Coming into Stage 5 of the Quebec Singletrack Experience I felt good. With a shorter stage the previous day it gave everyone a chance to relax a little. We were treated to a gondola ride and dinner atop Mount Morency falls just outside of the city. With a change of scenery for dinner and a few extra hours in the afternoon to relax everyone was ready to get back to racing.
QSE offers a full service maintenance package for riders who want to leave their bike to be washed and lubed before each stage. It’s a great service, but I had declined because I like to work on my own bike. In retrospect I wish I had chosen the full service, but I was also impressed by SRAM’s GX Eagle drivetrain and DUB bottom bracket. After the mud fest we had at E47 I was worried that I was going to have to do a complete drivetrain cleaning. I would have normally, but I was far to tired after the stage. Luckily the GX cassette clears mud and debris beautifully thanks to all the cut outs and the GX Dub crank and BB managed to keep the moisture at bay. A quick once over with a rag on the cassette and jockey wheels plus a serving of lube for the chain and I was good to go.
Our ride began by weaving through a section of trail lined with young supporters screaming encouragement. Sometime the support really helps, especially on day 5 when people can begin to tire. This was evident as we reached our first major climb and the field began to splinter. I was definitely feeling the effects of all the accumulated kilometres and hot temperatures through the week. I spent a lot of time in the 50T just trying to keep some sort of rhythm going, but by the time we hit our second major climb even a front derailleur wasn’t going to help me. Luckily I wasn’t the only one. As in many events the best parts of the race is the camaraderie between racers. I was content pushing my bike uphill with others joking and laughing in a situation were others would turn to negativity. We were truly in the Quebec Singletrack Experience for the experience.
We topped out of our second major climb at the first aid station. I was feeling OK, but really needed some electrolytes and food to get my energy levels back up. After drinking back as much Eload as I could and stuffing handfuls of Clif blocks I headed off. What a great place for an aid station! Right before a huge decent filled with little double jumps, berms and rollers everywhere. This may have been one of the best flow trails of the week so far. The downside was I spent what little energy I had left playing on the decent and I payed for it for the rest of the ride. Even caffeinated gels weren’t giving me the energy I needed to maintain a solid pace.
As I pulled into the finish area exhausted, I was ready for a swim in the lake and a good helping of pizza! We were even treated to a dragon boat ride for those who had the energy. With two more stages to go in the Quebec Singletrack Experience the end is drawing near, but some are saying they have saved the best for last. I’m looking forward to riding the Neilson trail tomorrow at Vallée Bras-Du-Nord-Shannahan.