Bikeridr Summer Solstice Suffer Springs XC Race Report

Provided by Sheldon Smart of Bikeridr.com

Last weekend was the Deadgoat, Summer Solstice Suffer Springs XC race in beautiful Kananaskis country. This race should simply be titled, ‘the hardest race of the ABA XC season’. I know there isn’t much of a ring to it, but it’s much more accurate. Over 1,400 meters of vertical climbing in just over 12 km. Now I shouldn’t make it sound all bad, because I mean after all, what goes must come down, and despite massive amounts of rain the week before and all the mud, the down part was more than worth it. Good times, good times.

For me this race was about three things: Ken, Sam and Gord. Simply put, I wanted to beat all three of them, haha… ‘Lofty, this goal was’ (as Yoda might say). I’ve never, ever beated Ken and Gord has been crushing me all season. Then there was Sam, who had laid a sound thrashing on me at the Bacon race. Beating all three was a long shot at best, and I knew that, but what’s life without goals.

When we took off, I watched Gord blast off the line and very quickly disappear, totally. Scratch goal number 1. Sam also shot off the line and took position 5 or 6 spots in front of me. It was a little while, maybe 3 or 4 mins before Ken rolled past me, with not so much as a word (bastard :-). I’ll point out here that I said something unique like, ‘good job, man’. But yeah, Ken ignored me and just rolled right by. I watched, helpless, my lungs were already searing as Ken caught up to Sam just at the beginning of the day’s first real climb. At this point, I felt like hell, and it was all I could do just to keep pace, never mind jump up on Ken’s wheel. So, it wasn’t long before Ken was pulling out of sight. Scratch goal number 2.

I knew more than likely, barring a crash, I wasn’t going to see Ken again. So I set my sights on Sam, who was still only a few spots ahead, and halfway up that first long, long climb I caught him, and passed him. I figured I might see him again in time, but for the moment I wanted to believe I’d managed to achieve 1 of my goals.

It’s a long and grueling race though, and strange things can happen. People can recover, find a rhythm and come back. Though I didn’t see Sam again after that first climb, toward the top of the second last climb, maybe 8km in, I looked up the hill and who did I see? Gord! I was shocked in a way. Mostly because he’d been out of sight, and out of mind for so long. On the other hand, I wasn’t that surprised because this was Gord’s first true mountain race, with real climbing. I had thought before the race, that maybe he’d have a harder time with it, and I’d be able to take advantage. So, there he was, not 30 meters away. Goal number 1 was back on the table! The bad news was he was near the top and I had a lot of climbing to do to catch him. I have to hand it to Gord here though, he saw me catching him and he wasn’t haven’t any of it. He recovered at the top and then put the hammer down. I tried to catch him, but when I got to the bottom of the last downhill, and saw he still had a solid gap on me going into the flats, I knew it was over. He just pulled away and by the time I hit the line, he had well over a minute on me. Gord took 10th, and I rolled in just outside the top ten in 11th place, once again… haha… Good times.

Big hats off to the Elites who rolled out 3 laps + a prologue. That was a tough, tough course and three laps of it is impressive, indeed. Thanks too, to Deadgoat and to Bow Cycle and the volunteers. It was a great race, and the weather was made to order.

Full set of photos here

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