As we loaded up the buses and headed to Bayly Park for the start line. I noticed that even though I was looking forward to the day, because it signaled the end, I was not really ready to let it come. I was having the time of my life – riding amazing trails, being outside, meeting wonderful people… all of it.
Additionally, this wasn’t going to be a victory lap to the finish… we were going to have to work for it. After getting my saddle sores patched up for the last time and hugging the lady that helped my bum get through the week – we lined up for the start.
Conditions had been drier than normal, leaving some of the trails in no condition to take 600+ riders safely in one day. At the start line, they announced that they changed the course. It would be a few kilometers shorter – but more technical.
My mantra for the day: Let the day come as it will – you’ll get to the finish.
The starting trail was super fun – Riverside – groomed and wide, it bumped along the raging waters. It was great. There was a few log jams, which was a complete rarity for the week, and I didn’t think much of it.
The rest of the ride – I’ve blocked from my memory. No sweeping views. No awesome downhills. Only ruts, rocks and medics at the top and bottom of the drop saying things like, “Sure, you can take it. But it’s really loose and I’ve seen some pro riders wipe out.” (That’s the signal for me to walk my bike. One time, I couldn’t even walk, I had to slide my bike as I shuffled on my butt. It was that loose and over head high of a drop.)
As I got closer to the finish, I could hear the announcer. Ah! I was so close! Why am I doing switchbacks??? I need to get there!?
And I did.
Surprisingly, I didn’t get emotional. I was too drained to appreciate my accomplishment. This would actually take me about a week. I just remember being relieved. I had made it!
I promptly ate up and bought myself a belt for my belt buckle (the finisher’s medal) to go on. All week, I hadn’t allowed myself to ‘pre-buy’ the belt in the fear that it would jinx me from finishing.
After EJ crossed the finish line, we were off navigating ourselves for the first time in a week. (I had really just become accustomed to markers for stages, food, sleeping… everything). We grabbed our red roller bags for the last time, and checked into the Pinnacle Hotel.
I hit the shower and scrubbed from head to toe, EJ promptly rested on the bed and watched TV for the first time in a week. A little role reversal, napping and then we headed off to the closing banquet.
The banquet was great. It was a wonderful time to catch up, exchange phone numbers & FB accounts and see people that I may or may not see again in my lifetime. The dinner was very good and the closing slide show and videos were top notch. It was really well done.
A few more drinks across the way with our new friends and by 9pm we were all ready for bed.
Wow. What a week.
I prepared for a year (had 2 major surgeries), learned a ton in the process of training, got some mad skills just from being in BC riding, and left with a whole bunch of new friends.
Would I do it again? Maybe in 2019….