June 29th, 2011 – Testing Testing One Two Three…
Well here we areÂ 4 days away from the start of the BCBR…eek! Actually I am in taper mode and looking forward to my week long biking vacation. This is the mindset I have taken since it will truly be an epic week riding some of the best singletrack in BC and enjoying time away from the daily routine of domesticity.
I have learned a few things this last month that I am sure will come in handy race week.Â The first was proper fuelling during Nimby which has now been solved with a handy little handlebar sack that fits all the food I will need per day and is a cinch to open and close and stays out of my way while riding.
UnfortunatelyÂ another race endingÂ lesson came during the infamous Test of Metal.
I showed up on race day prepared but also a little unsure of what tire pressure to run for the race. Not too familiar with the course I wasn’t sure if higher pressure or a bit lower would be the right choice, especially since it was a rainy morning and I knew the trails would be a bit slick.Â I felt during Nimby that I was riding a bit too hard which was making the very technical uphills a bit trickier.Â So my fellow Muddbunnie teammates let me pinch their tires and we briefly discussed the issue before I decided on the right level for the day.
Off we went! The race starts on the road and continues up and around the local Garibaldi neighbourdhood where you receive a warm welcome from the locals as you begin the 67 km journey. I was feeling pretty good, warming up, getting my groove and enjoying riding with a cheering section.
Once the road and then double track trail ended you find yourself in Jacks trail which can create a bottleneck since it is the first singletrack trail that 900 riders eventually head down. I was hoping to avoid the bottleneck and was happy that I found myself tucked a train of riders which was a fairly leisurely pace but there was no dismounting so I was happy with that.
The TOM is not a technical race and could be classified as a mountain bike fitness test, since having a TOM personal best seems to be a standard in the racing scene. Since I had no idea what time I would achieve I was really just focussed on a good pace with proper fuelling throughout. I didn’t taper for the event based on my BCBR training so I felt good but not completely fresh since I rode all week per usual and enjoyed a few hours out with Cooper in the Chariot the day before. I forgot that riding with Cooper can put a strain on my back and was feeling that on the infamous Nine Mile Climb. Other than that however I felt strong and was enjoying once again the festivities on the course. It is awesome to have hundreds of people hooting and hollering and cheering you on regardless of whether they know you or not. You won’t find that in a secluded singletrack race! . The highlight was a trail called Rollercoaster that was lined with people from top to bottom making the bermy goodness of the trail that much better! So as much as the course as a whole is not overly exciting trail wise the crowds make up for it by boosting your adrenaline for at least a short while.Â Geez, just imagine how the Canucks feel playing at home!
Once I got to the top of the climb (which is really not nine miles and although there are steep bits there are also some plateaus and downhill grade sections…so not as bad as I thought it would be really) the fun began with the Ring Creek Rip. This is basically a long downhill section of double track that is laced with chundry loose rock. Since my tire pressure wasn’t rock hard I wasn’t bouncing around too much so I decided I felt in good control and let the speed build while enjoying the reward after a mundane climb.
Wheeeeee…..oh shoot feeling flat. Yup, back tire pinch flat and to the side of the trail I go. Flat tires happen and definitely not a major mechanical by any means. I think this whole year of training I have only gotten one and before that i can’t even remember the last flat tire I experienced. I must say changing your tire in a hurry while on a slope on the side of a trail makes for a rather fumbly experience. It took me almost 15 minutes to get it on and secure…embarassing..yes.
Phew, happy to be back on the bike! 30 seconds later another pinch flat…huh?Â Oh wait, I usually carry two tubes but left that morning only having one and had to get going so…??
Murphy’s law is right!! I was up s*$% creek without a tube!
I thought I may of lost one of my tools where the first flat occurred so I wandered up and looked around. Riders were whizzing by one by one as the clock ticked and they all knew they were in the final quarter of the race!Â I didn’t find my tool so I wandered back and realized I had to evacuate and get out of there somehow. Just as this was processing a fellow was walking his bike down the trail towards me so I remarked “Looks like we are in the same situation!”. He had had two flats and was out of tubes as well. He said it was quite a walk out and there were no real short cuts so I thought at least we could keep each other company. However, he suggested that he give me his good tube from the front tire. I replied “Why don’t I do the same for you?”. He said he was done and also knew his way well as his lived in Squamish and had done the race before…he knew no personal best was happening so seemed content to help me ride out. So we chatted as we checked my tire for sharp objects to make sure it wouldn’t flat again. After about 45 minutes of not riding I was back on the my bike with very little adrenalin in my system for the duration.
I decided it would be a bit agro of me to tackle the rest of the course and try to pass people aggressively so I patiently rode out and was content with finishing my “training ride”…theÂ plunge was fun and so was Crumpet Woods.Â Â I made it close to the finish before the back tire decided to flat again…not my day! At this point I thought I would go to whatever was closest, the finish or my truck. I saw the truck first and wasn’t really craving the finish line excitement since it all seemed very anticlimatic at this point. So I walked to my truck and called it a day. In hindsight perhaps it wasn’t the best sportsmanship but that is the call I made at that point. My finishing time was irrelevant and it was also time to get home to the family.
I did see Crystal and was soooo stoked that she had such an amazing race…finishin way above her expectations!!! That made my race day! She also took my number to the finishing area to make sure they knew I was okay. Thanks again!Â Michelle also had a great day and rode hard for Team Diabetes…what a great cause!
So I call this TOM the Test. I now know that I need to practice changing a few tires so I am not a fumbling twit if this happens in the BCBR. I also need to run higher pressure and perhaps carry a CO2 cartridge instead of a pump. This doesn’t mean I am getting super serious, I just want to avoid any issues since getting through the 7 days physically will be tough enough.Â I also joked that I brought my flat tire energy to the MB ride last Wednesday as the ride had in total 3 flats as well…hmmm, a coincidence? Strange.Â I really had fun riding with the ladies for the first time this season.Â Â I kept to my rule of no freeriding (ie. structures, jumps etc) until post race.Â Although I am so rusty with that stuff it may take awhile to get my groove again.
So as I pack and double check all my gear (for me and my little man) I also have reviewed my training journal. It is easy to look back and think “should have done a few more hours here…should have ridden that trail more etc.”..but all in all it has to be remembered that a training program gives you guidance and your life and your bodies signals gives you reality.Â I trained without agitating my family by fitting it in during nap times, evenings and early weekend mornings.Â I added a few hours here and there to piece together my training week if need be as well.Â It wasn’t always glamourous but my apprehension about the length of this race really kept the motivation high.
So here I go…into the unknown. I don’t know how my body will react but I sure know that my will is strong and riding 7 days of singletrack will be like a dream! I am excited to travel with my little guy and his awesome grandparents and look forward to seeing his daddy on Day 7 in Whistler. What a week of making memories it will be! Now, would that sun just show up for us already??
4 thoughts on “Aimee’s Blog – Testing Testing…1,2,3”
Wish you the best of luck, Aimee. I’m sure you will do great!
Good luck Aimee!!! Have an awesome ride and can’t wait to hear all about it! I still have no idea how you fit it all in, you are such an inspiration!
Good luck Aimee, can’t wait to read about it when you’re done. I agree with Mic, so inspiring.
After Stage 2, Aimee is in 9th place overall in the Solo Women’s category in the Epic Challenge. Woo hoo! Keep pedalling!