Thursday, October 02, 2008

MOMAR Cumberland Race Report

Wow! The 2008 MOMAR season has already come and gone. It's hard to believe that we're now sitting in October and the cool drizzly season of fall and winter is now upon us. Luckily for those of us at the Cumberland race, the weather gods opened up the clouds one last time to give us some perfect racing conditions. While racing conditions were ripe, I can't say that either Gary or myself was prepared to push it to the limits. I just came down with a cold the week previous and my energy levels had dropped significantly. I had been feeling amazing on the bike but now just felt mediocre and wasn't sure how I would handle the newly desinged Cumberland race course. Gary also had some knee issues and I seriously didn't know if I was going to be racing solo in a double kayak 1 hour prior to the race start. Gary was also having some major anxiety in that he really didn't want to go out and not be able to give 100%. Gary's just that kind of guy. He can push through anything but knows that if he will slow down the team, than he shouldn't race. The hard thing though is you never know until you're in the race how well you'll hold up. I guess we would find out...

For the third time, I brought out ~26 foot outrigger that we paddle with kayak blades. For an outrigger, it's not an extremely fast boat. However, it is big enough in the cockpit to allow the use of kayak blades and with a fast paddle stroke, you really can get the boat moving. We both learned a very important lesson with this boat in this race; don't start hard on the left side. At the end of the countdown, the race was on, we planted our left blades and took a hard stroke. This in turn lifted up the outrigger, which is on the left side of the boat, and started to flip us. We could have easily taken a stroke on the right side or braced but instead, both of us did nothing; like a pair of deer staring into headlights, we flipped on our first stroke.

When we came up for air, I seriously could do nothing but laugh. We flipped the boat back and were paddling within seconds. The adrenalin was now thouroughly pumping and I'm sure it must have put a dampner on Gary's pre-race anxiety. It actually put us in a good head space as it was now a catch up game and catching and passing other boats is always satisfying. We saw Brian and Sasha along with John Markez dominating the field as they rounded the first buoy before any other boat was even close. They were still pulling away from us but as soon as we hit the turnaround and put the wind and waves at our back, the boat speed picked up and we were surfing. We we surfing so well that Gary started to get frustrated because he thought we were going so slow (since each stroke became soft and light). This allowed us to limit the gap ahead and before the end of the kayak stage, we were able to even gain back some time and limit our losses. While we weren't worried about Brian and Sasha in terms of overall rank, we both believed that Markez would be our biggest competitor. He had put almost 5 minutes into us and we knew that this could be a long and hard fought battle.

Our tranistions in this race were utterly flawless. In every race, Gary and I will always talk to each other coming into transition so that we know what to expect, what to remember to do, and basically to get mentally prepared for moving in a new direction. We hit up the orienteering map and just started going. I made a couple of mistakes similar to Shane and Garth of team PIT as it took me some time to get into the scale of the map. It was early on that we spotted Markez as we both got confused about a CP location. We knew that we had already made up some time but didn't dwell on it and simply tried to get to the bikes as soon as possible. Unfortunately, I had not thought about how crowded the trails would become on the west side and paid for it after with a slower pace due to congestion. As we rant back to the tent to checkout, Markez was just in front of us and it was literally a race to the bikes. Again, both Gary and I were just dialled and came out first onto the road towards the Chinatown railway.

As soon as we started to go, I knew that the bike was going to hurt as my legs were just not feeling it. Soon, Markez caught us but then dropped as soon as we hit the first climb. Gary and I both knew that Markez was strong on the bike but it looked like he just wasn't feeling it either as we continued to gain ground on him as we climbed up Buggered Pig and then into the big logging road climb. It was so good to see Gary feeling strong on the bike and actually happy to be riding again. I was definitely suffering a little more on the uphill as I had to shift down to the granny a couple of times but once we hit the top, my legs were ready for some technical decents. Bear Buns, Teacup, and Short & Curly were just a blast and I'm sure Gary had an extra smile on his face after coming back since BC Bike Race and being able to clean everything on a bike that actually fit him.

We hit the TA with no other racer in sight, had another solid TA, and after a few seconds looking at the map, we were off in a clockwise direction to pick off the controls. This generally went well although my XA Pros were again a nightmare for me on the downhills. I am generally very confident running on technical terrain but with these shoes, I seriously felt like I was running on ice. The only reason that I even use these shoes is because of the click laces. Well, goodbye old shoes and welcome the Gary Method (TM). Gary simply used his favourite shoes (the Montrail Streak) kept them laced up but not super tight, and then just slipped them on and off. Perfect! He claims that they made him fast than even the quick laces but I think I still beat him in transition a few times :) You will not see me with XA Pros again!

The rest of the course went like clockwork... that is until we hit the mine cart control. Like so many other teams, we just could not find this CP right away. We were all around the minecart and bushes but failed to actually get inside one of them to get the punch. This was definitely a little to hid for my liking and I'm sure we had some F bombs going off here and there. I felt bad for the people hanging out in the park being peaceful and all. We tried to smile on our way out though...

We hit the last two CPs and ran to the line in just over four hours of solid racing. In the end, we both had good races and it just goes to show that you can really push through anything and still perform well.

I want to give a big shout out to Bryan Tasaka for putting on another top notch event and for making the course one that will be remembered. Thanks for whoever pushed that awesome idea on Bryan as well. You're the shit.

Congrats to Jeremy Grasby of the Riding Fool Hostel who had a solid race and narrowly edged out both Markez and Team Pit (who had a solid race as well and took 3rd overall). Sarah Seeds again took another solo female victory and team Dart/Nuun dominated the team of four co-ed category coming in 5th overall. Nice work! I was also amazed to see Patrick Goeres and Nicki Rehn get on the podium as team of two co-ed knowing that they did not ride one piece of technical singletrack! You two missed the best part!!!

Full results can be found here.

Thanks to Helly Hansen for gear that has helped me push my limits yet again in 08.
Also to Carbo Pro and Princeton Tec for helping me fuel and light my way.

With only two races in the MOMAR series next year, you'd better not delay signing up once registration opens. These two races will easily sell out so don't miss out on the action.

See you on the trails!


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