Day 1 - Cumberland
I am sitting at the Oceanfront writing this. A gorgeous sunset is just fading off, the air is cool and the ocean is peaceful. Everything about this is a perfect juxtaposition to the heat and rowdy trails in Cumberland.
As soon as the sun started shining this morning we knew it was going to be hot. It turned out to be really hot. Just after the 8:30 am start we were headed up a long ~15k climb and within the first 5k I had sweat stinging my eyes and was sucking on my hydration pack like a Hoover. This first climb saw some of our steepest pitches of the day and Heidi and I quickly found our rhythm to slug it out.
The top of the climb and we were dropping into BC singletrack. This is why we are here. Heidi and I got straight giddy and cooked the first section of descending moving up several places. I got carried away and pulled ahead to wait up for Heidi before check stop #1. I started getting worried when I saw people that we had passed together coming in first. When Heidi arrived she had blood on her legs and said we needed to see the Shimano mechanic. We pulled into the aid and handed off her bike that promptly got diagnosed with a busted rear shifter. This is new DI2 electronic XTR - so these are not exact around every corner. But up in the woods of Vancouver Island there was a new one that the mechanic installed in less than 5 minutes. We were off again. Thank you very much to the Shimano neutral support team that was on course making life good.
The coming descent continued to prove challenging. The root drop-ins were punctuated with step uphill scrambles on the other side. It was extremely physical and demanding riding. The mid day sun was ramping up and we had about an hour of some extreme suffering. After running into a group of medics we stopped and got more water and more electrolytes from them, we sat in the shade and drank down a bottle while core temperatures came down slightly. This little pit stop did wonders for our morale and we rallied into the half way point feeling positive.
The next 10k climb was 100% exposed dirt road. Some how Heidi and I found our legs here and started moving up again. Even though it was a hard climb we rode strong and consistent and Heidi didn’t even want to stop at the top aid station. She put her gloves on and took off while I got one more round of liquids in me before the final plunge. The last 10k was simply amazing. Classic BC fern laden riding, bridges, jumps, drops, and roots galore. We were in trail riding nirvana. Towards the last 5k we heard news a gal we had been riding with back and forth all day and fallen and needed medical help. I charged as hard as I could down the rest of the trail to find the next marshall and let them know there was an injury. Heidi came bouncing out of the woods not far behind and we cruised across the Day 1 finish line feeling pretty tired and dehydrated, but also pretty sure with some real hard work and a good attitude, we can whip this thing.