Stage 2 - Ultra520k Canada 2018
Bike - 275.8km
Day two I woke up feeling as fresh as I could have imagined, ready to ride the 275.8km of stage 2. I felt extremely confident from yesterdays performance, any doubts I had about my ability were squashed. The one question going into this event that was somewhat unknown until I got there was the uncertainty of how my body would feel day after day. Having never done a multi-day / stage event before there was no past experience to draw upon, I was learning on the fly.
It was another beautiful morning, blue skies and a little cooler which I welcomed as I knew it wouldn’t be like that for long. On arrival Ron and Tim went right to work getting everything ready for the day, the night before they had everything restocked and organized. Both of their hard work in stage 1 was pivotal to my success and today would be no different.
I would go through a warm up which turned into me searching for the nearest bathroom, by now I’m used to my body and what it does pre-race. I prepare myself both physically and mentally and my body goes through its own routine every time like clockwork.
After checking in with the medical team for a quick weigh in and a set of vitals I would line up next to Paulo from Costa Rica. Every athlete was paired up based off of their stage 1 overall time, after a few instructions from race director Steve Brown we were on our way.
I felt comfortable pushing myself out of the starting gate and worked quickly to get into a rhythm. I knew that the first 100km or so were going to be pretty flat with some rolling hills as we headed down the east side of Skaha lake into OK Falls.
As I worked my way into OK Falls the legs began to feel warmed up and I began to really put the hammer down as I headed into Osoyoos, I was firing on all cylinders rolling along at 32km hour.
I pulled into the turnaround at the arena in Osoyoos to be greeted by my whole family, brother-in-law and my mother-in-law. Seeing my two kids brought me to tears and the cow bell was in full effect! Those moments seeing the family out on the course meant everything to me and fuelled me throughout the 3 days, their continued efforts to cheer me on stuck with me when I was being challenged.
The visit into Osoyoos was short but sweet and I began my way back towards OK Falls, I began seeing some of the athletes heading the other direction, I waved to each athlete as they passed. As much as it was a race the camaraderie, sportsmanship and respect was there for each other and this was evident with the support teams as well. I wished them all the best and kept spinning my legs.
My legs kept turning like clockwork as I approached the 90km mark which meant I was closing in on OK Falls and “The Wall” which consisted of a bunch of climbing. I remember climbing the first little bit and thinking “this is it”, it didn’t take to long for me to eat those words as the beads of sweat began to run down my face, “the wall” began to quickly live up to its name.
I could hear Steve King’s voice again as I rounded the corner and began the steep climb up to See Ya Later Ranch. As I rode past I thought to myself, “how cool would it be to have Steve King follow me around commentating my everyday life!”
As I approached See Ya Later Ranch the road began to flatten out and I hit a few smaller rolling hills, I was reunited with my team shortly after as there was a section of “the wall” that was a no stop zone. With not much of a breeze and the sun rising directly over top of me I began feeling the heat that much more as I continued to climb for what seemed like a long time. I was anticipating the descent into Keremeos and looked to give the legs a bit of a rest at the same time.
The previous three hours I had travelled 96km and in the last hour and twenty minutes I had gone all of roughly 20km. “The Wall” really lived up to its name, it was beautiful but there was a lot of climbing, that descent couldn’t come soon enough.
As I rolled past the golf course and hung a left onto the highway, the downhill section revealed itself and my plan was to just put it in cruise control. There was a nice breeze that cooled me down, I was working to pick up my speed but was hit by a headwind that at times felt like it was almost stopping me in my tracks. The mountains to the south displayed a show of smoke from the wild land fires in Keremeos, I would take a quick right and swing onto the upper road which lead me to the highway and out of town on my way to Princeton.
Having driven this section of the course many times I was dreading that headwind coming from the west but to my surprise the wind felt like it was at my back. The rolling hills and flats proved to be a good time as I pushed myself to get into Princeton to the 215km mark by 8 hours. If you were to blink you would have missed the town of Hedley as I tore through that section of the course. I rolled into Princeton on a high as I was well into the out and back before my projected time. I was inside of 60km to go and made a push to the finish at 80% of my max, I was working well out of my zone 1 and knew that my decision to-do-so could have dire consequences in my performance for stage 3.
Soon enough I hit the turnaround and was on the home stretch, with 30km to go my mental game was stronger than ever and that finish line was fast approaching. I had no idea at the time of who was waiting for me at the finish line as I pulled up to the last intersection where Ron and Tim jumped out from the car to wave me through. I rounded that last corner to hear Steve King once again calling my name as I crossed the finish line in 13th place for the day!
My performance was what I would have wanted if I had those last 9 weeks of missed training. Even better than my effort was seeing my family at the finish line along with my sister and my two nephews. I was in awe when I saw them crossing, I couldn’t grasp how they were all here in Princeton. A few days prior my sister was apologizing and wishing that she could be up here and here she was with her kids. My wife and mother-in-law even drove all the way from Osoyoos with our two kids to be here, it was heart warming to finish that day and celebrate it with them. Even my team of sponsors were there, Bryan and Craig, they left their families to be out on that course with me which was pretty special.
After doing a few cool down laps in the parking lot I made my way back to my family and my team of supporters. I paid a quick visit to the medical team again and dropped a little more than my allowable 5% for the day, more like 7 pounds however I was feeling good. An ice bath, a bit of food, kisses, hugs and goodbyes for my family and I was off to the hotel with my support team. After we checked in Tim would work from head to toe going through any kinks and working the muscles in preparation for stage three.
Afterwards we would adjourn at the local pub for a bite to eat with Steve King, and soon the whole Ultra520k Canada crew would show up. I would leave early as I needed to get to bed but not before stopping by the dairy queen to grab a small blizzard to put some calories back on. Needless to say this was the first time I ever would order a small (always go with the large) and by the time I got back to the room I was so tired and my stomach wasn’t feeling to great so I put the blizzard down of which I only took a few bites from (also would never happen).
Going to bed I was unsure of how my legs would feel going into stage 3, I had really made the choice to push hard in that last 60km of stage 2 on that out and back portion and was weary that I may have burned through my quads which I desperately needed for stage 3 and the double marathon that stood between me and the final finish line of Ultra520k Canada. Only time would tell and that time was down to less than 7 hours, wake up call was for 5am. My goal of carrying my kids across that finish line was as close as it had ever been.