TR2010 Day 5August 11, 2011
A mechanical, technical, physical, mental, emotional challenge.
Little Elbow to Little Elbow: Loop. 65.8k, 2100m elevation, 2200 descent, 7 hours, 50 minutes. course preview..
Cloudy start to the day, we dragged ourselves into the drizzle from the heat of our RV, and hit the start line with 2 minutes to go. No more eager beavers, rushing to the corral with 15 or 20 minutes to hang, we spent final precious minutes stuffing rain gear and arm warmers and dry lube into the spare corners of the loaded Camelbacks. And off we went, the common theme to the week being straight up hill. I warmed up the legs alongside Marty on the first hill, Danny stopped to put on his rain jacket as the clouds opened. Dennis had hung back , legs soured, and I quickly regretted not sticking with him as he had snapped his chain on the first hill. I doubled back to him, barreling through the whole field, as I was carrying all the tools for the day, in an effort to ease the strain on his back. We had an auspicious start to the day, and it only got worse. The course was mostly singletrack, the first 10k was rolling through the remnants of yesterdays hail, the ground still thick and white with the tapioca-balls, the melt water icy on our bare legs. Warming up with more climbs, we settled into tourist mode, picking off racers on some climbs, others on descents. We had trouble with mechanicals (chain suck, shifters sticking, snapping chain links, weird noises that came and went in the mud) with Dennis suffering serious back pain adding to the challenge of the day. We couldn’t climb, powering in the granny gear sucked the chain hard into the frame, we had difficulty walking, with back spasms doubling Dennis over. Then the hail came, on top of the ridge, in the most exposed area, like clockwork. I clambered into full rain gear, jacket, hoodie, pants. nitryl gloves under the sodden mountain bike gloves, sucked down 4 Clif shot blocks, and hit the dirt. The downhills were flowy, bermed well, not technical, with super views of the mountains surrounding us. A nice break for brain and body, as we warmed up in the raingear, the sun peeking out, the trails on the south side of the ridge drier and happier. Way short though, before the rooty, chain sucking, energy sapping climbs began again. We passed through the aid stations, stopping to inhale salty chips and refill our packs. I felt like a moose come down from the winter mountains, licking the salt off the train tracks, not caring that the train was barreling down the line. We were out almost 8 hours. I towed Dennis up the final hill, glad we were on the road as the thunderheads thickened in the grey skies. Shattered, we rolled into camp. Bikes hosed down, bodies hosed next, food pounded down the hatch. Everything else dumped in the shower, the mud streaming from our gear strung across the camper. Clothed in every stitch we had to get warm, we compared notes with Dan and Marty, who had made it in 90 minutes earlier, riding well, not beset by much more than a couple of flats. The RV generator shuddered into action as we hunkered down for the night, a beer in one hand, the next day’s course map in the other. However much of a beast today was, tomorrow is longer, harder. How far away sunny Fernie seems now. Summer in Fernie singletrack, Fall into Winter in cattle country 2 days later. Time for some serious shuteye, well before the cloud veiled sun sinks behind the Kananaskis clifftops behind us.