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Friday, September 25, 2020

Race Report: Fall Epic 8h - COVID edition


The Start

Normally the start at these races is crowded and horrible... hundreds of people in a giant bunch, storming up some double track and eventually all getting to singletrack and having to wait if they're not in the first dozen or so riders.

I didn't miss that!

Today, instead, you could start whenever you wanted.  Peaceful.

The First Lap and The Course

I literally had the entire course to myself - I was the second person to start today, didn't catch the guy in front of me and nobody caught up to me.

Very nice "recon" lap - and it also ended up being my fastest lap. 

One thing I noticed straight away - lots of singletrack, right from the hop.  Since they didn't have a mass start, I guess they didn't have to worry about spreading people out.  Climbing on real trails was kind of nice, better than trudging up the lonnnnnng double track climb at Hardwood Hills!

There was still one steep double track climb, and I dreaded it every lap - but far better.

The theme of this course seemed to be "very doable singetrack" - there really wasn't any feature you HAD to take that was particularily difficult.  I had difficulty with one log-over, it was right on a turn and you had to really heave your front end - my back has been bugging me and first lap it screamed "don't do that again", so I didn't.  Other than that I was able to ride everything.

The other things I wasn't quite ready for - the last km in the previous race I did was easy peasy.  This time they threw us onto the Pan Am course!  It was not easy peasy.  Rideable, but in that closing km I wanted to just bomb down a hill and be done!

All in all a beautiful course that takes in a lot of the best of Hardwood Hills, really enjoyed it.

Lap 2

This lap was scrappy as hell for me and I'm not sure why.  Just never quite got a rhythm.

Lap 3, 4, 5

... in fact the entire first half was scrappy as hell!  Finally settled in a bit near the 4th hour, but before that I was overcooking the climbs, dying, back was hurting, hamstrings, just everything.

Ultra Endurance Events

I haven't done anything like this in awhile, and I forget just how much your mind messes with you.

"You can stop after this lap, grab lunch and be home with a beer in a few hours..... rather than torturing yourself....."

I was pretty gassed at times, joyful and fine at others.  The pains come, they go.  

But the mental part of it is the toughest.

I mentioned I had some back problems - so the key for me was to keep loose and smooth, not clench up.  I managed to finally find that happy place, and then things got better.

Lap 6, 7, 8, 9, 10...

I want to say I "mailed them in" and I kind of did.  Call it pacing, but I really needed to manage myself today to make sure I could endure...

I never had a lights-out lap but I was pretty steady, laps were within a few minutes of each other from lap 3 on.  A few minutes under 50 for the most part.  Not lighting the world on fire by any stretch!

Ultimately I finished strong and with a smile on my face.

I did 100km which was my main goal.

My back didn't get screwed up.

All good!


Pulse Racing did a great job pulling together an event in a year when events were almost non-existent.  It was awesome being out there, on the course it barely felt different (except way less TRAFFIC which I didn't really miss haha!)

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Race Preview: Epic Fall 8h - COVID edition

Personal Update (feel free to skip)

Haven't blogged much this year, so quick update.  COVID has been actually... pretty good for me.

I've lost 20lbs so far, biked more than usual, and just generally enjoyed exploring the world on my gravel bike.  Working from home means hitting the bike at 4 or 5, hours to enjoy the world all summer!

Alberta Gravel Farmland
Took a road trip to visit family in Alberta so hit some new gravel roads there, it was a hoot exploring my home town.

Then a crash at Hardwood Hills took me out a few weeks ago - it was a bad one, from height (clipped a tree entering a bridge feature thing).  X-rays negative, but lots of pain for a couple weeks.  Just emerging now.

But enough about me... the race! 


A race!  Finally!

The format is simple - you have 8h to do as many laps as you can.  Most laps wins

I've done this one once before solo, way back in 2013.

That was before COVID... so there was a mass start, course crowding (especially on lap 1!) and a party atmosphere.

With COVID the race has already started - in fact this is the last weekend to do it!  Every day has a cap of 100 riders total, start whenever you want, keep track of your own lap times... it's on the honour system.

I assume most people will be honourable, but I'm not fighting for podiums so not anything I need to get too fussed about either way.

My Readiness and Plan

The crash from a few weeks ago set me back a little, but not tooooo much.  I was able to bike pretty much a week after, and last weekend put 200km on my gravel bike over 8h - so I'm back in business.  Did a quick mountain bike yesterday just to make sure the back was OK, it was.

Last time I did this I took a bottle per lap and that worked out well.  I don't have 10+ bottles that fit in the cage of my new bike though, so I might have to stop and refill at some point from a jug.  I toyed with chugging a litre of fluid between laps and not keeping anything on the bike, maybe that's still an option.

There is a 100km pin award if you can get 10 laps in - so that's the goal.  The course will really dictate more than anything how feasible that is, I should know after lap 1 whether I can do it!  The last lap has to be done by 8h30m so that is a 51 minute lap max, including the time spent stopped.

I just remember how shredded my body was after 11 laps in 7h50m last time... not sure I would be even able to mail in a late lap if it would put me over 8h... but I guess we'll see?