|Ski/Bike Race Report|
|Written by Alexandre Lussier|
|Saturday, 31 March 2012 09:01|
The Equinox Challenge is traditionally a Nordic skiing event but this year the organizers decided to open the event to snow bikers. In fact, skate skiing, classic skiing, snow-biking, running, and snowshoeing were all considered fair means of covering as many miles as possible during this 24 hour event.
I don’t own a snow-bike but I borrowed a Salsa Mukluk from Dyan, the Quality Bike Parts (insert shameless plug here) rep for the GAS shop. I met her at the race venue a few hours before the start, changed the pedals, saddle, added a water bottle cage, and was ready to go. The 10 am firm and fast snow conditions quickly deteriorated to slow and sloppy mush. I lowered my tire pressure accordingly until I was basically riding two flat tires and switched to skate skiing.
I was only able to skate ski three laps before my ankle was screaming louder than my brain or any other part of my body. This lingering issue from a broken ankle in December seems to bother me only with above-the-ankle footwear, but luckily I wasn’t out of options. I noticed the tracks had started to glaze up with the setting sun so it seemed like a good time to pull out the classic skis, and my old school but oh-so-comfy classic ski “slippers”. For three laps the track was glazed and fast but the soft underlying snow outside the track was still a handicap for skate skiing and biking. It was the best time to classic ski.
With daylight completely gone and everything frozen solid again it was time to put the Sigma night lights on the bike (insert another shameless plug here) and tackle the remaining 14 hours of racing. I occasionally bumped into Tom (Tom Owen) in the wall tent throughout the night. He did the entire 24 hours on 5 different pairs of skate skis he waxed obsessively for two days before the event. I would stop every 3 to 5 laps to more-or-less shove my feet in the wood stove before heading back out. At some point around 4 AM I feared I would doze off and turn my deep frozen toes into roasted little piggys, so I noisily got up to pull Tom out of his equally groggy state and headed out. I didn’t see him again until the finish line but later found out he slept for an hour and a half, woke up in a panic, and raged for 66 km in the last 4, out of 24 hours of (almost!) non-stop racing.
With people traveling by different means on different courses there was no way to know where we stood. At 1 AM I remember number 126 passing me while sprinting out of the saddle up a steep hill and thinking: who is this animal? As it turns out he was one of two number 126 riders tag-teaming the event. They finished second in the team competition with 362 km. The top team was an all skier team that covered 397 km. I managed 319 km for the solo win, most of it on the bike.
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