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Test of Metal 2008

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You can go online and check out the final results if you'd like but the general scoop is this. The weather was good, 18 at the start 21 at the end, there was rain earlier in the week but the course was pretty much dry and fast.There was a record number of us White Rock/SORCE/Galbraith mountain riders group in attendance, 16 to be exact. So bragging rights and testosterone were well represented. Sandbagging and predictions of ridiculously fast times were in abundance the week before. Guys were predicting they'd be 20-30 minutes faster than their personal bests; it was even coming out in guilty admissions that there were guys in 5:30am spin classes and log books with in excess of 4000km since January were coming out of the woodwork. Ouch. I had none of that, I had some saddle sores from my to work and back commute, some lunchtime spin sessions, and some serious bouts of lawn cutting and road hockey as my only real cross training. Had all the preweek race talk/strategy sessions w/ everyone saying where they were going to make their moves and how they were going to ride each section, I would nod my head and say yep sounds good uh huh, and so on..... Bruce asked me at the starting line what my race strategy was going to be. I said same as it always is, I am going to go as hard as I can for as long as I can and then hang on for all I'm worth after that. WHEN I blow up, I'll deal with it, bonk, crash or recover. They had a new set up at the start of the race, you could slide into the starting gate where you thought you could finish, so Bruce and his Peninsula Cycles team mates kind of all scootched into the 3:30-3:45 projected time slot. A little bit ambitious for me I thought, since I had had one of the fastest personal bests and it was 8 minutes slower than that. Saying that they did save me a spot so I too scootched in.Thanks Bruce. I was hoping that with no mechanicals and a dry course maybe with a superhuman effort I could perhaps crack 3:48 out and be close.(5 min faster than last year sans chain mishap) At the line in the middle of the local politician’s speech, I thought I would put just one more turn of lockout on my fork and maybe just tweak the travel rebound a smidge more for the big climb out of town, this while knowing the fork does not do subtle changes in knob twiddling well...insert dramatic foreshadowing music here.  I thought I climbed well out of town, knowing that I can be strong right from the start of a ride I marked some guys I wanted to pace and held them quite comfortably. I was still glad when we reached the top of the road section though as it meant a break in pedal effort as we all squeezed in single file. I squeezed by my riding buddy Mike then as he went for the first of what would seem a veritable smorgasbord of bars and goo shots (6 total). The sweeping gravel road section flowed nice and uneventful no flats or crashes, as we arrived to the first section of "singletrack" I pulled in 3 riders behind Ken Bognar (resplendent in his green/white peninsula cycles non team jersey) I used him being ahead to try and maintain my motivation to keep what I was finding to be a very brisk pace through Jack's Trail.  Coming out of Jack's and around Alice Lake, my cheering section stood proud wearing thier "Put the pedal to the Metal" shirts and yelling go dad go. I felt obligated at that point to put a pass on Ken after that and did, only to watch him pass me back on the road 20 seconds later and then proceed to put 200m on me and keep accelerating. Well I tried. The course was in fine shape, firm and dry, I thought I should dial the fork back out a bit as I got to Rob's Corners and Rollercoaster so I twiddled away. HHHmmmmmm, I don't seem to have any real travel..... and it's not making the pppssssthht sound it usually does, that seems peculiar. The trail was buff and fast, I was able to maintain a nice pace with everyone ahead riding smooth and no one riding my back wheel. Hit the road section, put it in big ring and sucked down a goo shot. Flew through town/feed station/transition to 9 mile w/o a care, then turned to start 9 Mile 3 riders and 100ft behind Ken again. It was then that I heard Mel yell "Frank is 8 minutes ahead". I caught up to Ken within the first km of the climb to learn that he was having transmission issues. It seems his chain was playing hopscotch with his cassette. I issued my condolences and pushed forward, knowing I was going to have my own issues as yet again I had screwed with my own bike and knew I had no granny gear available without stopping and manually putting the chain on. It was at this point when Mike Wilson passed me grumbling about his drive train.  Mike put about 10 yards on my and seemed to just stay there. I could barely push the gear I was in and every time I stood to get some relief the rear tire would slip. I sat back on the seat resigned to just grind it out. I passed Mike back when he went for a gear change just before we crested a steep section before the first downhill portion of 9 Mile. I had some bar and tried to spin out potential cramps. The rest of the climb went really well, I maintained a nice middle ring spin up bonk hill and passed lots of single speed guys pushing 20lb bikes. I had a nice burst and made it into the Rip ahead of a group of 6 riders and got to ride with a clear trail all the way to the notorious Powerhouse Plunge. My fork. The Rip was really smooth compared to years passed and I was really only slightly aware of the clunking and nonsuspended nature of my forks, that changed as I rolled into the technical stuff in the Plunge. My handling skills seemed to have evaporated as I careened from rock to rock, my tires were probably pumped to 60psi so traction was not easily anticipated but with no fork travel to speak of I was having a tough time. It was at this point when I looked up and there was Frank, it seems in his massive amount of training miles he forgot to practice bike handling as well. After a couple of minutes of both of us tap dancing with the pedals clicking in and out Frank let me by when he did a brisk dismount on some rocks with his butt. I continued clumsily on for a while thinking how poorly I was doing when the heckling started. Wilson had caught back on and was quickly getting tired of me making a mockery of trail riding. He passed when I failed a combination superman/cross bike dismount pose while trying to navigate a 3" root with a turn. Pathetic. Thankfully we were almost finished the Plunge. As we rolled down the hill into the feed station towards Crumpit Woods I slowly rolled by Mike and received a helping hand/push up the hill from Bruce's wife Aileen which was very much appreciated as I soon after stood to pedal and was alarmed to have my entire left quad/glute spasm. UH OH. I quickly sat back down changed to an easy gear, smiled at my family who were right there cheering again, and just told myself to go gently. Have you ever tried to carefully pedal up grunty lactic leg burning switchbacks. I felt like I was trying to push on egg shells. I was trying to go fast (Wilson was right behind me) trying not to cramp, and trying not to break my chain, as it was in this section last year where I met my demise. Wilson caught right back on and was encouraging me to go faster, I couldn't, and to my relief he couldn't either; so we just pedaled. Thankfully we only had about 10 minutes of grinding grunts before it flattened out and went back down. Amazingly and thankfully all that remained was the subdivision section and the horse trails. I tried to draft some spastic Quebecois guy who made a desperate rally cry for he and I to catch a rider 400 meters away, he then proceeded to blow a couple of corners on loose gravel and almost take both of us out twice. Using better judgment I conceded some space to him and just pushed it out to the finish.

 I have to say I was more than a little bit amazed and delighted when I came around the final corner and into the finish chute to see the time clock flash 3:31 something. Holy crap! I partially dismounted in happy stupor and turned to see Wilson come next in line. We had a little male bonding high five hand slap moment in the finish area before someone's grandma shooed us out of the shoot. Never in even a moment of grand self delusion would I have ever thought that time was achievable this year

The rest of the guys came in soon after. Frank bettered his self proclaimed shot of 3:35 by 9 seconds. Mike Dolling with his partially mended broken hand and custom fabricated extra large grip finished a fast 3:36. Ken Leggatt rode an amazing 1st test of 3:37. Bruce cracked 4 hours by over 15mins w/ a 3:44. Ancient Ernie busted a 3:49 with a freshly battered shoulder. Spencer lashed the course with a 1st effort of 3:50, very nice for someone who's longest ride was 2 hours in Nov. Hank used his ninja skills to a stellar 3:51. Lance stayed upright and dueled with Bruce for a good portion of the day to come in with a first effort of 3:52. Mark was a closet trained 4:21. Cousin Jason was in at 4:28 in his first effort. The shifting gremlins ended Ken Bognar’s day at the end of the Plunge but other than that no one was hampered by any ill luck. Also of note Matt Law was 3:21 and his fellow Peninsula Cycle Team mate Joshua Weiss was a very speedy 3:23.  Congrats to the whole bunch, from first timers to geezers, from everyone on those on high falootin' factory-backed-semi-pro-red and white color sporting sponsored teams, to those of us privateers delegated to the sportsman class. Well done all. EBTeam FCEMS Racer 

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