When the Levee Breaks

Kingston cup came and gone. First disappointing race of the year that was totally my fault and not any fault of my equipment.

First mistake was bringing a fat bike to the race. While yes fun, and totally doable, the amount of increased effort to push a bike configured for snow riding around a course like that was dumb as shit. A little too much bravado, and not enough common sense. Also a bit lazy too as I mostly chose it on the account that I didn’t want to change a tire on my geared bike, since its damaged… also lazy, I didn’t swap cages from my bikes, and showed up with no cages and a bunch of bottles… pretty pro.

Second mistake was not giving the course the proper respect it should have had. No mental prep, and a bit too much reliance on people telling me it was “fun”. While yes, there was very little climbing, the climbing comes at you all in one or 2 areas, so the climbing that IS in there is pretty tough.

The third mistake was not working on drinking skills prior to the race. Once you got into the course you were constantly assaulted with rocks, roots, and turns. I found it hard to drink while on the course and the places where you got a 30 second break were little to none, or worse, they’d come, and you’d ignore them cause you were worried about getting stuck with a bottle in your hand and a rock garden at your wheel.

Anyway, the race started off fairly simply. There were 3 Fatties that I saw in the full Marathon so I figured all I needed to do was finish the race. I actually managed to bury the one skinny guy on a fatty within the first 5km. I don’t know if he had a mechanical or what but I never saw him again. The other carbon fatty rider got ahead of me and I hoped that once I settled down into a more endurance mode I’d grind him down and catch him later on…. this was not to be… also I noted his 4″ tires and knew he was going to be faster with less power required. The fatty I have has probably the worst rolling tires on it ever… but dat traction tho.

Into the bushes and rock and slate are easy to grind out, but then come the bar checks, repeatedly. One even said bar check 720mm… still bashed my hands off the tree. Gloves are now ripped, I’m bleeding from my knuckles and fingers.. and I’m only 10km in… the other thing I start to notice is how jarring the course is on a rigid bike, even with the big honking tires I can’t seem to find any flow anywhere and get some ground covered for free.  I’m constantly fighting with the bike to keep moving forward over what I felt was fairly easy terrain. The constant bumps and dips would rob me of any momentum I had, and I’d fight to get the beast moving forward again.

I make it over to the other side of the barn and through some pumptrack section. Good stuff, but I had no clue what was on the other side of them, so I was fairly dainty going through. This is when I realized that I was sweating profusely and moved on to another bottle… into the bush on the far side and its much the same only worse. More rocks more bar checks, some bridges though the only one that was really bad was where there was some overgrown grass… so I didn’t know how wide the bridge actually was. No issues though and made it through.

Passed by the Aid Station… and this is where it was weird. I asked if it was a 2 way aid station and they said no…. at this point I needed bottles, but turned into the bush anyway… worst decision ever, I shoulda just grabbed food and water and carried on. Ended up in the bush for another 17km or so. The climbs in there weren’t terrible but on the second lap they had me thinking that they’d suck a bit more.

It got pretty technical once you got over the fire road where I finished my last bit of perpetuem. I saw the leaders coming back my way and figured I was 20 min from getting water so it wasn’t so bad.

Back into the bush, and bam, another tight bar check sends me flying down the side of a bank and into some rocks. My back doesn’t feel right, but I’m more pissed that it happened at this point, I’m also getting pissed as the non drinking and aid station situation aren’t playing well into my lack of planning. Back on the bike and up and over rocks and more shenanigans… and suddenly everything feels like its doing this to my back:

PNZViPI

Holy shit, my back is on fire… I pull around to the aid station finally, and throw down as much liquid as I can, some salt tablets… and they tell me that I could have gotten bottles at the aid station on the way by… well shit.

I get through the course suffering through what can only be explained as having a knife stuck in my lower back.. and I get to the final hill. I end up climbing it but by the time I get to the top.. the levee had broke.

The thought of doing another lap with my bloody hands, screaming back, lack of hydration, and sudden onset of just wanting to lay down on something flat and hard was too much and as I passed through the line, and without even thinking.. I said “I’m Done”.

This is the first time I’ve cracked. The Kingston course requires a LOT of respect despite what some people may say about it. While yes it would be a blast to ride with your buddies out in the bush with beers and breaks, as a race the course is an entirely different animal.

I’m looking forward to coming back next year and completing the full marathon.. only this time I’ll make sure to take this course a lot more seriously. While yes fun is definitely a word I’d use to explain the course, the follow up comment would be “but only until you realize that the fun never ends”……

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