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Day 4 — Earls Cove to Sechelt

July 21, 2010

The Challenger riders were keyed up today, because they bus us forward but start us an hour after the Epic racers.   It sounded like a recipe for disaster.    On the other hand, it is motivation to get as far as you can before everyone and their sister is passing you (btw, the race is approximately 81% men, 19% women … and most of those women can kick your ass, I’m just saying, it was hard woman convention.  I felt so wimpy.)    There aren’t a lot of Challenge riders, but our numbers have been growing as people drop down to join us.  A bus full now.   Often names are forgotten, but I know you, Australia and Mexico City.   I can’t get over riding with people from all over.   I haven’t travelled much out of the US, but mountain bikers seem to be the same, we speak a universal language and no, I’m not talking about English.

They told us it would be about a 3k climb.  Not too bad … steady churning in a tiny gear and you’re up!   They seemed to have forgotten once you’re in the singletrack it’s more climbing, steep climbing.   Beautiful climbing.  Like going to the dentist in Hawaii, it’s wonderful and insane all in one.  Hike-a-bike climbing, some gutting it out and cheering climbing.   There were some amazing bridges in this section.  My friend Debra called it Leprechaun Land — some of the trail was pure mossy, greeny, goodness.   I think someone was going to conk me on the head if I said “loooooamy goodness” one more time.  We were getting braver and doing a lot more of the bridges.  Stoked.

The leaders are more spread out today, which is nice.   They had quite a bit of riding before they got to us, but they were still so crazy fast.  I got separated from my friends on a crazy long switchback climb up a mountain.  It was narrow trail and not much place to pass and I realized once I got up there was nothing to do but get down as fast as I could.    My ears were peeled backwards and I was (for me) hauling ass.   I loved my drop seatpost, what a wonderful thing!   A couple of times I pulled over to see people go by at a rate I could hardly believe — some of them were chicks!  I made most of the switchbacks and the downhill and felt great.   We were nearing the end at this point and I popped out on the road with a stiff breeze.  A guy pulled me up to the next crazy section (here I thought I was home free).  Cimb up, then descend (am I done?).  Nooooo … crazy monster dip entrace into the woods and then, another hill I had to hike.  BUMMER!   But then, yes, ride to the finish!! YAY!

And what do I complain about — arctic temperature showers.    Whoa!   High temps around 65 or so meant these cold, cold showers were not so welcome.   They can be hot, but there seemed to be a lot of problems with them running out of water.  We do have nice bathroom trucks, they are little RV bathrooms, not bad at all.  Super tonight was through a beautiful garden.   I could get used to this.

So it’s been 4 days (not counting Day 0).  Over half way done and  I’m not sure how I am managing to keep riding.  I don’t really feel any pain.  Considering how I felt in the months before, it’s weird.   Maybe part of it is the newness and excitement of it all.   There are only 3 more days to go, but 2 of the 3 we do the same as the Epic riders.  This means, it’s gonna be hard.  The longest, hardest day will be tomorrow.

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