The Dirty Duo is the first race of the season and it is always a doozy. The factors that make it this way is the time of year, (March is still technically winter and winter sports for most). The weather is always dicey and snow is usually still on the trails and the course is the most technical out there I bet!. So forget about breaking yourself in slowly to the race season, this one just throws you into the fire.
The race has many options: one being a relay which involves a 25k trail run and a 30km mountain bike ride. My friend Robin volunteered to do the run part of the race so we could participate as a team. We have both done this event in the past but as different competitors. I used to be mainly a runner, therefore, I would enter this event to do both the run and the ride. The run was the cruisy part of the event for me and the ride was merely a practice of survival. It trashed me each time but gave you a sense of accomplishment and feeling of toughness knowing you could get through it, especially in March.
What a trooper, Robin is pulling out a 25 km run after only a month or so of training, (though she had a base to begin with). This course has no cruisey elements to it, lots of technicalÂ climbing and descending. Plus, you can always countÂ on a chilly wet day to add to the mix.
Robin arrived at the start line at 8am to start the run component and, based on her prediction, I planned to be at the start line for the tag off after 3 hours. She knew it would take her at least that long to complete. Since I live only 10 minutes away from the start line I rode there for 11am.
I ran into some familiar faces who were also on the ride side of the relay, so we chatted and passed the time waiting for our runners. We decided to ride up a bit and greet them for the last leg of the ride to help keep them inspired for the home stretch. The course was trickier this year so Robin did an amazing job coming in under 4 hours. I rode with her for the last stretch and then after a big hug and brief exchange I hit the road. I knew the course was challenging but tried to treat it as an intense training ride as I was riding alone for the majority of the course
For the most part the ride went well, it poured rain but really once you start riding who really cares, (I have no problem with the wet if I am moving). The course had a mix for everyone: technical xc, steep climbs, technical downhill and fitness elements to boot. However, this course really requires an ability to ride a mountain bike since it includes: Circuit 8, Bridal Path, Neds and Bottletop as part of the course. Those who are only road fit need not apply!
The only mechanical issue I had was completely silly on my part and self-inflicted. My seat post was loose and began descending slowlyÂ unbeknownst to me until I got to a really steep part of a climb and felt my legs lose a lot of power plus the sensation of my knees almost grazing my nose. This happened several times as I was too panicked to actually set it properly each time it had slipped down but in the end it was more humourous and a learning lesson on proper race preparation and set up. I was more concerned with getting things set up at the homefront for my absence, than getting me in race mode, which in reality is always more important!
The highlight was enjoying a super fun downhill rip on Neds and Bottletop after a steep and techy climb with elements of loose rock, heavy water and near the top solid snow. I forgot how fun Neds was on a little bike as it is bumpy but with all the grippy rock that trail is made to ride in these conditions. There was snow for about 30 metres or so but after that it was a good and grippy ride!
The end of the race had a nice steady climb and more fun desending, (non technical but fun to finish the race on). It was a nice downhill finish which put a big smile on my face when I knew I reached that point.
Overall, when I sit back and reflect on the event I was pretty excited to be back in the saddle racing after a summer of being broken, (my leg) and being pregnant, (which of course was a worthwhile cause). It is great to test yourself to keep the intensity and inspiration going. I really had no clue where I was at since I haven’t raced cross-country beforeÂ and haven’tÂ even ridden with anyone for a long while.
Next is the Suburban Rush, maybe the Westcoast Super D and then the Test of Metal. I am super inspired and excited for spring conditions. All those hours on the bike trainer and riding in the cold and rain are starting to pay off. Get on your bikes peeps!