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Day 1 — Nanaimo

July 18, 2010
Looking for bikes

One of these 500 is mine

Me at the start

Me at the start

I was up at 5am to get ready to depart around 6.   My uncle and I were bleary-eyed but I appreciated the lift back to the site of Day 0.  It was raining slightly.  I was dressed to ride and we had this little red bag to put extra stuff in.  Our big bags went in the bag truck (the call “bring out your bags” to the tune of “bring out your dead” from Monty Python is still echoing in my head).  We boarded buses that took us to the ferry.  After about a 1.5 hour crossing, of which I  spent an hour in the breakfast line, we were in Nanaimo on Vancouver Island.  Our bikes, all 500 of them, were on racks.  We scrambled around to find them, stuffed our last bits in the little red bag,  turned it in and before we knew it, 8km of riding uphill through the town.    It was a hard start and my legs felt like crap.  I was nervous about the unknown and wanting to be in singletrack and off this never-ending pavement.

Unicycle Guy

Kris Holm super nice guy and amazing unicyclist

Before long I was passed by the guy on the unicycle.   I had started out with a local rider I didn’t know too well, Debra from Houston.   I was beginning to decide, yes, it’s a lot more fun to ride with someone.   At long last we enter the singletrack.   The continuous presence of the sweep moto was sending any plans to ride Epic quickly out the window.  I wanted to finish and 8 days of riding was a lot.

riding out of town

The view from the back as we rolled out of Nanaimo

The trails were beautiful, high up views and green lushness everywhere.  The rocks grabbed like sandpaper.   To my relief, it was mostly rideable terrain from a technical perspective.  A little pod of us, mostly women, had formed.  We exited the singletrack and started down the gravel road.  I saw a rider covered in dust standing around the downhill corner.  I asked if she was ok and I realized her whole body was shaking and that is definitely not ok.   She was one of the 21 strong Belgium contingent and had skidded out hard on the gravel after acing the singletrack.  Her cohort Bart was just behind and a doctor.  Debra had called on the medical number and it was clear Anne’s shoulder was not good.  After a 20 minute or so delay we started down the road.    We found medical already on their way about a mile or so later.   It was a sobering reminder of how quickly fate can turn.  We hit the first aid station and I decided then and there to officially swap from the Epic length to Challenge.   We spun off the course onto some new trail that was pretty wild and rough, but beautiful.

Narrow path

Narrow path

After an insanely steep downhill to a waterfall we flew down into town.  Little did we know this would be our first and last day with no lines, easy access to hot showers and not being passed by a gazillion people.

It was a good day.  It seemed too easy, and I doubted my decision and wonder if I had somehow skirted the purpose of this team.  Dave Norona, the guy you see on all the videos, said we would appreciate this day later on when I talked to him at the aid station.   It turns out – yes, he was right.  But it was a difficult time, wondering if I had wimped out.  Looking at the completely wiped out Epic team of guys from Houston (Daniel and Eric), who are way better riders than me, made me feel a little better.    They would finish top 10 in their category which is pretty amazing for a couple of flatlanders.  They did Texas proud.   I think we all did!


A fairly common sort of bridge

Brand new trail

Brand new trail ... ooo!



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