Sunday, August 20, 2017

Oh Canada (part II)

I. Fatdog 120 (Manning Park BC, Aug 11-12, 2017)

After Francine paced me at Lean Horse 100 last year, I knew I owed her big time. It was my first 100 in over 4 years and I was too aware, the depth of my despair, that few people, especially those to whom whining is anathema, have had to endure.

Fatdog 120 is one of the top 9 toughest ultra marathons in north America with an elevation gain of 8673 m, just short of Everest at 8848 m. it has a 48h time limit and usually pretty aggressive weather. If not torrential rainstorms with temps near freezing (Fracine's first year DNF at mile 110) or hot/ humid/ buggy near 100F (Francine's 2nd year, with a broken arm), and very remote, at times >4 hours between aid stations and >3 hours from the nearest city. But also the most scenic. At 60 and after 2 other attempts, Francine just wanted to get it done.

I offered to pace her but being "direct", she knew how bad I am on trails and offered me leg 5 which is the "easy" flat leg, miles77-99. If I could just get her to aid station 6 by cutoff, she would have 10 hours to do the last 21 miles, no problem.

I took an extra day off work but it turns out, she didn't need me until Saturday, so I spent Thursday visiting Bill at the bike shop. It had been over a month since Davey's demise, and we met to discuss his replacement. I felt a little bit like I was talking to a counselor. "So how many times did you did the couplings?" I had to admit, none since Ventoux. Couplings add weight. Triples no longer exist. Bike parts are lighter and faster (and more expensive) now. Did I want a bigger front ring (given how I just gave Billy easier gearing) or disk brakes? Durace doesn't last, but I have no qualms about getting all the help I can get.

Drove up to Hope BC and though about what it must be feeling to climb 1000s of feet of trail, got sweaty just walking around the town, still a lot of smoke from fires.

Found some snickers bars that were too a propos (and bilingual no less...)  Next morning I started doing charts at 6 AM then got a call from Francine's husband Hendrik (crew extraordinaire). We caught some amazing views- the smoke makes the mountains seem even more distant.
and sat around waiting, saw a bunch of extremely fit runners looking haggard after day 1 of 90 degree temps and smoke.

I find out she actually has no other pacers and the prospect of pacing her to the end is exciting. But we are both realistic that there is a possibility that I would be a liability rather than a help, since there is no other way down from the mountain but finishing the trail but I'm ok if she ditches me. First year she got to aid station 5 by 2 pm, but this year she got there by 2:30. I am pleased to find she took up my habit of cornstarch and trail toes for the feet, got her some some broth and food, before taking off.

The course was well-marked but she was constantly anxious about missing course markers- you do not want to do bonus miles at this point.
There was a fair amount of bush-whacking and she tripped on some roots, breaking one of her poles. I felt soooo helpful offering up my poles, but then was kicking myself for not carrying my DEET spray as the sun went down and the most aggressive mosquitoes in the PNW came. I felt like I was wearing a shirt of mosquitoes, truly. Got bitten in places without knowledge of how the mosquitoes got there.
Saw these guys running with bee-keeper masks ($2.99 from Canadian Tire) and I thought brilliant.

We made the last cutoff (midnight for leg 5) and I asked to keep going with her for leg 6, and she asked me to lead. It was up, up, and up switchbacks and the mosquitoes were not taking a break just because it was 1 AM. then despite the caffeine, I started getting drowsy. Drowsy + palpitaitons. I told Francine to keep going and I took a few naps standing up. Then the sun came up and I started running again, this time able to see the wildflowers I was running through.

Then it started to rain. Not much, and it was actually welcome given the smoke/ heat of the previous day and not too cold but if there were an option for shortcut, believe me I would've taken it. Bless those aid station workers who were there through the night with snacks, water, and Royal Crown (and weed).

The last 5 miles were pretty brutal but I strolled in under the cutoff, not knowing that Francine who had been an hour ahead of me had back spasms and nearly didn't make it, but Monte helped her stretch and they finished 10 minutes before me, 20 minutes before cutoff. I am proud to wear the T-shirt (though I only did 43 miles of it in 30 hours, whereas the women's winner finished 120 in 31 hours), as it's the closest I'll ever come to a "hard core" trail run, pacing Francine who is now her age group record holder.

II. Weekend with Billy (RSVP Aug 18-20, 2017)

So Dyno sends me a text, a post he saw on some biking site

I had filed a police report, insurance claim, essentially had Daveys funeral a month prior. A week later Bill D. actually drove to the guy's house to pick up Davey. Never got to thank him.

Already plunked a hefty deposit on Daveys replacement and apparently the new bike was still going to happen regardless of Davey's return. "We will have some work to get Davey back in good condition... Davey was not well- treated while he was lost". Parts missing, some cleanup, but he will be back.

Luckily got Billy back the week before, no offense to Raul, but a 185 mile road ride would be easier on Billy.

RSVP has been on my list for years. Was so sad to DNS it 2 years ago, but this time weather perfect. It would've the longest ride with Billy so far, and with new easier gearing! Major procrastination but managed to get to UW and my gear on the truck (without getting my bike stolen)

Had periods of lolligagging by myself and periods of tagging on to random trains but people on bikes aren't too chatty. I miss pacelining- effortlessly going 5 mph faster.

Billy was so smooth, the miles flew by, and I had my ride with gps and garmin after all my troubles with the other rides. I heard RSVP was less crowded and hillier than STP.

Well I guess there were fewer cars but still loooong lines for everything, which seems typical of Cascade rides.

After training for RAMROD I couldn't believe how leisurely it was, even on my "heavy" bike.  Had not ridden at all since my DNS at RAMROD (despite getting Raul cleaned up), was in a major depressive funk. Emailed the rd about my list bike. His reply?

Unfortunately, you are not the first person to have their bike stolen just prior to the ride.  Every year, many people lose their opportunity to ride because of unfortunate circumstances including injury, family matters and/or employment issues.  I am afraid we cannot carry over a registration to next year.  What we can do is provide you with a preference point that will increase your chances (but not guarantee them) if you enter the lottery next year... Good luck next year

They moved the last aid station to 5 miles from Bellingham. A high school girl yelled out, " sir, you look like you could use refreshment". How deflating. Day 1 105 miles 4000 ft a ton of time to kill.

I was feeling a bit antisocial and bailed on the boundary bay brewery party. Did one with red-bell years ago. Not that fun alone and didn't want to wait in another line. I've done hundreds of runs alone but for some reason, rides are pretty lonely.

Next morning another beautiful day. Ass sore but 20 miles in I couldn't believe how easy the ride was but I knew there were still 2300 ft elevation to come. We hit a few 12 % hills and was able to get up, but knew RAMORD would've been impossible for me with Billy in his old gearing. Hoped to get Davey back before P2P - is this how cheaters think, fantasizing about another while on a perfectly good ride?

Closer to Vancouver there were tons of cyclists and traffic especially in the park. The finish was a bit anticlimactic knowing I had to wait 3 hours to load the bike onto the truck and still had 20 hours until heading home.  Got 2 bottles of wine (separate liquor store even for wine)  in case 1 was not enough, and had my food truck noodles watching Canadian cable. Wished I had my computer though I knew as soon as I got home procrastination would begin again.

Despite sleeping 12 hours I was able to doze on the bus which was stuck in traffic. The guys sitting behind me on the bus talking about local bike makers and pontificating about the upcoming eclipse. Another check off the bucket list.