Thank you Hannah Clarke

Thank you Hannah Clarke

Monday, July 2, 2012

Mansfield Marathon, and my first podium since the hospital!

This long weekend, I managed to do it all; I was a family guy, I spent time at Wasaga Beach, and I raced one heck of a race! My second attempt at the Ontario Mountain BikeMarathon series was much more successful than my first (which included mechanical issues, as well as 7 bee/wasp stings). I went into the race with a bit of a rattled up feeling; I was woken up at “quarter before morning” by my awesome cousin (after getting to my Grandpa’s place at 3am), I spent the day before the race at the beach in the sun bullying small kids in the water, and I ripped around the Three Stage trail system on the side of blue mountain for a couple hours. The race was supposed to be around 60km, and took place at Mansfield Outdoor Centre, which means hills and sand.

At the start of the race, 3 men (Etienne Moreau, Andrew De Cal, and Zach Winn) threw down a serious pace, and after sticking with them for a bit, I settled into a comfortable 80% pace, (with 60km of unknown trail ahead, there’s no need to burn matches at the start!). I got caught up by another two riders, and we rode together for some time until one got a flat tire. That left Tim Carleton and I out on the trails, contesting for 4th place. Unfortunately less than 10km into the race my front shift cable broke, leaving me limited to my 26 tooth “granny” ring. This causes issues with chain tension (making me more likely to break a chain), and limits me to easier gears – limiting the effort and speed that I can put out. I decided to keep this a secret from Tim, not wanting him to know that he could simply ride away from me on a straight section.

Lots of hills, lots of coasting, lots of fun!

 This is mountain bike racing as I love it. The trails at Mansfield are old and well worn in, meaning I am completely confident leaning my bike, and ripping through the trails. I led through most of the race between Tim and I, out for my Sunday bike ride with a massive grin on my face until I heard from Tim

“No offense, but we should go faster, the guy behind is catching us.”

Of course, since he was so polite about it, I had to pick up the pace, but eventually Tim got by when I made a mistake, thought that he was right on me, and pulled off to the side of the trail to let him by. Tim is a smooth rider, and that combined with his added drive to race and a few bad missed turns by me had him riding away from me to finish in 4th place. After Tim had blasted off out of sight down the trail, I returned to my “Sunday ride” pace, quite content riding like that so as not to make any mistakes until I realized I was getting caught in the last quarter of the race.

Terrain in the last quarter was incredibly sandy, with hills that were almost un-manageable, and several inches of sand coating long sections of trail. Unfortunately for the guy behind (Mike) any time that I realized he was getting closer to me, I would put in some effort and I seemed to have much more power in my legs for navigating the sand sections. I rode into a 5th place finish, with my first podium on my amazing new TrekSuperfly, and despite mechanical issues rode a solid race, staying well within my limitations and keeping a serious smile on my face the whole time. I felt great on the podium in my Trek jersey, and it means even more because it's my first time on a podium since being in the hospital almost three years ago.

Left to right - Me, Zach Winn, Etienne Moreau, Andrew De Cal, Tim Carleton (Thumbs up!)
Thanks to all of the volunteers, especially Dayle Laing for sending me this picture.

Huge thanks to all of friends and my race support over the last year, the real reason that I'm fast is because of all of the support I have and because I love the sport.

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