it up, which was an "oops" moment we have all been guilty of at some point. I offered to lend Gord my small Visine dropper bottle filled with chain lube once we reached the staging area, to see if that would help to solve his issue, or perhaps it was just my way of keeping him from looking down at his derailleur any more.

We had one stop to let the group all come together again since the pace had gotten a bit too quick at the front, and watched as a host of riders darted in and out of the treeline for a minute or two each as if they were a group of rabbits with a penchant for bright hues of lycra. Despite the low key cheerfulness of the group, it also had the air of a somewhat bittersweet procession, as we were armed with the knowledge that this was the last time we would all be together in a complete group, since many of us would be going our own separate ways shortly after the finish line.

Once we reached the stage start area, riders began dumping off any extra clothing into their personal travel bags that would be delivered back to them at the finish line by event staff. The group reassembled on the fireroad which would be our first and only uphill start, although personally I would have preferred every stage to commence in a similar fashion, as it tends to separate the wheat from the chaff very quickly instead of beginning as a test of nerves.

My delight at the starting conditions turned sour shortly afterwards though from my own limited perspective, as the call ups were expanded again to include all first 3 positions from every category. With all the solo and team categories, this numbered a total of almost 50 riders out of 270 participants. That didn't serve my purposes very well, since it put me behind many riders more who I would then have to fight my way through, but that's life. They earned it, and I didn't. For future years I'll just need to figure out how to get significantly faster if I ever want to get my own call up!

After several intermediate time countdowns from Adam Ruppel it was show time with a quick start as everyone was motivated to hold their positions in the pack. Maybe it was the extra sleep I had (accidentally) racked up, or perhaps it was that the panic of my morning time crunch had injected me with a sort of hyper-aware adrenalized state that would last the entire day, but whatever the cause the result was that I rocketed by many of the call ups very quickly. Among them were my rescuers of stage 2, Mike Davidson and Paul Loughran, who were solidly entrenched in 2nd spot overall in the under 40 team category, and were hoping to make it stick until the finish. The previous evening at dinner we had even discussed the possibility of working as a unit again if circumstances led us in that direction, but I seemed to have good legs on the day and opted to explore that capacity to its fullest extent.

Subsequently, I emerged out of the front of this group only to discover that the leaders had in turn distanced this group equally quickly, or perhaps even more so. As we exited out from the climb into an open expanse with better sightlines, I assessed the gap up to what looked like approximately 6-7 frontrunners was already at a couple of hundred meters, and I didn't fancy my chances of closing that gap without completely blowing up in the process. With that option removed completely, I set about the task of simply finding my own pace and working my way into the stage.

Another glance up the route revealed Ted walking up a climb. Not what I wanted to see so early in the stage from Ted as he tried to convert his existing lead in the over 40 solo into an overall win, but I suspected it was merely some early cramping caused by trying to stay with the fast-moving leaders, on terrain that didn't necessarily play into his strengths. My confidence was justified, since over the next rise there wasn't any more sign of Ted, meaning that he had resumed riding at a good clip.

Scott Luscombe, the remaining member of the trio of my saviours from the previous day, had also put in a good start, gaining some initial ground on his running mates Paul and Mike as he sought to maintain or improve his very respectable position in the upper reaches of the under 40 solo standings. I moved on past one Scott only to find another shortly afterwards in the form of Scott Bentley, still clinging on to 2nd spot overall in his singlespeed category.

Both Scotts were getting bogged down slightly on the climbs by the slow rolling mix of loose powder and gravel. Next up were Terry Schinkel and Hamish Gordon, both riding in the over 40 solo field near the top of their category. Both Terry, who was my frequent riding partner in stage 1, and Hamish who is an avid road racer, were powerhouses on the flats and had finished well up on me the previous day but this stage painted a different picture. The proverbial rose-coloured glasses seemed to be at my beck and call now, while others appeared to be labouring on the longer climbs.

Where Scott, Mike, and Paul formed my own personal group of three musketeers on day 2, my most constant and valued riding companions on this day were the brothers Matt and Andrew Handford who also hailed from the western provinces, in Alberta and B.C. respectively. It was interesting to note that prior to a conversation at dinner on day 1, I had never received the opportunity to get to know Andrew before. Despite racing against Andrew several times - usually coming out on the bottom of that tussle - I found it funny that to I had to travel 3,000km to a race to find a new friend in someone from my own city. They were using Crank the Shield as preparation for the ultra-tough La Ruta stage race in Costa Rica in November, where Andrew would eventually land on the overall podium in the 40+ group. It didn't take very long during our dinner conversation for me to assign the phrase "stand up guys" to this pair, and this sentiment was borne out in full on day 3. With Andrew and Matt I had once again ascended into a small group that was matching my best available speed, similar to the previous day, and we continued to work together for the bulk of the stage given that the preponderance of climbing also played into their western Canadian sensibilities.

As the course dipped from its high point in the open area back into the forest, I happened across Ted who was in the process of getting out his equipment to fix a flat. I slowed for a brief chat to make sure he had all the necessary supplies, and to see if he would have benefited from a second pair of hands. He indicated that he was OK to fix by himself, which I took to mean that I would have represented one too many cooks in the kitchen. That came as no surprise, given that Ted counts experience as a pro wrench in his background. It occurred to me that perhaps I should wait for him, and help to drag him back up to a better position, but I decided against it figuring that it would have been a repeat of my day 1 riding with Terry where we found little use in each others' competencies. I likely would have needed to slow on the climbs, as much as Ted would have been forced to ease up on the downhills. As a proven winner many times over, I was confident that he would find a way to bring it to the line and nab the win, even if it practically killed him.

The initial descents in the forest were of a variety that we were to see with some frequency on the day. Fast, wide open tracks but littered with ground cover such as leaves, mossy grass, and branches and also often challenging for visibility due to shadows created by the bright sun poking through the tree canopy. While the basic surface created the visibility issues, the more pressing danger lay in the scads of embedded rocks partially hidden underneath. While the rocks were not sharp edged or imposing in size, they were certainly numerous enough to cause many flats, dented rims, or worse given that they were on sections where it was very tempting to lay off the brakes and leave some serious vapour trails. I've always been a somewhat conservative descender, relatively speaking, preferring to give away a potential few seconds gain in order to safeguard the condition of my bike and body, and therefore I chose a rate of descent that I thought best fit the situation at hand.

We were joined shortly afterwards by Cory Hancock of 3 Rox Racing, and Justen Winster of Pedal Performance, who must have employed some combination of superior descending skills and/or a devil-may-care attitude to bridge up to us. Cory and Justen were useful riding partners on some of the flatter fireroads that followed, but once the climbing resumed the advantage swung back in favour of the lighter climbers in the group, being the Handfords and myself. At dinner the previous night, Cory recalled the unintentionally humourous instructions from his 3 Rox team manager, who had given him strict direction to stay with and help his team mate Derek Zandstra. Given that Derek had lost the national championships by a scant 1 second to Geoff Kabush earlier in the year, that left Cory somewhat puzzled trying to figure out exactly how he was going to accomplish this task, despite his own considerable abilities. Eventually Justen and Cory started dangling too far off the back, and were not to be seen again until after the finish.

We passed in and out of many sections of loamy singletrack, using our common experience from riding in wetter climes to maintain our evenly matched pace up and over all the roots and rocks. Eventually, we caught sight of the other Andrew (Watson) and Matt (Paziuk) who coincidentally shared not only the same first names as my riding partners, but were also the leaders in the under 40 team category, similar to the Handfords who were in turn leading the over 40 team category. While the physical distance was short between our groups, Paziuk and Watson always seemed to be one steep rise ahead of our threesome, and we were not making up any further ground.

I decided to make an attempt to bridge up to them on my own, as a reprise of our work together on day 1. We were served up a variety of rough-hewn trails much different from the managed trail systems used for many races. Hike a bike sections were steep now, as opposed to only waterlogged mystery pools as in previous days, although both shared moments of slippery, uncertain footing. The experience harkened back to years in the not so distant past, when I actually might have considered myself a much more well-rounded athlete possessed of agility, coordination and an explosive spring, instead of now being reduced to "just a cyclist" as a result of injuries accumulated in those other endeavours. Those skills would have served me very well to continue making good time while the bike was slung over my shoulder, but sadly these abilities were no longer in my arsenal, and existed only in my memories instead. Watson and Paziuk were still moving along at a decent pace, and it was only was significant effort that I was able to close the gap. We proceeded onward together through the ongoing rat's nest of singletrack.

At one point we came to the crest of a heinous 4x4 track with massively deep ruts running down both sides of an imposing hump running down the centre like a huge spine down the entire descent. I took the last position in our line, safely navigated half way down, but then suffered a moment of indecision regarding my line, and next thing I knew had a foot down on the ground with all my momentum stalled. It was not a desirable section on which to lose one's flow and attempt a restart. I watched Andrew and Matt complete the section smoothly, and then ride out of sight as I stumbled awkwardly down the rest of the descent.

I must admit to falling victim to a flash of anger and irritation from this bobble which was clearly my own fault, but succeeded in channeling it into fuel for my resolve to regain the ground I had lost. Reconnecting was hard earned, but with the stage drawing nearer to a close I was confident I could safely expend the energy required. After a few more minutes which would likely have displayed some alarming values on a heart rate monitor if I had actually been wearing one, I eventually caught sight of and ultimately crept back on to the wheel of Matt and Andrew. A couple of slightly hairy descents lent some excitement to our journey, including one section where I managed to come to a complete stop on a sharp downhill corner, locked into a trackstand with my bars wedged straight into a tree. Along the way we passed eventual singlespeed champion Mark Summers, who was masterful in his performance for all 3 days and still looked strong as beast even as we went by him.

Suspecting that their category lead was now unassailable barring complete disaster, Andrew and Matt elected to stop and refuel at the final aid station as a guarantee against an untimely bonk so late in the event. As with both previous stages, I had packed and metered out enough liquids and food to last me to the finish each day without stopping, and chose instead to make my final push to the line alone. My event had now come full circle. While the first 2 stages had elicited many instances of personal adversity and despair, there were no such encumbrances to be encountered on this charmed day. Knowing that only a few segments remained, any lingering worries about a sudden catastrophic back failure finally dissipated in their entirety. My mental state reached an optimal balance of relaxation and alertness, opening up the efforts in my legs as if they had grown wings.

Another segment of singletrack flew by, during which I spotted Imad Elghazal on the high speed descent exiting out of the section, stopped at the side of the trail repairing a flat. "Poor Imad", I thought to myself. Ahead of me on every stage, yet waylaid before the finish with leg cramps on day 2, and now a flat on day 3.

A few kilometers of hard, fast gravel road beside a stretch of lakefront cottages were all that separated me from the closing Normac trail. I wondered if it would have been better to wait for Watson and Paziuk to set up a paceline, but with the high rate at which I was covering ground I'm not sure if it would have mattered. From the previous section of singletrack and onwards, I was enraptured within a flow all of my own, and having others around me might have served only to disturb my trance.

The Normac trail was a playground of naturally craggy singletrack, all coated with a smattering of slightly greasy mud to promote welcome forays into 2 wheel drifts through many of the corners. While the trail itself was wonderful, the elapsed time was already longer than I had expected, and so I reigned in my pace slightly to be certain that I didn't overextend myself if the route continued much further. A moment of panic ensued after I passed a trail intersection where I didn't notice any markings. Normally, this is an indication to proceed through on the straightest line, of course, but I was guilty of having my head down while pumping away, and unsure whether to reverse course and double check or proceed at risk of going off course. Within another couple of kilometers, the ground softened again and I was relieved to see what I expected was approximately the correct number of fresh tire tracks in front of me. I stoked my fires once again after the previous few hesitant minutes and launched myself back into the task at hand with full force.

When the 1km to go sign appeared I couldn't help but crack a smile. The final few turns yielded one awkward moment as the route seemed to take an unexpected twist that had me almost stalled while trying to make a course correction, and was apparently also the undoing earlier on of Derek Zandstra who seemed poised to try for the stage win but was usurped by Matt Hadley. In the overall under 40 solo Peter Glassford of the Trek Store Team was masterful in his consistency and tactics on the way to the win.

As I rounded the final corner with the finish line in sight, I heard none other than Angry Johnny yelling "C'mon old man!", apparently to spur me into a final kick. As another few pedal strokes brought me closer to Johnny's view his original elation was replaced by a wailing cry of despair along the lines of, "It's not Ted, it's Klymson!". Thanks Johnny, happy to see you too man... I can understand though. It's the team manager's job to look after the big prizes, and for our team that was the overall win for Ted in the 40+ solo, rather than my non-contending status in the under 40. To this end, Johnny may have been pondering why I was there finishing by myself, instead of supporting a team mate further back who was in contention for an overall win. Stage results bore out my feelings, with a 7th place finish, having Dave Dermont in the over 40 solo and Robert Parniak, who rode a fantastic event all 3 days and really took it to me and others, both finishing less than a minute ahead of me;

http://www.cranktheshield.com/9-21.htm

While it would be convenient to dig deep into the school of coulda / shoulda / woulda looking for that extra minute that would have put me home in 5th position overall on the day (i.e. first loser behind the 4 untouchables) a wiser man would guess that every racer probably had their own instances of lost time for various reasons, and so the speculation is neither here nor there. When all is said and done, what the results show is what a rider deserves, no more and no less.

Time gaps across all competitors were much tighter on this day than on previous stages, partially due to the shorter duration, and also likely due to more of the time being spent in the saddle instead of on foot. Even with the smaller spreads, I managed to undo almost all the damage of day 2 in the overall standings, edging back ahead of both Cory and Justen;

http://www.cranktheshield.com/9-21-GC.htm

While minimizing my losses on day 2 might have put me in a better position relative to the over 40 solo (I wouldn't have even made the podium - geez those geriatric dudes are quick) it wouldn't have done anything for me in my own category. Rob Parniak was too solid, and the top 4 were on another planet altogether.

As riders continued to filter in, the day eventually rolled into the BBQ and award festivities. Adam and Sean looking pleased to have it in the bag after venturing out into uncharted waters with this event, despite proven experience with other formats. An obviously proud father Tom Ruppel flittered around the event every day. Seeing his boundless energy, it's easy to understand where his sons get it from. I'll be happy camper indeed if I can be like myself that in a couple of decades. Like all Chico events, Crank the Shield managed to somehow retain a small, grassroots event atmosphere even within the scope of a much larger and more complex enterprise. Planned changes for Crank the Shield 2009 have already promised way less bogs (entertaining as the were in their own way) and way more singletrack.

Bus shuttles returning to Buckwallow after the BBQ ran like clockwork. Amazingly, we were delivered to our vehicles almost on the exact minute specified on the master event itinerary. The scene at the Buckwallow parking lot resembled the end of a high school dance. Lots of people standing around, talking, kicking tires, and doing everything possible to avoid saying goodbye.

My event began as it started, with a drive back to Toronto courtesy of Dave Stowe. Over the years I've learned a lot about many people, both spoken and unspoken, during a myriad of driving expeditions to and from mountain biking. For me riding is simply another venue within which to explore what makes people tick, whether that's in relation to myself or others. We resumed our previous discussions about my wife and kids, Dave's previous background and future dreams of resuming epic bicycle touring, and the nuances of his work within automotive engineering. That discussion set against the backdrop of moving traffic, and all the others like it that I was privy to over the previous 3 days were my reason for going to Crank the Shield, and the reason why I will go again this year.

Thanks again to all my fellow participants, event volunteers, supporting sponsors and partners, and of course the entire Chico event crew.
 

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All my faucets is Moen.
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1,293 Posts
Thanks for that Circlip. All three days were an extremely enjoyable read, particularly Stage 2's post race events. I agree with BCD, the involvement of the other riders and telling their stories was a fantastic addition to your race report.

As the events participants continue to grow and the course gets re-routed for the better it seems as if you were apart of something very special; a small, grassroots atmosphere, as you mention in the waning paragraphs of Stage 3.

Congratulations on a great race in 2008 and good luck this fall.
 

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No. Just No.
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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
thedumbopinion said:
All three days were an extremely enjoyable read, particularly Stage 2's post race events. I agree with BCD, the involvement of the other riders and telling their stories was a fantastic addition to your race report.
Thanks T.D.O., and everyone else who took the time to read, also to those who provided comments in all 3 threads, and lastly to the denizens of the Eastern forum for not giving me any guff about using the board as a de facto blog for a few days.

I had wanted to do those writeups ever since the event, but only recently found the right chunks of free time, mostly after the kids were in bed now that school has resumed and put them back on a normal schedule. Maybe they were a more interesting read now anyhow, without as much other riding news and stories floating around?

Regarding the fine details, it is somewhat interesting how clear they have remained even after several months. I can only speculate this is due to the point to point course format, and also that we rode trails that were all new to me. Consequently, everything stood out as being somewhat novel, compared to a looped format race for example at any trail system that I regularly ride. With these, I often find it difficult to remember what lap a specific event occurred on, or even when thinking about it months afterwards whether I am confusing that race with another race at the same venue on another date.

From a personal perspective, I'm happy that Crank the Shield generated some vivid memories for me, since this is the real value that we take away from any event.
 

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Evil Jr.
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Circlip said:
At one point we came to the crest of a heinous 4x4 track with massively deep ruts running down both sides of an imposing hump running down the centre like a huge spine down the entire descent. I took the last position in our line, safely navigated half way down, but then suffered a moment of indecision regarding my line, and next thing I knew had a foot down on the ground with all my momentum stalled. It was not a desirable section on which to lose one's flow and attempt a restart. I watched Andrew and Matt complete the section smoothly, and then ride out of sight as I stumbled awkwardly down the rest of the descent.
It's funny how differently everyone I've talked to has reacted to this section. Some loved it. Others absolutely hated it.

For me, it was one of the most memorable challenges of the race. I remember cackling wildly all the way, gingerly tip-toeing down "the line" until I got to the bottom where the marshall asked me "What's wrong?"

"Nothing. That was amazing!" :D
 

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garage monster said:
It's funny how differently everyone I've talked to has reacted to this section. Some loved it. Others absolutely hated it.

For me, it was one of the most memorable challenges of the race. I remember cackling wildly all the way, gingerly tip-toeing down "the line" until I got to the bottom where the marshall asked me "What's wrong?"

"Nothing. That was amazing!" :D
I remember that descent explicedly. I absolutely loved it.

I rode a 6.5" travel Santa Cruz Nomad, so I had to take full advantage of it's downhill capabilities to counteract the uphill disadvantages. When I was navigating this descent,I came across someone walking down the spine, somehow at a very high rate of speed, I found myself in the left rut. Without losing much momentum, I managed to get back up on the spine just in time to miss a large boulder.As I passed the marshal and First Aid Unit, with a big ass grin:D on my face, they gave me a big thumbs up. What a Rush!

That day I found myself blasting down the the rough lines many times to get around the slower descenders using the smoothest lines. It may have not been the safest race strategy, but I had my best finish that day. 11th. Had to use my bike and skills to their fullest capabilities. Isn't that what it's all about?

CTS Rider #70
 

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signed up last night!

Thanks for the great post -- it got me moving and I registered for CTS last night. I loved the race last year and it sounds even better next year. Sounds like the Chico crew are going to try and ensure a less boggy route. Hopefully they'll lengthen the stages somewhat too. Without the bogs last year's course would have been a whole lot quicker -- likely taking it out of the "mega adventure" category...
 

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Looking for Adventure
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Nice, very nice......My favourite stage by far.
I remember starting the neutral ride with rubbery legs and foggy brain, but as soon as I hit the Haliburton Forest singletrack sections it all came together with high octane riding and a big grin on my face.

That grin remained on the faces of my partner and I, even several days later, together with a very deep contentment and happy glow of the memorable experience.

This race is highly recommended for everyone, not just elite athletes (for which I am not).
 
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