Well, day 2 is completed, and there’s not much more to do then to tell you fine folks all about it. In a word, epic. A very long day in the saddle for Carl and I, with our fair share of mechanical issues, and not the finish we were totally hoping for. Day 1 was the shortest day (distance-wise) of the entire race, and day 2 was the longest day (distance-wise). The race course took us from the ferry terminal in Nanaimo to Parksville, where we stayed basically right on the beach. So obviously, we started the day with a nice ferry ride from the mainland to Vancouver Island. The plus side? Well, there are no bears over here of course :-), so no worries, we didn’t run into any crazy nature encounters. Eventually I’ll get to posting pictures up of the day, and also pop up my snazzy custom Google Map of the day. Enjoy those (once I post them), then sneak on back over for a brief little story about the overall days’ adventures.
As most of you will recall, day 1 wasn’t the greatest kind of course for Carl and I. While the North Shore is definitely a magnificent place to ride, it requires a certain amount of finesse that I think you can only get by going there and practicing. Needless to say, we didn’t get that practice :-). However, Day 2 looked like it would be more our style. A long course, with a mix of access roads and sweet singletrack to gnash our teeth on. We had high hopes that this would be our time to shine, and that we’d be able to make up a few spots. However, the competition is very fierce in our category, so no sense getting too excited about things.
Day broke early, and we had to quickly break camp in Lynn Valley to make our way to the ferry via bus. 8 school buses loaded with groggy, excited bikers pulled in to the terminal, and we subsequently piled in to the waiting lounge to await our ferry. Happily, we were on the pride of the fleet, the Coastal Renaissance. As an extra surprise, the entire Deck 5 was closed to the general public so that we could have the whole area to ourselves, allowing room for us to get ready, and also set up our MASH unit for first aid and medical. That was pretty cool. It was another gourgeous day, so I spent a lot of the time up top enjoying the great views.
Once in Nanaimo, they herded all of us to Deck 2 of the car levels, so that we could all walk off as a group. It was quite a sight I’d think. Our bikes and the start gate were already waiting for us there, so all we had to do was get organized with our gear and get herded into the starting gates. Before I knew it, it was time to start. We were being escorted by the police, and to get started did a sort of long ceremonial procession all through town. Since we’d been relegated to the back of the pack, we had an excellent view of the huge peloton that we caused. I was also excited because Jody’s parents had made the trip to Nanaimo to cheer Carl and I on. Admittedly they didn’t really get to see us very long, as we just rolled on by, but it was still nice to see a familiar pair of faces on the course.
After the formal city tour was over, we headed into the hills in earnest. The day held a couple long slog climbs in store, and some pretty great technical descents as well. I’d love to say everything worked out perfectly for us on course, but sadly, such was not the case. Carl was having a ton of shifting issues, in spite of the fact that he had a lot of brand new gear on the bike for the ride. At aid station 1, we finally decided to troubleshoot the issue, which is when we realized his chain was bent. Oops. He had to take out a whole section to fix it, but once done, we were back on our way. The bike techs warned us that a day in this race was like 3 regular days on any other terrain, and that we’d probably all need some shop work. It looks as though they were right. The amount of rocks, roots, bangs, scrapes, and drop-offs that we were suffering through with our bikes was remarkable.
I had been hoping for really flowy trails, but for the most part they were bumpy as hell. I could tell already that swapping saddles 2 days before the race might not have been the best idea, as my butt was taking a lot of abuse.
In spite of all the tough riding, we were feeling really good on the course, and pressed hard throughout the day. We traded spots with a bunch of different teams on the various sections, depending on each team’s strengths and weaknesses. So although we weren’t in the front, we were certainly by no means alone out there. As you’ll see in the results, we were not the last either! I can safely say that we were riding within our abilities at least, which was a good thing. It just happens our abilities aren’t as fast as the other guys 🙂
One of the final sections of the course was a long descent on a logging road down towards Parksville. However, before finally finishing off, we had to dive yet again into some more really interesting singletrack. It was a bit of a pain, because it was a zig-zag trail that kept going downhill, but then forcing us to hump it back uphill again. At the end of a long, hot, day, we just wanted to get to then end. That’s when my mechanical happened. We were on another short uphill, and I was in granny, and just hammered on my cranks. Kapow! My chain exploded. We had less than 2km to go, and just wanted to wrap things up. I’ve never blown a chain, but there is was. Well, it’s not like it can happen in a good time, can it? We had to stop so that I could fix it with a gold link, and as we did that (with me cursing), several teams passed us.
Now, admittedly, losing a minute or two (or five) wouldn’t really make a big difference in our race, but it still sucked to be so close to the end and see teams go past that we would have beaten to the punch. Oh well. We pushed on as best we could, and tried to shrug it off. Just for kicks, we put the pedal to the metal, and saw if we could catch a team or two. We caught up to one, but they were pretty determined not to let us pass them with 200m to go 🙂
All in all, a great day for us physically and mentally, and we were ready to rest up and get set for the next day. Parksville Base Camp was located right on the beach in the park, and was another beautiful location to rest after the day. Unfortunately, we didn’t get in to camp till around 5:30 I think. From there, we had to clean our bikes, clean ourselves, eat our food, get our gear sorted, etc. etc. By the time that was done, I had zero energy to work on this blog, so with that, I’ll have to sign off for now, as I have another stage to write about for you all. Till then, ride hard.