Ideally the bike to use is a cyclocross bike but this race brings out the gamut. No shortage of fat bikes, mountain bikes, commuter bikes and even tandem bikes! The route is varied. From gravel rail trail to muddy single track to a touch of road both dirt and paved.
I did this race last year and up until the finish line this year I wasn't certain I'd ever want to do it again. Last year was tough. Like, really fucking tough. It wasn't my lack of training that failed me because I was certainly trained last year. It was just the unexpectedness of how long and how seriously hard it was. We had a lot of rain in 2014 so everything was saturated. Never mind my re-ranting, you can read about it HERE.
So Ryan asks me to ride it with him this year. I think he just wanted to use his brand new carbon cross bike. Nevertheless we sign up as a team where both times count towards a whole. Teams are not necessarily meant to ride together but we did.
I wasn't heading into this event on solid ground. I had a stomach bug the Wednesday prior and then I was commuting to Toronto for a 2 day lecture series. I had hardly eaten anything in 4 days and what I did eat was making me feel so fucking sick. Needless to say the goal, if there even was one, was to finish. I mean, I was going into this expecting the shit storm from last year. Turns out it was anything but.
I had been going on and on about the soggy wet farmers fields to Ryan for months. Each time we'd enter into a field I'd say, "this is where it starts". Each time I ended up being wrong. I started questioning my recollection of last year. I thought maybe it was just one farmers field that traumatized me. No... no it wasn't. I distinctly remember countless farmers fields of hell. We encountered none. Like maybe a few soggy spots but nothing like I had remembered. Turns out this spring has been a lot less wet.
We had a great time spare a few moments I cursed saying how much I hated this race. There were a few moments I bitched out Ryan for riding too hard. I had to keep reminding myself I was working on absolutely zero energy stores. In the end it was actually pretty uneventful. Even the ritual mudslide near the end was lame compared to the previous year. I still couldn't make it up the final super steep climb to the finish. Ryan was fucking wheely'ing up it a la Sagan which got some chuckles out of the spectators.
I did get maimed in a way. I was too lazy and busy to bother switching out the saddle on the loaner bike. I figured, what's a couple hours? Surely I can handle a couple hours on a seriously inferior saddle. I didn't want to be snobby. Turns out I should have been snobby. Within the first 20km there was this weird burning sensation on my ass. Just the one cheek. The familiar burning of a hot spot not unlike the kind that results in blisters. At the water station half way I stuck my hand down my bibs thinking there was a seam from the base layer I had on. No, no material, no nothing. What the fuck?
The pain continued and I knew something was really wrong. Once we finished I hightailed it to the bathroom to get changed only to discover some insane chafe. Not as insane as the "Worst. Chafe. Ever" but the fiery burn of fresh chafe was there. The shower once we got home was.... interesting.
Then I had to take the entire week off the bike. I tried to sit on a saddle once and it was just too painful. There really aren't any options. I am glad it was just one cheek but I was picking my clothes out of the wound for days. That damn generic one-size-fits-all must have been the problem. I've never in my life had chafe like that from a bike and never on my ass like that.
Ryan's glamour shot
I had no real blood sugar problems either. I was slightly high at the start and let it be. At the aid station we stopped to pee, fill bottles and grab bananas. My beeg was sitting at 10.0mmol/l (180mg/dl) I took one unit of insulin and chowed down on a few more shot blocks. I had planned to eat the banana in a little bit once the insulin started working. I ended up falling on that banana.
My beeg started to tank about 10km from the finish. We stopped just long enough for me to test and eat another couple shot blocks with some watered down Honeymaxx before getting right back on and going. I believe I crossed the finish line and tested with a 5.7mmol/l (102mg/dl). All in all I consumed next to nothing the entire race save a few shot blocks and some gross watered down Honeymaxx. It was at least a few more days before I was able to eat and not feel super sick, just regular sick.
In the end... we came in 13th out of 17 teams with a time of 3:20 each. Kind of crappy but we did our best. I should say *I* did my best because Ryan could have gone a whole lot harder without me.
Next stop, the car wash station.