Oct 3, 2011

The Sufferfest

Friday we loaded up the Pilot and headed for Kaslo with the goal of some family racing. Doreen was going to do the 25km run, the boys were lined up for the kids mtb races and I was lined up for the 100km mtb race.

Never having been to Kaslo, and knowing very little about the race event organization I wasn't sure what to expect. I'm happy to say the town is cool and worth visiting if you are in the area but more importantly the race director was dialled in! Seriously, Janis the race director along with her staff and a metric ton of volunteers put out one of the tightest multi-event weekends I've ever seen. All kinds of running and mtb events, age categories, different start times, a logistical headache and they made it look easy. A big round of applause to the folks in Kaslo!

As is usually the case (whenever I have a long race coming up) the boys and Doreen proceeded to get the black plague leading up to the event. The boys went down for the count at the start of the week, closely followed by Doreen. Hacking, coughing, flu-like symptoms... awesome. A well established routine of 'uhmmmm I'll take a pass on the hugs and kisses' fell into place and I increased the efforts to keep my immune system running well.

Saturday morning came early, a poor sleep in a noisy motel room left me tired when the alarm clock went off at 0445hrs. I put all my gear on in the dark and snuck out the motel door to hook up with Scott 'Part Superhero, Part SingleSpeed Machine' Legere, so we could ride to the staging area together. In the dark all the bikes got loaded onto a shuttle vehicle and riders into vans and we began the 45min drive to the start point at Sandon an 1800's era boomtown silver capital that is now a ghost town.

A start time of 0700hrs gave us a bit of daylight along with a dash of cold and rain. I'd heard there were 50 starting the 100km race but it looked more like 40-ish, there were some fit looking racers and some unknowns. At 0659hrs we were lined up on the front row shivering, that was about to change, as the gun went off Leighton Poidevin launched an attack off the front that felt like a short course XC race pace. 15secs into the course the dirt turned up a steep hill and just kept on going, Leighton just kept on going, the beginning of Sufferfest.

There were maybe five of us enduring The Leighton, and though I'll admit it was fun in a sick and twisted way, by approx 0704hrs I came to the conclusion that I was racing on a singlespeed and still had 99kms of racing in front of me so I eased back the throttle one notch. I couldn't see the rest of the pack when I looked back (possibly from all the scorched earth and residual smoke Leighton had left in his wake) and so I just got on with racing my own race while maintaining a solid endurance pace.

Scotty had managed to hang on to the Leighton pain train and as I watched him disappear around a corner, dancing on the pedals of his child-sized 26'er, I didn't think I would see him again. It turns out we bumped into each other on the course a couple more times. It's fun to race and ride with Scott, we've done loads of hours together this year and I always look forward to it, perhaps its because I feel much larger on my manly Lynskey 29'er?

Back to the race...

Approx 90mins of racing got us to a river crossing that required a hand-pulled cable car, pretty cool. At this point Scott and I were pushing a similar pace so we decided to ride together and made our way back to Sandon, which had now been converted from the start line into a full support 40km point aid station. With a quick re-bottle we headed out for the 3300' vert gain 10km climb with an average 10% grade up to the top of Jackson Basin at an elevation of 7300'. Yup, that last sentence was a lot of numbers, what it didn't relay is how much time I spent out of the saddle, how many times I drooled on my jersey or how many more notches the suffer-meter went up. By the time I got to the top of the mountain pass I was back to riding by myself, Scott had stopped to take his jacket off and I never saw him again.

For the next 50kms I raced by myself, holding 5th position, with 4 geared racers in front of me. Going through aid stations I would hear "He's only a few minutes up" or "He just passed through" and even though I raced as hard as I could during those last 3hrs, hoping to reel in another spot, I only managed to get within 3mins of the fourth place finisher and I never got close enough to see him on the last chunk of the race.

Crossing the line at 6:25 gave me a decent result and overall I'm happy with my performance. It was a really hard course for singlespeeding, there were a lot of flat course sections out there and singlespeeding required choosing gears for the mountain climbs; combine really low RPM hard sustained climbing and super high RPM on the long flat sections and it's possibly the hardest 6hr race I've ever done. I think anyone who toed the line on that route deserved a congratulatory slap on the back. I'm not sure if the total vert gain was 9300' or 9800' of climbing as the two sources I checked have different numbers, what I know for sure is I'm feeling it today. Was Sufferfest a sufferfest? Put a checkmark in the 'Yes' checkbox.

As soon as I crossed the line I got to hear the boys stories about their kids races which sounded very well-organized and consisted of a great route, as an added bonus... medals made out of cookies which had Keegan pretty stoked. Evan wanted to hang out and know how hard the course was and if I had fun. The image to the left was taken by Doug Pyper shortly after I got across the line and during the conversation with Evan about 'yes, that was a hard course'. Doug's got a good eye and you can find more race images over at his website: www.dougpyperphoto.com

Doreen's Blackberry got this classic photo of the boys in their rain jackets before the start of their race. I hope Doreen didn't let them race with their hoods over their helmets... so not-pro.


A late addition to this blog-post... Lisa sent a couple of nice photos of the boys from their race. The first one shows Keegan after he 'nailed the jump' located just before the finish line (awesome) and the next one shows the boys hanging out together just after Evan finished his race.

Keegan took the jump

Evan and keegan after race

Later that evening there was a bit of podium action at the awards ceremony, hopefully the event photographer is using a better camera than Doreen's Blackberry, if so I'll put them up when I see them. If you take a close look at Scott I think it's fairly obvious he is saying "How come I'm the only one up here that isn't on a 29'er?", Leighton looks looks pretty casual considering he discovered how to fold time and space out on the course, I'm surprised his hair wasn't still on fire from the pace he set.


From that point on... beer was drank, food was eaten, stories were told and a fair bit of laughing surrounded it all.

Sunday morning Doreen wisely pulled the pin on her race as the black plague had managed to embed itself in her chest, which is a bummer for Doreen as she had given up a month of riding to train for the running event. With that change of plans we all hung out to cheer Lisa on her 25km run, we watched some of the Downhill racing, and Scott and I took every opportunity to eat any food that was nearby.

By 1430hrs we were on the road to Ainsworth Hot Springs for a family soak and then on the way through Castlegar we struck it rich with an 'All you can eat Sunday night Mexican buffet' restaurant. Post-endurance race jackpot. ;-)


John F said...

Are you feeding Keegan super grow fast formula?

Shaun Taylor said...

Think he's favorable to the fresh mtn air.