Ultra520kCanada Race Re-Cap Day Two, 8:50:10

Stage one was done.  I drank a two litre banana smoothie, grabbed a water bottle, and hopped onto the massage table.  Back at the hotel I rested, while my crew prepared for stage two.  

I had been unable to remove the broken bolts in my aero bars, so I moved to plan B.  I unscrewed the still functioning pad then taped the cushions to the bar.  The new position was both lower and less comfortable, however, it was only 275 kilometres.  How bad could it be?

The lights were out by 7pm.  

 My new and improved aero bars.  Notice the electrical tape.

My new and improved aero bars.  Notice the electrical tape.

There was no ceremony at the start of day two.  I chatted with a few other racers; all the while an eager, yet trepidatious air permeated.  The riders lined up and the race started.  

The air was chilly as I relaxed into a comfortable rhythm.  I rode along Skaha Lake and marvelled that, during the previous day, I had swam the lake’s entire length. The plan for today was simple: I would ride easy and controlled for the first 150 kilometres then build the pace from 150−250; the final 25 kilometres would be what they would be.   

 The calm.  

The calm.  

Dave, Arnaud, and Tony—the three top finishers from stage one—took off and I settled into my familiar fourth place.  At the fifty kilometre turn around in Ososyoos, I had two other riders on my tail—Jorge and Johana.  The three of us turned around and began the journey back to Okanagan Falls.  

The beginning of the race was the worst.   All morning my body felt groggy.  The previous night’s sleep had been long, but light.  Feeling hungry, I stuffed my face with dates and water to fill the tank. I also struggled to find a comfortable position in my saddle; I had no saddle sores, yet my man-parts were disagreeable.  No matter what I did, or how I shifted them, they hurt.  I longed for the flat roads to end just so I could sit up for a few minutes.  

I cycled into Okanagan Falls.  Moments later I received my wish to sit up; I hit The Wall—not the infamous wall that is bonking, but The Wall as in an exorbitantly steep climb.  I slipped into my granny gear and mashed up the hill.  Steve King, the announcer, was a perched on corner; he shouted out times and splits.  I smiled at the now familiar voice.  I took a chance to look down the climb and saw that I had put some time into those behind me.  The race was hardly over: anything could still happen.   

 Taking on more dates.

Taking on more dates.

A few minutes after topping The Wall I reached the end of the no feed zone.  I zoomed by my crew who were still sitting in their vehicle.  Based off my mom’s expression she was shocked that I had ridden The Wall all as fast as I did.  

With more undulations, the next thirty kilometres were better.  I enjoyed the challenging, yet beautiful terrain.  On most hills my crew got out of the vehicle and handed me water, dates, or electrolytes.  I soaked my jersey with cold water to ward off the warming sun.  

 My crew kept me cool.  

My crew kept me cool.  

Day two was the day I was most nervous about; it was a mystery.  In all my years of racing and bicycle touring I had never ridden 275 kilometres.  Both the wind and the heat could be a factor.  In addition, bikes can break.  My race could end due to a mechanical.  

I reached Hedley and reluctantly lifted my pace; my legs felt weak and wobbly as if they were made from Jello.  Holding this pace for another  three hours seemed impossible, but I kept at it.  Thirty minutes later the new pace felt good—the wobbly legs were gone and my man-parts were finally comfortable. I braced for the headwind on the long, false-flat section to Princeton, yet the wind remained calm.   

The head games were nonexistent; I simply rode, focused solely on riding.  Like my rotating legs, my mind rotated on the same thoughts: eat, drink, look at the road, hold this pace, stay relaxed.  Eat, drink, look at the road, hold this pace, stay relaxed.  There is my crew…what do I need?  Eat, drink, look at the road, hold this pace, stay relaxed.  On and on it went.  

 That's not a grimace; I am eating dates.  This photo also makes me feel like a boss.  Thanks Gord Golbe.

That's not a grimace; I am eating dates.  This photo also makes me feel like a boss.  Thanks Gord Golbe.

I reached the final sixty kilometres of the race: the out and back on Old Hedley Road.  I had been alone for five hours; I was thrilled when I saw the other racers.  Over 200 kilometres into the race and everyone was still smiling.   

Shortly after the turnaround I saw fifth place Katie.  I estimated that I was fifteen minutes ahead of her.  Barring anything drastic, I had fourth place.    

With only ten kilometres remaining, I still felt strong.  My crew continued to both yell their support and to keep me cool, fed, and hydrated.  With a few kilometres to go I told my mom to get to the finish.  Nothing could stop me now.  

I crested one last hill, darted across the highway, and stormed to the finish.  I crossed the line in fourth place in a time of eight hours, fifty minutes, and ten seconds.  The dreaded day two was over and it had gone extremely well.      

I hugged my crew, grabbed a banana smoothie, and jumped into an ice bath.  I still had one more day to go. 

 

Jason ManningComment