Why do all of these events have to live up to their names?
Skip this paragraph if you don't want to hear excuses. Well probably my worst first 1/4 of a race ever. I was not aggressive enough off of the start and so I got the privilege of watching the leaders ride away while getting stuck behind someone. When I did get by after attacking hard on a double track climb and rejoining with some riders ahead, I dropped my chain on a short descent. It made 2 loop de loops. I was confused. And I got passed again while fixing it. And my chain started jumping around on my cassette. I got stuck behind someone who was using a tree for balance so he could clip in. When I was done passing people, I followed someone down a wrong turn (weird, but I somehow saw flagging tape down there). Fortunately, it took us right back on the course, but not after getting passed again by some slower riders. Finally, near the end of the first half of the first lap, I had passed all of the slower riders and had sorted out my shifting issues.
The next 3/4 of the race was awesome. I was riding by myself through the wilderness! Rough singletracks through clearcut meadows and rolling along the edge of a steep cliff above a very blue Kootenay River. Beautiful.
In the end, my 2nd lap was only 2mins slower than my first lap, and I don't think it was because I was paced well... I finished in 9th, almost 40mins back of the winner. Disappointing, but I was glad that I was able to keep the gas on the whole race.
Overall, great event, and I would definitely think about doing it again next year. I think if they smoothed out some of the dirt just a little bit, they would have a world class riding destination rivaling the Chilcotins. Now some advice for those considering this one:
-Leave the hardtail at home. People aren't kidding when they say the course is rough. I was definitely wishing for more than my 4" fully.
-I think there were 3 feed zones around the course stocked with gatorade, water, bananas and chips. There is also a cross-over section dividing each half of the lap. I think I would pass by this every 45-55mins, so one could leave their bottles there. I didn't know this, so I raced with a hydration pack.
-The first singletrack is LONG, make sure you are seeded well off the start loop, don't be that guy (or girl) who slows down people behind you. However, your race isn't going to be ruined in the first 2km until you can finally pass on the bigger doubletrack climb.