This will be brief and to the point, even though i would like to tell a somewhat detailed story i am currently having troubles typing.
TEST OF METAL race report, best year the course has seen in quite some time, dry fast conditions, with a sun cloud mix that allowed for many PR's on the day, in fact the course record fell by almost ten full minutes!
I was battling crazy karma issues from the second i woke up until the second my race came to an early end. Even as i was in the line to start the race i found that my bottle holder had snapped and would not hold an actual bottle, hence i ended up with my water bottle in my jersey pocket. Not a huge issue, but when coupled with the race not having me registered for the event, my new bike shoes having not arrived, still riding a frame size that is too big, etc, etc, i was really starting to wonder if i was supposed to be there at all!
After the first large climb that starts the race i was beginning to find my groove, and right around 'the corners' area of the event i couldn't help but notice that the race seemed to be unfolding almost exactly as it did for me in 07. Last year i finished in 3h14m00s for 29th overall. My goal this year was something sub 3h05m (ideally sub 3hr) and top twenty overall. I felt that i was on pace for this as i seemed to be higher in the pack then i was one year prior and with a new electrolyte system on my bike that allowed for easier intake i was confident that i would not cramp this year as i have in my two previous TOM experiences. As i was accelerating down the double track section known as 'Mashiter', i called out for the track,
"On your left"
Three riders peeled to the right and i opened it up even further to overtake them. At this moment the one rider who was already on the right started to peel left.
"ON YOUR LEFT!"
He kept drifting,
"ON YOUR LEFTTTTTT!"
Before i had a chance to brake or react he hit the front half of my bike! I was easily doing 35-40km an hour and the next thing i knew i was doing cartwheels off the left side of the trail. For anyone who knows this area, it is NOT where you want to be tumbling out of control.
The rider who took me out simply kept on trucking, while one of the guys i had just passed stopped to ensure i was alright. He shouted at me from above and i thanked him but told him to get moving. Shortly after this, as i was climbing back up to the trail, my AR teammate Todd rode passed and shouted at me,
I responded with, "Some F#$KER cut me off!!"
With that he knew i was alive and was off on his own racing adventure. I stumbled back onto the trail and hopped onto my bike but the chain was off. I could not simply shift it back on as it was off on the over side, so i hopped off, fixed it, then climbed back on and went to ride...except my right leg would not seem to function properly. I tried to pedal and practically fell off of my bike. My leg was bruised, swollen and bleeding. My race was over before it even got started.
I had a walk of about 200 meters to the intersection before 'Roller Coaster' where i knew there would be volunteers on hand. As i stumbled on in, two people i know from the running community where there to greet me. Jim and Catherine sat me down, put a jacket over me and fed me some fluids. Within a few minutes, as upset as i was, i was making lame jokes. Jim commented that when i arrived i was completely white in the face and looked as though i was in shock, he followed that up with,
"Ya know Gary, maybe running is more your thing!"
They live in the Highlands area of Squamish, which was right around the corner from where i fell, and they graciously offered to walk me back to their place and drive me back to the start finish. I was insistent on making it back down there in time to see the top finishers. I peeled my bike gloves off, noticed a bit of blood, but did not think much about it. By the time we reached the finishing chute i had to have my hand splinted and later that evening, while at the Lion's Gate Hospital, i had it x-rayed and casted with a removable brace as i had in fact broken my right pinkie finger. My leg seems to have suffered nothing worse than a deep charlie horse, and many friends were in agreeance that i managed to escape my crash in pretty much the best case scenario.
From here i awaited the arrival of my good friend Dwayne Kress, who had been training his ass off all year and was poised to have his best finish ever. Last i heard he was up in 7th place and on pace for a sub 2h50m! He never showed up, and i would later learn that he ripped a hole in his tire and was forced to drop. I watched Helly Hansen rider Jeff Reimer come in in about 2h55m and Justin Mark at just over 3hr. I figured Todd had to be right around the corner, and also Team Mergeo adventure racer Aaron VanderWaal who Todd and i were riding with down the 'Bob Mac' trail shortly before my race came to an end.
I stood at the finish area, camera ready to go, for almost a full hour. At 3h50m i knew that even if Todd or A.V. had run half the course they would have been in. Aaron had to drop due to health reasons as i believe he nearly collapsed from exhaustion, and Todd's bike frame snapped in half!! Hit up his blog for his full story.
Team Helly Hansen Vancouver Island, two solid finishes.
Team Helly Hansen - MOMAR, two solid DNF's
B.C. Bike Race, two weeks and counting, redemption to be had, and hopefully our biking issues are behind us!