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Lindsay

Lindsay

Lindsay Gauld started Olympia Cycle and Ski in 1983 and soon after that the club. His cycling prowess and addiction to cycling adventures inspire club members and other cyclists in Canada, the States and Internationally. Here are some stories of his adventures. Iditarod 2012

2 thoughts on “Lindsay”

  1. Jack McCullough
    Just a mind-blowing accomplishment by Ryder on Sunday!
    (Lindsay, aren’t you glad you weren’t fighting for a spot on the team in ’72 against
    a Giro winner?)

  2. Pingback: Fat Levels

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Lindsays Account of Iditarod 2012

IDITAROD TRAIL INVITATIONAL 2012

The following is my highly fictionalized account of my recent adventure in Alaska. A more accurate accounting of the event will be forthcoming from my faithful manservant Andy. How did I get to this point? I’m at the 210 mile checkpoint at Rohn and I’m coming to the realization that my dream of getting to McGrath is coming to an end. I’ve just seen a picture of my frostbitten face and know that to continue would risk some serious long-term injuries. I then slept for 6 hours before pulling the plug but the reality is that I was hoping for some kind of fairy tale miracle cure that wasn’t about to happen. The event had started 6 ½ days earlier in the town of Knik on Sunday the 26th at 2 pm. The day started with loading our bikes in a van to be transported to the start and then a 1 ½ hour bus ride to the start. At Knik, we all gathered in the bar & grill and it seemed to be a part of the right of passage that most of the racers had a big greasy burger and fries as our pre race meal. Not the norm but then again most races don’t last any where from 4 – 10 days. It wasn’t going to be a mad sprint off the line. In the days before the start I’d met a number of the other competitors.  There was a pre race party on Friday evening sponsored by Greg Matyas at Speedway Cycle. Greg is the owner and designer of Fatback Bicycles as well as an outstanding racer who came in third in last year’s race. I had hitched a ride with Tim Hewitt and Rick Freeman. They are runners from Pennsylvania and Tim is has completed the 1000 mile trek to Nome a record 6 times.  Tim is a 57-year-old lawyer and this is his idea of a nice relaxing holiday. As my wife Lynne would say I truly was with my own kind of people. At the hotel, I ended up meeting Frank Janssens and enjoying several breakfasts with him. Frank is formerly from Belgium and now lives in Vancouver. He was in the foot/ running division. We thought of ourselves as Team Canada. Frank got to the 300 hundred mile mark and then came down with a bad flu and was unable to continue. Great effort but it must have been very frustrating to get that close to the finish and then be forced to abandon. Back to the low-key start where we gathered at the edge of the lake and then at the word from organizer Kathi Merchant we were off on our adventure. They were predicting a heavy snowfall but there was none at the start and I was hoping the forecasts were wrong. However, we weren’t very far into the event when the snow started to slowly drift down. Little did any of us realize what was in store for us over the next several days? From the start we have to make our way to Flat horn Lake but one of the challenges is that there are multiple routes to the lake. I ended up following former champion Jeff Oatley, his wife Heather Best as well as Erik Warkentin and Louise Kobin. Eric is one of the most experienced ITI racers and Louise is the women’s record holder. I thought I was in good company as they would know the best route. The snow continued to fall and at the 15 mile mark we reached the point where we could no longer ride and were reduced to pushing our heavily laden bicycles. I truly didn’t realize that this would be my exclusive form of START LINE AT KNIK transportation for the next 75 miles. Perhaps this lack of realization was a blessing as I just took it as it came and kept hoping that good riding would eventually be ahead. After, 11 miles of pushing over almost 6 hours I reached the edge of Flathorn Lake. A number of racers had chosen to bivy there but I chose to carry on across the lake, as I knew that I wasn’t yet tired enough to sleep. It was 5 miles across the lake and the track was good for the first several miles. Gradually it became more blown in till I reached the point where I had 2 miles to go and I was moving at about ½ mile/ hr. I was looking at 4 more hours to do 2 miles. Then magically, some lights appeared behind me. It was the four leading runners with their sleds trailing behind. They were my lifeline as they packed the trail so that I was able to up my pace and get off the lake in less than 2 hours. What followed was a stretch of 2 miles on a trail through the woods. It was still hard going but at least the trail was not blowing in. I reached the edge of the Dismal Swamp that was another open run of 5 miles. I thought I’d cross and then look for a place to bivy for 2 or 3 hours. I started out into the open and realized that it would be another slog through a blown in trail so I turned back and bivied in the first sheltered place on shore. This involves making a trench in the snow, breaking off some pine bows, and laying out my sleeping pad and sleeping bag and bivy sack. I settled in and found I was comfortably warm. I still wasn’t ready to sleep but it felt good to be lying down and resting my legs. The walking was already getting old. After only 1 ½ hours I heard a group stopped in front of me and talking about whether to stop or go on. I snuck a look and realized it was a group of 3 or 4 runners. When the decided to carry on across the swamp, I quickly decided to get up and follow them across. It seemed to me that if I rested for several more hours I might end up with no trail. I packed as quickly as I could and set off about 15 minutes after them. It worked out well, as the track was still open. The sleds make a narrow path for a person pushing a bike but it felt like a freeway to me. I made my way across the swamp and then back into the trails in the bush. Shortly after getting off the swamp my saviors pulled over to bivy and I found myself back following a bike track. This works better as you roll your wheel along the track and for the most part follow the footprints as best as possible. MY WHOLE WORLD BECAME THE TRACK AS I TRIED TO KEEP MY WHEEL ROLLING AS WELL AS POSSIBLE After a short while, I came across Phil Hofstedder, Pete Bassinger and Tim Bernston as they had a fire going to melt snow to fill their bottles. They had bivied and would be on their way shortly but in the very short term, I found myself in the scary position of being in the lead in the race. I pointed out that a 63 year old really needed to follow them and slowly headed out breaking trail. I found it very difficult and fortunately they came by after I’d gone about a ¼ mile. I’m glad I had the opportunity to do that to feel how difficult their task was but I’m truly happy it was for only a short while. After a short while, we descended onto the Susitna River. By this time, I was starting to have some sharp pains in my left knee. I had already done more bike pushing than I’d done in probably my whole life so I just popped more Aleve and tried to baby the knee as much as possible. Hard to do as we were now in the part of the course that had received 34 inches of snow. I was running short of fluids as I’d now be going for about 20 hours and still had a long trek to Luce’s where I could replenish my supply. I got out my Esbit stove, threw on my down jacket and melted enough snow to fill my 2 nalgene bottles. I still had water in my Hydro Heater so I knew this would set me up to get to keep well hydrated. While I was stopped a big group of runners passed me. You spend a lot of time alone so it was great to see them for a few minutes. After turning onto the Yentna River where it met the Susitna, I had been told that it was 9 miles to Luce’s resort. It was warming, the track was becoming even softer and my knee was throbbing. I was passed by more runners as well as cyclists THIS SUMS UP THE RACE FOR CYCLISTS THIS SHOWS DAVE KELLY, ONE OF MY SOULMATES DURING THE RACE. Pavel Richtr, Russell Worthington, Jeff Oatley, Heather Best and Tim Stern. It’s amazing how unobservant I’d been. When Jeff came by he pointed out that they all had their left pedals off for pushing the bike. He stopped and we tried to take mine off with his 8mm Allen key but I’d cranked it on with a pedal wrench and we couldn’t get it off . As a rookie, I came to realize how many things I didn’t know. After 5 hours on the Yentna River, I arrived at dusk at the resort at Luce’s. Just before I arrived there I was caught by Robin McAlpine. Robin is an Alaskan from McGrath so he was heading for home. In an interesting side story, Robin was carrying the ashes of his grandfather. His grandfather had bee one of the early competitors in the Iditarod dog sled race and this was Robin’s tribute to him. He didn’t make it this year but he’s a strong guy and I’m sure he will in the future. Robin was the first guy to mention how heavy my bike must be. As he was coming up behind me he saw the bike fall over several time because it overbalanced and was too heavy for me to correct.   MY BIKE AND RUSSELL’S AT LUCE’S. TOO TIRED AND LAZY TO DRAG IT UP THE HILL At Luce’s the weight of my bike affected my next decision. It’s a steep hill up to the resort and I chose to leave my bike on the river and carry only my bottles up to the restaurant and cabins. There was nobody who was going to steal it and at that point I just didn’t care. There was a large flotilla of bikes up at the resort and one last cabin was available which I shared with Russell Worthington from Australia. I had a burger and fries an order of chili and cheese and then hit the bunk for about 5 hours. My plan had been for shorter rests than that but the extreme slow going had changed my perspective. I was no longer so much racing as trying to survive. Got up at  3 am and got myself organized to head for the first checkpoint at Yentna Station. It was only 8 miles but this of course took almost 4 hours. The great treat with this section is that were brief stretches where I could actually get on the bike and ride. They usually lasted anywhere from 50 yards to 150 but they gave my legs a break and gave me some hope. RIDERS PUSHING THEIR BIKES ALONG THE YENTNA I arrived at Yentna at 8:10 am on the second morning. This was about 32 hours behind the fantasy schedule I had for myself before the snows came. I stopped for a breakfast of pancakes and coffee and had a nice visit with Shawn McTaggart. She was in the foot division and seemed in good spirits and moving well. I dried some socks that were still damp from the day before and finally headed out after several hours. I’d hoped to be able to ride at least some of the time but almost right away a snowmobile came towards me on the trail. They obviously help to pack all the snow but their immediate effect is to leave the trail too soft to ride. I could still see a sled track and after several miles followed it up the bank on the south side of the river. I followed the track down onto another body of water, after which I was passed by another snowmobile.  At this point I could no longer see the track but continued on thinking the snowmobile had wiped it out. I ended up going al most 2 miles down the trail until I was passed by a group of snowmobiles coming towards me. They told me I was going the wrong way, which I’d begun to suspect but didn’t want to believe. This diversion ended up costing me over 3 hours and definitely took some wind out of my sails. I’d hoped to reach the Skwentna Roadhouse checkpoint but the 3 hours wasted would make that difficult unless there were some long riding stretches. As I got back to the Yentna I met up with Billy Koitzsch. Billy is one of the partners in the HydroHeater bladder that I use in my Camelbak. I would end up spending the next 3 days near Billy. We’d hoped for some ride able stretches althe Yentna but there were a few snowmobiles out and about and they made it too loose to ride so we trudged on. It’s easy to get discouraged at the snail-like pace but Billy had done the race many times and assured me that we’d eventually be on our bikes. Billy pushed his bike a little faster than me and gradually pulled away and I settled in for the long push to Skwentna. I’d been up since 3 am and realized that my unplanned detour meant that I would be out over 24 hours if I hoped to reach that checkpoint. As night came on and the snow set up a bit, there were short stretches where I could briefly ride and they made me feel better things were ahead. BILLY KOITZSCH I passed a sign saying 13 miles (approximately) to Skwentna and it was already 20 hours since I started out in the early hours. Shortly after this I saw some lights angling towards me from the shore and it turned out to be Jeff, Heather, Jay and Tim. They told me about Cyndi and Andy, the couple there who open their home to ITI racers and said I needed to try the spaghetti and for sure the cinnamon buns. I decided that another 7 hours required to reach Skwentna would be over the top at this point in the race and went in for food and a sleep. I was far from alone as there were at least 6 bikes out front. Cyndi was up and made me feel welcome with a generous bowl of spaghetti and a hot cider like drink. Sebastiano and Ausilia, 2 racers from Italy, were just finished eating and headed off to the bunkhouse. Eric Warkentin and Louise Kobin came in as they had finished sleeping and were having their breakfast before heading out. Louse is the women’s record holder with an amazing time of less than 4 days last year. I slept/ rested for about 4 hours and then roused myself and went and had coffee and cinnamon buns as well as a can of Boost. By this time, Cyndi was sleeping and her husband Andy was caring for us. I’d hoped we’d be doing some riding but unfortunately, it had snowed about 3 or 4 inches during the night so we were reduced to pushing again. Sebastiano and Ausilia had headed out shortly before me and I could see their lights in the distance. I finally passed a sign that said 2 miles to Skwentna but I guess this one should have said approximately as well as it turned out to be about 3 ½ miles. That doesn’t sound like a big deal but it was at least an hour of extra travel time. In the course of this race I found myself going from highs to lows and that last stretch into the checkpoint had me on a definite low cycle.  My knee was sore and my mind was weak. SKWENTNA ROADHOUSE It was noon on the 3rd day so I’d been going for 70 hours to cover 90 miles. More pushing lay ahead if I carried on immediately so I decided to take a break and eat and sleep till dusk. Had a huge bowl of lasagna and even a salad. It was a great treat to have real food. Then the ultimate luxury, I had a shower. One other key benefit for me here is that I was able to buy a good supply of Aleve as my knee was inflamed and required one or two every two hours. I wasn’t going to have enough and I’d been having to take them sparingly so this was a big psychological as well as a physical boost. I rested well, ate some more and then headed out at just after 6 and magically, the track was firm and I was able to ride. It was great to be on the bike and moving forward much more quickly. I can’t say I was setting a fierce pace as the previous 75 miles of pushing had taken something out of my old legs. However, it was great to realize that my knee felt fine. Better things were ahead. After 3 miles I reached a 7 mile stretch across the swamp and again it was firm enough to ride. Just when I felt things were looking up I heard the ominous sound of a snowmobile coming up behind me. It was a trail groomer that in the long term would help but meant more pushing in my immediate future. I pushed for about 2 ½ hours and could feel the trail firming up underfoot so I got back on the bike. For the most part, I was able to ride the last 3 mile across the swamp. I then hit the Shell hills that were steep enough that it was back to pushing but my legs felt fresher for having been on the bike and it went well. After reaching the top I was back on the bike for the most part. This was starting to be fun. Not too far from the Shell Lake Lodge, I saw someone had set up in a bivy, which seemed somewhat surprising. It turns out it was Russell Worthington and unfortunately this signaled the end of his race. His freehub wouldn’t engage and the idea of continuing to push his bike all the way to the finish was far too much to bear after all we’d already faced. Hope to see him back in the future. At Shell Lake Lodge, there were about 6 bikes out front as I pulled in at 2 am. We could sleep on the floor with our own sleeping bags and I could see Sebastiano, Ausilia, Sean Grady, Steve Wilkinson and Dave Kelley. I found a place to hang my damp clothes near the stove and found a place on the floor with a couple cushions from a couch for a sleep. I was up at about 6:30 to take in some food, fill my camelbak and bottles and head for the next checkpoint and first food drop at Finger Lake. Dave Kelly got on his way just before me but I was disappointed to learn that Sean and Steve had chosen not to continue. They have both completed the ITI before so perhaps they didn’t feel the need to punish their bodies any more this year. This leg involved a steady climb through the bush away from the lake followed by fairly open stretches of fields surrounded by bush on each side. I had the impression of a super sized golf course. I’d hoped to be able to ride a good deal of this section but it was fairly blown in and involved more pushing than pedaling. I have to say that I could see Dave’s tracks and he was able to ride a good deal more than me. Overall though, this stretch went very well and I arrived at Interlake Lodge on Finger Lake at 5:30 in the evening. As I came across the lake, Sebastiano and Ausilia joined up with me and we rolled in together.   AT FINGER LAKE CHECKPOINT Dave and Billy K were already there and we all joined up to eat the burritos that were supplied by the race at this stop. This was the place for our first food drops and as is the accepted norm, Dave had already scavenged through all of the drop bags of the people who had dropped out of the race. He was excited to find some local type of pizzas in Brij Potnis’s bag. We feasted on these after they were heated in the kitchen. I really didn’t need any food from my drop bag but did change up all the batteries in my lights and my Hydro Heater. I also grabbed some other people’s supplies to get a little variety in my diet. I had a good sleep for about 4 hours then got ready and headed out at midnight just after Dave and Billy. For the first time in a number of days, I could envision a schedule that would get me to the finish well within the ten day time limit. This next section involved the infamous “Happy Steps”. They are these impossibly steep uphills and downhills up and down from the Happy River. I’d read a description by Louis Kobin where she had to push her bike for two steps and then lock on her brakes to get up the longest hill. I couldn’t even do that which speaks to the fact that she’s a lot stronger than me or that my bike was far too heavy. ( or both) My bike was 56% of my body weight. By comparison Billy K’s was 33%. The end result is that I ended up dragging my bike up the hill sideways. It didn’t exactly fly up the hill but I could literally stop with the bike sideways and rest up for my next charge uphill. A little unorthodox to be sure but I was desperate and it worked. After the top, it was rolling terrain and it was possible to ride a good deal of the way. Again, my lack of skill showed up as I could see that Billy was able to ride a good deal more of the trail than myself. This is a combination of both strength and skill as the faster speed you can maintain; the easier it is to keep a straight line on the narrow trail. All the walking had left me without the power to keep the speed up so I was still off the bike for long stretches. I found as I headed towards Puntilla Lake that a number of planes were passing overhead on their way to Rainy Pass Lodge. I could tell I was getting closer as they became lower on their way to landing. Finally I arrived at 3 pm after a 15 hour session. CABIN AT RAINY PASS LODGE The timing was such that I had a long rest ahead as it is considered best to leave in the very early morning to go over Rainy Pass in order to arrive at the top in the middle of the day. I was again at the cabin with Sebastiano, Ausilia, Billy and Dave and we were becoming a close-knit group. We were in places 5th through 9th in the bike division and the last survivors in the race. We were all feeling good about our chances, especially Dave and myself, as we were the only rookies left in the bike division. One of the sayings I had heard certainly seemed to apply to our group. It is “ when conditions are easy, you race each other. When conditions are hard, you help each other.” The pass had been going very well and we were hearing that it was packed whereby people were able to ride for a good deal of the way. I headed out at 1:30 in the morning with Sebastiano and Ausilia  and we talked and agreed that we would stay together. I had made my first tactical error as I had dressed for the weather down in the valley rather than for what we were likely to face on the pass. The first three miles were a gentle uphill in the trees and shrub bushes and it was all ride able. The conditions turned around instantly as we turned and headed straight up into the first leg of the pass. The wind was blasting from the right and blowing in the trail so there was no more riding. Sebastiano took the lead as it was hard to even stay on the somewhat packed trail and he was good at finding the way. Relatively speaking, this was still steady going and we reached a plateau and actually dropped down a little before the real climb to come.   ON THE WAY UP THE PASS It was at this point where there was still a little bit of shelter that I should have stopped and adjusted my headwear. I had goggle with a nose protector as well as a neoprene mask and given the weather that we’d already faced, I really should have taken every precaution to protect myself. I had a balaclava, a toque and a neck tube which I had up over my face as well as my Casco glasses/goggles. The neck tube ended up iced up and it tends to lose it’s thermal protection then. I think the neoprene plus the neck tube would have been the answer. We all know that hindsight is 20/20 but at the time I didn’t sense the severity of the conditions and didn’t take the necessary measures. I’ll learn and do better in the future. VERY OPEN PASS WITH A FIERCE WIND Sebastiano was a tower of strength on the way to the top. He not only led the way to break trail but on every steep rise he charged up and then came bake to help first Ausilia and then myself get over the tough sections. We slowly made our way to the summit of the pass and arrived after 10 hours, which is apparently quite good in order to arrive at Rohn in 13 or 14 hours. Starting down from the top was somewhat easier as we had gravity on our side but the wind still blew viciously and the trail was still blown in. After about an hour we saw a snowmobile approaching and it turned out to be Rob who is famed as the main man at the checkpoint in Rohn. He was heading to Shell Lake for a pre dogsled race party but assured us that we’d be well cared for by OE at the tent at Rohn. He also took the time to alert me to the fact that my face had some definite issues with frostbite. It was extremely exposed where we were but about 10 minutes later We stopped and I hunted up some dry headwear and better protected the affected areas. As it turned out it was truly a case of closing the barn door after all of the cows were out. We were now into what is known as the Dalzell Gorge, which is a narrow canyon heading down from the pass. At this point we were caught up by Billy K. Billy had left Rainy Pass Lodge 2 ½ hours before us but he’d stopped at the emergency cabin near the top of the pass to take a break and thaw out his hydration pack. Like him I’d worn my HydroHeater on the outside of my jacket and near the top of the pass I could no longer get any water. The element is designed to thaw any ice in the hose in the hose and nozzle but in this case, the bladder itself must have been frozen. Not surprising as it was -26C with a wind that must have put the windchill well below      -50. We were reaching a more sheltered area on the trail where it was possible to ride but my eyes were a problem, as I couldn’t see well enough to stay on the trail. Sebastiano and Ausilia were my protectors and wanted to stay with me, but as we got down into the more sheltered parts of the trail I convinced them that I would be fine and would make my own way to Rohn. DALZELL GORGE WAS BEAUTIFUL. UNFORTUNATELY I COULD BARELY SEE IT My eyes were extremely light sensitive and as it turned out. My right cheek was so swollen that it was blocking my right eye but I was able to pick some long stretches and get on the bike for about 1/3 of the time. As it got further down into the canyon the trail was along the edge of a small river and it kept crossing back and forth across from one bank to the other. After many hours, I arrived at the confluence with a larger river at which point it was much more open and I was able to ride. At certain points it was glare ice and I twice found myself skidding across the ice after my wheel shot out from under me. It was on this stretch that I had my first hint of hallucinations. I wanted to see the building at Rohn and I found myself seeing buildings all along the edge of the river. At one point I could see a whole village. When the trail turned off the river into the bush I took it to mean that the checkpoint was close. It was blown in so I was back to pushing the bike. The hallucinations took on a new form on this stretch. As I walked along, I saw a sign on the edge of the trail that said, “ ROHN, wasn’t built in a day.” I could see it plain as day but when I went to touch it it was simply a pine sprig against the white snow backdrop. Shortly after I saw “ when in ROHN, do as the ROHNans do” and later on there was ‘” ROHN, population 300 moose” Finally I found myself on an airfield runway and imagined I could see a plane parked on the other side but in this case it was true. I was finally at Rohn and very happy to be there even if it took much longer than I expected. It was 9 PM so the trip from the summit had taken me 9 ½ hours. Time toe eat some hot food and sleep. I was worried about the frostbite on my face and to a certain degree on my fingers as well.  The hands had taken me by surprise, as I didn’t sense that they were becoming frostbitten.  All of the pushing of my bike left my hands almost continually numb and as a result I didn’t really sense that they were not just numb but in fact frostbitten. I resolved to have a good amount of hot food and drink and then a good sleep before deciding my fate. I had more than 3 days left to cover 140 miles and this stretch of trail was virtually all hard packed and ride able so I really wanted my reward for all the drudgery of pushing the bike. Morning would tell the tale. After a good sleep, I awoke to see that Billy, Ausilia and Sebastiano had headed on their way. OE was the main helper at the tent but during the night, race organizer Bill Merchant had come from McGrath with his snowmobile and packer and was there as well. OE took a picture of my swollen face with my phone and this was the first time I’d seen the extent of the frostbite. My nose was seriously discolored as well as both cheeks. My hands were swollen from frostbite as well. I never ever like to consider dropping out of an event and won’t even consider doing so if it’s just a matter of my being tired physically or mentally. I can even accept a degree of injury and once rode the last 1200 kms of a race from San Francisco to Portland with a broken collarbone. I guess my line in the sand is that I’m not prepared to risk permanent damage for the sake of some macho image of myself overcoming all obstacles. I also don’t want to put someone who might have to rescue me at risk. SO here I was with a face that risked permanent damage and hands that weren’t functioning well enough to take care of myself over the next 140 miles. I had no choice and told Bill that I was dropping out. Bill had let me make my own decision but gave his opinion that in his mind I’d made the right and the courageous choice. My race came to an end after 214 miles. Of that distance I rode for about 38 miles and pushed my bike for 176 miles I’ve often thought about some tough race where I’m feeling sorry for myself and jokingly said that you can’t just sit down and say, “I quit.” Well here I was in the middle of nowhere and that’s exactly what I’d just done. Bill then phoned his wife Kathi and she set about arranging my evacuation. She got back to us after about an hour to say that Michael Schoder would be flying in to take me to Shell Lake and from there I could get a flight to Anchorage. They would contact me when he was ready to leave McGrath. At this point, Bill told me that the Iditarod dog sled volunteers had invited me over to their cabin and the nurse wanted to check out my injuries to see if she could be of assistance. It’s a cozy little cabin that for 50 months a year serves as an emergency shelter for any pilot who is forced to land at Rohn. Now it was teeming with activity as they prepared for the 60 or 70 dog teams that would be coming through in several days. I was amazed to meet a number of the volunteers and learn that they come from all over North America. Three of them including the leader at this checkpoint Jasper were from Minnesota, one from Wyoming, and another from Arizona. It’s certainly a famous event but I didn’t realize what a diverse appeal it had for the rest of the United States. I had taped my feet with Leukotape on the first night and really not touched them since and they had caused me no trouble. The nurse suggested that I’d be wise to remove the tape to let my feet air out. In doing so I removed tape from 2 of my toes and found that the nails came off. They had given me absolutely no trouble but were now in pain. She taped me up but I couldn’t get my boots back on. I was reduced to wearing my down booties with a stuff sack taped over each foot. Michael came and upon seeing me volunteered that he was going to fly me straight to Anchorage and the hospital. This is a very small plane so my bike would have to come later. We loaded me and my gear in the plane and he padded me up with two quilts to keep me warm. The plane seats two with me directly behind the pilot. It is a ski plane so we skimmed across the snow before rising above the trees. We followed the route through Rainy Pass and I got to look down on my nemesis. My eyes were very light sensitive so I could only look down briefly before covering face but the panorama as we flew is was simply stunning. It was possible to see the Iditarod trail as it wound it’s way through the bush. I had to keep my face completely covered and at length, I fell asleep for the last part of the journey. We flew into Anchorage and landed at a small airfield with a snowy runway for bush planes with skis. As we taxied up to the edge of the runway, I saw an ambulance and a fire truck as Michael had phoned ahead. My payment for this great service was just the cost of fuel as he insisted that was all he wanted. We pulled up and used my credit card to fill. Cost me $134 which beats the $4900 it cost me to get a helicopter ride at the Trans Alps race 4 years ago. Spent 2 days in the hospital where they hooked me up to IV’s and rehydrated me and fed me. I saw the local frostbite specialist, Dr O’Malley and after examining me, he said that I would recover fine. He did say that it was very wise that I chose not to go on or I would likely have lost my nose. I’d been feeling comfortable with my decision but that confirmed it for me. Bob Ostrom is one of the partners in HydroHeater and a racer as well. We’ve become friends over the last several years at the Arrowhead race and he and his wife Katie insisted that I come and stay with them. It was nice not to be sitting in a hotel room and I had a great time with the 2 of them as well as their 3 year old son Taite and their 1 year old daughter Abbie. I also spent a good deal of time with Oddie the dog.  Oddie seemed to think that the preferred treatment for frostbite was a good lick. We went over to Speedway Cycle as my bike had been shipped back to Anchorage and I’d arranged for them to package it and send it back to Winnipeg. Greg had run out to the airport and picked it up and it was boxed and ready to go. Great service and really friendly guys. I also returned my sat phone that had allowed me to contact Lynne. It hadn’t always worked and it worked out to $70 / call but there was some comfort in knowing it was possible to reach the outside world. I took Bob out for dinner one night and arranged for my winged angel Michael and his wife Anne to join us. Anne was the first female finisher as she completed the race  on foot in 7th overall in 8 days and 2 hours. It was great to meet her. She looked far fresher than me as she actually competed in the event she had trained to do. I think one of the other differences is that we both had the letdown that comes after we finished but I didn’t have the tremendous lift that comes from finishing. Nonetheless, I was glad we could get together. SEBASTIANO AND AUSILIA NEARING THE FINISH. I WOULD HAVE LIKED TO BE WITH THEM. After dinner we went over to the European B & B where a number of the competitors were staying. I wanted to see Sebastiano and Ausilia and they were leaving the next morning. I also caught up with Pavel Richtr. Pavel was 3rd overall and just a great guy. W. e had met at the pre-race party and discussed a long race in his Czech Republic. Hope to try it sometime in the future. The group  were  just sitting down to dinner and it looked like a real feast. It looked pretty nice and I think I will stay there next year. There I’ve said it. I will return. It was a great experience with not quite the ending I was looking for. It certainly let me examine my many flaws and for the most part I was pleased with my effort. I dug pretty deep into the “suitcase of courage” as my friend Brian is always saying. I clearly needed to manage my environment better over Rainy Pass and having done it once I’m sure I can make the changes necessary for a better result. They would be as follow:  1. Dress for the pass as I leave Rainy Pass Lodge – it’s much easier to remove layers when you’re too hot than the reverse  2. Put the Hydroheater under my jacket to have assured fluids. 3. Start up some hand warmers and have them ready when needed 4. Stop at the cabin if you need to take a break 5. Wear my goggles with a neoprene facemask as well as a neck tube overtop. Also consider layers of tape across my nose and cheeks under all that for an additional layer of protection. 6. Lighten my load on the bike. I took more clothes and especially more food than I needed and the extra weight proved very difficult in the push a bike sections. 7. Spend more time at Springhill pushing my bike uphill I come out of this with no regrets. I said at the start that I chose to go to McGrath not because it was easy but because it was hard. It was all I could have wanted on that score and more. Alaska is ahead of me one to nothing. I’ll try to even it up next year.


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Membership

Membership

Like riding bikes?  Why not join the Olympia Cycling Club? The OCC offers:

  • racing teams – mountain and cyclocross mostly
  • group rides
  • special events
  • development of the sport of cycling
  • shop and technical support (discounts for team members)
  • doing good stuff on bikes since 1979
  • and is open to all ages and abilities

Annual club membership fee is $10 ($5 for all additional immediate family members, married, common-in-law, long time partner); payable through PayPal by April 1, 2016.   Follow these steps to join the Olympia Cycling Club:

  1. Fill out the form and then submit
  2. When you submit the form you will be taken back to the same page – don’t panic, now go to the “Buy Now” button at the bottom of the page to initiate the payment of club fees.
Membership Form
  • Please fill out the following information. Club dues should be paid by April 1, 2016 (no fooling). Pay club fees using the PayPal option at the bottom of the page.

  • Members are expected to contribute to the club and its activities, let us know how you would like to help, or ask us how. Check all the boxes to indicate how you would like to support the club.
  •   Club Executive Duties
      Race Planning
      Race Prep
      Lead Club Rides
      Trail Building
      Other (fill out below)

  • Once you have filled the form and submitted it you will be redirected back to this page. Go to the bottom of the page and use the PayPal payment link to complete your payment. Thanks
Membership Fees

 

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Swan River 1200 Registration Form

Swan River 1200 Registration Form

  • To qualify for the Swan River 1200 you need to have completed a 200km, 300km, 400km, and 600km prior to 1200. The qualification distances must have been completed between 2015 and 2016. Please provide your homologation numbers for completed qualifying events. Subsequently indicate your intended qualifying events. Completing this form does not guarantee your entry, the event organizers will confirm your entry upon proof of successful completing of your qualifying events.
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Swan River 1200 Brevet Waiver

Swan River 1200 Brevet Waiver

  • Manitoba Randonneurs, Olympia Cycle and Ski (Portage Avenue), Olympia Cycling Club, the Province of Manitoba and subsequent municipalities, their directors, officers, employees, instructors, guides, agents, representatives, independent contractors, subcontractors, suppliers, sponsors, heirs, family, successors and assigns (all of whom are hereinafter referred as “the Releasees”)DEFINITION In this Release Agreement: the term “brevet” shall include all activities, services and use of facilities either provided by or arranged by the Releasees, including, but not limited to: orientation and instruction sessions; recreational activities undertaken during the event, tour; travel by bike; travel by foot; all travel either within or beyond the designated boundaries, including in the backcountry and on logging roads and trails.
  • ASSUMPTION OF RISKS I am aware that brevets involves many inherent risks, dangers and hazards, including but not limited to: exposed rock, earth, water or other natural objects; trees, tree wells, tree stumps, forest deadfall; holes and depressions on or beneath the pavement, trail or surface; variable and difficult weather conditions; changes or variations in the terrain which may create blind spots or areas of reduced visibility; streams and creeks; cliffs; crevasses; travel on highways, municipal roads, back-country roads; road-banks and cut-banks; impact or collision with other vehicles, becoming lost or separated from the guides or other participants; mechanical failure of mountain bikes and related equipment; extreme and rapidly changing weather conditions; encounter with wildlife including bears; avalanches; the failure to operate a bike safely or within one’s own ability; negligence of other cyclists and other persons; AND NEGLIGENCE ON THE PART OF THE RELEASEES, INCLUDING THE FAILURE BY THE RELEASEES TO SAFEGUARD OR PROTECT ME FROM THE RISKS, DANGERS AND HAZARDS REFERRED TO ABOVE. Communication in the terrain may be difficult, and in the event of an accident, rescue, medical treatment and evacuation may not be available or may be delayed. Weather conditions may be extreme and can change rapidly and without warning.I AM AWARE OF THE RISKS, DANGERS AND HAZARDS ASSOCIATED WITH MOUNTAIN BIKING AND I FREELY ACCEPT AND FULLY ASSUME ALL SUCH RISKS, DANGERS AND HAZARDS AND THE POSSIBILITY OF PERSONAL INJURY, DEATH, PROPERTY DAMAGE OR LOSS RESULTING THEREFROM.

    RELEASE OF LIABILITY, WAIVER OF CLAIMS AND INDEMNITY AGREEMENT In consideration of the RELEASEES agreeing to my participation in mountain biking and permitting my use of their services, equipment and other facilities, and for other good and valuable consideration, the receipt and sufficiency of which is acknowledged, I hereby agree as follows:

  • 1. TO WAIVE ANY AND ALL CLAIMS that I have or may in the future have against the RELEASEES AND TO RELEASE THE RELEASEES from any and all liability for any loss, damage, expense or injury, including death, that I may suffer or that my next of kin may suffer, as a result of my participation in mountain biking, DUE TO ANY CAUSE WHATSOEVER, INCLUDING NEGLIGENCE, BREACH OF CONTRACT, OR BREACH OF ANY STATUTORY OR OTHER DUTY OF CARE, INCLUDING ANY DUTY OF CARE OWED UNDER THE OCCUPIERS LIABILITY ACT, ON THE PART OF THE RELEASEES, AND FURTHER INCLUDING THE FAILURE ON THE PART OF THE RELEASEES TO SAFEGUARD OR PROTECT ME FROM THE RISKS, DANGERS AND HAZARDS OF PARTICIPATING IN BREVETS REFERRED TO ABOVE;
  • 2. TO HOLD HARMLESS AND INDEMNIFY THE RELEASEES for any and all liability for any property damage, loss or personal injury to any third party resulting from my participation in brevets;
  • 3. This Release Agreement shall be effective and binding upon my heirs, next of kin, executors, administrators, assigns and representatives, in the event of my death or incapacity;
  • 4. This Release Agreement and any rights, duties and obligations as between the parties to this Release Agreement shall be governed by and interpreted solely in accordance with the laws of the province where the brevets takes place and no other jurisdiction; and
  • 5. Any litigation involving the parties to this Release Agreement shall be brought solely within the province where the mountain biking takes place and shall be within the exclusive jurisdiction of the Courts of that province. In entering into this Release Agreement I am not relying on any oral or written representations or statements made by the Releasees with respect to the safety of participating in mountain biking, other than what is set forth in this Release Agreement. I CONFIRM THAT I HAVE READ AND UNDERSTOOD THIS RELEASE AGREEMENT PRIOR TO SIGNING IT, AND I AM AWARE THAT BY SIGNING THIS RELEASE AGREEMENT I AM WAIVING CERTAIN LEGAL RIGHTS WHICH I OR MY HEIRS, NEXT OF KIN, EXECUTORS, ADMINISTRATORS, ASSIGNS AND REPRESENTATIVES MAY HAVE AGAINST THE RELEASEES.
  • Adding your name, email, and the date to the form indicates you have read and agree to the conditions of the above waiver.
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Swan River 1200 Brevet Payment

Swan River 1200 Brevet Payment

Cost of the Swan River 1200 Brevet is $100 CDN. Payment is by credit card or PayPal using the PayPal link below. In the event you do not qualify for the event you will be refunded your payment.

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Swan River 1200 Brevet Registration

Swan River 1200 Brevet Registration

Manitoba Randonneurs with support from Olympia Cycle and Ski and  the Olympia Cycling Club are pleased to bring you the Swan River 1200, Manitoba’s first 1200km brevet. To register for this event you need to have completed a 200K, 300K, 400K, and 600K in 2015/16. If you have completed (or indicate to us which brevets you will be using to  complete these distances) you can register for the  1200. Registration is a 3 step process: 1) complete the registration form, 2) read and accept the waiver, 3) complete the payment. Please let us know if you have any questions. Proceed to registration
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Lindsay 2013 Iditarod

Iditarod Trail Invitational 2013 I’m at the Anchorage airport on Sunday evening, a little over a week since I started the Iditarod trail invitational. I’ve been finished the race for several days and this has given me time to reflect on my experience between trying to catch up on much needed sleep. I had a very challenging time at last year’s race what with pushing my bike for 190 miles out of the 210 I covered. My race ended with some severe frostbite to my face and hands, which forced me to be evacuated from the Rohn checkpoint. I was facing some demons as I prepared for some this years event. On my first attempt at the race, I carried far too much gear so I made some tough choices and managed to drop the weight of my bike from 73 lbs. to 60. This made a huge difference when it came to pushing my bike up some of the many steep hills. I still had more food than necessary and didn’t need to pick up much at either of the drops but this is a reasonable precaution in case the weather makes the course much slower, so I’ll live with that. The other area I had to address was improving my gear to protect my hands and face against frostbite. Lynne’s friend Sharon did a great job of sewing in more insulation into my handlebar poggies and they proved to be much warmer. In order to protect my nose and cheeks, I got a new balaclava with a built in neoprene cover for my nose, new goggles with a nose piece as well a much better Icebreaker wool face cover. I also took to copying the Iditarod dog mushers and covered my nose and cheeks with tape. We had a chilly winter so I was confident in these changes. There were a number of veterans from last year’s event as well as many people I’ve come to know from the Arrowhead 135. It was great to renew acquaintances at the pre race party and the race instruction meeting. I flew in from Minneapolis on the same flight as Dan Dittmer, Mike Creigo and Ken Zylstra. They were all entered for the first time. My friends Charlie Farrow and Jason Buffington came from Duluth for their first attempt at the ITI. At the B&B I met up with Ausilia and Sebastiano from Italy. We had travelled through Rainy Pass together in the horrible blizzard last year. Everyone I’d met last year seemed very pleased that I still had my nose. The race starts on Sunday at 2 pm on Knik Lake which means we must leave on the bus from Anchorage at 11. I still find it strange to have racers sitting in the bar on Knik Lake consuming cheeseburgers and fries an hour before the start. Such is the nature of an event. Where the winner averaged slightly over 7 kms per hour ( I was 4.9 Kms). It is a casual start with many of the fast riders lined up at the back of the pack till someone says go and we head across the lake and off on our journey. The first 30 miles offer a number of routes to reach Flathorn Lake. The whole field in front of me chose to go a longer route which got us on an asphalt road for 20 Kms. When we finally reached the snowmobile trail leading to the lake I was completely by myself. It was much easier than last year when the deep snow made riding impossible but there had been about 18 to 24 inches of snow in the last week so it was hard work. More than a few times I chose to walk at 4 k as opposed to riding at 5. In a race lasting 5 days or more I need to use my energy wisely. I reached Flathorn Lake at dusk and I was greeted by a moose on the trail. They like the easier going and aren’t inclined to move for cyclists. I wasn’t sure what to do. I blinked my headlamp on and off for several minutes and he ambled away. This section of about 6 k was almost all pushing and there were many areas of overflow where you needed to pick through wet sections. Shortly after Flathorn comes the Dismal Swamp. Here, I was caught by Ken and Mike from Minneapolis as well as my friend Bob Ostrom. Bob is the co-inventor of the HydroHeater camelback. He was going all the way to Nome this year. I joined up with them and we went down the Susitna river and then up the Yentna to the Yentna Roadhouse at mile 57. We arrived there after 13 hours compared to the 42 it took me last year. These places give you a chance to dry some clothes over the wood stove and eat some real food. I had two bowls of soup and a grilled cheese sandwich and headed on my way before my travelling companions. As we’d arrived I’d seen Charlie Farrow about to leave. After several hours on the trail, I could see lights coming towards me and it turned out that Charlie was on the wrong trail in that it was not ridden in by any other riders. We were able to cut across the river and get on the more worn in trail. From this point on we would spend the rest of the race together. We arrived at the Swentkna Roadhouse after 20 3/4 hours which put me over 2 days ahead of last year’s pace! What a difference a year makes. It was the middle of the day but we’d been awake for about 27 hours and needed to have some sleep. We got a room with two twins and lay down for about 3 1/2 hours. It felt good to have a rest and it was better to wait till later in the day to ride as the mild temps made the trail soft. We left at about 5 in the evening and had a good ride across a 7 km stretch of water into the Shell Hills. I was telling Charlie how brutal they were but my lighter bike combined with the fact that there wasn’t 34 inches of new snow made it feel quite manageable. We arrived at the Shell Lake Lodge and had a food break with a bowl of hearty soup and good bread. From here we had a 20 mile section to Finger Lake which is fairly flat after an initial climb. We expected to make good time but it turned out that this was the worst trail we faced in the whole race. We could see that even the leaders were forced to walk for long stretches. It took many more hours and much more energy than we expected. You can never let your guard down on this trail. At Finger Lake, we were supplied with a meal of burritos and a cabin for sleeping. We also got our first drop bag which we’d mailed ahead. I needed batteries for my lights but very little food as the race was moving much more quickly than I expected. We slept in the cabin for about three hours and headed on with a gloriously sunny morning. After going about 3 Kms I realized that I’d left my Camelback behind. It was discouraging to go back but I’d definitely need it. Charlie carried on at a casual pace and after about 4 hours I caught up to him. This section has some very steep hills going down and then up from the Happy River. These are the famous Happy Steps and last year I literally had to drag my bike up them. It was more manageable this year but still a huge challenge. We arrived at Rainy Pass lodge on Puntilla Lake at 6 in the evening. At mile 165, I was 2 days and 20 hours ahead of last year’s pace. We had a good rest here as it is considered best to leave for the climb over the pass somewhere between midnight and 6 am in order to arrive at the top of the pass in daylight. We ate food supplied by the race and slept in the cozy cabin and got on our way at 1 am. At this point, I was dealing with the memories of my disastrous time on the pass last year. I had resolved to dress warmer before leaving the lodge. I also taped my nose and cheeks. I left the tape in place all the way to the finish. This year, the weather in the pass proved to be as gentle as last year’s was severe. Long stretches were rideable and we were through before daylight. The ride down the other side through the Dalzell Gorge is beautiful and fun. We arrived at the checkpoint at Rohn slightly before noon; so I was now 3 days and 9 hours ahead of last year’s pace and with my face and hands in fine shape. OE and Rob man the checkpoint and were happy to see me in good shape after last year’s issues. Unfortunately, this meant too much visiting and not enough sleeping. At the same time, I was interviewed by Craig Medred of the Alaska Dispatch. Craig follows the race and provides great media coverage but again it cut into rest time. When some other riders arrived and it became clear that we weren’t going to sleep, we decided to get on our way. At this point in the race, I estimate that we had laid down to sleep for about 11 hours and I had slept maybe 5 or 6. We were heading into new territory for me as I’d been flown out from Rohn last year. It was 90 miles to the next checkpoint at Nikolai. It proved to be a tough stretch as we crossed the Farewell Burn, which was North America’s largest forest fire. It was bumpy and really beat you up. In this stretch was the famous Post Glacier, a cascade of ice that we had to go up. Many people have been hurt there including my friend Lance Andre who fell and broke his arm two years ago. I carried ice cleats to put over my boots but we were able to find a line just off the ice on the extreme left hand side. After passing through the burn in got a little better but there were still many steep push a bike sections. We were both tired and clumsy which resulted in many detours off the trail. Finally, we were caught by Bob, Ken and Mike and they were moving so much better than us that it showed us the reality of our situation. Our joking line was “their spirit broken, they decided to bivy”. It was still still 13 miles to an emergency BLM cabin but we were moving so slowly that we were looking at over 3 hours. It was about minus 20 C so I found myself going through a mental checklist in preparation for stopping, in order to quickly get into the warmth of my sleeping bag with everything necessary. I needed my down jacket, my Sporthill jacket, my headware and mitts and most of all, my camelback and a liter bottle of water. I have a new inflatable Thermarest that goes inside the bicycle sac under the sleeping bag. It is warm and comfortable but it takes up a fair amount of space so it was tight to get everything in. However, once I got settled, I had my best sleep of the whole race. We got on our way after about 4 1/2 hours at 6 am and could immediately feel that we were moving better. After several hours we got into a flatter section with dry packed snow and we were able to make good time. We came to a bridge over Sullivan Creek. There is a bucket here so you can fill your bottle, which helped to extend our water supply. At this point we caught up to David Johnson who’d passed us while we were bivied. David was in the walker category but make no mistake, he was running the course. We’d seen him along the way and he’s truly amazing and a great guy to be around. We got into the checkpoint in the village of Nikolai at about 4 pm so that 90 miles had taken us 24 hours. They supplied lasagna and bread as well as drinks. We spent about an hour there and headed out a little after 5 pm. We were hoping to do this final 80 km section in under 9 hours to bring us in under 4 1/2 days but it was not to be. At Nikolai, we had met with race organizer Bill Merchant and he said the trail to McGrath was “like a highway”, which raised our expectations but the trail proved to be looser than expected and we were both more tired and most especially sleepy than we realized. At about the halfway point Charlie suggested another bivy, but I was like an animal heading for the barn by this point, albeit, very slowly and convinced him to go on. When we were about 5 Kms from the finish we came off the trail onto a road and here we ran into some true frustration as there was no sign indicating which way to go and no bike tracks to be seen. We went one way for about 3 km and then came back and went the other way for an equal distance. We then went back and checked the trail we had been on to make sure that we hadn’t missed an earlier turn. We finally resolved to go further in the first direction and this proved to be correct so we arrived at the finish at 4:45 am or about 1 1/4 hours later than we should have. It was great to be done and it is sort of a mutual admiration society as we all respect each other’s efforts. We were able to consume some of Peter’s famous Mancakes and have a thoroughly enjoyable shower at which point I felt at least partially human again. It was great to share war stories with the others and have the opportunity to meet them more than previously. The race for first proved to be a fierce battle with the first seven riders beating the old record. Jay Petervary won out by not sleeping at all for 2 days and 19 hours and holding off several others on the last section. To give you an idea of the field quality, 7 time winner and 3 time defending champion Pete Basinger was 9th. I had the great pleasure to share the last four days with my friend Charlie, from Duluth. He’s a strong rider and fun person to be with. It made the experience memorable and Charlie topped it of by honouring me with 2 DBD patches at the end of the race. This is the world famous “death before dishonour” crew from Duluth and I am honoured that he bestowed one on me and one for my faithful manservant Andy Lockery. I’m home now and feel that I’m recovering nicely and ready to think about my next event. One funny reaction I’m dealing with is a slight feeling of guilt in that it wasn’t quite as hard as I had anticipated. However, I suppose last year’s race meant that I was owed an “easy” year so I’ll accept any kindness that the trail bestowed. I was racing this week in honour of my longtime cycling friend Marty Halprin. I borrowed one of his old wool jerseys (in this case a Salvarani pro jersey as worn by the winner of the 1965 Tour de France Felice Gimondi). It was warm and comfortable and more importantly it helped me to keep Marty’s memory with me along the trail. Just to serve notice Laverne, it felt so right that I’d like to keep it for my future adventures…..

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Group Rides

Club Rides: All members welcome (no MCA license required; but please note that our IMBA-affiliate club insurance is not liability or comprehensive medical insurance.) If you’re a non-member, you can fill out a trial membership at the ride (smartphone version coming — ooh, fancy). Helmets mandatory. Information regarding rides are shared, drop us an email if want in on that information and we’ll add you to the group email. Want to lead a ride? Sounds good. Show up and do it (or drop us a line and let’s make a plan). Here’s what we do:

  • Saturday morning – “Tour de Nick’s” breakfast ride: Head towards Nick’s Inn in Headingley for breakfast at 8:30 a.m. Meet-up and route varies seasonally, but generally departs Olympia Cyclie and Ski at 7:30 a.m. and heads west on Roblin Blvd and/or Harte/Grand Trunk trails. Basic skill level.
  • Weekend endurance gravel road ride: Departure and route vary. Generally 4 hours plus. Self-supported. Details may be posted via OCC Group email. Intermediate to advanced skill level.
  • Weekend trail ride: Departure and route vary. Generally 4 hours plus. Self-supported. Intermediate to advanced skill level.
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OCC Races

On tap for 2016:

Highly organized and somewhat official races

  • February 13/14, 2016 – Actif Epica  (this one even has its’ own webpage because really, it is a big deal) – St. Malo to Winnipeg
  • July 2, 2016 – Where’s the Beach – Mountain Bike Enduro Race – Birch
  • October 1, 2016 – Deadhorse Cross – Morden

Highly organized and somewhat unofficial races and group rides

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