What an epic race, I can pretty much sum it up like that. There's nothing better in the world than nearly 100km of singletrack in one day.
Started off really slow, maybe too slow, but I remembered that the first 20km means nothing. I got caught by a couple guys and we rode together for a bit, they told me we were on perfect pace for a 7 hour finish time, I sure as hell didn't want to be riding that long. We were already 14km in, so I picked it up til the first feed zone. Topped up one bottle then headed off with a higher pace. Finally caught the lead female who was going really strong, I kept on going solo til the second feedzone with no one ever in sight. The only things keeping me on edge were the sounds of the forest that had me thinking someone was close by, but anywhere I looked I couldn't see anyone.
I arrived at the second feedzone feeling super fresh, Bretton Matthews and SS guy were just leaving. I stopped for a bit, took my arm warmers off and grabbed some fresh bottles, I even stayed for a PB&J sandwich and some banana and found out I was already 18 minutes behind the leader, which wasn't De Cal yet. I felt really strong so after I got rid of angry legs I picked up the pace. I only rode with Bretton and SS guy long enough to know they were from Midland, or Kitchener, I can't remember anymore and that SS guy's favourite band was from where I'm from before I rode away from them. I was riding strong and was hoping that someone would appear in the distance, but nothing. I heard the 60km start cheers and made my goal to hold off all of them, third feedzone and I'm still feeling strong, got some more PB&J, threw a banana in the jersey and kept on going hard. It was frustrating not seeing anyone and I had some stupid crashes just from losing focus.
I was hoping to either get caught or catch someone soon so the time went by a little quicker. Still no one close by when I got to the fourth feezone, I wasn't feelinf tired at all yet so I was hoping to be able to pick it up even more and have enough to finish strong. I tried picking it up and had to drop the pace within 10k or so, I got dropped by the 60k leaders and... ah man I can't remember what happened for the last 2 feeds but at the last one I was 15 minutes down from De Cal, that got me motivated but "motivation means nothing if you don't have the legs" as Lance has said. I had nothing left, it was discouraging how slow I was going but I was close to the end and was just hoping to hold my spot. Finished just ahead of JC from the 60k, apparently he was riding behind me for a while, I didn't notice.
I'm happy with just finishing, I was hoping for a top 5 but 6th is quite alright. It was just an accomplishment to finish, the course was amazing, the climbs were painfully long, the downhills were long and fast, the trails were flowy and endless, it was epic. The first 40k was the thoughest part and when we came through the strart/finish I thought we were going out for another lap of it. I'm glad we didn't. I'm already looking forward to next year, my arm warmers didn't make it back from the feed and a couple bottles, but it was worth it.
I knew De Cal would win it, I would have been surprised if he didn't, 18 minutes is a pretty commanding gap. I sense a new course record set next year. JC had a solid ride for being a bit out of shape.
Big thanks to everyone who helped put on such a great event, marking that much trail so well is no easy task. The draw prizes were great and the food was delicious, what a day.