My first day of riding is complete. The race started in waves using a self-seating system, which let riders estimate their finish times. Their actual finish time then decides the wave in which they will start in for the duration of the week. I got squeezed out of the second wave of starters by one row, which put me front row of the third group. I took the holeshot for the first couple kilometres or so just to try to escape any possible first-day-jitters tangle ups. I relinquished my lead once my legs started to feel the far too overworked than ideal pace for a stage of this length. I tucked in with a half dozen riders. We continued climbing and encountered the tail end of the second-wave start group. The first serious descent came about 5 km in and created a bottleneck, giving people a chance to take a drink or state how their chance of winning the day had evaporated. The flow vastly improved after that and other than a few riders who may have lost some karma points today, the race continued on and I saw a lot of smiling faces and cheerful conversations. The most gruelling climb, called Old Buck, started around the 12 km on a trail. It was definitely the steepest sustained effort of the day followed by some great descending, another shorter climb, and then the first aid station fully stocked with all the usual treats and fluids to keep us all from cramping and to sustain the energy needed for the next 20 km.
Then came some faster flowing trail leading out to a paved section lined with happy North Vancouver families cheering from their driveways. Pushed ahead by the continuous cheering, we started climbing the final long switchback fire road that ended at the day’s much-anticipated enduro stage. The trail builders had been busy refurbishing Espresso, one of the more famous North Shore trails solely for this timed special stage. After crossing the sensors at the finish of the enduro, there came a short section of trail then the home stretch back to Argyle High School, which also served as the start line and operation centre for the day’s ride.
I finished up with a time decent enough to put me in the second wave for the week. And if I manage to drink more than one water bottle a day I may just finish this race. Stay tuned, more to come.