Thursday, October 4, 2012

Crank the Shield

Race Info:

The 7 hr drive over to Haliburton, ON Canada was uneventful and Andy, Zandra and I arrived with plenty of time to register, eat and get things prepped for the first stage.  In the morning we packed our bags for the trip and headed out to the start.  We met up with Danielle Musto and Scott Chambers and loaded some spare stuff in Scott’s truck.  Since Scott wasn't racing, he was going to drive to the white pines camp which allowed us to not have to pack a few items and bring spare wheels.  As we drove to the start it started to sprinkle… this was not how I wanted to start a 3-day race.

I signed up for this race in the winter before my SS arrived and was excited to do some races on it.  By this time of the year and after suffering on it at Lumberjack, I was really questioning my sanity.  I geared down after reading some info online, but knew that 120+miles and 13k ft of climbing was going to take its toll.  Looking around at the start, 90% of the people had geared FS bikes… they were the smart ones.

Day #1 – 40 miles; Haliburton Forest to Camp White Pine
Sloggy Slow Trail
After warming up in the rain and doing a little recon of the start, I jumped in with Andy in the start line.  The start was moderately fast which allowed me to stay with the front pack.  Once in the trail, the pace slowed to a crawl as the wet rocks and roots along with the climbs made it hard to keep a decent pace.  After a bit of this and some hike a bike sections, things opened up to a slow 2 track section that was sloggy.   Next up was some rocky climbing and descending before hitting a fast road section.  I was alone for a while until a geared group came up on me and I jump on the back of the train.  It’s funny how they always look at you to make a pull until they realize you only have one gear.  Towards the end of the road there was a long steep painful climb, which put me back on my own after dropping the geared group.  The last section of the stage was the hydrocut  or Powerline as we in Michigan would call it.  It consisted of a very rocky and loose rolling service road that seemed to go on forever.  Once close to Camp White Pine, we rolled through some rooty single track and into camp.  I rolled across the finish line in just under 4hrs and was 23rd overall and 2nd in SS for the stage.  After eating and cleaning up, I had an awesome massage and started thinking about how I was going to manage 2 more days of this!!
Wet Slick Bridges

Stage #2 – 50 miles; White Pines Loop
No Brake Pads Left :(
With all the rain, grit and mud from Stage #1, my brake pads were toast!  I couldn't find any locally before I left, so I just went without… big mistake.  I wasn't sure how they would work metal on metal, but I was going to have to find out.  The other unpleasantry was that my shoes didn't completely dry.  I figured as long as it wasn't too cold, it would be fine.  We had a short ride up to the start, which was a good warm-up.  The weather was looking good and the temps warmed up quick once the sun came up.  The top 30 got a call up… it was pretty cool to get a call up and be able to start near the front.
The start was pretty mellow with a lot of 2 track and some climbing… but then things got ugly.  The trail turned into some new single track that was pretty gnarly with lots of rocks and wet roots and no flow.  Read not very SS friendly!!  I rode what I could, but found it easier to hop off and jog with the bike, which happened to be about the same speed as most of the guys riding it!!  About 5 miles in, I started to feel my rear tire going down.  I jumped off and was about to just air it up when I saw a gash in the sidewall that Stan’s was trying to seal, but failing.  I did a painfully slow tube install and was on my way again.  The gnarly single track kept coming and I wanted to quit… but somehow kept going.  I think I went 10 miles in the first hour and a half!!  Mentally defeated, I pushed on (Literally at times!) and stopped at the last rest stop for a while and refilled my camelback and mentally regrouped.  At this point I really wanted to be done.  Luckily the next bunch of miles was mostly road, so I just settled into a pace and enjoyed the views.  The home stretch was once again the hydrocut… and just to taunt us, you could see the finish line far away in the distance!  This was motivation though and I pushed hard passing a lot of people along the way.  I lost a lot of time on the overall on this stage, but I was happy to finish!  I ended up 3rd in SS with a time of 4:28 dropping me to 3rd overall in SS and 66th overall for the stage.  Time for a Massage and mental regroup for the final stage!

Stage #3 – 35 miles; White Pines back to Haliburton
After a chilly night in a non heated cabin we woke to temps just above freezing.  After packing, I put on just about every layer I had for the 9 mile ride to the start at Sir Sam’s Ski and Bike and was still cold.  Luckily, once the sun burned off the cloud cover, it turned into a beautiful day and we were down to just jersey’s and shorts. 
The Happy Crew!
The start of this stage was at Sir Sam’s and started out with a road uphill before riding the trails.  There was a crash on the road (MTBs in road situations never turns out well), which I managed to avoid.  Andy was force into the woods, but managed to recover.  Sir Sam’s had some great single track and included the downhill run that was used for the O-cup downhill course.  The climb up the ski hill was cool as it was a huge switchback that made it manageable with technical bits along the way to the top.  Once back on the road I tried to stay with the geared guys but due to the speed on the down hills I kept finding myself alone.  We worked our way in and out of single track sections and backwards through a lot of the route that we rode on day one.  I managed to stay ahead of the 2nd place SS guy for the first half of the day, but couldn’t hold on in the Hydrocut climbs in the middle of the course.  The course was definitely more enjoyable on the way back without being rained on the whole time, although there were sections there were still really muddy and power zapping!   As we approached Haliburton, we hit some unbelievably gnarly trail with huge rocks and roots there were unrideable.  We were told later that we were riding the downhill trails backwards… although I wouldn’t want to ride them either way!  They were more of a climb with a bike than a hike a bike!!  The trails started to open up a bit towards the end and I was starting to enjoy the single track a little more.  The finish line came quick and it was over.  I managed to finish in 3:36 for 3rd in SS and 3Rd overall in SS and 48th overall for the day.
1 km To Go!

In the big picture I was 41st overall for the event and my time would have put me 8th in my age group.  Overall, I am happy I did the race, but it would take a lot of convincing to get me to do something like this again.  It was an adventure that I won’t forget.  It’s fun to challenge yourself and be in situations where you meet new and different people.

Interesting side note:  The White Pines camp where we stayed was where the movie Meatballs was filmed.  I still need to watch the movie again, but the trailer shows the food hall that we at in.


BrAdLaKo said...

Brutal.... Nice job!

Anonymous said...