Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Swan River Mountain Bike Cup 4 In Review

I participated in one of my favourite races last weekend. Swan River Cross Country Mountain Bike race is the 4th installment in the Manitoba Cup Series and it was just what the Doctor ordered. As of late I have started to develop a serious and debilitating condition called "Race Brainitis" about the upcoming enduro race Reach The Beach on July 5th. What's race brainitis? It is a condition that afflicts most serious racers at least once if not twice a season, but weekend warriors and even pro racers are not immune to this troubleing condition. The DSMV V defines Race Brainistis as having a wide range of symtoms that are typically very mild and quickly resolved, but occationally parayzating and requiring hospitalization if left untreated. Clinitions use a working definition that highlights any of various malignant thoughts characterized by sitting around watching UTube Videos while obsessivly worrying about every little thing to do with racing. This nerve-racking compulsive behaviour, when left untreated, tends to invade surrounding tissue and metastasize to new areas of the brain. The only known cure is to race, and race some more, and race until your legs fall off.

So you, the read (likely a racer yourself), will fully appreciate that even when you have a not so good-very bad-terrible-horrible-race, it is still 50-million times better then Race Brainitis.

I have travelled all the way up North to Swan for the last 4 years, and noramally we leave some time Friday morning and arrived ~ 6-hours later; unpacked the bike, pre-ride after a small meal and short nap, change my gear and rubbers if required, then settle in for dinner and some good times. However, due to prior commitments our schedule was a lot more hectic this year. We chucked everything (but the kitchen sink) into the van at about 8:30 pm, and were heading down #1 Highway at 9 pm Saturday night. To the displeasure of all the campers we rolled into Thunder Hill Parking lot at about 2 am.

Bright and early the next morning, after a quick breakfast of oatmeal and mangos (yum!), we headed out for a quick pre-ride. The course seemed very slow, very damp, and I was very much over geared – big surprise. However, my real concern was the anchors I had to lug around call my legs. Dave Johnson arrived (last year it was on his bike and I imagine the same held true for this addition of Swan) and after a short chat with the local official VIPs on the ins-and-outs of registration I imagine he went to pre-ride the course and amend any flagging issues. At some point Randy arrived with the worlds hardest working trail crew to put the finishing touches on the course. The course, once again, was flawless except for the removal of the ‘big hill’. By this point I was bagged, pressed for time, and made three critical mistakes; not venturing out for a second loop to test new gear ratio (still too tall for me), not testing the addition of a more aggressive rubber on the front end, not changing the rear from a semi-slick to something more suited to the soft loam and mud that makes Swan so challenging. Last year I pre-rode 36/15 (a fantasy), came to the conclusion that 38/16 was “TOO BIG” as well and settled for 36/16. This year I chose 40-16 but was still worried that I would be dropped like a wet log on the first shake down (which I was) by The Cannon Ball Jason and his confederate Dynamite Dylan. As we finished the warm-up (all ten minutes of it) I realized it was going to be a smoking hot day.

Atypically the race began with some adjustment in the feed zone (in my infinite wisdom I had placed my bottles right in the middle of the course…WTF) rather then the typical roll call. I was not first out of the gate, but I was greatly irritated when at least 5 other racers (multi-geared) flew past me before I had even clipped in. To add insult to injury two other racers cut me off with extreme prejudice as we accelerated towards the first downhill - I was tempted to strong arm them out of my line but settled for pedalling furiously. Predictably, despite my best efforts, the entire pack dropped me on the downhill. We rounded the first 180° turn to head back up the gravel road (no fatalities thank God), and with the exception of Jason and Dylan, I lead and was third into the hole shot. I did my best to match pace with the leaders (and eventual winners) of the race, but this was a train-through race, and beside being stiff and sore as hell I was a little over geared (big surprise) for the first damp-muddy-bumpy-twisty--slow-painful-*&?%# single track section of the course. For the next few laps I was greeted by a polite but exasperating… Passing…, Passing… Passing. I was quick to realize that Swan was not going to be my day (hell it doesn’t take a rock scientist to realize when you are sucking a**) and backed off to a leisurely 120 bpm to just ride it out. By the 6th lap Jason and Dylan had extended their lead to over 6-min (I think), Rocket Ron had caught-passed-and buried me alive, I caught Rob B and Greg S who were suffering in a terrible way, and some how managed to finish in 4th place.

That’s me on the road to recovery from Race Brainitis.

Next dose of medication is the classic Bring A Friend at Brich... Make sure you bring a friend.
Hopefully those two-tiered-boys will forward some information and put the Big Hill in.

Results Here


  1. Not going to Birch on the 28th?

    That should be your next dose of meds... no?

  2. good report dave, just saw the expert results... the youngsters are getting pretty fast. wow, big margins going on. glad they got a decent turn out. hope i can make it out next year.

  3. I am sooo confused… you are right and I will be there with a friend.