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Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Race Report: EB 2.0 - Eager Beaver 100 - DNS

I didn't start the race.  Wasn't feeling well, sore throat (which ended up exploding into a full blown head/chest cold).

So that's that.  It looked really cool from what pics I saw.  Next year.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Race Preview: EB 2.0 - Eager Beaver 100

This race looks cool... race website

Gravel, gravel, gravel.  A little pavement (not much) and some "sections" - difficult to ride stuff, apparently.  Oh and hills, lots of hills.

Flashback: Tour de Creemore...

... a long time ago, there was a ride called the "Tour de Creemore".  It started and finished at the brewery in Creemore.  It was gravel, hills, and the odd right of way with rocks and stuff that you'd never think of driving in a vehicle.

It was the first thing I did longer than the Ride for Heart.  It was hard.

Sadly, it morphed into a road ride eventually, all asphault, so I stopped doing it.

It was hard, fun, and ahead of its time!

Flashforward: Eager Beaver!

Some of the roads and climbs are from the original Tour de Creemore course!  I'm delighted.

I signed up for this months ago when I was in much better shape and much lighter.  Now I'm in pretty terrible shape and weight a good 15-20 pounds more than I should.

What could go wrong?  I'm going to mostly just mail this one in I figure, suffer, and hope to finish the 100km before the 160km guys finish their race.

I did a test gravel ride last week, it was +32C and I died horribly.  If it was going to be that hot I was going to bail on this one, but it won't be, so I'm in.  Oh August, why are you so cruel?

I'm doing the 100km.  100 miles of gravel just sounded too ambitious - epic, but too ambitious.  Another year I might try it.

Here goes nothing!

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Race Report: Rockstar Adventure Relay (8 hour)

Whew.  That was tough.

Run to the Start

This race started with a short run to the start line, presumably to separate the bikes out a little.  It was about 1.5km, got the juices flowing.  We held back pretty well, especially on the hills... 8 hours was going to be a long day, no use blowing up in the first 10 minutes!

The Bike

This year was interesting - there were three separate parts to the bike.  On each part you had to get a poker chip of a different colour, then present all 3 to prove you'd gotten them all.  You could get the chips in any order.

We realized early on that the singletrack trails would be a pain if they were crowded... but we decided to do that one first anyway, as it flowed nicely into the second trail for the next chip.  It wasn't too bad, but we did get held up for a few seconds here and there with traffic.

After that we took a little shortcut road into the next chip, and finally popped out and did the paved road section.  When we got back to the bike racks there weren't many bikes there - so we were feeling pretty good.

Trekking and Paddling

The next roughly 7 hours were completely freestyle - you had a map with a bunch of checkpoints, each having different point values, and you had to get to as many as possible using only your boat or your feet.

We decided to go for the big point value checkpoints, which looked like they were mostly near trails with a little bit of bushwacking.

But first we had to canoe to that area - which was no problem.  We snagged a high value island checkpoint along the way, they just for fun did this weird inner tube checkpoint (use an inner tube to go out to the checkpoint, about 150m or so, then return to shore).

Then it got less fun.

Day after - scratched up legs
We missed what on the map was supposed to be an intersection of several trails... we looked for it - but we didn't see a trail.  By the time we realized it, we had to figure out another plan - so we again trusted the map and tried to follow the "Maka Ina" trail.

Apparently "Maka Ina" translated to english means "not actually a trail".  We saw several signs suggesting we were on a trail - but each time there was absolutely no sign of a trail.  In some cases we were perched up on cliffs, where a trail couldn't have ever existed... but it insisted we were on a trail.

It ended up being pure drudgery.  Bushwacking and cliff scaling for about an hour, while confoundedly looking at our map trying to figure out where the hell we were...while getting eaten alive by deer flies... until finally, mercifully, we found a checkpoint.  It was supposed to be at a beaver dam - ended up being the 3rd beaver dam we found - ugh!

That one was worth 80 points, from there we knocked off the 90 and two 100 point checkpoints in relatively short order.  But again, this was all bushwacking, with about a kilometer between each one - so it was a long long slog.  My legs can attest to the conditions!  My eye is puffy from a deer fly bite, my hand too, it was really hellish.

We finally got the last of the big scores - a 100 point checkpoint - only to have the realization that we were very far from anything.  It was literally another hour before we managed to get back to the road and civilization... all told we had spent 3 hours hitting just 4 checkpoints.


Fortunately we popped out near an easy 40 pointer, which we snagged before starting the relatively long (but unimpeded) run back to our canoe!

Better Days

Once we got back to the canoe things got a bit better.  We hit a bunch of the lower value but easy scores on the lake - 60 in the middle of the lake, a 40 and 50 at the top of it, and the 40 point paddleboard challenge.

Somewhere in all of this, though, I managed to lose a bag with our medical kit in it.  I had it fastened with the bungee cords on my hydration kit - as I drank they must have loosened, because it had popped right out.

Gear Check...

There was a mandatory check-in back at the start/finish, which we knew would include a gear check - hopefully it wouldn't be something I had lost!  Unfortunately it was the flashlight, and that had been in my medical kit.

Crap.  20 minute penalty.

The only bright side was during the penalty we were able to rehydrate and refuel, and plan out what we'd do until the end.  After the penalty we'd have only about an hour to go.

Last Hour

We decided we were in for a penny, in for a pound - and went for the highest value checkpoint left, a 70 pointer near the main trails we'd used on the bike.  On the way we hit an easy 20, then a ridiculously tricky 30 pointer (we actually missed it at first, picked it up on the way back thanks to some help!).

The 70 point checkpoint was out by a marsh, and through brambles and awful crap again.  But we were great with our navigation and found ourselves within about 50m of it when we emerged by the pond.

On the way out I lost my footing and hit the deck - leg right onto a branch.  I was lucky not to pierce myself entirely, got away with what will surely be a bad bruise.


We were about mid-pack, which was pretty satisfying for our first 8 hour attempt.  We learned a little more about these races, and the area it's run in... so we'll be ready to rock next year.

We also got some intel that the other areas weren't nearly as bad... the trails were rough ATV trails, but they were real trails.  So good to know for next year (and don't tip off anyone else!)

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Race Preview: Rockstar Adventure Race (8 hour)

We did the 4 hour version last year.  It went well.  Very well, in fact!

How do you follow that up?  The 8 hour version of course!

The race starts like a normal race - you follow a marked mountain bike course.

But once that's done everything changes - there is no "course", just a map showing the location of a bunch of checkpoints.  You can get to them by canoe or foot, taking whatever route you choose.  Each one has a specified point value, and the team with the most points at the end wins.

It isn't always about being the fastest - last year we definitely weren't, but we won our category.  The strategy around what order you do things in to maximize the checkpoints you can get to is the real key.

Some are far and are worth a lot of points - but if they're too far and take too much time then it may be better to hit a bunch that are clustered together and worth less!  Some involve weird challenges - last year I had to go out into some swampy pond on an inner tube to get to the checkpoint, another my buddy had to use a stand-up paddle board around a course.

Should be a lot of fun - it was last year anyway!

Only downside.... the weather.  July in Ontario is just stinky hot, and this weekend will be worse than normal - well into the 30's.  8 hours is going to be tough.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Dog Days of Summer

This has been my worst summer for training in many many years.  We've just been so busy as a family, too much going on!  I've managed to squeeze in a ride a week and a spotty run, but that's about it.

At least I don't have any races coming.  Oh other than an 8 hour adventure race... whoooops!  That should be fun.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Race Report: Big East River X 2016

Interesting race.

Big East River X is a 40km canoe race.  This year we did it in the stock C2 category (two people canoe).

The start went well - we managed to tag on to the back of the biggest glut of boats.  Water was calm as we went through the "narrows" and into the lake.

There was some confusion - we were supposed to go around an orange buoy, but there was also an orange windsock... most people went around it, even though it was out of the way!  We didn't, and someone called us cheaters... but I assume they would retract that when they found the later actual buoy.

Up River

Then we got to the river.  It starts out wide and deep with minimal current.  At that point we were going neck and neck with another boat, we seemed to be able to match their pace pretty well.  First we were leading, then we were drafting.

But as the river became more complicated, it became clear their ability to control the boat far surpassed ours... we could muscle through things reasonably enough, but wildly off course while they held really nice lines.  Before long a small gap turned into a large gap turned into them being out of touch entirely.

Most of the difficulty was finding the channel in the river - there were a lot of sandbars, and it wasn't always obvious where the deep part was (if there was one at all!).  Really slowed us down.

Down River

We should have been able to make up time - but when I look at our speed, we didn't.  Again, our ability to read the river just wasn't good enough... we kept getting ourselves into places where you couldn't paddle, or taking bad lines. Traffic had a bit to do with that, lots of boats going up while we were going down, some of them doing some pretty wild things!

Overtaking people was a bit of a challenge too - the main channel is narrow, and people didn't seem to want to budge.  These were C1s that had a 10 minute head start, so we weren't really racing them - they should have been more generous in my opinion!  One lady parked her boat right in the middle and didn't acknowledge us at all... she was just fast enough that when we got out of the main channel it was hard to get ahead of her.  Finally I used a corner to throw it down the inside and give her no choice but to go wide to make the corner without contact.  Not ideal, but hey, that's racing.

There was one boat behind us pretty much the entire race - they would get closer, we'd hear their voices, increase the pace... only to have them catch up again.  This went on and on!  We just couldn't lose them.

The Lake

When we exited the river to the lake it was a shock - the wind had whipped up some rockin' and rollin' waves.  Pretty serious business - we had a hard time just keeping the boat moving forward!  At least it felt like that, in the end our pace was pretty OK... except the guys behind us caught up to us.

We tried to hold them off, but just couldn't close the gap.

Then the crazy happened - a motorboat passed us on the left, then immediately cut right in front of us, nearly swamping us in massive wake.  @#$%!!!  By law you are responsible for your wake!  Even just as a courtesy you'd think you'd be more aware of canoes, but NOPE.  We managed to collect ourselves and keep plowing ahead, but that was pretty damn scary.

We made one final push to the end but couldn't catch the boat in front - couldn't have been more than 15 or 20s gap.  Ah well.


We were 10/15 in C2 Stock all male.  4:47:33, about 32 minutes behind the winners.

From my GPS:
Start to mouth of river (5.4km): 8.8km/h
Upstream (13.9km): 7.4km/h
Downstream (13.7km): 8.4km/h
Mouth to finish (5.4km): 8.4km/h

Our overall average was only 8.0km/h, which isn't great - but our pace is pretty normal for us in all of the sections.  Except downstream... I would have expected that to have gone better.  But the river was tricky, and it seems to have cost us.  (Also I'm not sure how great the GPS is at capturing distance over all those twists and turns!).

So all in all a pretty good outing and a reminder that we still have a lot to learn in this sport!

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Race Preview: Big East River X 2016

Lonely... I'm so lonely....
Ahhhh beautiful Muskoka!

40km canoe race, starting in Huntsville and eventually making it's way up the Big East River.

I did this race last year as a solo.  This was both a great and terrible idea... I'm glad I did it, but man that was a tough haul.

This year I'll be back but with my canoe partner in a tandem effort.

The Course

It's all really beautiful, really enjoyed it.

It's an out in back, starting on the very wide Muskoka River.

This is followed by Lake Vernon, which was pretty choppy last year (at least on the return leg).  Hopefully the winds cooperate.

Then you get to the star of the show - the Big East River.  You start off upstream, which at first seems pretty easy - but the current gets stronger as you go, and the river narrower and curvy!  By the top the current is really working against you.

Oh and you start to encounter boats coming the other way, first the boats that are beating you, then after the turn-around all the boats you are beating.  It was a bit chaotic and I had a few near misses last year - have to be really on it to predict what everyone is about to do!  Especially with the current and corners, not everyone is fully in control of their path...

The advantage of flying downstream gives way to slower current and eventually it feels like work again.  Then you have to tackle the lake (which was rough last year!) - it's only a few kilometers but by then I was ready for it to be over... and finally the Muskoka River.  Pretty sure it's downstream, but the current is slow, any advantage is minimal.

And that's the race!  Looking forward to it.  I think.