Before I get in to the race report, I’m pretty proud of the progress my body has made since being hit by a car back on September 21st while riding my bike home from work. This past weekend I rode solid for just over 2 hours and 20 minutes of fairly intense biking. Now I still don’t have the fitness that I had 8 months ago before the accident, but I was able to last 2-1/2 hours of race level intensity and my body held up during the race. Post race I have the back pains that have been plaguing me for a while, but they’re no where near as intense as they were 6 months ago where I couldn’t even get out of a chair. Progress, even though it’s been mind-numbingly slow, is very encouraging.
On to the race
The Red Bull Divide and Conquer is not my typical adventure race. This race was more of a relay of teammates each doing their own discipline. Think of it as an extreme triathlon. The video below shows exactly what it was. Like all races this Spring I haven’t committed to anything until the last minute and little to no preparation took place before the event. The goal was to have fun and remain “All Smiles”, our team name by the way, to the finish.
Our runner was Joren Titus. Joren is a super humble dude who just happens to be one of the fastest hill climbers on the planet. While he doesn’t give himself credit for being an elite runner, he obliterated the field and put in one of the gutsiest runs I’ve ever seen. Joren was the FIRST man to the top of the mountain on this day. He beat NCAA runners, sponsored athletes, pro athletes. He knocked down a 12km run in just over 1 hour and 20 minutes with an elevation gain of over 6000 ft of climbing. You can see the profile below. Joren gave our team the early lead in a three part adventure!
I was our mountain biker. I knew the trails, I had ridden them all before. I knew I wouldn’t be the fastest, but I was confident that I’d have pretty good success. I was the first mountain biker on the course thanks to Joren’s heroics, but was quite quickly passed by Ricky Federau and Dylan Wolsky. To just be at the front with two pro riders made me feel amazing. As they blew past me it reminded me of the work I still have to do to get back to where I was. Ricky wrote about the race here.
The Mountain Biking leg was phenomenal. The profile was pretty much the opposite of the run, but the downs were technical, and with the rain, really slippery and greasy. The traverses on Baden Powell (especially the one to end the day) were leg-burning and a killer on the ego. The climb up Mountain Highway for the second lap was super fast until I got passed by a bolt of lighting named Joshua Carlson. I have never in my life been passed so fast on an uphill climb. He passed me like I was standing still. Another pro rider, he made me look like I was a full face helmeted downhiller walking my bike up Fromme. That’s how fast he was going. Usually I close a gap quickly and just stay on a guy’s wheel. This was not happening this time. I was very humbled by this dude! Wow!
Being on the Shore for only two years, I’m still amazed at how fast these guys rip down the trails. Ricky and Dylan caught me before we entered the single track. But I rode Executioner, Dreamweaver, St. Mary’s, Dempsey and Baden Powell and all the way to the 4th switch before Joshua blew past me. Being in third was truly amazing. I got passed by two more guys after I had already dropped in to 7th Secret and down Leopard and Crinkum Crankum and ridden back up Mountain Highway and down Pipeline. They passed me on the hike a bike UP Baden Powell towards Grouse Mountain and Capilano Dam.
I ripped down Nancy Green way to the Capilano Dam with our team in 6th place and feeling pretty good about my ride.
The Paddle (err Swim)
Ryan Pogue was our paddler. I don’t know that many paddlers. Probably because I’m terrified of water after a few very scary boating incidents so I tend to not have many paddling friends. I met Ryan Pogue approximately 6 months or so ago when I asked him to be a speaker at FEAT Canada. Ryan is a world level ocean outrigger canoer. He races with the best in Hawaii every winter. I emailed him about 2 weeks before the race to see if he’d be interested and he said he was in! He did give the caveat that he hadn’t white water paddled in 10 years.
Ryan ran the course the day before and despite some rolls etc. he survived. He wasn’t too happy, but he’s pretty hard himself. He got up early the morning before the race and practiced his rolls and felt much more confident. Little did I know he texted his wife just before he was about to drop in that he was “scared as hell”.
Ryan dropped in and survived the first two rapids and was on his way down the Capilano river. The water was much faster than the previous day and the rapids were bigger. This was where Ryan decided to do his best Seth Green impression. Except instead of leaving the paddle behind (he kept that) he left the kayak behind. Without going in to all the gory details. Ryan somehow got his boat lodged in some rocks and went down stream with the current about 200m. The competitor in Ryan salvaged the day as he clawed, swam, and forced himself back upstream beyond his boat only to jump back in the water and attack his boat out of the rocks and body surf it into an Eddy so he could empty the water out. This herculean effort should have been captured on camera if not for the the fact it was done in the canyon where even Red Bull couldn’t get a camera to.
Fortunately Ryan made it out of the water section alive. I was actually very nervous as team after team came in without a sign of Ryan. Further adding to my nerves was when Ryan’s wife Christine showed up and Ryan was yet to come in. Finally though, Ryan made it in bring our team into 14th place overall.
Just to be able to race with people like Will Gadd, Adam Campbell, Ricky Federau, Dylan Wolsky, Joshua Carlson, Mike Vine and Toby Roessingh. etc. I truly feel lucky and blessed. This day was a great day on my road to recovery!