Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Day 7, we finished!

Well day 7 started out really well. We left the squamish adventure resort and aquatic center. We started rather early and woke to pouring rain hitting the 4 person tent with such force that it felt as if the tent was going to cave in, fortunately it was only for a short period of time.

The morning started off cold too, I had to put arm warmers on and a jacket over that. With every layer of clothing, my spirits were beginning to get dampened by the weather and concern that today's race was going to be short but in bad weather. Cold weather and rain makes short, fun days really long and unenjoyable. I know better, so the first thing I did was pack my rain shoe covers and my waterproof, warm gloves.
We went inside to eat while it was raining, and as I looked around at the other racers I noticed something peculiar. The others seemingly weren't phased by the rain at all. They simply went about their day like it was just another day of racing. I suppose I should learn a little from that as there is really nothing we can do about it anyways and in the end, rain or shine, we were riding Whistler mountain on the last day of this race.

The night before just like every previous night, there is a guy with a microphone who is comentating on the route that we are supposed to take and explain everything he can about the route. It has always proved to lack something, either the truth about mileage, difficulty, so on. This night was no different. I remember very specifically after the route explanation he said "it will only take you, oh about 3 1/2 hours if your a hack like me." A hack? Did he just say a hack it would take 3 1/2 hours. I couldn't believe it, I wanted to believe it, I just couldn't believe it.
In Canada it seems everything is different. It seems 5 minutes, Canadian, is more like 20 minutes, American. It seems 2 kilometers, Canadian is more like 7 miles, American. You get the picture. Everything we set expectations to were not realized in this race. I suppose as someone who is racing in these events sets all of their food and energy consumption based on trusted time and distances. This did not happen in this race. I say "well, Mr. Hack, try like 6 1/2 hours or more.". The middle section between aid station 1 and 2 was like 3 1/2 hours. What a weinie.
What I really failed to do in this particular race was set my expectations. Here's what I expected: I expected something a lot easier than the previous 6 days. Less climbing and more hauling butt down famous single track along rivers, in and out of trees and somewhat of a warm up before any monster climbs. Wishful thinking.

The starting gun went off and we immediately climbed up the very face of the mountain directly below the gondolas. Its the same face skiers or snow boarders go down in the winter, so its steep and if you ate pork the night before, you would be tasting it all again on these hills. Paul chose to slowdown and ride with us again, and as always he was in good shape and had no issues climbing straight up the face of this mountain. I did... I was tired, a little under nourished, and I was climbing right out of the start gate. Looking at my altimeter, I saw 500, then 1000, then 1500 feet gain within very shorts periods of time. I thought "could this actually be happening on the last day of the race?" Could they possibly make this more brutal than the very first day in the heat. I suppose they really wanted to make an impression on you and force you into remembering this race for the rest of your life. Yikes.

Finally, flat ground and slight recovery for my ailing heart and lungs. We then started along whistler's famous windy trails that flow along glacial flowing rivers. It was breathtaking and I was still tired. Maybe I was getting my breath taken away because I was so tired...anyways, still very beautiful. The water that was flowing next to these epic trails was an off color from the usual flowing river and I was told that it was simply due to the run off from the glaciers. I quickly thought if I lost it and fell in that water I may have about 30 seconds to get out before I freeze in my tiny little spandex shorts. What an imagination I have!!

Needless to say we hit checkpoint 1 with little issue. We refueled and we were off again through some of Whistlers most prominent free riding trails. It was fast, furious and just like the fastest roller coaster only you weren't on rails, you were on ladders where one screw up sent you flying off the ladder and either in the drink or worst yet, into one of many trees that covered the landscape. Similarly, on stage 4 there was a single track called "cut your bars.". This ride was very similar, but if you went into the forest with wide "riser bars" you were seriously re-considering. There was a very legitimate reason it was called this and I found out real quick by passing a tree that almost seemed to reach out and grab the end of my handlebars. I immediately knew I either needed to slow down, or stop and walk. Now, if you know me, walking something like this is absolutely out of the question. I decided to make my way and every time I came up to a grabby tree, I stood up and ever so gently moved my entire body to one side. I had to do this quickly as yet another tree approached from the other side. You can probably tell there was little room for error here.

We continued on and oddly enough found something that we were willing to bet no one found... A chair in the middle of the forest. Strangely, it was love seat like. We look at our watches than looked at each other and had to snap photos. We snapped a couple of photos and time was tick, tick, ticking away so we decided to leave and head on to the 2nd checkpoint. As we rode through single track and did our usual shuck and jive up and over stumps, through fallen logs and rocks, we arrived at checkpoint 1 an hour before the cutoff. We had plenty of time and no stress as we knew that 5pm was the cutoff for check point 2. We rode on happily and stopping ever so often to eat and shoot photos.

Carefree and happy we rode this beautiful single track which was still difficult but we were making our way. We saw a volunteer standing on the side of the trail. That sounds great... I would be down with that, however my rear hub blew 10 minutes before the finish of the BC bike race. I can still ride it and would absolutely love to get back on the bike. I think I am even off tomorrow. As we passed, I asked how far to the second checkpoint, he looked at his watch and said "its about 7 kilometers to the checkpoint, but there is a mandatory cutoff at 3pm.". It was 3:15 pm. I responded "what?". "Your kidding me right?". He nodded as we passed and said "sorry." Paul, in a panic, immediately left our company and I was sure that he regretted hanging out with us and even taking photos as we did, funny or not. Paul, without much to explain and knowing that he didn't need to explain, left us and fast.

I was imagining this, I was not believing the volunteer was serious. As far as I knew, the last checkpoint cutoff was 5pm, not 3pm. That means that it would take racers and pros, 1 hour from aid station 1 to aid station 2. Both Roy and I thought this was impossible. Its was like a 3 1/2 hour jaunt from aid 1 to aid 2 for us, there was no way the pros can even make it in an hour, there's just no way. Nevertheless, he said the words...we were cutoff and we had 7 kilometers to go. I felt so bad, I could simply stop and puke on my shoes. I was totally wasted physically and now after 7 days of hard work, completely demoralized. I was crushed in every since of the word. I wanted to believe it was a joke. As we rode on discussing how it has to be a mistake, we came upon Gary and Francisco, the "bread" to the "american meat" I wrote about in earlier posts. I asked them if they were as demoralized as we were, they looked back and shook their head yes.

We continued on for a short period only to find the dreaded checkpoint. The checkpoint was right next to the finish line. The volunteer doing his job looked at us, apologized and placed a blue tag on our front race bibs attached to the bike. He than told us to go through to the finishing chute. Despite my need to communicate with someone that has a voice in the midst of the drama, I went through the chute. While everyone smiled and laughed I held back from breaking down. Roy continued his picture taking and was un phased by the decision. We both knew it was a bad decision on the race's part. We continued to press on to talk with Dean, the race director. As more racers showed up to chat with him, tempers started to fly. Arms were crossed and the defenses starting going up. Bob Forster was particularly livid and kept saying "I spent two grand on this and I'm gettin a medal!" He led the angry brigade to the race director. We stood in a circle around him everyone taking their turns in griping to him. All of the reasons were legitimate. The Austin couple asked a very simple question: "how long did it take the pros to go from checkpoint 1 to check point 2?". Dean responded "I don't have that information.". Hook. Line and sinker, I thought. How could you possibly not know how fast the pros are doing this when every checkpoint that you used in this race was based on doubling the pros times? Than Roy, the journalist, finally spoke and softly whispered to Dean, standing next to him, "it's bad PR Dean.". I almost had a smile so big that you could fit a banana in it sideways. He asked for a small break from the ranting, growing crowd that was metastisizing around him. We allowed them to talk. There was really only one rational decision. Low and behold, they came back and said "I'm sorry.". "We were wrong." There was collective sigh of relief. Bob Forster, leaned over and offered me a chocolate chip cookie. Dean and us begin to debate what the best way for us to finish to get our "mojo" back. We all agreed that doing the last 5k together and re-crossing the finish line with the biggest pack of the BPA yet was the best idea. We all agreed and set off for our final ride. 20 minutes later we went through the finish line having done every last inch of the 2008 BC bike race. We shot a giant group photo and received our medals. We crossed the finish line and the volunteers handing out the shirt said the very thing that all BPA'ers are concerned with: were out of medium size shirts. Instead, I took two larges and chose to be happy. In spite of the fact that we were thrilled to receive the medals and finish the race, we complained that there was no date on them or even a description of what they were for. It was just the logo of the BC race, a totem pole icon with huge eyes and fingernails. Francisco, the mexican piece of" bread" smiled and said "I could have bought this at a porno store", we all cracked up.

Not knowing what to do next Roy and I left to head to the banquet. We took showers in the bathroom at the Westin without having a room there. We dressed quickly and we were off to eat. We took the gondola to the top and 20 minutes later we arrived. We grabbed as much prime rib and chicken as possible and started eating. Dean , the race director took the mic from Drew the announcer and to our shock and awe, began suggesting to everyone in the room what happened at the finish line. He began by saying the race made a very grave mistake this afternoon and he wanted to apologize to everyone and asked that anyone that was effected by this come up to the stage. Roy looked at me and said "he isn't talking about us.". I said, "yes he is, let's go to the stage.". As we walked up there, the entire room rose from their seats and began hooting and hollering and clapping. We stood up there with Gary the canadian, Francisco, the mexican to our right and a mixed team, the weapons of ass destruction to our left. The crowd was giving us a standing ovation, we couldn't believe it. Roy leaned over to me and said "we got our mojo back.".

Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry