This June I turn 40 and am becoming keenly aware of my aging and the limitations that will go with it. I don’t recover from things as quickly as I once did. This past year, I threw my back out three times. I recognize that I’m getting older. My kids even call me “Old Man T” from time to time.
But I also recognize that 40 isn’t really that old, there is still plenty of life left in me (knock on wood), and what better excuse for a year of adventure, than a 40th birthday, hereafter known as Epic40.
It was fitting therefor that the first race or event on the calendar for this year was Actif Epica, a local race where participants either bike or run along the Crow Wing and Trans Canada Trail. Last year, I did the 130k on foot, and this year thought it would be fun to try it on bike.
The forecast was looking warm as race day approached, certainly much warmer than previous years. I went to the Forks Friday afternoon for gear check and passed with flying colours. The only question I had was when I showed my reflective gear and Dan asked if I had more. To which I replied that it was the required 60 square cm. His response; “you measured, didn’t you?”, to which I replied, “of course”. Sixty square cm is much smaller than you’d expect.
Early evening the pre-race meeting was also held at the Forks, and then we were off. Myself and Scott were racing together and Martin was volunteering Saturday morning at the 120k start in St. Malo. As it turns out, Martin has a cabin in St. Malo, so that’s were we stayed the night before. It was great to be so close to the start and have a good night’s sleep.
We woke up around 6:30 Saturday morning, got ready and headed to the start. The sun was just about to come up when the race began and we were off toward St. Malo Provincial Park and the lake crossing. Snowmobiles had packed down the surface, but it was really bumpy. I had to keep pushing hard to maintain momentum, but eventually we made it to the end of the lake and up onto Lakeshore Drive.
The next few hours were a mix of riding and hike-a-bike through deep snow. It was warm, conditions were pretty good, but the prospect of conditions deteriorating was always on the front of my mind. We rolled through the Sugar Shack in St. Pierre-Joly, Crystal Spring and after trudging through the mud on Crown Valley Road, made it to Niverville for some of the best perorgies I’ve ever eaten.
At this point, I had pulled ahead of Scott, so I waited for him at Niverville. Once he arrived, we sat together for a while, and after a brief discussion he suggested that I go ahead, so I did, and that’s where we parted ways for the day.
I continued toward St. Adolphe which is always a short and quick section. After this checkpoint, things got challenging. I knew that Shapansky Road leading up to the floodway would be tough, and it didn’t disappoint. It was slow trudging with a few riding breaks, but I was hesitant to ride too much with the prospect of mud sticking to everything and completely seizing up my wheels (which happened on Crown Valley Road). Eventually the mud ended, but the hike-a-bike continued on the floodway. The snow was soft, lots of post-holing, but I finally arrived at Highway 200. After a brief conversation with my friend Alain (A1), who came out to say hi and encourage me, and a short trudge under the bridge, it was back to road, and riding.
The sun was beginning to go down as I approached the city and knew that I was quickly making my way to the finish. My feet were wet and cold, but the motivation was high to get to the University of Manitoba, and then the Forks.
After U of M, I was rolling along, feeling strong when all of a sudden, BAM, seat fell off. This happened just after the St. Vital bridge and I feel lucky that I didn’t wipe out, or get hurt worse than I did. I picked up the seat, took inventory of the situation, noticed that the bolt had sheared right in half, and continued on my way, seatless. It wasn’t optimal, or nearly as fast as I would have been able to go otherwise, but I continued with forward momentum, and made it to the Forks. It was great to be done and I was happy with my time and place. My friend Mallory, who I’ve crewed and paced many times in the past, was at the finish to congratulate me, and it was great to see her. My family also showed up to take me home and it was great to see them too. I had hoped to cycle home, but the lack of seat and the fact it wasn’t too late in the evening made for getting picked up a good option.
While I would consider myself more of an ultra runner than cyclist, I must say that I’m really enjoying these cycling adventures, and can see myself doing more of them in the future.
The race itself was awesome and amazingly well run. The volunteers I encountered along the way were phenomenal and a huge help to getting myself and all other racers to the finish line. Being able to do part of this adventure with Scott was enjoyable as always, and being able to stay at Martin’s cabin was a huge help. Thank you to all!