Good to see the organizers have a sense of humour after the race was cancelled last year!
I signed up for this puppy a couple of months ago. Fortunately, the weather was perfect, a little cold in the morning, but no precipitation!
Course: To be honest, the first part of the course was not very exciting. I enjoyed the rolling terrain of the Elbow Valley, Prairie Link, and Prairie Creek trails though. The Sulphur Springs climb is a classic from the Summer Solstace race, but I don't really enjoy the fast descent with loose, non-bermed corners. The link from the end of the Prairie Creek trail to the feedzone was pure character builder with mud bogs, small creek crossings, and where the trail was dry, it was chewed up by cows. After the feed zone and the gravel road section, I enjoyed the course more. The Powderface Creek trail was fun, and I enjoyed Pneuma and Special K.
Technique: After a super fast start, I was super jittery going into the Sulphur Springs descent and took it pretty slow on the loose, off camber, switchbacks. I felt better on the Powderface descent and shralped up the Special K descent.
Engine: I started a little out of my comfort zone and paid for it, but fortunately, not too badly. I settled in after the feed zone, crushing the final climbs, battling some cramps, and made up some positions. Only 2 feed stations but they were well stocked, so I made sure I fueled up!
TSN Turning point: After I recovered after a hard start, I started to work my way back through some of the people who passed me while I was recovering. Unfortunately, the legs started cramping, and I had some chainsuck issues so I couldn't duel with one last rider in my cross-hairs. Funnest moment was definitely destroying this one sketchy guy who didn't want me to pass him. He stopped/dabbed in front of me multiple times and blocked me from riding through on the Pneuma climb! When I finally did pass him, he was no where to be seen. What a guy!
It was my first real long race without frequent access to feed zones. Because the race was in Bragg Creek, I didn't want to rock a 2nd bottle cage on the bottom of my downtube (cow shit is not good for you). I didn't have a hydration pack bladder, so I loaded up a small backpack with some bottles, but I would lose time swapping bottles. Hydration bladder or hardtail with 2 bottle cages is a must!
So, I rolled in top 20 overall I think, 4:46ish, and 5th in the 20-30 category. Although during the 1st part of the race, I was questioning why I was racing, I really enjoyed the 2nd half: Powderface was a fun climb and descent, the rolling terrain of Elbow valley, the technical climb of Pneuma and the technical Special K descent were all so much fun and make me want to ride more trails in the area. I'm not sure how well I would enjoy this race in more adverse conditions, so I don't know if I would gamble on the 2+ months in advance registration date... We were very lucky this year!
Thanks to Cody for splitting gas on the ride down, sharing some awesome bike stories, and to Ryan for offering us a place to stay!