2009/07/19

Looking back on Raid Vélo Mag



That was the last hint of sun we had on our way to the Raid Vélo Mag on friday... or as many call it the Raid Vélo Marde. A few keywords: rain, cold, knee-deep mud, wet sand, bike/energy-sucking greasy mud, crappy course...

The course wasn't only wet from the rain that was falling, it was over-saturated from a summer of constant rain, there wasn't only deep puddles, some descents and climbs, even steep ones had so much water and mud making there way down that you still had water over the calf running your way up in what seemed to be rivers! I saw a guy sink all the way to his crotch in a fraction of a second right in front of me. People were cursing everywhere, I saw countless crashes, many mechanicals...



After starting from waaaay back, me and Nic tried to move up on the road section between the start and the first trails. We managed to pass many, maybe lost too much energy jumping from a group to the next under the rain and wind but I got to the trails with the engine warmed up and ready to pounce. It was hard to pass people at first in a narrow and very busy, slippery trail with some lines that were way too gooey to pass. After a while, once people got spread out a bit, we could keep moving up the field. I had a good rhythm, Nic too, I was progressing nicely with the climbs serving me best, riding around, over rocks and zig-zagging around on tricky climbs that left most I saw walking or riding in very low gears to prevent slipping.

Me and Nic wanted to ride together but at that point, I couldn't see him behind me... I even thought he was in front for a while but it was a neon green coated other rider. I still kept going of course but eased off a bit in the sections that were in mucky power-sucking mud, maybe I was going too hard too early after all. He eventually caught me back at the first feed zone...

Then it started to go down, not only the trails but my race itself. The sandy mud had won the war with my rear brake and was now going full force on my front one. With the descents being a mix of sandy mud or slippery greasy mud and rocks, a quickly fading front brake and mud-packed Racing Ralphs was all I had to keep me on course in the descents, I was losing a lot of time from then on even though I had to yell a few times at slower riders to let them know I was coming behind and couldn't stop on faster, straighter downhills. I was going all out on some climbs and flat sections that didn't require brakes and I would pass a lot of riders only to get passed on the tricky descents later.

I was having zero fun out there by now even though my legs were quite good. I pulled out a bit after the 3rd feed zone at around the 41km mark, riding since the 20th km without my rear brakes and with an almost gone front one and a transmission starting to go to hell, opting to save what was left of my bike and myself for a more important race next week. I pedaled to the finish on the main roads (even though some racer's girlfriends offered me a lift, thanks but I wanted to pedal some more) and got there in time to see the faces of spectators who thought I was the first to finish but I went to the finish officials to let them know I was out of the race.



I got to see the first riders to arrive, the third was none other than Andy with whom I rode on Mont-Royal and went to pre-ride the Bromont XC course lately. His 3rd was even more impressive given that he podiumed despite 3 flats and riding on his big ring most of the race. He actually finished pedalling on his flat front tire. Congratulations to him and to Nic who soldiered on and finished the race with a smile.

Now I'm looking forward to next friday for the Mont Sainte-Anne Quebec Cup XC race. I hope my legs will be there and that my bike will be ready. As good as Formula brakes are, it's hard to find parts locally and I need brake pads. I haven't looked into the damages my bikes sustained from all the sand and mud, I just opened the Lefty's boot to let the inside dry but it looks like it held up just fine apart from the brakes. I think I'll opt for the longer lasting sintered pads next time.

So will I try other endurance races in the future? Maybe. I like the format, I think I could be much better than in xc races but my goal with racing is mostly to have fun. The distance is fine, the suffering is fine even going through a set of brake pads in no time could be not so bad but the course wasn't actually fun. I like mountain bike trails, rutted 4x4 and ATV trails not too much. The course wasn't fun and wasn't beautiful, even in dry weather it would have been a crappy course. The only section that people liked was the last descent down Mont Sainte-Anne. But why not just ride that section then? So I may try another endurance race but I'll definitly wont be back to the Raid Vélo Marde.

3 comments:

Nic said...

We will do another one Sir! this time in the sun with a plan to stick together! Sorry to have cut short on the first feed zone! 165th place on 800 riders is good for me. But yes it was a difficult race and killed my bike also ... i did not have the time to clean it up ... and it's gonna be cement

Dan Gerous said...

We'll see for another one, maybe East Hereford? And don't worry about the feed zone, I was waiting for you while eating a banana, sorry I went too fast in the first section! ;)

LP said...

Bunch of wimps! There was a winner right? :-)