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Tails from the Trails

Image courtesy of Winter W.O.W.
Event: Winter W.O.W. (Wizard of Wheels)
Format: Cross-country 45K race course
Venue: Mansfield Outdoor Centre, Ontario
Date: November 23, 2003

NOTE - Due to issues with my newly installed operating system (OS), I am unable to extract my pictures or scan prints. I'll post same as soon as my OS gets fixed...very sorry -- TheLoneRider

Season's last hurrah
It's been nearly 2 months since I was on a saddle at Durham Durango where I bonked on a 25K race. Needless to say, doing 45K of technical trails in Mansfield scared me shitless. But this was the last hurrah for the season and I had no plans on skipping this one out. Besides, what's the worst thing that can happen but bonk again (okay, I can also endo and break a few ribs). I haven't done any of the W.O.W races and I planned on doing as many races from as many organizers this season. It's a go! sweet it is
Mansfield has always been a sweet ride but Mike Badyk (race organizer) kicked it up a notch by including parts of the Dufferin County trails in the 45K route. The steep climbs were measured, the single-tracks winding, and it was easy to be overcome by the rustling leaves of the forest. As if that's not good enough, the weather was double-digit cool with no ice or snow unlike the previous years (or so I was told). In short, the whole scene brought promise of a perfect race.

   The Winter W.O.W. of the early '90's was a guided tour followed by a pig-out. After many years absence, and lots of requests from riders, we decided to bring it back, and let the racer types in on the good times. We even brought back the toque as swag. Mansfield with the Dufferin County Forest is the only place we know where we could do such a quality ride of over 40km and have the facilities to feed everyone. It worked out as well as W.O.W. could have hoped for. It was an awesome day. The Winter W.O.W. will be back on Nov. 21 2004.   
-- Mike Badyk
Wizard of Wheels

An ounce of prevention
Being extra cautious this time, I chose my battles well. A day before the race, I mounted my bike and did a 30K road ride to hook up with a friend. I needed to acclimatize back into my bike and identify ahead of time things that can go wrong - like the front shifter wasn't shifting into the tall gear. On the race itself, I dismounted on steep sandy climbs even though I could nail it. Climbing some hills can use up more energy than walking it. I wasn't so sure how deep my energy reserve was, so I played it safe.

Unfortunately, after crossing the 25K mark, my quads started acting up. I knew it was just a question of doing a few more pedal strokes before they both lock up in a vise-like cramp. I've seen this happen before on a lot of my races. The 25K demarcation line seems to be an impenetrable wall for me. I had to stop every 10 minutes to stretch out before my quads lock up. That ate up a lot of precious time.

That darn branch
As if my cramps were not bad enough, with about 7K to go before the finish line, my rear derailleur snapped in 2 pieces and twisted my chain after catching a loose tree branch - it was toast. With McGuyver-like tenacity, I removed some links from my chain to make it a single speed and make it rideable...even on its tallest gear. It didn't last long before it snapped again. I had to 'scooter' my way from then on.

The GPS guy with a helmet-mounted light
By some stroke of luck, a rider (Harvey) stopped to check me out. It turns out he was out of water and didn't want to finish the race and risk getting dehydrated. We decided to bail out and head out for the lodge. Aside from the singletrack, there were also firetrails leading to the forest outskirt...but which direction should we take? This might seem like an overkill, but Harvey had a GPS with him (also a helmet-mounted light!) With the trail map and his GPS, he struggled to find out where we were - it wasn't easy. Even after pin-pointing the "you are here" on the map, it still wasn't clear how to get to the lodge using the firetrails. Ultimately, we found ourselves on the cliff face overlooking the lodge - but there was no trail. We had to portage our bikes and slide down the steep slope as we blazed our own trail. Finally, we were back with a hot meal waiting for us.

I came for a race but got more adventure than I bargained for - who's complaining? Sometimes, the unexpected detours make the most memorable rides.

-- TheLoneRider

Nice touch:

  • Feed stations not only provided water but electrolytes, energy bars and gels. How do you top this one out? Quickie massage?
  • How does fresh-cooked chilli, slice of bread, butter, cut-up veggies, fudge and coffee sound to you after a race? Nearly starving, that must have been one the best meals I've had after a race.

Special thanks:

  • Mike and Natalie Badyk for letting me cover this race. Their hospitality was awesome.
  • Victor for the last-minute fix on my front shifter

Unexpected cost: (mtb trashes a bike real hard and upkeep and maintenance add up)

  • LX rear derailleur (I couldn't afford the XT which is what I broke): $70.00
  • Sram chain is so badly twisted it has to be replaced as well. Darn...this is a new chain I just got after Chico's Dagmar Derailleur Destroyer $60????
Related Links: Comments?

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