By Billy Rainford
As we head into the dark and cold winter months here in Canada, I wanted to take advantage of a 0C but sunny day yesterday. I wasn’t going to make it to a local track to ride, so I did the next best thing – I prepped myself and my Scott Spark MTB to head out for what was probably my last longer ride of the season.
Let me back up 24 hours, first.
I had a friend ask our group what we thought the best Star Wars movie is. I, of course, went old school and said I liked either the first one or the Empire Strikes Back. Two of them looked at me like I had two heads. They both looked at each other and then said, “No, it’s Rogue One.“
If you’re like me, you gave up on the franchise after they threw Jar Jar Binks in our faces with whatever-the-hell that prequel was called back in the day. I hadn’t taken the time to watch any of the other episodes on principle alone.
So, one of these same friends hooked us up with a TV package that allows us to watch whatever we want, whenever we want. It rained all day Saturday so I decided to sit on the bike trainer in the living room and watch Rogue One to see for myself.
I hadn’t been on the bike for a couple weeks because I was down in Florida and the weather has now changed here in London, but I didn’t let that stop me from sitting there for a couple hours like a complete fool.
Fast forward to Sunday.
I’ve been running and cycling in all weather since, oh, 1989, so I’ve got some experience figuring out what works in what temperature. With that accrued knowledge, I went about getting dressed for my usual, once-a-week long MTB ride from my house out and around Fanshawe Lake.
I love this ride. It ends up being around 57K and I think my best time for this loop is 2:37. OK, whatever.
As I headed out the door and got onto the bike path that takes me through the middle of the city, through the University campus along the river and finally to the trails, I realized I had a tailwind. This fact is important because it meant, obviously, that it would be a headwind on the way back. I let that stew in the back of my brain.
Also, I was only about 10 minutes in and passing the water treatment plant when I realized I could feel the Star Wars ride pretty seriously in my legs. This was definitely not a good sign.
I’ve been able to get away with just packing one water bottle full of Ryno Power Hydration Fuel with a big scoop of Carbo Fuel added to it, as long as I’m hydrated before setting out. I wasn’t worried about that part.
I made it out to Fanshawe and the trail that takes me to the dam that would start my “official” loop of the lake. Oddly, I had already stopped for a couple pee breaks on the way. I just thought it meant I was very well hydrated.
Since it had rained the day before, I was worried the trail was going to be a mess, but it drains very quickly and the temperature had dropped below freezing so that was actually not a problem. There was the odd slippery section where the sun had been hitting, but that was really it.
Unfortunately, I could tell I was going very slowly compared to a normal pace out there. When I started sweating I started to worry that it wasn’t going to be very nice heading back into the wind on the open road.
At the point of this next photo, I was OK with the slowed-down pace but didn’t realized I was sort of at the leading edge of falling apart. If you’ve been there, you know the signs.
OK, I was fine with the slower pace but I also knew that it would take me past sunset. I had mounted a couple lights in case I ended up out there in the dark, so vision and visibility weren’t an issue. What I hadn’t thought about was the temperature drop that came along with the setting sun! Uh oh, I was in trouble.
I started to notice that I was wiggling my toes like a maniac to try and keep them warm. It wasn’t working. I also noticed that I hadn’t put on anything that was windproof. I was layered in technical fabric but the wind was now penetrating to my core. That wasn’t good either.
After stopping for 3 more pees, I realized I was needing to stop because I was really cold, not because I was perfectly hydrated. Not only that, but I hadn’t had more that 1/4 of my water bottle yet. I think because I was so cold I just wasn’t thirsty? Now I started to worry.
Pushing into the headwind down the open concession road that takes me back to the bike trail along the river, my legs were running out of the ability to keep me going. Also, I was starting to get a little cranky. If you’ve been in trouble on a long ride or run, you know the signs and they usually only lead to a dark place; it never gets better.
I’m smart enough in these situations to know what my current level of fitness and preparedness are, so I looked back at my lack of training and the stupid long indoor ride I’d done the day before and realized I wasn’t going to make it. I was freezing cold and didn’t have the strength to simply “push through it.”
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy pushing myself to these physical and mental limits, but the addition of being freezing cold took all the “fun” of the challenge out of it.
We’ve been bingeing the series Alone lately and this was starting to feel like one of these episodes and I was ready to make the call and officially “tap out.”
I had texted Emily as I exited the loop and was heading for the roads and told her I was starting to “struggle a bit,” but that I was OK. Nope. That wasn’t the case any longer.
I stopped on a bridge that goes over a little stream and made the call. “Could you please grab the van and come get me?“
Then I realized I’d told her to meet me at a place that was an extra road farther than I’d meant to say! Dammit, I was going to have to struggle an extra couple miles to get to the meeting spot. My brain wasn’t working well. That was a miscue I would never make under normal circumstances.
In the end, we timed it perfectly and she pulled into the parking lot just as I rolled up, slowly. She had the heat cranked and I just threw the bike in the back and climbed in. It was heaven until my feet started burning and really hurting. You know the feeling.
Anyway, I’m a little embarrassed about the whole thing. I should have known I wasn’t ready to go out for such a long ride but I went for it anyway.
And you know what’s funny? Looking back and recounting this story, I’ve already forgotten how bad it actually felt at the time and look forward to the next adventure ride. It’s funny how that works.
Oh, your key takeaway here is that, yes, Rogue One may be the best Star Wars moving of them all…
Parker Eales is the 2022 Future West Moto Canadian Arenacross Champion
Congratulations to Parker Eales for winning the 2022 Future West Moto Canadian Arenacross Championship. He can turn in his #18 for a #1 when the series kicks off in 2023.
So many riders have won this title over the years and gone on to very successful moto careers here in Canada and Parker can now add his name to this list.
But here’s my favourite part of this story:
When parker was finished celebrating his win, he hopped into a piece of machinery and helped tear the track down! Is that not the most Canadian thing you’ve ever seen?!
Let’s see if the winner of A1 does the same this year.
The FWM results page was down for maintenance at the time of this posting (They were likely updating the points), so we’ll be sure to post them when we see them.
Cole Thompson 2nd in Fox Australian Supercross Series
Cole Thompson got the opportunity to go race the Fox Australian Supercross Series for the Serco Yamaha team and came away with 2nd place in the 250 class behind Max Anstie.
3 riders tied for the win at the 4th and final round but Cole had the strongest final moto so he got the nod. A nice way to cap off the series.
There will now be an official announcement about Cole heading to Team Solitaire for 250 West Supercross in the next couple days. Congratulations, Cole, and good luck in Supercross.
OK, I hope you enjoyed my little story of self-suffering this week. Have a great week, everyone.