I really had a hard time deciding on weather to race the geared bike or the singlespeed. on one hand there was a lot of cash up for grabs but I really needed some "fun" tome on the SS. After we arrived in Kamloops, BC we looked at the race website and saw that the prize money was only for the overall win. So with Tinker, Jeremiah Bishop, Ben Sonntag, Chris Sheppard, Evan Plews and a few others on the starting list I was convinced to ride the SS.
The weather forecast for the week was HOT! and it was, Record heat for the whole week. I was dreading the heat but somehow after racing the Cowbell challenge earlier this year, even the 105 degree heat didn't seem so bad. Even with a 10:00 start and very little shade for the first couple days I never felt like I was baking in the sun except for a couple descents to the finish of the first couple days.
The first day started of with a 30 minute roll out through town before hitting the dirt and the start of the race. It was a great start for me and my Niner One9, a long steady climb with a few breaks that I could sit in a draft of the lead group. I made it to the first aid station just a few seconds behind the lead group, as I decided to do some huge wall rides descending into the aid station. After stopping to resupply I was back on it and caught the back end of the lead group on a couple of steep climbs. Unfortunately not to long after that we came to a long steep climb where I had to walk and I lost some serious time to the lead group and was caught by a few others. I rode by myself for most of that day through sage brush covered hills on some pretty steep single track and a bit too much fire road. I roll into the finish in 8th place to find something more races need to have. It was great they had a huge tub of cold water to dip yourself in, It got pretty muddy later in the day even with a hose running constantly. I guess that was a little extra motivation to finish fast. Being a first year event, there were a lot of thing that went wrong this day, poor course markings not enough water stations for the heat and not enough single track. In fact I think most people out of the top 15 got lost the first day.
Day two was very similar to day one except the steep hill that tore me apart for the front group was about a mile from the start. I chased all day trying to catch them with no good luck and a little bad luck. Even with a much better marked course I missed a turn and lost about 5 minutes. I finished the day 7th and moved up one place in the overall.
Day three was where this race was bitter sweet for me. It was probably the best day of racing I have ever had! Unfortunately the promoter lead part of the main group off course as the "lead moto", and felt bad so he neutralized the day. No time gains or losses for anybody, except Jeremiah Bishop who crashed and was knocked out of the race. I had never raced like that before, so aggressively. I was riding with the guy that was one place in the overall behind me, he was attacking on the flats and I was attacking on the hills. This went on for about 45 kilometers, I was and still am amazed at the power and endurance I had after two long days in the heat. We were together all the way to the finish, where he out sprinted my 33x20 gearing. this day changed the way I race! Everyone moved up one place in the overall, and I was in 6th.
Day four was the Longest day and for most of the lead men it was very hard to motivate and nobody wanted to push the pace or even ride hard. the lead group of 5 were talking and just cruising along, we even waited for Evan to tighten a loose water bottle cage. while soft pedaling the leaders in the pro women's class caught us and beat us to the first aid station.
After the first aid station where I stopped and nobody else did, I chased and made it back to the lead group which was starting to distance themselves from the rest of the followers. After that I rode by myself for about 50K to the finish except the last bit with Peter who ended up 5th overall, riding a Niner Jet9. Peter thanks for the pulls on the last flat sections!!! This day took it's toll on a couple riders in the running for the overall win. Ben Sonntag crashed out and is still suffering from a severe concussion, and Tinker missed a turn and ended up way out of the way and hitched a ride back. I moved up 2 more spots to 4th place overall.
Another thing that happened on day 4 I have to mention. A racer Chris Shepard, who was in the overall lead came upon Ben who was unconcius, and stopped to check in on him. he ended up waiting for over a half an hour with until help got there. Even with $10,000 on the line he waited, telling all others, even Ben's teammates to keep going. That is why I love this sport! there are some great people in this world, most of them are mountain bikers.
Day five brought the best trails of the week during a 30K time trial. I was just out for fun, trying to enjoy some fun descents and finish the race. It was almost impossible for my overall position to change,I had over an hour cushion to 5th and would have to make up more than 15 minutes on 3rd. I ended up riding with Peter again, we had a blast and had someone to listen to our bitching. a Win, Win situation.
So a quick summary, I like stage racing, I will do more! Mountain bikers are great people! if you want to run a big event, get some experience first and know who you are serving. I would really like to thank Thule Racks for their support getting to and racing this event.
I've had enough typing, I'll come back to this subject later.