Sunday 15 February 2015

Epica 2015 report

When we rode off from St. Malo Arena at 8 AM it was -29'C with a North wind blowing at around 20 km/h. Windchill was below -40'C but the race ran anyway, because there was some promise that the temperatures would rise some, and the wind would abate some. These two things did happen, but not until well into the afternoon.

We started out in a bunch, but it didn't take long for the pack to stretch.

At the first checkpoint in St. Pierre Kim Mitchell caught me with an ice goatee.

In Niverville the perogies and bacon were good and necessary, even while wearing creepy latex gloves.

With Ian about to leave Niverville. Still cold at this point. Thank you Lyle for the pogies!
I will be gettin' me some o' dat. I'm not sure how it would have worked without them.  

Finished! With Ian and Charles at 6:22 PM! About 10.5 hours total.

My "tracker" data looked like this:

St Pierre -            CP1 in 9:52 
                            CP1 out 9:55
Crystal Springs - CP2 in 10:58
                            CP2 out 11:27
Niverville -         CP3 in 13:06
                            CP3 out 13:41
St Adolphe -        CP4 in 14:32
                            CP4 out 14:48
UM -                   CP5 in 17:14
                            CP5 out 17:17
Forks                                 18:22

It went well. The ride was 2 hours and 14 minutes faster this year. I was on the bike for 8 hours and 35 minutes. I also screwed up the last cue (of course) and missed the turn onto a path to get down to the river, so I rode around along Churchill Drive for a while trying to find it. Maybe that took 10 minutes? I'm not sure. Time and space go funny on a ride like this. Even when you're fed and watered your brain can get away on you. 

I also learned that on this ride I'd rather have more cold than more snow. The tough spots of last year's ride - the slogging through drifts of knee- and hip-deep snow and over fields of snowdrifts - were, for the most part, completely rideable this year. And in the cold, as long as you keep moving and don't get too warm or too cold you're good. I had planned to do a full top layers change twice, at checkpoints 2 and 4. I changed at Crystal Springs, which was necessary, but then I didn't need to for the rest of the ride.

Speaking of your brain getting away on you, before a race starts I've got all this nervous energy that can completely misguide me. I start wondering and having doubts and making insignificant changes or coming up with some new adaptation, probably just to manage the nerves. Anyway, at the time, in the moment as it were, I'm quite convinced that these adjustments are strokes of genius, rather than well-intentioned stupidity. 

Yesterday I had one of those moments. At the pre-race meeting on Friday night talking Ian about sweat and vapour barriers and managing moisture he said that he's heard that some guys strap diapers to their chests to both keep out the wind and to manage the sweat. In fact, I had wondered about doing something like this myself! I wasn't about to buy a package of Pampers to try it out, but I thought about some makeshift way to make something like a diaper for the ride. 

In the morning on the shuttle ride from Winnipeg to St Malo I had a breakthrough! I dreamed up a way to create my own diaper! A complete makeshift innovation! I cut a plastic bag in half and pinned my folded into quarters cotton hanky to it. Then I wrapped it under and around the straps of bib knickers to keep it next to me, and then put on my layers. Genius right!? Right. Well ... at Crystal Springs I once again (see an earlier post) had a clump of ice in the middle of my chest again, and I couldn't get the zipper of my jacket open. Pete helped me pull it off. Every layer above the diaper was completely soaked, and so was the hanky that was the diaper proper. No advantage. In fact it made things worse. No breathing, no drying.

On the whole the rest of the race went really well! The planners and organizers and volunteers of Actif Epica are first class! Supportive, caring, and helpful. Some might be able to do this ride without the food and encouragement at the checkpoints, but there'd be a whole lot less fun in it. Thanks guys!! I expect I'll be back at it next year. 

Monday 2 February 2015

Bunyan Velo Story

A story I wrote about last year's Actif Epica race has been published in the latest issue of Bunyan Velo. It's a beautiful magazine about two-wheeled adventuring and I'm honoured to be included in it.

You can find the issue my piece is in, here at at no cost, but please consider purchasing a hi-res pdf version of this issue and the four previous issues of the magazine. They're only $5 and it will help a small but vital publication keep working! We want these sort of "nice things" so sometimes we should be prepared to pay a little, don't you think?

Also look for a great piece by Mark Reimer about his and Graham Madden's summer Muerto ride. The cover features Mark's shot of Graham.