Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Turning 31

This year, I celebrated my birthday in style. Birthday festivities included gargantuan beers...
(yeah, that beer was actually 4 times the volume of Erik's head), and crashing in a sketchy hotel room in small town Alberta with three guys. 

Birthday festivities also included a double header mountain bike race. Both races were hosted on a private acreage just outside of Stony Plain. A vast network of single track has been carved into an impossibly small patch of trees on the property. The trail is packed together tightly (kind of like intestines), constantly switching direction; right, left, up, down. There's a good 20 minutes or so of single track on each lap and you can see other jerseys through the trees, but you're never sure who it is or whether they are ahead or behind you.

The first race was the All You Can Eat Buffet of Bacon, Pain and Suffering. My race was up well before most of the Deadgoats, which made for a slightly lower anxiety (but lonelier) start. It was just me, Gerry and a new guy, Kyle, showing the Deadgoat colours. Gerry rolled up to the start line a couple of minutes after his category had already started. Most riders would get get stressed about something like that, but Cool Ger seemed unphased by it. Worth noting, the guys at Alberta MTB Racing do a great job of making sure their races start on time.

Though I was never in contention for a podium position, I was happy with my race. That is, until the last lap, when my chain broke. Having never had a mechanical in a short race, I had dispensed with the usual precaution of bringing a tool to fix such a problem. That left me with no choice but to drop out of the race. Upon reflection, I had a second option of running with my bike for the rest of the lap. Nutbrown did that at a race last summer. I can't believe it didn't occur to me to do the same. Oh well. I'm sure that decision wont haunt me forever...

The rest of the crew were up later in the day. The feed station was situated on the top of a short, but steep, climb, which made it a great spot to watch. Solid performances by all. Devin took second in Elite. Erik (6th), Craig (4th), and Jeff (3rd, but not a Deadgoat) had solid performances. Pat had his geared bike out, though one could be forgiven for thinking it was a single speed as he muscled the two-wheeler around to take 4th in Expert. Keith and Geoff were close behind. Makes me proud to be a Deadgoat when I watch these guys.

Sunday was the inaugural Trans Stony Superhero Challenge; a six hour enduro (sans bacon). The course was largely the same as the day before, but in reverse. I think that I actually liked it better in reverse. To my surprise, the course was still fun at the end of the six hours, even though the relatively short laps meant high reps. In fact, I felt like my technical riding improved with each lap, which made me eager to do more.

My chain broke again, which cost me a fair bit of time, but I was rescued by a number of people, including Trev from United Cycle and Mike Sarnecki (who gave me the quicklink off of his own bike!). Erik was not so lucky, as he had a race ending mechanical just after the half way mark. Jeff Neilson won, followed by three Deadgoats; Craig, then Devin, then Pat.

I was one of only two costumed racers for the Superhero Challenge (I think that everyone else must have missed the memo?). Incidentally, I happen to have a superwoman costume kicking around (don't ask), but I felt more comfortable dressing in my bee costume for this race. Technically, its not a superhero, but neither is a cop (the other costume). Considering how much animosity people harbor toward bees, I'm often surprised by the hospitality and generosity that I am shown when I am the bee. In fact, I even won a new Chris King bottom bracket for dressing up. That's like $259 retail!

Road trip, friends, prizes, crowded hotel rooms, gargantuan beer. What more could I ask for on my birthday!


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