Continued from yesterday’s blog:
As I approached Dunster and glanced at my watch, it gave me no solace when I realized that the hardcore racers were probably already crossing the finish line in McBride 24 km ahead of me. One year, a grizzly bear crossed the highway in front of one of the racers. I had no such luck, but I did see some sheep and I mooed at some cows.
Finally, I was on the flat stretch beside the rock bluffs; no more hills! Just when I started to feel like there was hope of survival, my legs started to cramp up on me. I was scared. How could they fail me now after 47 miles with just 5 to go. I was afraid to stop because I knew I wouldn't be able to start again. I tried shifting my rump around on the seat, thinking that if I pedaled at a different angle maybe I would use different muscles in my legs and could keep going.
At this point, with no other racers in sight, I began thinking about the time I got suckered into the 7 km cross country ski race. That time, when I finally got to the finish line I discovered all the officials had given up and gone home. But the sound of the "follow-up" truck behind me reassured me that this time at least someone would be at the finish line to record my number and time .
I was warmly surprised to find a small crowd at the finish line cheering me on. It was almost like winning. They were waving and yelling encouragements, but the only thing I could hear was my own brain saying, "I DID IT! I FINISHED THE GREAT ROCKY MOUNTAIN BICYCLE RACE!
I somehow managed to get off the bicycle only to discover I could no longer walk. John held me up and walked me around until I could do it on my own again. The rest of the day was easy; the race picnic, the band concert in the park and all the stories everyone had to tell about their adventures on the race.
At the award ceremony they gave out the trophy and prizes. Some hot shot from Prince George had won the race with a time of just under 2 hours The girl with the tight black pants had won the women’s division -but had unfortunately already returned to Jasper. Racers had come from Ft. St. John, Victoria, Calgary, as well as one guy from England and another from Germany. A seventy year old guy picked up a prize for the oldest participant.
I graciously accepted the prIze for last place. As I received the odometer ("because I had been so painfully aware of each inch along the way"), I tried to stress to the audience how it pays to stick to your race strategy. My time was just under 4 hours.
Strangely enough after all the misery I experienced last year, my masochistic streak has surfaced again. I. know I will be in the race again this Canada Day, but I am a little older and wiser this year. I have started to ride my 10 speed to work. This year my goal is to not win any prizes!
The photo shows my old friend John Bird walking me around after the race, so I could get my legs working right again.
You can look at my paintings: davidmarchant.ca