Monday, August 29, 2011

Race Report: Hot August Nights

Last weekend before the real race begins, so what better way to spend it than turning laps with the mountain bike crowd at the annual 24 Hours of Hot August Nights. As luck would have it, Randall had a few spots available on his 10-person team and they were open to ringers! I didn't really have the whole weekend to spend up there, but thanks to his generosity, I got to have my cake and eat it too.

After working a bit in the morning, I headed up to Albion in time to say hello, meet my new teammates and do some quick socializing. Even had the Shimano guys tune up my whip!

Quickly ran into Race Director Sean Ruppel who was looking for volunteers to help marshal the kids' race. Why not? So I helped the little ones make it around the course with much cheering and pointing the way. Not that they needed me -- Canadian Mtb legend and Olympian Seamus McGrath was leading the pack! The kids loved it and there were freezies and medals for everyone at the finish.

By then I was ready to turn a lap. The course was so so so fun. My favourite yet I think. I felt like PacMan out there, having an awesome ride, smooth and flowy even though I was seeing the course for the first time. Love rides like that -- straight to the racy place. Coming around the last corner, there were the "Tree Fairies" (so-named by Chico himself, Adam Ruppel) cheering me on. And they were there at the line with a beer -- it's a good recovery drink, you know. I didn't even have to walk my own bike back to the campsite. They did that for everyone which is what team work is really all about I think: being there to cheer, hand over a beer, and listen to the war stories on the way back. I am secretly hoping for an invite to future 24s with this crowd, as they clearly know what they're doing.

Later that night, they also let me share their dinner with them. they cheffed up some wild pacific salmon that had arrived by jet the day before. We had chantrelle mushrooms fried with a demi-glaze of red wine and who knows what else. Roasted potatoes with rosemary. Caeasar Salad. All this over campfire. Seriously?!

After dinner had digested a little, and I'd had a quick nap by the campfire I did a night lap for them to let the guys get a little more sleep in the hardest part of the race -- it is never that fun to drag yourself out of deep sleep in the middle of the night to go ride your bike as fast as you can. I finished just after 1am, and then called it a night, heading back to Toronto and in bed by 2:30am.

Wish I could have stayed but I had a spin class waiting for me at 9:15am. The TRCA Tree Fairies managed an awesome top 20 finish in the end.

Thanks Tree Fairies!! I had a wicked good time. Still glowing :)