Wowza, another day in the books for Team Diabetes / ActiveSteve. Today saw us travel up the coast on Vancouver Island to Cumberland by bus, where our next stage was set to both start and finish. Rather than bore us with a long point-to-point leg, the plan was to have the stage be entirely located in the Cumberland region on some awesome singletrack trails that they had in the area. And awesome they were! The day was slated to be a bit shorter than Day 2 and have less climbing overall. Also, the climbs and trails were supposed to be slightly less technical overall, so I hoped for some relief on my posterior. As per usual, I’ll have some photos posted, as well as put up my custom Google Map for the day. It was another awesome day for us, and we were pumped about ending a little earlier, so that we’d have some relaxing time. Read on for the rest of the story.
To start the day was another lovely bus ride, but at least they fed us a full breakfast at the Parksville base camp, which had scrambled eggs, ham, sausages, hashbrowns, etc. etc. I helped myself to a whole lot of it, making sure that I’d have the energy I’d need for the entire day of riding. I also focussed on hydrating well too, a plan which had paid off for us on the Stage 2. We were facing more clear blue skies, and the likelihood that temperatures would climb high enough that dehydration was a concern. So plan number one for us was going to be our health, then having fun, and finally, racing hard 🙂 After realizing that all our efforts in Stage 2 still didn’t really move us up in the rankings, we’d resigned ourselves to more or less be tourists for the rest of the week. No biggie. After all, this is our vacation, right?
When the bus pulled into Cumberland, the start area and base camp preperations were already well on the way, and our trusty bikes were all waiting for us as well. It was yet another idyllic location, nestled amongst the mountains and the forests of Vancouver Island. This would be our last day on the Island, so we were itching to get out there and see more of the trails. On the bus over, I decided that I felt strong, and wanted to race. My legs felt surprisingly fresh, no doubt a result of staying hydrated. It was a new day, and we were facing it optimistically.
At the start, we were once again relegated to the third check in gate, the dreaded ‘back of the pack’. We were in high spirits though, as just being in this race is a pretty great accomplishment. Also like Stage 2, we started with a ceremonial cycle through the town for a bit, with curious onlookers cheering us on. Before long though, we hit the trails, and the first major choke point. As we’d all been riding as a large group, we had to stop and wait while everyone got onto the trails and started riding. This again was proof of why once you’re in the back of the pack, it’s very hard to move up. Too many people ahead causing the group to slow and stop. After all, when just one person slips up or falls, it stops everyone behind. Imagine it as a constant traffic jam for mountain bikers. This takes a long time to sort out. I’d guess it was about an hour into the race before we could really settle into a comfortable pace.
However, the riding was absolutely stunning. They’d told us these were ‘mature trails’ that had a lot of flow. The first technical section was all that and more. We really loved it. However, after that, we started down some gravel sections, then into more technical stuff. All in all the day was a good mix. I’d say a thrid of really flowy trails, a third of really technical descents and XC trails, and a third of gravel roads and fire trails. There was a couple pretty taxing climbs, one of which came later in the day. It was the ‘less appreciated’ climb by most riders. The funny thing I noted was that once again, the day really seemed to get super-tough right at the end. I figured out why though. Mentally, you know the end is x km away, so the last 5km before that start to really suck. After all, you’ve been on the saddle all day and suffering.
However, no suffering can make this stuff bad, since it was just so bloody awesome. However, back to the suffering. I just got back from the MASH area where I had to ask that really awkrard question. “Can somebody look at my ass?”. Yup, ole monkey butt Meyer was back. I knew it would happen. One quick glance, and the guys knew I needed some help. They asked if I had a partner, to which I said yes. Well, it turns out Carl may have a new job on his hands tomorrow. Patching up my butt. The worst part is that they said there’s no way it’ll get better this week, only worse. All they can do is try to make it hurt less overall. Burn pads, and lots of cream. Yes Lawson, I have a big tube of Chamois Butter, but it turns out I really should have looked into waxing. I can only imagine how things will look at the end of the week. On the plus side, I’m a survivor, and will definitely suffer through it.
Wow, I sure have gone on at length about that, haven’t I? I’m pretty sure that’s something I won’t be showing you all pictures of! I’m sitting right beside the ‘unofficial results’, so let me scoot over and see if anything has changed today…. Nope. Looks like we’ve lost more time to our next closest team. It also looks like there are only 9 minutes before the next team behind us. Ho hum. Too bad. Definitely tourist mode from here on out. Well, tomorrow is Canada Day, so we might as well celebrate. I can’t say I’m not a little bit disappointed, but as least we’re having a good time.
Well, it’s after 9 now, and we’ve got a 4:30 wake-up call to tend to. Plus, I still have to sort out my clothes and gear for the morning. So long story short, I’ve got to sign off. Bye kids!