In the past year I have consumed 82 pounds of emergency fish...
Ridden over 7500 miles...
Braved the epic winter of snowmageddon...
All this to lead into the 24 Hours of Summer Solstice.
However, this adventure began three years ago when my friend Tim told me about an event held in Canada, an epic 24 hour mountain bike race.
I, being new to the sport of endurance mountain biking, immediately thought this event sounded fantastic and eagerly began to dream about attending this race.
There were just a few minor details to take care of first...
Training...getting married...training...buying a car...training...budgeting...training...
The road was long, but looking back, also necessary to put me into the right condition and mindset.
This past winter, I stopped tracking my mileage with a computer and began riding by destination. By framing my training rides in this way, it took out the urgency to collect mileage and instead allowed me to concentrate on each present moment of the ride.
As it turns out, this re framing took the overwhelming feelings I'd felt during my other 24 hour races away.
But, I'm getting ahead of myself...first we have to discuss all of the awesome little details that made up the essence of our trip to the town of Bolton.
I really feel that Josh had the most challenging tasks in our preparation. Afterall, the only thing I had to do was ride my bike :-)
But as the pit chief, Josh was in charge of making sure we had all the parts, lights, bikes and hard goods that we might possibly need for this event.
And on top of accumulating everything we would need, he would also have to fit it all into our little neon.
And he did a fantastic job :-)
I'm pretty sure there was a kitchen sink lurking somewhere in the car with us...
After saying goodbye to the puppies and naked kitties, we embarked on our journey early Thursday morning.
We were equipped with our very first burner phone...be gone you evil international roaming charges...and Captain America was proudly riding shot gun.
Our boarder crossing went off without a hitch, we even made it to our first Tim Hortons stop in record time! Things were going well as we plugged along towards Toronto for our first night on Canadian soil.
Our first destination was going to be the Hockey Hall of Fame, Josh is a huge hockey fan and he had never been to the HHOF so it made perfect sense with us being so close to Toronto that we would stop by.
Plus, as a regular part of our prerace traditions, we've watched the movie Miracle more times then I can count and it seemed fitting to visit the Team USA memorabilia for a little inspiration.
Without our cell phone GPS, we did inadvertently get a little back tracked when we entered downtown Toronto (navigation is not one of my strong suits), but eventually we found our way and we were able to tour the halls of the great HHOF.
Shortly after, we had dinner at at the esteemed Wayne Gretzky's restaurant, where I drank over eight glasses of water in one sitting...possibly a little dehydrated from the drive...and then it was time to make home in our hotel.
Unfortunately, there was some road construction on our way out of Toronto that made the drive to the hotel terribly slow...but that did allow us a front row seat to watch the bike commuters navigating the road ways.
There were hybrid bikes, fixies, trials bikes, road bikes and mountain bikes mixing together as commuters made their way along the roadside. Amazing!
I'm 100% positive that living in the city is not for me, but I am extremely impressed by the presence of bike commuting in Toronto.
And then it was time for some "Zzzzz's"
The next morning we awoke feeling somewhat refreshed and ready for our short journey to Bolton.
Our main priority was to get the pit tent set up and a good preride of the course under my belt. Once that was complete, it would be an early night for both of us so we could tackle SS with vengence....Muuuwaaahahaha!
As we turned onto the Regional 50, just a mere ten miles from the race venue, we were surprised to suddenly feel a sharp jolt as the car behind us smacked into us.
Poor little neon...
We rolled up onto the shoulder and took a moment to assess the situation. The bikes hadn't flown off the roof rack (because Thule racks are awesome), the neon was moving....all good.
The other driver was also okay, although extremely panicked about having run into us.
We exited the vehicle to inspect the bumper and found the trunk to be a newer, slightly bowed in version of itself.
After exchanging information, we continued on our way to the race venue...both of us still somewhat in shock that after traveling all that way we would get hit so close to the race venue!
But soon...that was a distant memory because we were pulling into the Albion Hills Conservation area and there were signs decorating the hill side declaring that at long last we had arrived!
Insert slight heart palpitation here :-)
After checking in with the gate keeper, we made our way through the park to the solo camping/pit area. There were a few tents already stationed in this area, but fortunately, we had arrived early enough to claim an awesome spot for the ACF tent.
Josh immediately dismissed me from getting in his way as he began to lay out his "area", leaving me free to check out the course.
I quickly changed into some riding clothes and hopped onto the trail.
The way they had the solo pit area set up, we were stationed about 5 km from the finish in and out and back section that would allow Josh to see me twice each lap.
This would work out perfectly for bottle hand offs a throughout the race.
The remainder of the course was a good mix of single and double track with plenty of climbing sections to keep it interesting.
There were a lot of roots and bumpy sections that made me grateful to have the thud buster seat post and maybe a little nervous about not having a proper full suspension frame.
After being cooped up in the car for two days, I felt a little stiff moving through the lap and had to bust a few cobwebs out of my lungs, but it appeared that even after a few days off of the bike I hadn't completely forgotten how to ride it!
Once the preride was complete, I made my way back to the pit tent and found Josh all set up and already making friends with our new neighbors. He's such a pit social butterfly :-)
Then it was time to check in at the chalet for the proper race credentials and to make our way to our hotel for a final nights sleep.
To be continued...