Saturday, June 28, 2008

Gearing Up (or down, if you're crazy)

We strolled over to the Trailhead Cafe for breakfast. Someone in the kitchen mentioned something about going skiing - which is apparently still possible not to far from here. When you combine that with the extensive network of mountain bike trails nearby and the fact that this tiny town has a rollercade and a bowling alley too, at a population of 3,000, Oakridge may just have the highest fun-per-capita of any town I've visited in North America.

Even though the patio sits right beside a well used highway, I couldn't resist the opportunity to sit outside. Over the course of an hour, the patio filled other cyclists. Everyone buzzing with enthusiasm, it was amusing to watch us all size each other up as the crowd grew. When a vehicle pulled up with a rigid single speed on top, you could hear the shock roll through the patio crowd. Without a word, he'd established himself as the alpha male. 

It wasn't hard to spot the cyclists, the tell tale signs of scabbed knees, ripped calves and lanky arms revealed it all. This was a notably more hippie crowd than I'm used to, but there were some familiar faces, especially for my fellow Calgarians that have been on the circuit for a while. In some ways, it is a small crowd that thinks of this as a good way to spend a holiday. Then again, if you really think about it, it is rather surprising that there are that many people who think this is a good idea.   

A century ride isn't hard enough for you? ok, how about if it's mountain biking? what if we throw in 18,000 feet of climbing? and 40 degree heat? and some poison oak? and a 'bonus' 10 miles? Sold!

This race sells out almost immediately after registration opens. Of the 150 or so riders starting tomorrow, eight are from Calgary (as long as Dave wears a Deadgoat jersey, he's Calgarian). Three of the 23 girls in the race are from Calgary. 35 insane riders will be doing the race on single speeds - which means only having one gear all day. Three of those single speeders are from Calgary, including Maz, who is the only female that is bold enough to give it a go with only one gear tomorrow. 

By the time we left the cafe - around 9:30am - it was already hot enough that I was sweating, even when I was standing in the shade. It was at that moment that I decided the bee costume would be staying in the bag this trip. 

Geoff and I headed out for a mini-pre-ride (with the help of Gerry, who shuttled us to the top of the big climb). It was an important step for me to appreciate what I will need to do to survive tomorrow (I lack the ability to anticipate these things before I see and feel them for myself). I can't do anything about my physical preparedness, but that's not the only thing that matters. Avoiding dehydration, exhaustion, crashing, mechanical problems and bonking are going to be key. Typically a third of the people that start don't finish this race. I will be happy to finish. 


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