Saturday, March 1, 2014

My Big Race in the Snow.

Well it's been a busy winter and for me it has flown by. For most other people it has been a long cold snowy winter. As I type this out it's -35C outside and I just got back from a dog sled ride with my Huskies. They don't care how cold it is outside, they just like to get out and run. I have to dress for it. Early morning at this temperature there is not many people moving outside.

Since January I have been spending a lot of time outside  working and riding the Fat tired trike. This year I decided I wanted some challenge in my life and decided to do the Actif Epica Race.  I have been pre-riding the race route in parts to learn it. I knew what to expect so I thought. There was almost 70 people who were starting this race on bikes and 20 runners. Yes, as you read this you are thinking who would ride a bike 135 km though the snow, never mind who would be crazy enough to run it. Some of the riders came from far away, from the US and other provinces in Canada. All the runners were local.

Getting ready for the start.
  Now the week before the race we got lots of snow. The trail had a hard crust that was ride able for me before it but that was all different now. In the race there was mostly fat tired bikes and a few mountain bikes. It was about -22C at the early morning start and it warmed up to about -14C later in the day. The runners started at 7:00 am and we started at 8:00 am.
The Start
Here we Go.....
The race started along some roads, across the frozen snow covered lake at St. Malo and then onto the Crow Wing Trail.
 Now I had ridden the trail in the week previous but on race day the conditions were different. The runners who went before us broke though the crust of snow, and made the first couple of miles not ride able. I had to pull the trike though waist deep snow in some places. It was tough going but I knew if I didn't push it I could do the distance. I was so warm pulling the trike though the snow I made the mistake of taking off my outer jacket. About 5 km later I had to cross an open field and the wind was really starting to pick up. I went to put my jacket on and discovered it was gone. I had to turn around and back track to find it. It was 5 km back where I had taken it off.  It was 10 extra km I did. By the first check point there were quite a few cold tired people who dropped out. I was last in, but I wasn't tired or cold. The second section was mostly snow covered gravel roads. It was faster except for a couple snow covered fields I had to pull though. I passed a couple of runners in this section. At the second checkpoint there were more people who dropped out. Not me. I was warm and not tired. I changed my socks as they were damp. Ate more food  and away I went. On the third section I had to cross a long section of open field. The wind had really picked up and the snow was really blowing. All the other tracks from the people ahead of me were covered up all ready. It's a good thing I knew where I had to go. It was slow going into this blinding snow. I passed some more people here who looked very tired. I rode down some drifted over mud and gravel roads and made it to the third checkpoint at 7:19 pm. Unfortunately that was 19 minutes late. I missed the cutoff time by 19 minutes. I was out. The hard part of the race was done. At that point I was warm and not tired at all. It was disappointing but it was my own mistake that put me out.  I had taken 11 hours and 19 minutes to do 72 really tough km. As they say this is a race where the conditions can really change as you go. I had some really great soup and food and caught a ride home. Next year I will go faster and finish !!!

One of people who helped out is making a video of the race. Here is a trailer he made. The full video will come later. Actif Epica Race trailer.
        Only 33 cyclists finished out of 69. Only 5 runners out of 20 finished. It was the toughest year so far they said about this race. The important thing to me is I stuck to my plan, ate well, and drank well and came home warm and in good shape. I met some great people and had lots of FUN....



  1. Wow, not for softies, this race! Chapeau!

  2. Hi Kevin,

    What a pity that you lost your jacket! Otherwise you hadn't be late on the thirth checkpoint, and had a good chance to finish the race. I almost had it cold reading your story! This race makes me think of the Billy Ocean song: When the going gets though, the though gets going!
    Well done anyway, and a new start next year?

    Greetings, Adri.

  3. Hi Casper and Adri,
    This race was a real learning experience for me. After riding all the sections before the race I though I knew what it was going to be like. Now I know how conditions can change in a short time. Next year will be different but I won't make a mistake with my jacket again. My friend Pete who completed the race figured he pushed his bike at least 10 km. I did more with my jacket problem. But I had FUN....

  4. Well, I'm sorry you didn't get to finish but very glad you had the right mindset right from the start - survival first, race second. Was the tricycle any easier to drag through the snow? Seems that, with a sling through the rear tire, you could drag it behind you like a sled. Hard as heck to ride on frozen rutted, pockmarked trails though. You certainly have my respect Kevin.

    Cheers, Stuart

  5. Hi Stuart,
    Glad to see you are out of hibernation early this year. I have tested many ways to move the trike and what works the best is I have a belt with a rope on it to pull it. With out my fat ass on it, it rolls easy. I have made skis for the front wheels but I find it rolls easy without them. The trike weighs 46 lb.s and the weight per inch of tire is less than a regular fat bike. I just need to get in better shape for next year...