Day four—Stage 3 -- Powell River
Today we woke up to beautiful, sunny skies with a few puffy clouds drifting up over the mountains of Vancouver Island. Leaving Courtenay we drove a short bit down to the ferry for a ride back to mainland North America and the isolated coastal town of Powell River, It was a old, small ferry, so some extra time was needed to pack all the race vehicles on board. This resulted in a late departure and the start being pushed back an hour to one in the afternoon.
The BCBR crew made a brilliant decision to break the start up into groups of 50 riders which definitely made things more manageable. Since all the timing is electronic in this event, each rider doesn’t actually "start” the clock until they cross the timing mats. Hopefully they consider this approach for other stages, since it really makes the start safer and helps establish a reasonable order once the main course of trails begin.
Racing began literally a stone’s throw from the ocean and climbed a bit of road and double track that led us up onto a wooded plateau above town. Most of the rest of the course consisted of rolling, tight, deep woods trails that tested us relentlessly. It could have been the hardest three hours of racing I have every done! The serpentine line of endless ups, downs, roots, and bridges kept my legs on fire. Apparently my plan to "take it easy” this week was impossible, and I resided in the pain cave today.
While it was hard and hurt a lot, I was again in awe of the ridiculousness of it all—these trails are triple-sick and seem almost endless. Whilst racing through these woods we pass countless other options leaving us to wonder how much more we are missing! In the end, I was able to preserve my precarious 10th place position over all and hope for some respite from the intensity thrown down by my fellow competitors as their fatigue sets in.
With another short night ahead it will be interesting to see who is able to recover for tomorrow’s ultimate single track onslaught in time!