If I could clone myself twice, I would have raced the Bow 80 and the Steamer hillclimb as well. Weekends are a hot commodity.
I wasn't keen on registering a couple of months in advance to get a spot in the Bow 80, just in case the weather or trail conditions were shit come race day. The Bow 80 course is fun (well except for the cow trail), but it is already a sufferfest in dry conditions, let alone wet (conditions were dry on race day though). Looking at results from the Steamer, I think I would have done well, and Revelstoke is a nice place to spend a weekend. But it was also nice to stop by my house and see the parents.
I didn't grab much of a warmup, but I lined up on the 2nd row. I let a couple of riders by during the neutral start, but was fortunately ahead of a crash. By the time I really got going, the lead group had formed ahead of me. I was a couple of wheels too far back. I tried to chase hard a couple of times, but I ended up getting caught by Hardcore teammates Dave R and Mark, and Trev and Paul I. I was really suffering early on, and considering the scale of the race left to complete, it felt like I was hanging on and I was skipping pulls at the front. The trail was bumpy and it was hard to eat or drink, but I was able get some liquids and food down and I started feeling better near the end of the 1st of 2 laps.
Lap 2 seemed like the opposite of lap 1. I was able to take some good pulls but eventually Mike S was able to get off the front of our group with little interest in chasing. I pulled for a bit, then bridged up to him on a hill. We saw Mike vdH ahead and we had some chasers behind, so I tried to contribute to Mike’s strong pulls but was still not really doing my share. In the end I rolled in 6th. I got called out for wheelsucking, so yeah, I’m guilty. The course was punishing on bike and body, and my back was hurting good from taking a beating during the race.
Aside from Mike S and Paul T, everyone in our chase missed the lead group because we were too far back when the split happened. I think we all had the legs to ride with the lead group for a bit, until getting dropped one by one to battle for the 3rd podium spot. I’ve got to be more aggressive off the start because I have proved in Hinton and at the Kettle that I belong up there.
I really enjoyed the format. It was fun bombing around doubletrack in a pack, a bit of road tactics in there as well. A “fitness” race where tactics and bike handling were not as important and you can just get out there and go hard. It is a great format for getting more people into racing and makes me curious about the potential of the Canmore Nordic Centre for a similar event.
No regrets about missing Bow 80 or the Revelstoke Steamer. The Kettle is destined to be a classic, like the Bow 80 and the Birkebeiner.