Thank you Hannah Clarke

Thank you Hannah Clarke

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Mansfield Ontario Cup, great race with some bad turns!

Things certainly have changed a lot since the first Ontario Cup, and I mean big lifestyle changes; I am now a farmer! I work on a farm doing site cleanup (so not your conventional farming), which involves any mix of things to moving heavy metal and crates, fence removal, digging, and most importantly, driving things like backhoes and tractors. I’m now living in a chalet on the side of Talisman Resort, and my road bike is basically being ignored because of the abundance of trails and dirt roads (and SERIOUS escarpment hills).  This means that my life is basically perfect, though training after working or working after training has been tough – but I just try to work hard and ride harder!

For me, the race started Thursday as my girlfriend Tori and I went to help out in building a new trail section for the Ontario Cup, appropriately named the “Exit Wound”.  With less than 10 volunteers and a day of work, we had carved the craziest trail though the side of the hill complete with berms, drops (for the expert/elite categories only). The video below is a group of us riding the lap before the race, skip forward to about 10 minutes to check out the gnarly new stuff (though the whole video is pretty awesome, big props to Scotty Toucanlife for throwing it together so quickly)! In addition to helping out with trail building Thursday, I helped the race crew Friday, made some good friends while I was at it, and got out for a great dinner in Creemore (my first date with Sean Rupple, pretty special!).

Had a great time riding the course over the next couple of days with lots of buds, and got to feeling really comfortable and confident for Sunday's race, which is 90% of the battle. The day of the race came, and I felt calm, prepared, and showed up earlier than usual so that Tori could ride (she races in a separate race two hours earlier than my own). The first kink in the day arose when I was told that Tori would be finishing in a minute, what kind of guy would I be if I went off to do my warmup and didn't spare a minute? Besides, I love to watch her ride, and to cheer her through races! Unfortunately though, I missed her finish, missed my warmup, and nearly missed my race start. This lead to an incredibly poor start for me, and to those who don't know the Mansfield race course - it's a massive unforgiving hill.

Tori, going too fast for a camera to even catch properly (Jim Cassell Photo)

What should have been a confident race quickly descended into a panicked effort not to be the last man up the hill, and an embarrassing start for me. The laps were around 25minute laps for me, with two massive climbs, totaling in 200m of ascent per lap (times 5 laps makes 1km of total gain, which is insane for an Ontario Cup). My legs took about 2/3 of the lap to really warm up and have the blood flowing through them, and I was racing recklessly for the fist lap and a half, desperately trying to gain back positions that I had lost in my poor start. As I passed my buddy Mark Winfield who said I was having the race of my life, but soon reminded me to focus my riding (thanks dude!).

I continued into my third lap at a good pace, always hoping to catch more riders up ahead, but setting my own pace. In the elite section of the race course however, things turned for the worse. This section goes down the side of a steep hill with two log drops, followed by a berm and a rolling jump, then a 90 degree corner that shoots down an 8 foot rolling drop, and a double up root drop next to a tree.

Coming into the double up roots (Jim Cassel Photo)

The course by this time was getting rutted and I was still trying to work my way through the pack, carving my way and pushing hard into corners. Unfortunately I pushed too hard into the corner before the massive roller, and the tire "burped". Because I run tires without tubes on the inside (which gives you the advantage of more traction due to lower pressures), they can come off the rim, losing all of their air. This unfortunately happened to me just as I was going through the spectator area at the biggest drop, at which time I went OTB (Over The Bars). According to the kids that were watching I flew over the tape on the side of the course, somehow not even touching it, and had to scramble to get my bike, re inflate the tire, and hope that it holds air.
Picking myself up (more of this set here)

And picking up my bike
Less than 3 minutes later my tire was flat again, and I only had one shot of CO2 left to try to inflate it; things are looking grim. I took my time this time, inflating the tire with a CO2 canister and trying to spread the inner liquid latex solution of my tire around to clog the potential holes. By this time I had lost significant ground, and figured that my tires wouldn't hold air anymore anyway. But I have an old motto, I'd rather be DFL than have a DNF (rather Dead Freaking Last than Did Not Finish), so I chugged on, cautiously, on my iffy front tire. The best part about losing ground in a race at least is that you're passing people again, which sure feels good! This particular course was one that as I passed riders, they would ride behind me and gain momentum either by staying out of the wind in the wider trails, or almost getting sucked through the trails at my speed riding closely behind and following my lines. Either way there were many gentlemen who thanked me for letting them ride my tail, but who I dropped once the big hills came by. I felt great the whole day of the race, and didn't let myself be too bothered by the unfortunate events. I rode into a solid 18th place, actually my best yet Ontario Cup result!

Keeping it clean through the finish line turns

Blowing a kiss to my lovely girlfriend across the finish line.
Because in the end, this matters the most.

By the way, Tori had an outstanding race, coming in 3rd place in her category, and she's talking more and more about upgrading to the elite category and racing in the 1:30 race too!

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