I never thought I would be riding multi-day stage races, or completing ultra endurance events on a bike. Not in my wildest dreams could I have ever imagined riding the kind of technical trails I did in BC Bike Race last year.
But I did. It's not always pretty, but I do it because I can. And because it is life-affirming in a way that I can never seem to put exactly the right words around.
I might not be the leanest or the fastest rider out there, but I couldn’t be more grateful for this strong and tenacious body that gets me through some of the toughest races around.
Don’t ever let anyone tell you you can’t do something.
You’re never “TOO” anything (too fat, too old, etc.)...you can always take that step towards getting yourself closer to your goals, no matter what other people think.
And if that person is you, or your inner voice, just remember that you have a choice whether to listen to it or to tell a brand new story.
Reach out if you are doubting yourself but you have a little voice inside that keeps asking, "What if...?" I love talking to people who want to figure out the logistics of getting outside your comfort zone, challenging yourself a bit more, and finding out just how powerful you are!
Vertical elevation: 2500m
Temperature: Around 0-8C
We did it! About 2,500m of climbing in 120km of gravel, and I need a massage!! Ouch!
A frigid start and it didn’t warm up much after that. More than eight hours later and we crossed the finish line!!
John waited for me to catch up through the whole race, as always.
After a very optimistic start with beautiful tracks and feeling really strong on the climbs, I was then in pain for the entirety. Honestly though, the first 20km I was thinking what's the point of gravel racing anyway? It was so smooth, I thought why don't we just ride on the road??
But quickly, I realized that the smooth gravel tracks would soon be a distant memory.
I had a terrible headache (my brain was bouncing around over all the bumpy rocks and trails), and eventually I just convinced myself I had something really serious like appendicitis or a bladder infection from not having a pee on the course. These are the kind of tricks my brain plays to try to get me to stop punishing myself!
I didn’t, of course, have appendicitis or a bladder infection - despite the pain I was feeling. But within an hour of getting off the bike I was fine, with the exception of sore knees, neck and shoulders. Happy days!!
If anyone wants to know anything about the ride, let us know! We’re happy to share what we’ve learned while it’s still fresh in our minds. 😁
We had to fly from Newfoundland all the way to Toronto, which added about 10 hours to our original booking.
Frustrating for sure, and I got zero sleep on the flight squished into a middle seat and completely uncomfortable. Is it just me, or is modern airplane travel absolute torture?
Also, Pearson airport in Toronto gets two thumbs down from us - what a stupid layout for such a busy airport. And don't get me started on the (lack of) services!
Anyhow, this area is beautiful. We had an uneventful drive north in the rental van, stopping into Leisure Lakes bike shop in Daventry (we go there every time we're in the UK - great shop !).
So, a fair bit of travel time for a one-day event! But a lovely part of the world, and very grateful we get to do this sort of thing.
We can’t wait to ride tomorrow!
It's been a while, but we made made some major changes towards the end of 2018 and relocated from the desert to Newfoundland!
There's been some assimilation coming from the +40c temperatures in Qatar to Canadian Winters, but we're super excited about living here and the opportunities for new pedal powered adventures :-)
Pretty much as soon as we landed we invested in some Fat Bikes from Canary Cycles in
St. John's and we're complete converts. It has made the winter so much fun and is a welcome break from training indoors on Zwift. We'll post more thoughts on our introduction to Fat Biking very soon.
One of our favourite rides, which is only really possible during the winter, was to Brock's Head Waterfall. Riding over frozen ponds for the first time, trusting the ice and the studded tyres to stay upright was an amazing experience.
We intend to use the gravel bikes far more in 2019 and are currently training for the Dirty One Thirty, an off-road cycling challenge based on the gravel grinder format developed in the US. The event starts in Kielder in Northumberland, a remote northern village close to the Scottish border. The course includes substantial climbing and fingers are crossed for decent weather! We're racing as a Team and looking forward to the entire Dirty Reiver experience, the riding and a few beers afterwards! We'll post more about our race preparation and equipment soon.
So that's all for this quick update. Hopefully see you on the trails and please #share the road.
Thrilled with this year on the bike!
Check out my Strava video showing my stats for 2018. I've accomplished my goal of hitting 10,000km in one year - a first for me!
I know it’s not (just) about the miles, but my goal definitely kept me moving forward when things got tough.
And I am healthier (physically and emotionally) for all of those pedal strokes.
Thanks for all the kudos and support throughout the year!
Let’s get out on the bikes together in 2019 if you’re in our neck of the woods.
Our first fatbike in the snow!! A beautiful day and lots of learning.
It was rather special to be the first on the trail, but we learned that’s not necessarily a good thing when fatbiking as you can see in the video where JHH can’t get going and is up to his knees in snow.
What an effort for just 6km!! Looking forward to many more of these! Who wants to come with us?
Short solo ride out to Blackhead this morning. The fog threatened to roll in but it stayed beautiful!
Would have gone to Cape Spear, but too much to do today.
You really have to earn your kilometers here on the rock, b’yes! 😓💪🏼😜
My legs got a great workout today instead of the easy spin I had planned. I couldn’t stop! It was too nice.
Can't wait to ride this together!
I’ve got about 7 minutes to write this 🙄🙄🙄
Don’t get me started on the WiFi availability at this race.
We finished!!! It was a crazy day.
It was an incredible day for us. Very long, but we did it!!! We got the belt buckles and finishers t-shirts. Photos to come, including finish line pic. As well as a proper race report!
Thanks for all your support and love! We really appreciate it, and it helps us immensely through these crazy multi-stage events. Gotta go ice my knees!!
Celebrating starts now!! 🍻☺️
North Vancouver Individual Time Trial 🙄
Six down, one to go!!!
This morning was a luxury by BCBR standards! Wake-up was a very relaxed 7AM squeaky rubber chicken alarm.
We were already up from 6AM, and find we have become quite institutionalized, packing up our tent and getting kitted up well in advance of breakkie.
Breakfast in North Van was great - French toast with cinnamon brioche and maple syrup!
It was hot and the sun beat down on us as we queued for the late 10AM(ish) start. Our back-of-the-pack “Purple” starters (identified on Stage 1 with stickers on our number plates as we crossed the finish) were nervous about what we knew would be a tough and technical 19km. The announcer warned that to many of us, it would feel more like 40km.
There was a lot of steep climbing, a lot of steep tricky downhilling, and a lot of walking (for many of us). Many of us got hung up on immense root networks that just thumped us one after another after another until we found one we could no longer power over. There were boardwalks and bridges, loose rocks, gravel climbs, gravel descents, rock gardens and basically every kind of MTB feature I can imagine.
I was annoyed that I had to take my bike on this mostly-hiking journey, but so relieved to realize the finish was near! I would have preferred a sensible bike ride on one of the more rideable routes in this area, but the race dictates the route and I do like to finish! Some of our group joked at the start about heading to a pub instead of heading up the mountain, but we all did it - some bloodier than others. I have to say - in hindsight - I did enjoy the bits I could ride, and particularly enjoyed the rocky berms near the end.
John did well, climbing all of the steep switchback ascents, and waited up for me often. At one point, I passed him and he was on the ground beside his bike. He told me he had come off and was worried about his foot. He assured me he was ok and I should keep going.
I flagged a medic up ahead to check on him, and he was back on the bike after some Tylenol and water. He feels like he may have strained some of the muscles that have been underused since his calcaneus surgery in December.
After a quick shower, we caught the bus to Squamish with the rest of the late riders and still made it in time to enjoy the beer tent, dry our towels and kit, eat a hearty meal and chill in the tent. I am going for a massage shortly and then it will be lights out on our penultimate stage of BCBR!!!
Our campsite is situated in beautiful Squamish, nestled amongst some forested snow-capped mountains. We are enjoying the mountain air more than I can describe.
Tomorrow will be a tough stage, made easier by the fact that we will be ticking off kilometers down to zero! The final reward is the coveted BCBR belt buckle, and we look forward to this token of completing a relentlessly challenging week of singletrack in MTB Mecca!
Thanks to John for helping me overcome my writer’s block tonight! 😝
Sechelt to Langdale
49km, 1403m elevation
Today was not my day. It started when I realized I had sent my race bag containing my bike computer, heart rate monitor and sunny day lenses on the truck going across to North Vancouver. But I didn’t mind that too much. I haven't been able to upload to Strava anyhow with the limited WiFi, so it doesn’t really matter anymore.
I started out really well today. For the first 30km I can say I gave it everything I had and I was enjoying just trying to move forward every chance I got. The girls from Calgary kept saying I was “consistent” every time we passed one another.
But the final 10km or so were not my cup of tea. It was beautiful in the forest but I just couldn’t enjoy it. There was far too much climbing again today, and because our days have been so long everyday and we haven’t had much time to recover, today was probably harder than it needed to be.
And then, by the time we got to the “downhill” section, I was shattered already from all the climbing.
There were about 2 minutes of lovely flowing switchbacks with the most beautiful berms. But it didn’t last.
I attempted a super steep rocky downhill section and ended up coming off the bike. I braked hard so luckily wasn’t going at speed, but I still had a lot of momentum when my whole right side connected with the ground with a thud and slid a bit on some loose rocks.
I was so tired and disappointed and in pain, so I immediately burst into tears (first tears of this race! ).
Then when I tried to ride, my wrist and chest and hand were so painful every time I braked, and it made me cry even harder. Bike patrol and a few other riders stopped to see if I was ok and I insisted I ride the remaining 3km or so to the end. It was pretty at the last bit and you could get some flow again, but every root made me utter OUCH! OUCH! OUCH!! The rest of the way to the end.
But leading up to that, there were still sooo many punchy rooty rocky climbs and little wooden bridges and steep drop-offs into the abyss. One wrong move...!
If you know the trail, or have the skills to ride at a high level, you could probably have some fun on that route. But for those of us at the back of the race, today was a bit much. I couldn’t seem to get the power, speed or correct gearing to quickly get up and over the short steep hills that appeared every two seconds around every fun corner. The smooth ones were fine, but the technical ones were soul-destroying for me at a certain point.
Tomorrow is the individual time trial in North Vancouver, which everyone is saying is the most technical. I don’t have high hopes for an enjoyable day on the bike, or a good time. I expect some walking.
Maybe Squamish (Stage 7) will be better!🤞