Friday, July 08, 2011

Sinister 7 Try-outs!

Sinister 7 Ultra & Relay in the Crowsnest Pass
After Furious 3 ended Sunday night, I drove 50 minutes east to the Crowsnest Pass to visit my super duper bud Lory Mangion who used to live in Edmonton. Lory is venturing to bring amazing artists together via an online website. Her awesome pottery will be showcased as well. I'm proud to showcase her current epic pieces as well as a few originals (the learning pieces!).
Lory, Susan, local Kathy & puppy Kimo
Lory is excited to be racing Leg 6 of the Sinister 7 trail running race this weekend. Actually, excited is synonymous with "a little scared" as Lory found out her leg will start around 2 a.m.!

No worries there... I set her up with my blazing Lupine Betty headlamp... only 1750 lumens to light her path... and everyone else's! (A basic Petzl is about 40 lumens!)

On Monday, Lory arranged for me to join herself and two runners to check out their Leg 6. I set up the light for Lory to test out. What are the chances that one of the runners Susan had been University roomies with my friend Rhonda... with Rhonda and her partner Rick visiting her just that weekend... totally small world!

Unlike Furious 3, Sinister 7 had awesome race profiles for each leg. On paper, Leg 6 looked pretty easy. When we ran it, I was amazed how rough the trails were, much more like adventure racing. Lots of mud, creeks and run off to go through. I'm glad Lory was taking the powerful Lupine on her night run as the path was pretty treacherous on the steep descents when we ran it in daylight.

awesome mountain views on Sinister-7 Leg 6
 Kathy had raced Leg 6 numerous times before and gave awesome pointers along our pre-run. It was pretty cool to get to run with these gals today!
LORY!     Susan      Marg
Scouting the leg before the race boosted Lory and Susan's confidence for race night tomorrow. I look forward to hearing their race reports!

Monday, July 04, 2011

Fabulous Friends & Furious 3 in Fernie

This was one of those people-fest weekends filled with meeting friends, old and new, from all over!

I entered the newby event Furious 3 back in December thinking I could easily fit in a 3-day event in Fernie, BC not knowing where I'd be working and living by July.

Training bud Tim got into the sold-out race only days ahead of race time. We both had the pleasure to stay at the parent's house of my running friend Rhonda's colleague Tanya... love those connections. Claire and Al Berry were most welcoming and super intrigued having weird-ecentric-crazy athletes stay at their place in Sparwood for the weekend! I was equally intrigued with their stories and knowledge.

Quick synopsis... I prefer long multi-stage endurance events. This event was more a cross-country multi-stage event... super intense and short. And that's ok... The bonus was super fun hard days with plenty of time to chill and enjoy the town.

The Good
- the most outstanding trails around
- strong women's field with amazing local racers (AB & BC & MO)
- awesome supportive guys to ride around (except 1!)

The Bummer
- unknown race profile, distance and elevation
- being excluded from the Open Category
- fast lost riders

Day 1 - 200 racers lined up. It was scary for me not to know the course profile. Seriously, I was already anxious about what technical was in store for me. This was the first event I've been in of this calibre that did not provide a race elevation/distance profile. Kate Ardal who lived in the area at one time and knew alot of the trails was kind to fill me in with more detail.

The pace went out hard like any typical stage race I have been in. Immediately, my legs whined from the previous weekend's Rundle's Revenge ride & run finishing only 5 days ago. Yah, only I would do something like that and think I'd recover in time! And for the most part, I did ok fitness-wise.

Once we turned into the first single track, I did what I could to hang on though slipped out alot on the mud and roots. My saddle hit me in my sore ribs again, ouch! It was not fun at all to let the storming riders pass as it was difficult to start up each time. It felt like at least 30 riders passed by. I threw in the towel, slowed down and had to figure out how to enjoy riding on that stuff. I was ready to quit the sport (!).

Once we got into the long technical climb, I held my position. I was super thrilled to hit gravel roads and get to hammer for awhile making up many spots again. On the appropriately named Hyperventilation trail, I rode up with a steady paced group finally taking the lead of our group.

At the top, I was surprised with an immediate descent on one of those drop of doom descents (SUPER WICKED!) that went on and on... brakes clamped on while still picking up speed surfing down on the loose dirt trail. My quads and triceps were crying! What was awesome was I held my own on that section. No guys caught me until I let the Hardcore team guys by midway which helped me to follow them. Lots of rough double track to the finish. Only 2 hr 39 min, 41km and 4300' elevation - short, intense & fun (well, definitely the latter half!).
Tim JERRY! Marg
Marg met Jerry at Master World X-C Ski Champs

Lovely satellite map of Day 2 race course "clearly" depicting the 5200' of elevation gain!

Day 2 - My heart dropped when I looked at the Open results that morning and my name wasn't there... either I was missed or... turn the page... listed in the 40+ category. That was the organizer's choice. I requested to be switched. I prefer to race by ability not age. I wonder which category he'd put Tinker Juarez in...

Again, it was frazzling not knowing much about the course. We were told it'd be oh, maybe 10-km longer than the day before!

<-- posted on the race website... our clues to Day 2 race course!

Another fast start with a bottle neck of racers in a short dirt trail climb. A river trail lead us around to the underpass to cross busy Highway 3. Up double track before tree-d challenging single track for most of the way.

I don't think I've sat on the tip of my saddle as much on any given weekend! Most definitely goat climbs. Major technical ascents and descents, one steep hike-a-bike, a couple runs across wooden bridges with slippery muddy cleats, one challenging creaky boarded walk across dizzying fast moving water.

Many lead fast riders missed flagging and were riding in circles and were abit grumbly by race end. Fortunately, my technical descending was at a pace (slow!) so I could see the hidden red flagging. For an adventure race, the flagging was ok... for a mountain bike race, pretty sparse and lacking signs. I definitely missed having long stretches of gravel on course today. Trails were mostly up or down for long periods. Highlight was riding smack next to a beautiful snowy mountain. That section was very TransAlps, better yet it was in Canada!!

As I had no solid info on the race distance, I was going to fill my waterbottle at the feedzone. I was told excitedly to "go!" and continue to the finish just down in town. I zipped down the last bit of single track, under Hwy 3 along the gravel path to a couple stopped trains and alot of waiting riders. Awesome, I was due for a break! Our wait times were to be deducted at the end.

Once the trains were gone, it was a pack of riders racing to the finish. I worked to hang on to Danelle Kabush's speedy pace though lost contact. I worked to latch onto a speedy RMCC rider, just made it into his draft as we flew by Danelle, with her just catching onto us. What a fun way to finish!

My GPS clocked 49 km and 5200' elevation... so, yeah "about 10 km longer" than Day 1 and the elevation was only 900' higher!

Day 3 - Hard pace, up the rutted double track to the Hyperventilation climb again. I just wanted to chill, climb easy and have fun. I had to force a couple guys to go ahead of me, then I had a nice comfortable gap. A bunch of riders caught me on the next descent. I was alone for quite abit thru the next sections and rode comfortably. The riding was fun though quirky with sharp lefts or rights. Definitely not enough gravel road!

After lots more single track alone, lots more riders caught me. Deadgoat Steve came by and I challenged myself to work behind him. More ascent so I was sent to the front. On the final descent I worked it to keep the descenders from catching me. And I did, as I hauled in on the roadie section! It was a pretty fun day and good ending.

After not being allowed in the Open category I didn't care to look at results at all this whole time. I also just wanted to ride as my technical riding sucks and needed work even though my fitness is ok. When I left the sport after TransAlp 2007, I was lots better technically from racing mtnbike consistently. The time to re-gain health in 2008, recover from car/bike/gear theft in 2009 and last year's faceplant has held me back a little. I love riding on the road though I really need to ride trails. I'm keen to work at it and get that technical riding back!! All considering, not so bad for winging it technically.

It was awesome to ride with, or best said, around alot of riders. The women were exceptional to see them pass by midway on climbs or techy sections. Alot of guys were supportive when time came to pass me. Ultra cool to see Gabor Csonka race on his singlespeed!

Another awesome post from local woman racer Krista Turcasso I saw ever so briefly as she flew downhill faster than any racer I've seen!

Food-wise, I needed to pack immediate sugar sources to fuel energy for the intensity. I was prepped more for a nice long endurance day in spectacular BC trails!

Brendan representing Team MitoCanada