Bearded Man manages to borrow a bike for the first stage of Crank the Shield. Part 2 in our 4 part special following the Bearded Man around Crank the Shield.
Day 1: Haliburton Forest to Camp Kandalore - 72km 1,105m climbing.
After picking up my bike from Barry at 9:30am I made my way to the rider briefing at 10am, whilst still tweaking my demo bike. With comments like “most of it is rideable”, “we had a massive rain dump yesterday” and the “second half is quicker than the first half” it became apparent that the simple day stats and a ‘relaxed’ approach were going to be put to the test – quite literally!
The start was a 3km flat dirt road leaving Haliburton Forest before turning off the road for our first section of single track, appropriately called Crank The Shield. This is where chaos ensued. Bunches of riders were entering the single track which caused loads of congestion and slowed progress down considerably. This combined with unrelenting mud and a slippery surface killed any rhythm and annihilated the bike.
This is rugged terrain – it felt like someone had walked through the forest with a machete and forged a trail for us to follow! The trails were cut through thick forests, so most of the riding included wet roots, lots of uneven rocks and twisty single track with trees on either side. When there was an opportunity to descend, it required technical skills on a par with Steve Peat’s.
Face plants and front wheel slide outs were common and either stopped the queue of riders or made a space for riders to pass. My fortunes continued in the same vein, when after 5km (the beginning of the single track) my rear derailleur caught a thick branch and completely twisted the cage leaving me a very unhappy gear system – I stopped a few times to try and rectify the cage twist but things just got worse. This, combined with mud build up in the front derailleur meant it was going to be a single speed day.
The 25km before feed station 1 never ended because after the Crank The Shield trail we were thrown onto the Osprey Trail, which was more of the same. After 2 hours and 20 minutes I made feed station 1, yes all 25kms. Fortunately the feed stations were well stocked with E-Load, water, fruit, sweets etc. This was clearly going to be a long day and my brain started doing the maths and I was looking at a 7 hour 30 minute ride!!
From feed station 1 to feed station 2 we were shown our first ATV trail (quad bike trail to us). Although this was not singletrack it was even more of a quagmire, but this time there were occasions when you could enter the mud pool at a reasonable pace and just pray that you weren’t riding into an endless pit. It was relentless. With my drive train not working and with the considerable amount of walking required, I could only take pleasure in my surroundings of Ontario’s wild forest.
After feed station 2, there was 30km left to go and most of the riding was the complete opposite to the first 40km. Aside from the Forest Centre singletrack, one could keep momentum going, which meant speed increased considerably and there was a tar road section called highway 35 that helped pick up some time and finally the end was in sight. After 5 hours and 11 minutes, I limped across the line, with my ‘demo’ bike needing some serious wrenching.
Riders were met at the finish line with an assortment of snacks and most importantly Subway sandwiches and chocolate milk – delicious.
After a shower, relax and a delicious evening meal which consisted of a variety of roast meat, carbs and deserts, and most importantly a Kicking Horse coffee, it was time to collect my bike. The mechanics at Trek replaced my rear derailleur, realigned my wheels and cleaned my braking system, so fingers crossed I should be good to go. A challenging day in the saddle but one that I enjoyed enough to be ready for day 2.
Best time of the day: EricBatty & PeterGlassford (team) TrekCanada?Digica.ca - 3:32:35:15