Sunday, July 30, 2017

2017 BC Epic 1000: Day 1

What a great experience racing the BC Epic 1000!  Thanks to Lennard Pretorius for putting together such an amazing route through central BC. This race brought some new challenges I had never faced before.  The Monday before the race start on Saturday, June 24th, 2017, I started to feel a sick feeling in the back of my throat.  Not a nervous feeling, but an actual cold or something.  I tried to ignore it and take some extra vitamins, but I was getting sicker and sicker as the week went on.  Being my stubborn self, this had no influence whether I was going to start the race.  I was going to ride no matter what.

I planned as usual and got my gear ready for the race. I rode my single speed Kona Unit and picked a bit harder gear ratio of 34:18 due to the trail being mostly on rail grades. This worked out really well.  I was able to keep a decent cadence on most of the climbs and still have a decent spinning speed on the flatter sections.  I made sure I had my Mike Hall bracelet strapped on my seat bag as a tribute to his legacy.


BC Epic 1000: Day 1

Merritt to outside of Penticton
Daily distance: 256 km (159 mi)
Riding Time: 16h
Standing: 2nd place

Grand Depart

The whole family drove down to Merritt for the start.  We got to Rotary Park about an hour before the start and I began putting my bags on my bike.  With the group photo, small chat with the reporter from the local paper, I was scrambling a bit to be ready on time.  I had just enough time to chug back my coffee from McDonalds and packed my BLT bagel for later.  In my haste, I forgot my cheap little lock on the bumper of the Pilot.  We rolled out of town and before I knew it we were racing.  The start was on pavement and I was able to keep a decent pace near the front of the pack.  The sore throat I had didn’t seem to be much of a factor at this point. 

Neutral start out of Merritt

I started getting into the habit of following the rider in front of me and then I saw him turn around.  We both went off route a little bit.  Not too far, but our turn around resulted in us being in the last group of riders.  Then the gravel started.  I rode with Dace for a while on the gravel and I was glad I did.  There was one section where we had to push our bikes up the side of a ditch to continue on course.  He was familiar with this so he was helping me with where to go. We settled into a nice pace and that’s when the ride really felt like the race started.  Nice, steady gravel for miles. The day started getting hotter and I started thinking about when I needed to stop.  Coalmont came into view, but the General Store looked like it was closed.  I was about to ride on, but noticed I was out of water.  I circled back and found a post office where I could fill up.  Dace rolled up and I said we could get water here.  While he was in the process of purchasing a pop, I packed up and kept rolling.  My throat felt dry and I was losing my voice a bit, but I didn’t feel too bad.  Maybe being sick wouldn’t be too much of a factor…I hope.

Before I knew it I was in Princeton.  I just filled up with water so I was debating stopping.  Then I saw a few bikes at the Subway.  This was my chance to pass a few riders so I kept rolling through town.  There was a steady climb out of town so I started grinding up the hill.  Lennard rolled up, we chatted a bit, and then he started pulling away.  The temperature started to get hotter and I started to run out of water.  My desire to not stop resulted in the bad decision of passing by some surface water sources without filling up. I thought  the Osprey Lake campground would have some water…nope.   Before I knew it I was out of water and getting thirsty.  I ran into Lennard and Ken and they just got some trail magic in the form of water so Lennard shared one bottle with me.  I was incredibly thankful, but could not remember if I actually said thanks.  That bugged me for a few days so I made sure I thanked him at the end of the race. 

I kept grinding away slowly up the hill looking for a water source.  Most of the time when I heard water, it was at the bottom of a steep slope. Then I found a nice rushing stream at the side of the trail.  I finished my BLT bagel from the morning, washed up a bit and filled up with water.  Now I had to wait 30min for the water purification tablets to work.  Thirsty!! That water was great after the wait!

Decommissioned rail trail

The descent into Penticton was nice and smooth.  I tried to keep eating and drinking lots as the town came into view.  As I passed through Summerland, I even got a few cheers from a car.  Nice morale boost!  I came into Penticton and started riding through town.  The route passed through some sort of festival so there were people and cars everywhere.  It was a huge party zone.  The road was pretty busy so I thought there should be a gas station up ahead.  I climbed a steep hill and it looked like I was on my way out of town.  I asked a guy on the street if there was a gas station up ahead – nope.  Lennard pulled up and let me know that the best resupply was right at the start of town.  Route knowledge certainly helps!  I resigned myself to backtracking to the store and letting Lennard ride on.  I croaked a goodbye (started losing my voice) and headed back into town.  After resupply, spotting an Elvis getting some snacks, and riding through town again, I started climbing the hill out of Penticton at sunset.  This was a start of a strange climb.  It seemed secluded, then a car would drive by, and then another.  Then I was riding through a crowd of happy drunks carrying coolers.  Then there were other very happy (drunk or something else) cyclists riding toward me down the hill.   I ran into Ken and we rode together for a short while until he decided to camp close to a picnic table and outhouse.  I kept riding for a while and stopped about 11:30pm and set up camp behind a rock outcropping just off the trail.  Just as I got comfy in my bivy, another group of very happy cyclists came coasting down the hill.  I laid quietly as they loudly organised themselves and chose their playlist for the ride down the hill.  Where were these cyclists coming from?  My cough was getting worse so I dozed off between coughing fits into a nice sleep. 

Sunset in Penticton

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