Blind racing adds another level of difficulty to the riding. You are required to carefully calculate maneuvers on the trail while trying to go as fast as possible. There is no option to stop and look at a feature… you don’t know what is on the landing of a drop, you don’t know how long a steep chute is going to be, you don’t know how long the trail is, or where or if you need to conserve energy for a particular feature or uphill climb.
If you’ve been following the Enduro World Series, each of those races has designated practice days where you would have time to check out sections of the trail, session them multiple times, and GoPro your ride to help you remember your lines. Being able to practice a trail over and over again before a race offers you a level of reassurance and comfort. Knowing the trail and the features you are about to race down gives you more confidence. When it comes to blind racing, you really have to trust yourself and your abilities and just go for it.
Of the 114 riders that took on this challenging enduro race, 16 were women. They traveled from as far as Australia and New Zealand, converging in Revelstoke. Some of these riders had never competed in an enduro, some were seasoned races, and others had never competed in any bike race before this moment. It was amazing to have such a wide range of abilities and experiences in the group. Over the course of the 3 days, we all shared quite a few high fives, shared stories after each stage, and told tales of both excitement for crushing a hard section and disappointment in biting the dust. Sure, there were bruises, scrapes, and some blood, but there was also a determination to get up and carry on with a smile.
Here’s my version of that memorable experience.
With only one stage on the schedule, Day 1 would consist mostly of meeting and getting to know your fellow adventurers. A short hour of climbing and plenty of chit chat later, we were all at the top ready to go. Crowbar is a single black diamond trail that starts off with some fun flow before turning into sweet steep, rocky descents. With many high fives at the bottom and expressed exhilaration, we had conquered our first trail unscathed. Time to hit the lake for a swim and to head back to the camp site for a rest and a cold one.
Day 2 was a test of mental strength. Totaling 6 hours out in the hot sun, at one point I had started to wonder if the day would ever end. A shuttle to the top of Frisby DH trail started the day off perfectly and gave a good indication of what the day would hold for us. It kicked us off with a fun 9 minutes of steep, dusty trail. It turns out all 6 stages that day would be dry, dusty, steep chutes with plenty of rocky sections, wood bridges, wooded forest and open cut hill sides. There was even a water crossing thrown in for good measure. I don’t know how I would have lasted the day without the amazing food station half way up the climbing road. It was packed with all the goodies that dehydrated and exhausted bodies need: fresh cut fruit, endless amounts of lollies, water and of course a keg of beer!
The day was done. We sat our aching bodies in the river and cooled off. We had made it.
PRO TIP: Even through the racers were treated to a fully-stocked food station, there was no mechanic support. We had to be self-sufficient. This is the set up for most races I participate in. While I’m lucky that I’ve only had to deal with flat tyres to date, I do prepare myself for other potential issues. Apart from carrying spare tubes, I also carry a multi-tool, a few spare derailleur cables, an extra derailleur hanger, cleats and cleat bolts, zip ties, and tape. These items don’t add too much weight to my bag and they can be really helpful. And, while you may have a trouble-free race, it sure is great to be able to help someone else out when things go wrong.
My legs were tired this morning, but I didn’t care. I had a spring in my step. My heart rate was up – excited as I headed to the Revelstoke Airport.
When the helicopter landed, the air beating down on us, our bikes were loaded by the crew and, heads down, we were lead to the open door. Then, we were off. The views were incredible as we got higher, chasing the early morning sun up the mountain, overlooking the smoke hazed valley below. After getting dropped off, we hiked the last ascent to the peak. To say it was incredible would be an understatement.
I have only ridden an exposed alpine trail once before. Even though it is mind of matter, it is really terrifying. While it is so amazing and you can’t believe you are doing something so freaking cool, it is hard not to think of the potential for things to go wrong. Once the trail descended into the trees, I was able to relax and let off the brakes a little more. The first two stages of the day were absolutely incredible. The views were spectacular and the trail was unreal. It just went on and on and on, forever. My hands were struggling to hold on, my arms were pumped, and my legs were giving up. But it didn’t matter. I was having too much fun.
My first ever helicopter ride, my first ever 3-day enduro, my first ever blind race. The amazing weekend ended with a 2nd place in the women’s Pro category against some shredder ladies. Looking forward to the next adventure on two wheels…