"Raced" in the Hell of the North on Sunday. Wasn't all that much of a race for me really. Just an excuse to hammer myself to an excessive degree, and to get an "event" in the legs before Battenkill this coming weekend. It was a pretty awesome road trip. First time Janine and I did the typical race weekend. We have done big trips like BC Bike Race, and the Sea-to-Sky Gran Fondo, but those aren't so typical. So it was cool to just be throwing the bikes in a car and bootin off to a race. Hadn't been planning to do this one, but Janine signed up for the "Heck" of the North, which pretty much means I have to sign up as well. During our March eating, er, I mean training camp, one of our partners in crime, Tanya, brought the Hell of the North to Janine's attention, and as she usually does during fun times and fresh legs, basically signed up immediately! I am quite stoked that she did and dragged me along as it was a cool event to kick off the year with. Partly because of its low-key atmosphere, and partly because it is so hard (damn that interminable gravel rail trail!!!) that it is unlikely I will do a race this year as hard as this one. So, smooth sailing from here...well probably not. But it was a good ride to force me to HTFU.
Mind you, our race day was almost cut very short, as I had put our bikes in my Dad's bike shop the night before, so the bikes could have more room to get a good nights rest. However, my folks left super early that morning for a sunrise service, and so with the shop all locked up, I was scrambling through random keys left around the house at the front and back doors of the bike shop testing keys one-by-one. Having gone through all the keys on the front doors, I resorted to the back door. Getting to the last few keys and finally, "click", the lock gave way and I could get to the bikes through the back door. OK, Go Time!
Into the house, and J9 is totally relaxed, finger picking at her cereal, completely content with signing up for, and completely failing to start another event. Not this time!!! Coffee made, car loaded up, and our faith (mis)placed in the GPS, we were off. In the end, got to the race with plenty of time to spare. Then the race began to get through the sign-up line the fastest, as Janine and I both made a couple laps through it as we failed to bring ALL the necessary forms and waivers the first couple times. OK, sign up done. BAM.
Ok, my "race" report will be short. On the start line: familiar faces, usual instructions, good jokes. Off the start line: neutral start. Post neutral: hammer time, attacks from the get go (what's the rush!!??), gravel hell, survived in the front group to the first trail section. Each trail section: I would lose ground and come out with a new group. Road sections: I would hammer for training, which I would pay for later. Really really cool twisty turny road section through a town by the water, with a steep little climb outta town. Crazy long gravel rail trail section. Hill after hell after hill during the last third. Survived the finale with some help from a comrade, who was having a rough time on the steep hills due to some sore ribs from a recent crash. Got to the finish line. Shared a handshake with comrade.
Post race: Got to the car. Complained about how tired I was. Listened to how happy Janine was with her ride. Changed out of kit. Picture time to get evidence of how gross I am after racing. Inhaled some chili provided by the race (Thanks!!!). Chatted with Sam Watson (he's got some awesome racing stories). Complained some more. Ate some more chili. Blamed Tanya for how tired I was. Got in the car. Slept. Ate. Slept. Ate. Slept. Solid race day.
Thanks to Real Deal Racing and LaBicicletta for putting on this event! And if you got your own story and/or pictures from hell, send 'em along and I'll post them: email@example.com.
Oh, and slowdad.com has a good race report from hell as well: http://www.slowdad.com/