This is how the race started:
30mins of warmup and then on the start line. Staged in the front third again and everyone looking game. Another explosive start (it is cross country racing after all) with Dave and I trying to play it smart. We found our rhythm and settled in to a lot of climbing, the kind of climbing that goes on and on and on and if you aren't careful the front end of you bike just lifts off the ground and tips you over. Once we got in to the singletrack we started punishing it. Today was a good day for me on the bike as I really felt connected to my handling skills, nothing was bothering me and I felt like I was just intuitively flying down the sweet techy downs. Once again Dave rode great, if we weren't racing so hard it would have been a real treat to tear into the singletrack and hoot and holler but there was none of that as I was simultaneously dripping snot, sweat and drool on to the bike's top tube.
By the time we got to the second aid station about 3hrs later I pounded back a bottle of provided Ultima and refilled my fourth water bottle then poured some Infinit in. I cleared the aid station in less than a minute, Dave stuck around another minute to drink back some Coke and other fluids, as I was leaving I heard one of the volunteers calling out bike numbers for riders who had blown up their forks prior to hitting the aid station. Hard technical riding? A resounding yes.
A pile more grinding uphill climbing still lay ahead (it was a 6000' day elevation gain day) but eventually we both dropped back in to the techie singletrack and I lit up the afterburners with Dave right on my back wheel, which produced more simultaneous sweat, snot and drool drip rate. I lost count of how many racers we passed on the stuff after the second aid station, we were flying (which is good because I wasn't flying up those nasty hill climbs). Have I said it enough yet, a great technical handling day. But once again, these aren't your average noodling-along kind of trails, they aren't buffed out and polished, they aren't wide, they aren't even friendly in most places, they are epic in nature and if you are riding them at mach 3 there are consequences for mistakes - you've been warned.
The last 30mins of racing was insane. 227 avg watts for the entire race and 210 watts average for the last 30mins of the race - a hard push at the end. Hopefully our hard work paid off, we think we crossed the line in 4:24 and though we don't have results yet we think we grabbed 4th?
I guess we'll find out later this evening.
And in closing, I shot these two iPhone vids at the end of the race:
This one is Dave Jetz, a friend from Calgary who is doing the race Solo this year, he's been an accomplished road and mountain bike racer for quite a few years and here's his opinion on Day 4. Did you listen carefully? Yup, a hard day (but a good one).
More to follow...
Oh yeah, tomorrow is 6900' of vertical gain tomorrow and here's a little bit about it.
This is how the race started: