August 13, 2010
TR3 (3 days of hell!)
Upon arriving in Fernie we headed straight to the package pick-up. First person we see is Matt from United Cycle (a racer who also races on the Alberta mountain bike circuit with me and who is an expert bike tech). He is an ambassador for the week meaning he rides the course and helps people fix major mechanical problems. He gets me checked in and I stand in each line gathering all that I need. I then run into Lisa (my teammate from Terrascape) and we discuss start times as day 1 is a time trial start format vs. a typical mass start. I wonder why I am starting in the morning and not afternoon like I had thought and go back to the registration table. I am on the list twice! I opt for the afternoon start and Jeff and I then head to get settled into camp. Jeff is along as my amazing support crew and expert bike tech. The rest of the day is relaxing, attending the pre-race meeting, and visiting my friend Danielle who lives in Fernie.
Day 1 – Fernie Time Trial (31km – 3:52min)
Thought of the Day: This is really hard!
When it is finally my turn to go, I get to the start area and the sky has cleared and it is not raining. However, I know the course will still be very wet and slick – and chewed up as 500+ riders have riden it ahead of us. I wait in the start zone.
A few more ups and down, a quick fire road section and I am at the final checkpoint with 11km to go. I am feeling good. I was told the last section is fast and has a lot of down. Well, that guy lied! I can see how it would be fast when it was dry, but with it being totally muddy/wet and being one of the last riders to ride the course that day it was a tough slog the last 11km. I started to get very frustrated and hit a big mental low as I dragged me and my bike that last few kilometers. It was an amazing bunch of single-track but, I was not having fun. This was really hard and I was pushing my bike way more than I am used to. I love mountain biking – I am supposed to be having fun but, I am not. I had a few more hissy fits, a big crash that sent me flying off my bike, and a few more slippery falls. I also slammed into the front of my steer tube at one point - yes boys, it hurts when girls crash into their bikes there too! I yelled and cursed as the last few kilometers seemed to take an eternity. Finally I see the end of the trail. As I hit the pavement into the finish area I was relived to be done and as I crossed the finish line there were no smiles. Jeff snapped a quick picture and came over and asked how it was. “It was hard!” as I burst into tears. I tried to put myself back together as I washed my bike off and talked with a few racers who raced earlier that day. I was choking back tears as best I could.
I then rode to Danielle’s for a shower (there was no way Jeff was letting this muddy girl into the truck). On the way over I quickly took stock of what I just did. You know what?! That was hard, and I freakin’ did it! Stop the pitty party princess I thought to myself. I felt better and realized I needed to celebrate the accomplishment. OK, pitty party over. I showered, ate and we then had to go to the route meeting for the next day. With some very cool animation we were able to get a great idea of how tomorrow would look. I also got to see friends who I had not seen all day and hear about their days. Jeff Nielson gave me a quick pep talk and food consumption advice for the next day and we were off to bed. Jeff quickly tuned my bike for the next day - lucky me, my very own mechanic. Day 1 done.
Day 2 – Fernie to Sparwood (72km – 5:59 min)
Thought of the Day: If there is any down, you will climb back up.
As I screamed down the downhill portion I knew I had a grin ear to ear. This was an amazing downhill! I loved it! I caught the girls from Brazil and had a laugh with them as the 3 of us ripped down the descent. It was almost 6km of wicked downhill. I was loving it! As we hit the fire road again I felt like a kid who wanted to go back for a second ride. Again! Again! But 49km of fire road still awaited me before the finish arch.
I suffered immensely over the next 50km. My back ached bad! I have not been on my road bike a tone this year nor ridden fire roads as mountain bike training. I held on stopping often to stretch. It was fairly uneventful and nothing to do but push as best I could. have to I saw the finish from across the river and did everything I could to just hold on and cross that line. As I rounded the corner to the finish I saw Jeff (head down looking at pictures on the camera). I shouted for his attention and he looked up as I flew by. Ha! I give him more than credit for waiting for me each day never knowing how long it would take me. When he found me he asked how today was and the response was “hard but fun! And a wicked down!” – all said with a smile!
Day 3 – Elkford to Etherington Creek (62km – 6:41min)
As I got on my bike I immediately had the OUCH factor - you know when your butt hurts to sit on a bike seat after multiple days of riding. I rode to the start hoping it would go away when the adrenaline started. I found Lyndsay and we stretched and got a few pictures before our final day of TR3.
I met a new friend, Kevin who was from Banff and we chatted as I used him to keep me distracted through the push up. I would think we were near the top and we would turn and then, more up. Again we would push and then turn a corner to…more up! This was crazy! We were headed over the Continental Divide and I just couldn’t believe how high we were. It was beautiful but, I was too tired to really appreciate where I was at the time. We hit the last pitch to the top and had to throw our bikes over our shoulders and scramble to the top. I saw a park ranger standing beside a sign and I knew this was for real – we were finally at the top! Many riders stopped to take pictures and put on jackets. With the rain clouds looming I opted to just get on my bike and hit the down! My arms hurt and I rode hard down. I started passing a lot of riders and was so happy to be on the down. One girl commented that I always pass her on the down but, I reminded her since that was the case she always beat me on the up! The down was fun and technical at parts which I loved. So much fun! It then went to a fast down with short ups and bunch of river crossings – Augh! Wet feet! Trying to carry bike and wade across knee deep water was sketchy. Other riders were falling and getting completely soaked in the freezing water. Yuck! When I finally realized we had just 8km to go we were back on fire road. I pushed as hard as I could to stay ahead of the girls who I knew were now close behind me. The Calgary boys from yesterday caught me with 3km to go and I tried to stay with them but did so unsuccessfully. However, before I knew it I saw a volunteer ahead at a corner and I asked how much further. “30 seconds” she said. I pushed past camp set up to cross the finish line with a big smile! I did it! I survived TR3!!!!!
As I crossed the finish line it almost felt anti-climactic as although I had just completed 3 epic days, over 300 racers still had 4 more days to go. I did have a big smile that the announcer commented on and all I could say was “I survived!”. My excitement was quickly gone though as I found out Lyndsay had broken her collarbone on the descent. I tried to see her but they would not let me into the medical tent. They assured me her husband was on his way and she would be fine. So we packed up and headed home. As we drove home I went back and forth in my head of “yes, I will do this again – what a fun and amazing experience” to “no, I am never doing this again – that was way too hard!” and then back again. I am still back and forth and I am sure I will be until registration comes around.
For now, I am on recovery (or attempting to be) as this will take about as long as Ironman recovery to get over. My legs are still like dead weights and I can’t walk up the stairs without taking a break at the top gasping for air. Worth the experience? Yep - wouldn't trade it for anything in the world!