Well I’m going to take a page out of Team Colins book and try to learn how to write better. If you have never read any of his recaps, you should!!!
My weekend started Friday with the 3.5hr drive to Kingston to set up camp for the night at Rob Sangers farm. This is a high lite of the weekend, as you can camp out for free, have a sweet bonfire and meet some really awesome like-minded people, such as Tim and Patrick from Quebec. Yes everyone knows Tim and Patrick from Quebec like Tim from Calgary, and Joe from Vancouver. I think that they all may be related but I digress.
With camping out the night before, you can set up shop and really just relax around the fire and have a sociable or two. Our night out at the fire was perfect, riders from MTB Kingston who were out doing a night ride came in to join, as did Rob, and Chris and a few other regulars. From our little community, Monica, Scott, Ryan and Taylor all made the trek out for the final of Dan’s race series.
While staring blankly at the fire your mind still always goes to the coming day and what will happen. Have you prepared everything, is the bike setup the way you want, do you have enough tire pressure, do you have a spare tube, and the list goes on. But then if you have done the race before you think, I can’t wait to get on those trails, how much fun am I going to have, and is that much fun legal. The guys at MTB Kingston do such an amazing job on their trails, it is hard not to have a smile on your face throughout the race.
As the night gets colder you settle in for what you hope to be a great night sleep and a restful morning. But it is hard to sleep due to excitement, and the smell of a skunk that had wandered near your tent at some point in the morning, and your feet somehow not staying in your sleeping bag and touching the side of the tent and getting cold and wet.
You wake up the next morning, one side of you body is a little stiff, but that pain slowly goes away with coffee, excitement, Advil and Tylenol. Thanks to Tim for the spot of coffee in the morning, that helped big time to shake the cobwebs off. As in any pre-race camping tradition you fire up the BBQ to warm up some breakfast and start race preparations.
The full marathon group started their race at 11am, so when they all left for the start line things got real. The excitement ramped up, and you just wanted to get to the start line and go. But you had to wait, and waiting is the hardest part. You drink and drink and drink to make sure you are hydrated, then you have to use the facilities, but you are hydrated. The group of half marathoners all start to slowly depart to the start line, and warm up a little bit.
With Kingston, the race starts along a gravel double track for a short piece before dropping into single-track. From previous experience, you need to get a good jump to get some fun clear trail. Standing the starting group, Sean Thibeault and I had the discussion and came to the agreement that he would be the lead guy for us two. If you have never met Sean he is over 6′ rides a fat bike, and probably one of the nicest guys you will meet on a bike! With him leading out, it acting like a bulldozer, people would hear the fat tires coming and seem to move out of the way like parting the sea. It was awesome!
This got us into the single-track near the front group which was perfect, as everything was pushing along at a perfect pace. The single-track is pretty much like Dufferin Forest, but flatter, so you can carry your speed and have a lot of fun doing it. Throughout this portion of single track there were natural rock features all over the place, so you could have a lot of fun while going pretty fast!
As in all of Dan’s races at Kingston, the race pops through the “barn”, well I didn’t need to use quotations there, as it literally is a barn. Just a really fun thing to add into a race I think. But if you didn’t think riding through a barn was fun, how bout a really awesome pump track, cause well everyone loves pump tracks, and this one was all downhill too which was even better. Oh wait, but the fun doesn’t stop there, after the pump track, there was a cornfield that you rode through! Really, you can see how this whole race is just a lot of fun right!
The second half of the race after the barn is where some of the technical rocks and roots begin. Coming through the beginning of the root area I came across Team Colin, had a short chat before he let me by, which he didn’t have to do cause at that point I needed to catch my breath a bit. Through the rooty and some man-made bridges, I rode with a gentleman from the Ottawa area who had been off a mountain bike for several years, and well for someone who was off a bike for a bit it didn’t show at all! Maybe chatting and riding technical wasn’t the nicest thing to do, as he did have a slight off in some rocks, which I did feel bad for.
Through the rock section, behind me I could see and sometime hear both Ryan and Taylor, who were having just awesome rides as well! Once you hit the rock section, you can really tell the comfort levels of people. The rock sections at MTB Kingston I found were based on momentum. They were easily rolled with momentum, and if you bogged down, it did become a heck of a fight to keep it rolling and over some of the rocks. The rocks there are mainly shale so there are some loose sections, and when you hit it the right way it does sound like breaking glass.
You pass the final aid station where Dan’s dad Ron was stationed, giving you a huge cheer and a big smile on his face. Once you see that you know you are having a great day as always. But at the same time you know the finish is coming up. This is a moment in time where you have mixed reactions. You think, you don’t want the fun to end, you want the pain to be over, how close is the guy behind me, what is my reaction time if a squirrel ran in front of me, and so on. As you are thinking these thoughts you see the finish line and hoards of people cheering you on. Well there are several people there, a few dogs, and kids playing in the adjacent field. But either way, you are finished, and within seconds you have all the energy in the world.
As the other riders come in, you check the results to see how you did, and I was pleasantly surprised at my finish, 14th overall out of 71, in sub 2hrs of riding.
Full results for the half and full are below.
If you dig into the results, you would see Ryan and Taylor finished First and Third in U20, with Monica third in the womens category. Everyone who crossed the finish line had a smile on their face, and will be going back next year for sure.
I have to say a huge thanks to Dan Marshall, the score keepers, volunteers, Rob Sangers, and MTB Kingston for hosting this awesome event! It was what bike racing is all about. Having fun, seeing old friends, meeting new ones, and enjoying a day in the forest. This race will be on the calendar for 2018 for sure 100%.
Next race for myself will be the Parry Sound 8hr I think, then Sausage Suit ITT!