Friday, June 22, 2012

A Failing Grade

Toed the line at another event that Brian talked me into. This time, it was a 67km mountain bike race, the Test of Metal, in Squamish BC. I've never really put in any serious miles on the bike, and at 67k the race would be about the longest I'd ridden a bike, period, through some pretty epic terrain.
I didn't really know what to expect but figured going into it worst case scenario, it's a nice long slow ride through the scenic Howe Sound forest.
Weather reports were looking pretty good at the start of the week, but by Friday morning, the weather for Saturday race day was warm and 100% chance of precipitation. They were calling for about 30 ml of rain in the afternoon and we got every drop.
Saturday was pouring rain as expected, and me and Gunner lined up with the other 800 riders to get to it. Self seeded and lined up near the back of the pack.
Race started with a long climb out of town through the neighbourhood and even in the nasty weather there were still quite a few families that came out to support the riders. Thanks for all you who showed up. It was much appreciated.
After about a half and hour, the course cut into the singletrack, and about 10 seconds after that, I was covered in mud and had a half pound of sand in my eye.
Rolling singletrack, fire road descents, sweet rooty snaky lines under the heavy canopy. It was awesome, and with the heavy tree cover I really didn't notice that it was raining that hard. or maybe it's because I was already soaked. Either way, feeling good and starting to move up through the field. Our self seeding had been a bit conservative.
After the course popped out of the canopy, Brian dropped me on a windy steep section. I caught up to him and he took off, encouraging me to hurry up. The top of the climb was close and the next few kms were banked downhill corners where we could make up a lot of ground on the field if we hustled.
At the top I noticed that my brakes were getting a little spongy and mentioned to Gunner that I should have got new pads. within a minute or two, my levers were to my bars and the wheels were still rolling. I had lost all stopping power!
I popped my feet out of the pedals and dragged them in the mud to stop and jumped into the bushes at the side of the course to prevent from getting run over.
The lines of my brakes had blown and I lost all the fluid as I pumped my levers coming down the hill. Nothing that could be repaired except in a bike shop, so my race was over after about 2 hours. Had to run my bike down this killer singletrack that I would have loved to ride to get to the junction and ask how to get to the finish line.
Long walk back to the finish. People were really cool about asking if i needed anything on my way back, but i got kind of bummed having to keep saying 'No thanks, i'm done'.
Got back to the finish line and had a realization: Brian and I rode up together and I don't have a key for his vehicle.
He was expecting a 5 hour finish, meaning I had three hours in the rain to wait for him.
Luckily, the guys from Daryl Evans racing had a trailer and a tent up there so i managed to find some shlter for a bit and mooch a jacket.
After a long wet wait, gunner came rolling up with a broken bike as well. Done in by his own kindness, his race report is on his blog.
So, all in all, a short day, and a disappointment. But, legs felt good and I was having a blast up till the mechanical.
The event was great: right at the finish line they had a bike wash set up to hose off the mud. The race starts and ends at a rec center, and outside the pool there they had two dudes with garden hoses using warm water to hose down the riders. Race entry included a free pass to the aquatic center, so after the hose bath, into the pool for a nice warm shower and a hot tub.
Definitely heading back next year with better training, repaired bike, and hopes for better weather.


runninggunner said...

next year homey. next year.

jameson said...

bigups for jumping into a race out of your comfort zone. sounds like a killer race. the 50 miler i did a couple of weeks ago reignited my passion for endurance MTB events... can't wait to do another!