On Friday, October 12, 2012, the trip began. Jay and I left home around 11 am and made our way across the border. We stopped to pick up one of my favourite travelling buddies (Erin), and then continued our way North West to Crystal Mountain Ski Resort in Thompsonville, MI. The 2012 edition of Peak 2 Peak (P2P) was being held on Saturday, October 13, 2012. The weather forecast for Friday was looking good, blue skies and temps in the 50's. We were well aware however that the longer term forecast was not going to be so pleasant. With 100% chance of rain on Saturday and low temps we made sure to each bring our extra Quiring bikes and our trainers.
We arrived at Crystal Mountain around 5:45 pm. We quickly unloaded our stuff into the condo and Erin and I headed out to pre-ride the course. At the start finish, we ran into the man behind P2P, the promoter, Tad Peacock, Endoman Promotions. As always, Tad was great and we had a brief chat, then Erin and I headed out to beat the rapidly lowering sun! The course was the same as the previous years and the trails were in great shape. It is not a technical course, it's pretty open, flat and flowy. In the final couple miles, there is a quick single track punchy climb, followed by a long sustained climb up the back of Crystal Mountain. The course ends with a winding singletrack decent to the finish. I felt really good on my pre-ride and was looking forward to the race. We enjoyed a delicious pasta dinner courtesy of the queen of pasta Ms. Vic Chicklets!! We chatted over what layers we would be wearing for the race. What would keep us warm? What would keep us dry? Bedtime was early.
Our awesome condo where "Vic Chicklets" made her famous pasta mtb'er style!!
We woke to big rain drops hammering on the sky light of our loft bedroom. The forecast was as predicted! Our start time wasn't until 12:30 pm which gave us plenty of time to eat, pack up and head over to the Quiring canopy. Jay had already set up our trainers under the “Q” ez up. Erin and I hopped on our bikes and had a good warm up. We were so lucky to be under the shelter where we were able to stay dry and out of the wind. The rain was non stop and the temps were sitting in the 30's!! Yikes, chilly!! With 10 minutes to spare, we did our final bathroom run and grabbed our “Q TI Twins” and headed to the start area. I had my pre-race chocolate Hammer Gel, reset my computer and was ready to go.
Survival or bust.....
We took off at the whistle, my legs felt good and the pro women latched on the tail end of the pro men. Mackenzie Woodring (Einstein Racing) made a couple attacks that Erin called out and I countered. The rain was coming down hard and trying to draft was tough. The sand and mud was flying up in my face. Just before the singletrack, I made a quick pass and got in front of Mackenzie. By about mid lap we had pulled away from the rest of our field. The mud was thick and the puddles were big. I was out front and Mackenzie offered to take pulls. I really wanted to work with her but the mud was coming off her rear tire (not her fault) and was hitting me in the face and my eyes could not rid of the dirt, sand and grime. It was too hard for me to see. She soon came around me, and I grabbed her wheel. The draft was short lived. I had to leave space to avoid the flying mud. Soon I was dropped. She remained in sight but slightly out of reach until about 3/4 way through the lap. I put in a harder effort and caught right back up. An expert male caught us from behind and he jumped out in front to take a pull. The pace picked up and after my hard push to catch her I dropped off the back again. The weather was getting consistently worse. My brakes were working off and on. No brakes on a muddy downhill is sketchy. The constant pelting of rain and the cold temp was starting to take its toll on me. I went into the long final climb with numb limbs. My body was cold. I crashed in the mud on the final downhill. Mackenzie was out of sight but that wasn't my biggest battle..... I knew my biggest battle would be the weather and my body that I was slowly losing feeling of!
Lap 2 – From bad to worse.....
I came around after lap 1 in 2nd and I shouted out to Jay that I couldn't feel my body. However, I chose to continue to race and pedalled my way to start my 2nd of 3 laps. It was raining and sleeting, puddles were getting bigger and seemed to be turning into one long stream. The mud was the consistency of peanut butter. 1/4 way through the 2nd lap, I was repeating to myself “keep pedalling, keep pedalling”. To pedal was laboursome and it was a conscious effort to keep the pedals turning. My hands were numb and I kept having to shake my drenched gloves to get some feeling so I could shift. The thought of racing escaped me, the thought of finishing was fading and the thought of a DNF after lap 2 was becoming very apparent. The wind, the rain, the cold, were all taking over and I no longer saw what purpose there was for me to go beyond the 2 laps. I am stubborn but (for the most part) not stupid! I came out onto the short gravel stretch of road and I saw the silhouette of a trench/rain coat clad man. I knew it was Jay. Before I could tell him that I was gonna pull myself from the race, he informed me that the race was done after 2 laps. The promoter decided for the safety and well being of the racers, that the race would be cut short! As much as I was elated to hear that, I still had a few miles to convince my body to keep on movin'. The singletrack steep climb proved to be more then what my legs could handle and I found myself hiking and pushing my bike up the steepest part. It was not easy to walk, as my legs wobbled and my feet were frozen. I got back on the bike and came around to the back of the final long open climb! Out in the open, the elements reeked havoc on me and although I knew the finish line was just over the top it became more about determination. At one point my legs just stopped and a found myself trying to walk once again. After a few steps I got back on my bike and pedalled. I finally crested the climb and headed down the steep, twisty downhill without brakes. My hands were barely able to hold on to the handle bar and I could not get my fingers to shift the gears. I attempted to use the palm of my hand but to no avail. I just pedalled the easy gear through the finish line, taking 2nd place.
Podium pic! The mud was still in my hair but at least you can see our skin!!
I went to the Quiring tent, laid my bike down and headed straight to the lounging area, inside for heat. I was soaked and covered in mud from head to toe and just wanted to tear my clothes off and get warm. I went into the women's washroom where I collapsed on the floor shaking! I got back up to my feet where I had some assistance unzipping my jersey zipper and I took my helmet off. I also got my first glimpse at what I looked like! My face was plastered in dark mud with only the whites of my bloodshot eyes showing! Within minutes, the trench coat clad super hero brought me my dry clothes and towels. I peeled layer by layer off. As the wet clothes came off, I was one step closer to warmth and recovery. With a little help from my friends (Christina and Lori), my body slowly but surely warmed up.
I know I was not the only one in this predicament. My teamie Erin was dealing with many of the same issues as I was. She also managed to get through both laps and came in 3rd!!
Other results: Scott Quiring and Christina Peek - 3rd tandem
James and Lori Gomez - 2nd tandem
Camp Quiring is an awesome gathering place!!
Our Saturday night was spent in front of a hot fire at camp Quiring!!
A huge thanks to Jay who stood out in the crazy weather and made sure that Erin and I were both taken care of. Another big thanks to all the volunteers and the professional promoter, Tad, for calling the race after 2 laps. I don't think anyone would disagree with his decision. Congrats to everyone who braved the "shatty" weather in the name of mountain biking!!
I have raced in all kinds of weather, but have NEVER experienced this!
My brake pads are no longer existent!!
My clothes! 3 rinses, 3 soaks, 2 wash cycles and the sand is still stuck in the fabric!!
Nothing left. The life of a 4 day old brake pad after P2P.