This is a re-post of a previous blog I submitted Monday night. Apparently, I had screwed up the settings on my blog (DY - thanks for bringing it to my attention).
Crank the Shield is a three-stage, 250km long mountain bike race that takes place near Haliburton Forest. Check out www.cranktheshield.com for more information about the race.
Day One - Disappointment
Despite early morning rain, the first stage of race started under mostly-cloudy skies with a temperature around 6 degress Celcius. The temperature would eventually climb to 13 degrees, meaning the arm warmers would eventually be removed, but knee warmers would stay on the entire day.
I was well-placed in the race about 20 km into the stage when a rider immediately ahead of me crashed, taking me (and a number of other riders) down in the process. I was unlucky enough to smash my knee on a rock, although damage was limited to a little blood and pain. However, my race goals had suddently changed from finishing strong to just finishing before the cut-off time. I soft pedalled the remaining 60 km or so of the stage, finishing in 6:25:53.
Day Two - Death of a Derailleur
Thanks to considerable ingestion of ibuprofen (probably way more than the recommended maximum dosage), I lined up the next morning for Stage 2 - sunny skies, and a temperature of 8 degrees (that quickly climbed to 18). I was hoping to have a good run to offset my bad luck on the first stage. It was not to be.
At approximately the 25 km mark, a loose stick got jammed into my drive train, tossing the rear derailleur into the spokes of my rear wheel.
Fortunately, I was able to grab my brake and lock the rear wheel before the derailleur could destroy the wheel. The derailleur hanger did its job, sacrificing itself (it was bent about 30 degrees off normal) to save the frame. The derailleur itself was heavily scratched, but hadn't been ripped completely apart as occassionally happens. While the unit no longer would shift with its former precision, it would be capable of moving the chain up and down the cassette.
Unfortunately, although I had a replacement derailleur hanger on my seat bag, the bolt holding the derailleur onto the hanger and the threads on the derailleur itself were stripped, something I wasn't going to fix trail side. Through trial and error, I would eventually (after 30 minutes?) McGyver my drive train to the point where I could at least pedal. Unfortunately, shifting gears wasn't an option and I rode the remaining 54 km (according to my computer) with the chain wrapped around the middle ring and the middle of the cassette.
Once again, the race goals had changed to simply making it to the end of the stage before the cut-off time, something I would do 6:33:46 after I had started.
Day Three - The Final Push
I was able to sufficiently piece my bike together to start Stage 3 the next morning. Shifting wasn’t great, but at least I could shift.
The stage starts with an 18 km "neutral" road ride (meaning it was not timed, but riders were required to make the journey by bike. It's a short distance on a road bike, but a little tougher on a mountain bike, especially knowing that approximately 60 km of off-road racing is going to follow!)
The timed portion of the third stage begins with nearly 10 km with a net elevation gain of nearly 200 m, and most of the sustained climbing occurs on rocky sections with plenty of loose gravel for those who carelessly pick their lines. It's the sort of scenario that plays to my relative strengths in MTB racing, and while it was only 3 degrees C when I started the neutral ride, the sun was out and it was warming up quickly (eventually reaching 20 degrees). I was feeling pretty good about Stage 3 - there was still time to ride hard and vault a number of places up the standings.
Unfortunately, the previous two days had taken a heavy toll, and I pushed too hard. I was still 20 km from finishing when I started to have stomach issues. I felt sick, and so I didn't eat and barely drank. Naturally, I bonked and completely faded, taking 4:45:56 to finish the timed portion of the stage.
I would wind up with a total time of 17:45:35, finishing overall in 35th place (out of 73 riders in my category). While way off my original goal of 15½ hours, all things considered I'm a little surprised to have even finished (18 of the riders in my category DNF'd, and overall some 17% of participants abandoned or failed to meet cut-off times).