Monday, September 22, 2008
Spanked by Crank
This weekend I went down for the inaugural Crank the Bog, er I mean Shield race. Much of the first two days were a big boggy mess and it turns out that I suck at bogs. After much practice (50km+) of bog slogging, I improved to an at least a below average bog hopper.
Started out in Buckwallow. Did about 10km there which was super fun singletrack. However I was dismayed to hear they didn't include the 5 hardest km's of singletrack which were described as flat Fortune stuff. wtf? That sounds like the kind of thing you might want at a tough race but what do I know.
Anyway next we got onto the road where I unsuccessfully tried to find groups to draft with. It was tough going; I felt like I was chasing but not catching the whole time. I mostly rode alone in that section.
Next up was our first foray into to the bogs. I don't know how to portray this section so that you really get the idea of how crazy it was. How about a picture...this one I found (not me) describes it perfectly. Very typical. This was not mountain biking, it was adventure racing...at its worst. There were big ass bogs every 500m that were deep and yucky and interspersed between the bogs were big ass mud puddles. One bog was up to my bits and a guy had to grab my bike because otherwise I wasn't getting out.
I finished this day in 6th place. I had wanted a top 5 finish but it wasn't to be. There were some elite O-Cup girls & even a few national level racers at Crank who are apparently not only fast as hell mountain bikers but also excellent bog navigators as well. I was impressed at the times they pulled off in that craziness.
Sean Ruppel promised us a better day for day 2. Now I don't want to call him a liar but in no way was day 2 better than day 1. Unless you interpret better as being a longer, harder, more relentless bogfest. Day 2 was one of the hardest days I've had on a bike. Every now and then I would have these little giggle fits about how ridiculous the whole thing was. Grown adults frantically rushing through bogs. Oh well, beats sitting in front of a computer, I guess.
Luckily I eventually met up with some nice guys (Nick from Ottawa and his partner Luke) and rode with them for the second half of the race. They distracted me with humour and showed me how plowing through the bogs was a better technique than walking around the edges. Somehow I maintained my 6th place on this day and was now out of 5th by 35 minutes with my day 1 and 2 times combined. Decided my top 5 finish was not happening. Didn't care. Just want to finish the race.
I didn't even listen to the course description for day 3. After the previous description being so out of whack, I didn't care.
We started off with a 17km neutral start. During that 17km we had a neutral pee break. No seriously, I'm not kidding. After 7km the whole pack stopped for a 2 minute pee break.
We finally get to the start line and the race begins. We climbed for a long time and twenty minutes in the legs finally decided to warm up and agreed to race.
A little bit of mud for the first half but it was fun and rideable mud, nothing like we'd seen the past two days. I was riding well and feeling good. We hit some road sections and I peddled like a mad woman trying to keep a couple of girls behind me. It worked, didn't see them again.
Then we hit the single track. Sweeeet. Finally something I could do well in this race. Almost the entire race up to this point consisted of my weaknesses (bogs and road) so I was happy to finally be in my element. For the last hour and a half of the race I rode the singletrack like I ride a fortune race. Heart rate soaring and about to barf a lung. I passed at least 15 riders (had barely passed that many riders during the whole previous two days)and was nearly seeing stars by the end. Really fun. I got to the finish line and just about fell over.
The fruits of my labour was a 5th place finish for the day and 5 minutes out of overall 5th place. Crap! So close. Oh well, I consider it a success since I really gave everything I had.
Just a note about Crank the Shield. Despite the ass course conditions, the organization was amazing and the race was a really fun time. Tons of riders from Ottawa and familiar faces from previous chico races. Despite my negative race report, I actually had a blast this weekend. I won't go back to this race again mind you, but I really did enjoy myself overall.
Whew, racing season is over. This year was a tough one. Time for some fun fall rides!
Posted by The Vegan Vagabond at 9:36 AM