Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Lyme Disease: A Living Hell

Warning: Ticks Live Here
Please join me in welcoming a guest author to the blog! If you ride in North County San Diego, you have probably met Dee Folse--he is one of the friendliest, warmest (and coolest!) riders I've met since moving here, so when he asked me to help him help a friend, I was all about it. 

Dee’s friend would like to remain anonymous, which I think is appropriate. Because given the topic we're about to discuss, Dee's friend could literally be any of us. 

This friend was recently dealt a crummy hand: an encounter with a tiny bug while out mountain biking in North County has turned the last 15 months into a living hell. Only recently—after almost a year of wondering if it was MS, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Dementia, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Crazy, You Name It—were doctors able to help Dee's friend understand what had happened. 

Friends check friends for Ticks
Now, they are able to get the treatment needed to stave off the intense fatigue, clear their head and eyesight, and be able to pursue a normal-ish life where you can make plans like going out to ride your bike…or even go to work. Chronic Lyme Disease, delivered by the bite of an infected tick, is on the rise, and anyone who plays outside is at risk. 

The worst part is that getting treatment is far from cut and dry. In fact, the reason Dee’s friend has asked to remain anonymous is because until the CDC properly recognizes Chronic Lyme Disease, there is technically not an approved protocol for treatment. As I understand it, that means doctors who take care of you through this debilitating disease are at risk of professional repercussions. 

As an example, if you went to the doctor with strep throat, and your doctor prescribed chemotherapy to treat it, that is obviously against the protocol for strep throat, and that doctor could be reprimanded—even lose their license. With no approved protocol, or even the acknowledgement of Chronic Lyme Disease, any treatment of Chronic Lyme Disease or its symptoms with antibiotics or other therapies is against protocol. To add insult to injury, insurance companies are likely to deny the funding of these treatments. Thus, there is only a shadowy path available for those who need help to get out the other side. Please take the time to read Dee's post below, and help us spread the word so we don't have to watch any more of our friends get sick:

By Dee Folse:
In the last 15 months I have come to know more about Lyme disease then I ever wanted to know. What I can definitively say is, tick-borne diseases are on an incredible rise. The CDC reports that in 2013, there were 30,000 cases reported. In 2014 the number of tick-borne illnesses including Lyme disease, has exploded to 300,000 cases. 
 I've also discovered that this is not a disease that is limited to certain corners of the United States. In fact, it is spreading down the eastern seaboard, across the Gulf and straight up the west coast through California, Oregon, Washington, and parts of Canada. 
Despite the alarming increase in tick-borne illness, discovering a tick on you is not necessarily a bad thing. However, if you suspect it has been there for longer than six hours, and it has attached or become engorged, that's where there is a potential problem. 
If you find an attached tick, the first thing to do is take a picture of it, and save it if possible. Second, Google “tick removal,” and become familiar with the many options there are to choose from. 
 Within the next three-to-six weeks, if you start to experience symptoms such as dizziness, fatigue, cognitive failure, blurred vision, fever, chills, and/or muscle aches, see an immunologist immediately. An immunologist will be able to take the proper blood test and do a proper analysis to find out if in fact you're carrying a tick-borne bacteria. This doctor should be a “Lyme Literate Doctor.” I know severalI can help. 
 It’s also important to know there is a difference between Acute Lyme Disease and Chronic Lyme Disease. Chronic Lyme Disease is the one that can easily be misunderstood. It can hide for years, then present when the body is stressed. Oftentimes pregnancy, divorce, death or stress can allow Chronic Lyme to take hold.    
In my community, we live in the outdoors, hike on the trails and ride bikes. Lyme disease is out there, and it's a very serious thing. We’re becoming more aware, but there is still a long way for us to go to catch up to the growing number of cases. I urge you to learn more by reading about it online, joining Facebook groups devoted to Lyme disease awareness and support, or you can call me and I can direct you to some videos, and some suggestions for Lyme Literate Doctors.   
Even if you don't remember being bit by a tick, or you never experience the famous “bulls-eye” rash, if something feels off, and you’re having those symptoms, pay attention to your body and seek out an immunologist. Trust yourself, and push on even if your doctor says, “You look great there's nothing wrong with you;” or “If there is something wrong with you, it's out of my area of expertise;” or my personal favorite: “Try to exercise more and eat right.”  
Please feel free to reach out to me anytime; I would hate to see anyone go through what my friend has gone through.  
I'm certainly not trying to spread panicjust awareness. I’m here to help.

More on Lyme Disease and Ticks: 

Sunday, August 16, 2015

BCBR Recap Episode 9: Stage 7, WHISTLER

This is the final report of my BC Bike Race adventure -- catch up with the story so far at the links below! 

Bike Mag Coverage!
My Race Reports: 

Sometimes it takes me forever to complete a book I’m reading because I like it too much. I’m dying to finish it, but in no hurry to be done with the story. I have been finding it is the same with the BC Bike Race. Thinking about--then writing--each stage’s report is like reliving it, and once I finish this one, it will all be over, for real. It’s funny, because you would think crossing the finish line in Whistler, along with 600 of your new friends, and the warm embrace of the race’s staff, volunteers and the friends and family you brought with you would be signal enough. But I think the race is just too big, too special, to fully realize in that moment. I tried—here is a video of me taken by the paparazzi parental unit that begins to show me literally trying to catch my breath and feel all the feels while clinging to Gerhard—but I couldn’t grasp it. I was emotional, but also overwhelmed.

Let’s go back to the beginning of the finish, and I’ll tell you all about the final day in Whistler.

Our crew opted to head out from Squamish early because my parents really loved Whistler last year, and my dad was all about hitting up Satchi Sushi as we had the year before (and as he raved about for the following 363 days). This year, I was liking my chances that we would actually attend the final banquet, so the eve of Stage 7 was our only sushi chance! We arrived (if you recall from my previous post) with some very tired riders, but who had also worked up a great appetite. It was awesome to be joined by family friends Dennis and Diana, too. With a night of protein and carbs, I was relieved to knock off my Bike Mag coverage and get to bed on the early side. My bike slept the night back in Squamish, so I made a plan to ride Gerhard’s borrowed Altitude to the start line where I could collect my rig, and leave the demo for G to pick up when they got to the start.

The bike trucks were unloading when I rolled up, and my bike was on one of the trucks last to be de-biked so I was happy I’d had a chance to spin a little on the way there—my warm up was getting shorter by the minute. On warm ups: I had really high hopes for them all week, especially since strong starts seemed to be a theme to my success, but honestly, by Day 7, ANY pedal stroke beyond those which were required to get me to the finish line seemed like risky, match-burning business. My legs were feeling a little like sand bags, literally held together by tape.

Getting ready to line up on Day 7
I spun around a little to make sure my rig was race ready, but my “warm up” was cursory at best. I should have investigated the start a little further …

For the final stage, we lined up in the Olympic Plaza, which brought back great memories from my Vancouver 2010 experience. A hundred meters on the grass, and then we were on the road, barreling slightly up towards Blackcomb. As we approached the ski hill from the pavement on a slight left, a unanimous “are you kidding me?” rose from our start wave. Straight. Up.

And so, we were thusly introduced to the “don’t think of it as a victory lap” final stage of the BC Bike Race. After that pitchy first double track, the pain continued along the access road, and then into the woods for the hardest, longest, most technical, body-English singletrack climb of the entire week. Combined with the emotional dynamics of a wheel-to-wheel train of racers, it was a stressful ascent. Thanks to some errors by both riders around me, and me, I ended up at the front of a group which was actually the most pleasing place for me to be. I was able to ride how I ride, without worrying about running into a wheel in front of me, and focusing 100% on being smooth. The guy behind me however had a bit of a slinky thing going. He would stumble, and accelerate, stumble, then accelerate, causing the riders behind him to get vocally aggressive. It was the one time during the week that I heard racers lose their cool. I opted to pull over and let them all go around me so I could enjoy the final day. But that was a mistake. Once you stop in Whistler, it is nearly impossible to get the flow back because every pedal stroke there is another “thing” – wheel lift, bridge, skinny, roots, drop, etc. By the time we topped out I was exhausted mentally and physically, and I wasn’t sure at all how I was doing. A couple exciting moments flying down steep rock faces and we were flying over a gravel double track to circumnavigate the lake. I made good time in the open, and the rest of the course was definitely trending down. Locals and visitors were out in droves cheering us on through the LAST singletracks of the week.

Two years in the making. Feels like I got away with something. 
I could hear their energy coming from just a few switchbacks away and had my first thought of, “oh my gosh, I’m about to finish the BC Bike Race” but had to quickly banish the idea in case I blew it in the last few hundred meters. Desperately trying to maintain focus and composure, I rolled through that cheering section I’d heard only to find that they were our friends from the massage/chiro/rehab tents. AND they were dressed up like Wonder Woman, French Fries, High Fives and even a UNICORN in a TUTU. 

A photo posted by DrColinWilson (@drcolinwilson) on
For whatever reason, THIS is what put me over the edge. A dude dressed up like French Fries. I lost it, and tears started welling up and my chest hurt even more than it normally does on course and I had to tell myself out loud to stop it and finish this thing already. But in a nutshell, those race staff who are so excited for us to finish they hiked into the woods dressed up in costume, screaming their faces off at us is a perfect illustration of how awesome this event is--you felt like that all week. Maybe they weren't actually wearing Super Women costumes, but the volunteers and staff were nonetheless super, and often, even heroic. Certainly, Nathan and Colin (physiotherapist and chiropractor respectively) were my heroes. Huge thanks to them -- Not sure I could have made it without their expert fixes. 

I raced through the last village trails, raced down the pavement, raced past Tippie in his famous fro wig waving the checkered flag and high-fived the BC Bike Race gate for the last time as I crossed the finish. The amazing volunteers were just as stoked as the racers as they awarded us our belt buckles.

Stage 7 Results 

Final Cumulative Results

I did it.

I came back stronger and better than ever after heartbreak the year before to finish the day in 6th and the week in 5th place. I put in the training, I picked the perfect bike, I raced smart, and it all led to this moment.

We did it.

I may have signed up for the solo category, but I was never alone. Gerhard supported long hours doing “crazy” training, never said boo as I spent all of my money (and lots of his too) on power meters, equipment, plane tickets, and physical therapy. My parents were all in, twice, arriving in style with a meal plan the Tour De France would be envious of. They were amazing supporters, comic relief, and mom even became a DJ, making sure I had a race-ready soundtrack to enjoy with the breakfast she served every morning (all the while me complaining that I don’t want to eat ANY MORE things).

And there they were at the finish line, and they had all the feelings I was too tired and overwhelmed to feel.  But I could see them in my mom’s happy tears, my dad’s proud smile, and my husband’s big bear hug. As I look back now, just over a month later, it has really sunk in. I was so fantastically lucky to have the amazing support of my family not just for the week, but for the entire two year process, including the first attempt last year. I am so incredibly grateful for them, and almost wish I was signed up for 2016 so we could do it all again! Dad was so excited by the race, he wants to sign up. If he does, you can bet I’ll be first in line to drive the RV!

I also want to thank Christine and Papa Gerhard for hosting me in the week leading to the race, and for hosting the whole crazy circus as the race rolled through Cumberland. Thank you for keeping the party going over in Powell River and for all your support, always. It means a lot to me that you share your excitement, and that you've even been inspired to get back to daily riding!! 

Thanks to my amazing nieces Ella and Clara for sending such inspirational video messages! I LOVE to see your pretty faces. Thank you to your expert camerawoman, Kim as well. Love you sis, and appreciate all the pep talks. Thanks also to the head of the Mombourquette-Lake clan Bryan for star appearances in FaceTimes and inspirational videos as well. You guys rule. 

Congrats to my coached athlete and Team Ninja teammate Bjorn
for his amazing top-ten finish!! Thank you for being an inspiring,
dedicated athlete. Your hard work showed. I'm so proud! 
Thanks to Grandpa and Aunt Mindy who followed along and sent their cheers through Mom and Dad!

Thanks to Coach Richard for all of the training leading up to this thing (twice) and thanks to all of my Team Ninja teammates for being the best crew to hang with in all of the races leading up to this one.

And finally, thank you to everyone who left notes and encouragement on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter!

Keep reading!! There are a few more people to thank as well!

Rocky Mountain Bicycles: My Thunderbolt 770 MSL was the perfect rig, but more importantly, it was awesome to feel a part of the Rocky Mountain family, especially as news of my new role with the brand came together on about Day 2. Every day, this crew made you feel like the Rocky Mountain lounge was the place to be. Thank you also for helping Gerhard do the biggest MTB ride of his life on Day 6 with a demo Altitude!! Meant a lot to us!
GU Energy: I could NOT have done it without the support of GU, and especially Yuri who is always just an email away with the magic elixirs. He even made sure I had a fresh tub of GU Recovery Brew in Chocolate, when it seemed like there was none to be found, anywhere. Yuri, I had that every day and thought of you gratefully every time! GU Brew (lemon tea!!) in my bottles every day, and GUs were taped to my top tube each morning in the perfect assortment, including my favs #SaltedCaramel and #MapleBacon, keeping me properly fuelled and flying. Thank you so much GU!!

Eliel Cycling: "You know you have the best kits out here, right?" - random racer on Day 5. I totally knew. Spending seven days straight in the best bibs and jerseys ever is its own kind of heaven. Thank you so much to Eliel for making the most amazing gear, but double thanks for making it specially for me--my custom, commemorative BCBR Kits are badass as hell, and super special reminders of an amazing week. Thank you so much for being part of an incredible season.

RIDE Cyclery: Between last minute equipment "needs" (yes! I need RaceFace NEXT carbon bars and cranks!), and getting my bike race-tuned and neatly packed, RIDE was there. I'm so grateful for the friends I've made at this shop who were all high-fives as I rolled my bike out in its new case right before departure. I didn't have a single mechanical issue with the bike all week which I know is part luck, but I like to think it's also partly our mechanics' magic. Thanks to Jimi and Blaize for the final customizations and tuning! And to Blaize who does a mean bike pack. Could not have done it without RIDE.

ZOIC Clothing: Thank you for being amazing supporters, and for making BC-worthy baggies that I practically lived in. Though I kept it "XC" on the race course, if I was pre-riding or recovering around base camp, my Naveahs are what I reached for. Plus, all the pockets mean I can usually get away with riding pack-free which is always a bonus if you're on the trails and it's in the 90s!

And with that, it's all done. So much awesome stuff has happened since the race, and in some ways, it happened because of the race. This special week, and its two-year lead up will always mean the world to me. If you're thinking about doing it, do it

I love this photo of mom enjoying the scenery on the Peak to Peak. They headed up for some tourist time! 

This one is really cool. That's my mom! 

.... and that's my dad! Obviously, Peak to Peak was mom's idea. ;)

Mom and Me

Dad and Me 

Bjorn and his amazing support crew, Amber! 

Fires in the area immediately following the race create smoky, hazy conditions that nearly block the afternoon sun. 

Saturday, August 1, 2015

BCBR Recap Episode 8: Day Six, Squamish + Mr. G's Wild Ride!

After a little delay I'm happy to be back to project "write all of BCBR down" with a recap from Stage Six in Squamish. As is the case with this event, every day was my new favorite day. Could not be more true in Squamish. One day, I want to live in Squamish and ride my face off until the end of my days.

The heat was of course still with us, and thankfully, we started out at a nice morning hour so it stayed manageable for the first couple of hours. We lined up at the community center for the penultimate race of this adventure, and it felt like the nerves were all time for me. I wanted to finish safely, but I wasn't quite ready to be "almost done." I also felt the other ladies nipping at my heels a little bit -- the competition was top notch and no one was giving up anything. Hence, I wanted to have a solid race on our last real shot at GC gains (and at the very least, prevent any losses). 

I have raced in Squamish before, years ago, for the Test of Metal so I had some idea of what was waiting for us out there. I also remembered how awesome it was to climb through town and have so many locals out cheering us on! Even ran into Sarah, who I used to work with back in the Premier's Office!  

Squamish is also awesome because the trails don't wait for you to get out of town limits -- they are right there, in between houses and neighbourhoods. So we moved from road to single track and back again before finally settling into a day in the woods. 

The first descent of consequence was SO fun. Rock drops, big bermy switchbacks, roots, skinnies ... everything you could ever want, challenging enough to scare you, but still just inside the limits of my capabilities, which means you get that awesome pay off: big sense of accomplishment, translating to a confidence boost. Got kind of drunk with it. 

My usual suspects were buzzing around but I maintained my usual strategy of consistent and steady, with no mercy on the climbs. I knew I was holding fifth and hadn't seen the other ladies much after the first technical section. For this big day I added another couple turns of the screw so that I was often riding a little above what I knew I could push, relying on opportunities for recovery to help me balance it out.

Stand out sections were Half Nelson -- which they should have some kind of warning about. I'm picturing a sign that says "Maximum Fun Ahead" or something -- just so you're not taken by surprise at video game turns, berms, drops and tables. Rollercoaster smoothness, with tons of Gs and I was quickly losing my MIND. I could barely concentrate because I was frothing so hard. More locals were up there cheering us on and trying to impress some kids I accidentally nose-wheelied a landing off a table which was exciting for all involved. So happy to ride it out and hopefully they thought I did it on purpose! 

Half Nelson kept bringing the thrills right into the day's feature trail, Pseudotsuga. Which was basically MORE thrills like Half Nelson's buff single track but with more big berms and a little bit of chunder thrown in.
Squamish was also the biggest day for climbing so adding in its nearly 1,500m was making my efforts costly. I realized I'd overdone it shortly into Powerhouse Plunge and its follow-up single track through the highlands. All of a sudden I felt like my gas pedal had gone dead. Whoops. 

It seemed to be something I could mitigate with just a little more mental focus so I tried to stay centred and remind myself what I was doing constantly. Therefore, the final few km of the stage were some of my hardest. I was thrilled when we popped out back on the pavement, a sure sign the finish was coming quick. Thrilled at least until a pack of 5 in my category mobbed me, and hit the gas through town. I was thusly motivated. The last stretch ended up being an exciting battle through town and connector rec trails as I worked to haul back all but three of the ladies that jumped me. It didn't matter that much, my fifth place in the GC was well-protected. But every day is a race, and I wanted to post a good result as the week wound down. I had to settle for 8th.

With my race over, it was time to recover for the final day in Whistler. But on Day 6, I also got to play support crew! Gerhard joined the industry and sponsor guests of the race to get a taste of Squamish riding and the BCBR experience. His wave left after all of the racer waves, and he'd been out riding all of the same terrain -- all 55km of it. Rocky Mountain had a sweet Altitude 799 MSL Rally for him to use, Lululemon kitted him out, he borrowed a few things from my stash, and he was off to the races. Literally.

Gerhard has a nappetizer before sushi
I'd love to read his race report on his day but I'll share what he told me at least. Sounded like he started out pretty great with a solid 20km, but then his newness to mtb-ing and sudden dive in caught up with him after the first aid station. He was doing a good job with his eating and hydrating, but on a hot day with a surprise effort like that on your body it was hard for G to keep up with the caloric deficit. Still, he had the same breathless descriptions of the best bits like all of us, so I knew he had a fun time. In the end, he crossed the finish line at 6:29:37, salty and shattered. I have never seen him like that. But under all the sunscreen and dust, there was that telltale single track smile.

Ladies and gentlemen, Gerhard is now a mountain biker. I was so proud of him for taking on that challenge and for sticking it out right to the end. Just wish we could have ridden it together!!! We will be back.

Both of us were only too happy to have the AC in the RV and we finished the day with a massive protein intake at Satchi Sushi in Whistler village with mom, dad, and family friends Dennis and Dianna. An awesome day. And just one more to go!

Rocky Mountain Altitude chilling at the RV 

Race morning 

Getting ready for our lead out
Getting focused in Wave 2

Another one from the paparazzi 

the front of the race gets ready to roll including our women's winner, Katerina Nash

Gerhard finishing an awesome day in the saddle!! 

The face of a champion!! yay G! 

G's borrowed shred sled

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

BCBR Recap Episode 7 - Day 5, North Vancouver *Crash!*

The gnarly North Shore is the stage looming on most racers' minds. Famous for its signature technical steeps, ladders and roots, it sure isn't one to take lightly, even though it featured one of the shortest distances of the week.

In preparation, I did a short loop the week prior with a qualified tour guide who showed me all the quick lines -- some were hiding very well. The Bridal Path climb was therefore my favorite section because I was able to avoid traffic, even while in traffic, by snagging all the secret up-and-overs. Flow is the key to riding the North Shore and once you lose it, it's really hard to get going again so I was stoked to be flowing like crazy. Partly thanks to preriding but also partly thanks to the condensed lesson in mountain bike skills that is the BCBR. Also it's possible I was too tired by day five to get off my bike so just letting it roll actually felt like the easier option. 

The day's most poignant climb was Old Buck, a trail as steep as it was long. It was a toughy and I was starting to feel like maybe I didn't bring enough gears as I kept grinding out the up. To my surprise, looking up from the wheel in front of me, I saw a racer coming the other way.  Then another. Then a bunch in the leaders' jerseys. What the heck? 

Our group started murmuring and this huge pack of riders riding down told us we were fine, they'd gone the wrong way. But it doesn't matter, you still panic that you're going the wrong way too. We reassured ourselves all the way up Old Buck while remarking, when we see those riders again, they are going to be mad ...

Apparently, rumor goes the entire front of the race had become victim to some course sabotage on the streets leading to the trails. A couple of our pink trail-marker flags were pulled down from a turn and that sent them off on a tangent. They had to haul ass back the first aid-station to make sure they checked in. I couldn't even imagine how bummed I'd be, but everyone I talked to was so good natured about it. BCBR is full of the best people.  

With heightened awareness of pink ribbons, I kept on trucking, processing nerves as I went but also really happy with how smooth I was riding. Thunderbolt was home and you could tell. It was a joy ripping corners, dropping steeps, and shredding through the tech.

Eyes forward!
That said, this is also the day I had my one significant bail of the week. In preriding, I knew there was a section that was a little too steep and loose for me to tackle. I planned to grab the hiking route because smooth is fast and I knew that running it would be the smoothest for me in that section. Except on race day, I was better than I guessed, and was happily following a flowy wheel through all the awesome rocks and roots and yup, down that same section. Just as I started my drop, my tired brain caught up and said "oh hey wait, we were going to walk this!" .... And I hit the brakes. 

Probably, I had it. Probably, it was actually already completed if I'd just kept my head up. But I "tripped" and the back end of the bike came up over my head in slow motion. Seriously I had some remarkable hang time. Enough to tell the guy behind me in a full sentence, "I'm going to need some room." Than *splat*. Full face plant.

Collarbonecollarbonecollarbonecollarbone ...?? Check. Hands??? Check. Nothing but a few scrapes on my elbow and knee and I had to pull the chainrings out of my hip but they'd only made a dent. Didn't even rip my Eliel bib shorts. The guy I crashed in front of was a doctor so that's twice in two years I have wrecked in front of medical professionals. But this time I knew I'd be continuing. Phew. Close call. 

I was proud of myself that the incident didn't get into my head and I got right back to riding with the same confidence as before. In fact more, because by then, Christine Shandro had caught up from getting off course and was keeping all the riders around us in check single handedly. With her on my wheel, I had the chance to focus 100% on regaining flow, until she'd got around the last rider between her and me. I led her until she was ready to dust me and then she was gone, fueled by that earlier frustration no doubt, but also offering an awesome clinic as I watched her. The North Shore is her backyard so I was only too happy to hop on her wheel.

I rode and rode, and some of the climbs were the toughest of the week, combining some line choice, tech and pitch that had you out of the saddle redlining around every switchback. At the end of the last single track climb, we met some awesome locals with the best signs of the day: "beer ahead", "ride it like you stole it" and my personal favorite: "only five switchbacks left". 

We saw this gang and their awesome signs later on the trail. Here they are at the start line. 
I knew where we were: the bottom of the final fire road climb that would take us to Expreso, the day's feature trail, and one I'd had the pleasure of seeing before last year, although this year, we'd get to ride it dry. Someone passed me what I swear was the most delicious orange wedge that ever did wedge, and I settled in and pushed lactic threshold all the way to the top, passing riders and eventually getting a great amount of space between me and others around me so that I could ride how I ride without worrying about holding up some of the guys who LIVE for this kind of stuff.  Wade Simmons and friends from the Rocky Mountain "Living Room" up top gave me a super soaker dousing for the road and I was off! Barreling down Expresso was a highlight of the week for me. I rode the entire thing where last year I was too timid to even attempt some of the sections. With a new bike and new confidence I felt like I did some of my best descending of the week so far. Plus, a rider I passed told me I had the best kits out there (I was wearing my Team Ninja kit so of course he did!) 

Even though I thought I was super fast, there's always someone faster so when I got passed by local (and fellow Rocky Mountain ambassador) Melanie towards the end of the stage I was a little bummed but I turned it into energy and got by her again, trying to stay on the gas to widen the gap back as much as I could. I did a pretty good job, dropping her on some of the trails through the residential areas, but her home court advantage was actually enough to have bridged to my start wave from the one behind. That means she had two minutes on me that I didn't realize were there til I checked the results. So although I crossed the line ahead, I was 6th on the day behind her 5th, and holding my 5th place in the GC, still enjoying the buffer I'd built up on Day 1.

I was thrilled to have survived the North Shore and was surprised how much it had been weighing on me. With the weight lifted, and my awesome team of mom, dad, and Gerhard, we loaded up and headed to Squamish in the air-conditioned comfort of our RV (which is the envy of most RV-ers we'd discovered ...always someone asking about "our rig"). 

The end was in sight but there was still so much racing to do. My brain was having a hard time getting it actually, and when we arrived in Squamish, a blistering heat wave was waiting and added to my addlement. No doubt about it, I was tired. With Squamish being the last chance to make any big GC moves, I wanted to have a good race. Gerhard helped me get refocused and we put some extra effort into recovery that night so I could be as fresh as possible. 

We joined Ryan Leech for restorative yoga, and then why not? I signed up for some recreational IV support, sucking up a bag of vitamins and minerals through a tube in my arm. More stretching, rolling, deep breathing, eating (the food on our trip was excellent!! Thanks Mom!) and then it was bed time. Squamish -- the tallest and second longest stage of the bunch -- was waiting to say "gooooood morning!" 

More photos from Day Five: 

Rise and shine! 

The start waves begin filling in

Game face

I was in the second wave, so I had the pleasure of trying to catch these speed-demons every day

Last-minute instructions from Dave

The support crew checked out Lynn Canyon while I was out racing

G and Mom, photo by Dad! 

Some of what they saw on their hike

Me, crossing the line on Day 5


Checking out the day's results with Mom