I did the "half". I literally noticed this race was even a thing last night, on Facebook, when they posted some stuff about it... so a few beers in, I stopped drinking abruptly and bravely readied myself to ... race.
|Race Bib. Helpful Emergency Numbers. Not that it's dangerous, but you know.|
And it was hard.
This race is part of the XCMarathon series - basically a bunch of lonnnnng mountain bike races.
24km or 48km doesn't sound long - but this is mountain biking, single track, and trust me - it's long. I can hammer out 60km in a couple hours (and change) on my road bike, but it took me just as long to finish the 24km!
The format of this one is an "Individual Time Trial". Riders started 30 seconds apart from a start "hut" (a trailer) with a ramp - it was very authentic-ish.
It was self-seeded - but past participants were the first to go, based on their results. I was really planning to mail this one in, so I seeded myself pretty far back...
The forecast was terrible - but the organizer convinced me on Facebook that the Dufferin County Forest we'd be riding in drained very well, and it wouldn't be muddy.
He was mostly right - it was really incredible that everywhere else in Ontario there's standing water everywhere, but these trails were 97% mud free. Awesome!
It actually wasn't raining at all at first - but right as the half marathon folks were going it started to pour. I ducked under the little tent, and then fortunately it let up... which lead me to make a kind of dubious decision to go a bit earlier than I maybe should have.
My plan was originally to go pretty close to the back - but sizing up the crowd I figured I could go after about 75% of them had started. Also I was worried it'd start to rain again before I got a chance to start and get a little warm.
That was... wrong. The thing about people who do mountain bike races in the rain in early April is that they're pretty bloody hardcore.
I'm hardcore in that I'm resilient to weather - but I'm certainly not a hardcore mountain bike racer!!! I can't really hold a candle to these folks...
Guy in puffy jacket? Passed me.
Lady with grey hair? Passed me.
Lots of other ladies, passed me. Dudes fatter than me, passed me.
I didn't see the guy in pants. Literally wearing street pants. So I'm calling that a win.
Oh one other thing - this was my first mountain bike ride of the year, other than one snow ride in Feb. It's amazing how different it is. The sharp climbs destroyed me, my confidence in the corners just wasn't there... all the time in the world on the trainer and roads just doesn't prepare for it.
So I sucked. Deep. I chugged along though, just happy to be out on the trails.
The map showed two loops, one big, then a return to near the Start/Finish, then a second smaller loop.
... although I think I may have read it wrong, because on Strava now I can see the second loop was actually longer, and much much tougher!!! So after finishing the "long" first loop in 45 minutes I was thinking I was at least halfway, maybe more!
I was not.
My total time was 2h19. I didn't even have the distance showing on my Garmin - I just kept expecting to round the next corner and see the road to the finish... but it just never happened.
Worse, the last hour was really wet. Rain coming down, not pouring but steady enough that I was soaked.
Worse, the sharp little climbs destroyed me. I'm really good at steady road efforts, and total shit at punchy stuff without much recovery - which pretty much describes mountain bike racing.
So it was a tough day.
Learned a bit.
All's well that ends well.