Mark, Sheldon, Shantel, & Mike lined up and threw down at the Perogy XC Provincial Championships. Here’s how it played out for Mark & Sheldon…
3/5ths of Kokanee Redbike before the start (Mike was too focused on his pre-race prep to pose for photos)
I have known Chris Check since the late nineties when Pedalhead was located on 109th Street, and I can honestly say that he is one of the most likable, affable and gregarious people I¹ve ever met. Which is why during the 2013 Perogy Provincial Championships I found myself wondering: why is Chris making me suffer so badly right now? The provincial championship race always provides some interesting drama that is different than the other ABA races during the year. With the addition of Masters categories, a racer can decide to race within their age group or within their normal race category. After debating the pros and cons of racing in the Expert or the Masters categories, I decided to race in the Masters 40-49 age group as it allowed me to compete specifically within my age group, and while there would be no upgrade points allocated, there is the prestige of a medal podium if I finished well. With a relaxed mindset, I rolled into the start area looking for my compatriots in the Masters category. According to the tech guide, the start was going to be a rolling staggered start where each category started a minute after the previous one. Our category settled in behind the Sport category assuming that we would start a minute after them, and this was initially confirmed by the commissarie. But just after the open men and women had their start, they announced that it would be a mass start. At that point, I was relegated to a position behind racers who I knew I had to fight through to get a clean race. I was slightly vexed by that last minute change.
Sarns Suffering (Photo Credit: Paul Croccombe)
When the whistle blew, I knew that I had to pass as many people I could on the initial climb to avoid the bottleneck that was going to eventually happen due to Sunridge¹s narrow, twisty and rough singletrack. After the first climb, we started the narrow decent where someone did crash and slow down the procession of racers, including me. Once that cleared up, I pushed hard to pass as many people as can to catch up to the Expert racers who were staged ahead of the Master categories. There was another crash and pause at one of the tight tree turns, but shortly after that was the wide open climb back up the ski hill. This was another opportunity to pass racers, as I knew that once you hit the singletrack again, it would be very difficult to pass; therefore I went off the saddle and redlined it to the top. By the time I arrived to the flat section along the river and under the bridge, I felt the consequence of pushing so hard during the start without taking any water as I started to feel weak and nauseous. Then came the dreaded loose gravel climb back up the river valley that everyone was lamenting about before the race.
Shanny Digging Deep (Photo Credit: Paul Croccombe)
Mike and Shantel just said to sit down on the saddle and grind it up, which was the right strategy, but that didn¹t account for my drivetrain which was not attended to for the last month. As I shifted to a lower gear for the climb, the chain would jam in the cassette forcing me to dismount and free the chain. This malfunction occurred numerous times during the rest of the race; therefore my attempt to catch up to Neil Johns seemed moot. My motivation at that point was to catch up and pass as many Sport, Expert, Masters racers not in my category. Yo-yoing with Marcus from Synergy became the race for me during the last lap, where I was fortunate to pass him on the last climb of the race. Near the end, I saw the second place Sport racer just ahead of me, but I decided that I suffered enough and needed to just finish the race with a modicum of enjoyment. When I arrived at the finish line, I saw that there was not that many racers actually ahead of me, and most of them were familiar faces whom I ride with.
When the results were announced, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that Neil won the Masters 40-49, I came in second and Shane Rush came in third. To be bookended by two racers I¹m friends with and respect was a great and satisfying end to the Perogy race. So much suffering though.
Mark on the Podium
“Peace” (Photo Credit: Paul Croccombe)
The first word that comes to mind is, ‘TOUGH!’ Moving up to Sport Class this year, comes with both pros and cons, one of those being a double edge sword – extra laps… The extra distance, combined with the massive climbing in this year’s Provincial Championship course proved to be more than I could handle. Although I finished the race, my legs were cooked too early to finish well. Some cramping set in on the final lap as I pushed to hold on to the wheel of the rider in front of me. It was a painful finish, crossing the line totally shattered – but sometimes those are somehow the most satisfying finishes.
Sheldon Climbing the Ski Hill (Photo Credit: Paul Croccombe)
Biggest take-away from that race is that I need to get on the MTB more often. Training on the CX bike all the time might be great for overall fitness, but it didn’t prepare me for the amount punchy, power climb efforts of Sunday’s race. There is likely one more MTB race in the calendar for me, out in Devon, so I’ll plan to spend a bit more time on the MTB between now and then. Thankfully, the rainy season here should be coming to an end and I’ll be hitting the trails at great time of year.
BONUS: Check out the sweet news coverage the race received from GlobalTV. There are some great shots of Kokanee Redbike in action.