After a rainy ride out with Brad and G., we crossed the water-inundated Assiniboine river behind a pace car. Construction crews were building huge aqua-dikes on both sides of the road. Apparently Wal-mart and the Corel center may just be overtaken by the river! By noon the main river crossing in Brandon was closed too- forcing us to return to Winnipeg via the Patricia avenue bridge on the east end of town.
We arrived quite late and had to hurry to register and get ourselves ready including a short warm-up. It was G's first time in the Brandon hills. It is definitely nice to get back on the MTB! The day turned out to be a beautiful 18 degrees with no rain. the course was pretty much in perfect condition. It included the regular kilometer-long double track climb to start things off then into single track for most of the rest of the lap.
The course was very well marked and the organizers (A&L cycle) did a fantastic job on the day- especially considering they had never hosted a MTB race before. I heard there were 70 registered riders making the day a real success. Thanks also to Greg Sherwin for making some killer new trails and helping with course design. It was a great atmosphere and everyone seemed very happy to see each other again as well as be back on the trails. They even had a guy maintaining the two wooden bridges on the first climb to make sure that the entrances and exits to the bridges stayed smooth and rut-free. Totally over the call of duty! Also a big thanks to Sean Zayak for taking on the commissaire's role all by himself... you ROCK.
As for my race, I felt pretty good and was generally happy with my riding, despite receiving a general spanking from Chris Pendergrast and Jeremy Trask (SASK). I rolled off the start line in 3rd place for 15 experts. I had just wanted to stick to the front group for entry into the single track. Toward the top of the climb it seemed that the two leaders wanted to really put it on and I decided to ride my own race with hopes that their initial output would cause them to burn out and fall back. This was not the case obviously! I ended up riding by myself for the whole race by myself which is not as fun, but the riding more than made up for that. Lots of super flowey single track descents winding through the trees... did I mention trees? Being a taller rider I had to be on the constant lookout for head-aiming trunks and branches. I luckily reserved contact with the trees for my handlebars which were more than happy to oblige!
Good friends, and good riding. It was nice to see Leon from Kola out as well!
Next up: Grand Beach!