Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Actif Epica...Snowbike Race

Headed north to Winnipeg with Chris to participate in a local race patterned after Tuscobia and Arrowhead.
The Actif Epica. The options are foot or bike. No skiing available due to road travel. The race follows the Crow Wing Trail starting 45-50 odd road miles south of the city center of Winnipeg, known as The Forks, where 4 rivers come together.
The race coarse ended up being 73 miles, I believe. The original plan was for 83 miles with the missing 10 miles accounted for by snaking up the Seine River but overflow/flooding ruled that out.

The race travels through local communities, remote open prairie, cruising through city streets and ends on a 2 mile stretch on the Red River.

Weather conditions were a bit below 0 degrees F at the start with light winds from SSE. It warmed to 18F during the day so temps were fine. But the wind...even though light to moderate most of the day, sucked any heat out of me when we were riding perpendicular to it.
As with all the winter races, weather conditions could change everything. This could be a brutal race in lower tempos and wind with snow...all very possible.

We had a varied combination of riding surfaces...from pavement to frozen gravel roads, drifted farmers fields and knee deep soft snow we had to plow our bikes through. We hit snow of various depths and firmness. Walking bikes was necessary for a few miles. Some folks chose to use skinny tired bikes, mtn. and cross. They couldn't ride the snow, but they could pick the bike up and run with it. Most of the bikes were fat-bikes.

All and all it was a good vibe race in only it's 2nd year. The Race Director and his staff did an excellent job bringing it all together. Volunteers were great, as they all seem to be in these events.
The finish at the city center, The Forks, was a nice touch as it really brought the racers into the heart of the community, something most races don't or can't do. We had to dodge kids, of all ages, on the river section as the town uses the river as a huge skating rink. The Forks brings everyone together in a mall type area where skates can be rented and a huge wood fire is part of the ambiance.

Photo credit for some of the following to Trail Run Manitoba, David Pensato, and Dwayne Sandall.
Special thanks to Dallas and Sherry Sigurdur for allowing 5 of us from the States to crash at their place...things like that MAKE these races what they are, a community of like minded folks.

My 9:zero:7 at the start. 10-12 lbs of air. I decided to try to compromise on air between hard pack and soft snow. I think it worked out well for me. At times we were hitting 15 mph and I was riding many sections where most of the fat-bikes were walking. Plus, taking the time to let out and add air would have been rather time consuming and cold!
 Yours truly coming into a checkpoint.
 Chris at the start.
 Chris and Helen at the start. Helen flew in the day before the race..
 .... and a week before the race she was in Costa Rica doing the Coastal Challenge. One extreme to the other!
 Chris on the coarse.

 The mascot...The Maniyeti!
 Helen (right) on the coarse.
 Yours truly.
 Jim (local on a fat-bike) and I yo-yoed all day. I was better in the snow, he paced me on the roads but his knowledge of the coarse was indispensable, even though I had a gps, being able to enjoy the ride without worrying about the next turn and getting to know Jim was great. We came in tied at 7th after enjoying a great day of riding.
Photo credit next 3 shots to  Sveta Kovalchuk

Bailey stop about 10 miles from the end....nice touch!
Photo credit for next 3 plus others to Tom Kolesnik.

 A nice finish.


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