So we’re done. It’s just kind of hit home. David, Gary and I have only gone and completed Epic Camp. It’s not so much that it’s a bucket load of training in a far off land, it’s that it’s that THING. That THING that you’ve heard of, dreamt of, wondered about and then BAM, you’ve done it. Really? Three knobbers from the UK have rolled with Newsom (even I’m bored of the ‘e’ gag now), Molina and the Freight Train for 12 days? They’ve been marshalled by King of the Support Crew, Dave ‘Double D’ Dwan. They’ve rocked the Aquathon, Triathlon, competed in the KOM’s, tried a couple of Epic main sets including the bands. Really? Did we just do that? Guess so.
Anyway sleeping’s never been my strong point so after a few convivial ones (but maybe one or two less than Gary) I find myself still awake as we hit the day after Epic. I’m sure I’ll do a wrap at some point but for now let’s take a little look at Day 12 and see how it panned out. Camp minimums for the day were pretty simple 10k run (there was one organised around a lake trail run for the tree hugging fraternity leaving at 645) and the 205k ride to Calgary. Funny how that soon becomes the norm. Like anyone would run 10k before a pretty decent day in the saddle at home. Not normal. Once we rolled into Calgary that was it for the points. No tack ons allowed and once again Johnbo hit the bullseye as the training window was 0430-1630 and we rolled into the hotel carpark pretty much spot on 1630. Fair play to Johnbo. He trains like the rest of us, spends an awful lot of time trying to herd cats (where’s the trail run? What did I order for main course? Do we need wetsuits? What time’s the van leaving? Do you know what room ‘x’ is in?) and as far as I can tell (with the able assistance of Double D) pretty much nails it every time. Not easy, but made to look so on a daily basis.
So there’s been the theme in my blogs of earning your breakfast. I probably did today. As I alluded to yesterday there was the opportunity to go to the well one more time in pursuit of the yellow jumper thing. Now since I’ve had my full on Carpe Diem arm sleeve tattoo I’ve been a lot more prone to carpe those pesky little diems. So today was the day to carpe. Typical that one of the few times I’m in a deep sleep on camp is a day when I need to get up early. One of those ‘What the hell is that?… oh it’s the alarm’ type moments. Full disorientation. Managed to silence the alarm and steel myself to get up. I’d decided to start the morning (0430 on the dot) with a bonus set of kilometre reps. Given I hadn’t run anywhere near John’s 5min k pace for a lot of the camp it didn’t augur well… hence I had a back up of realising running was futile, jumping on the bike (after camp minimum 10k) and riding all bloody day until 1630 and getting points for each additional 30k – Petro even provided bike lights in case they were needed . I was given a pass by the committee to run them downhill as that had been granted elsewhere but to me that’s not right so I wasn’t prepared to do that – would rather have lost than do that. But to my surprise when I hit the accelerator I knocked out the 7 reps at sub4:10 per kilometre pace without getting anywhere near burying myself. Two bonus points by 515am. Geddin. So what to do now? Well it’s 515-ish and dark so it’s better to run than cycle – hence I ran another easy 10k. I now had 3 bonus points and it wasn’t 630 yet. I figured for the win I needed 5 so it was a quick change and onto the bike. Main problems here were it was bloody cold and I had only 2 gels on me at 430 and one had already gone on the run. Anyway I got 60k done and was in time for the breakfast call at 0830 with 5 points in the bag. What could possibly go wrong?
So I get back to the room and the breakfast I was expecting to have to skip (in order ride to Calgary early and solo) was on the menu. Nice. The day is going way better than I’d expected. This is where it possibly gets a little Epic. Gary is helping me pack so I can get to breakfast as early as possible so I hop in the shower. Then I start to feel a little delirious. Then I start to feel sick and start dry-heaving. Then I’m just feeling spaced out. Stagger into the shower, turn it on, unable to support myself so assume the foetal position in the bathtub. Oh that’s what could possibly go wrong. It felt like Game Over Rover – like when you see those guys (girls are generally too sensible) on the run in IM and their goose is well and truly cooked and you think ‘It’s a long walk if you want your medal today.’ There obviously could be several reasons for this. The cold, the lack of nutrition, the 12 day sleep deprivation, the cumulative fatigue from around 80 hours training, doing a solid 4 hours before 830, thinking I’d done it so the mind letting the body shutdown. Who knows? What I know is I had a pretty stern word with myself to sort it out as I needed to get to Calgary by 1630 otherwise it was all in vain.
Unfortunately there’s no Tom Simpson-esque heroic story of me rolling into the hotel car park in Calgary and collapsing Stephen Roache style just over the finish line. Within 10minutes of assuming the foetal position I was feeling well enough to pretend it never happened so no-one would tell me I was done and to get in the van. So I headed to breakfast, ate my bodyweight in each of the major food categories (including ice cream) and felt human again. Funny how after an experience like that and being on Epic camp there’s not one single thought of ‘Bloody hell I’ve got to cycle over 200k today’ which back home would probably be preceded by bailing on a few duties around the house to get ready for ‘the big one’. Not here, just a 0930 rollout. No mercy, no excuses just effing be there.
Johnbo had warned me earlier in the camp that the last day was no ‘champagne ride’ it was more the last chance for a pissing contest upfront. So we start off easy for a few k, Scott finally wins a hoax KOM to the entrance to a park and then boom. Someone stoked the furnace. So much so that the gruppetto hit the gas too and in what seemed like the blink of an eye I was gapped by a distance I knew there was no way I was going to be able to chase down just over an hour after showergate. I was okay with that. I do 95% of my riding solo at home so I set myself for a long day going Hans Solo. Wasn’t pretty getting to the first aid station at 50k but very pleased to see David, Leah and Sleeveless still there. No way they were prepared to let me dangle off the back all day.
Awesome and it ended up turning what could have been a slightly unsatisfying final day into a hugely enjoyable one. David clicking away, Leah generally just getting on with it, often on the front and always making sure everyone is okay (I swear that girl would give you her last gel irrespective of how far she had to go or how she was feeling) and Louis sitting off the back and then every once in a while lighting the burners and disappearing several hundred yards up the road. He carries a pack of pills with him – I’m yet to decide whether they’re connected to his monster pulls! We decided it was 50k to the next aid station, 50k to lunch and then we were done as the call was easy into Calgary as a group. Just 100k to go. More breathtaking scenery and then the most wonderful rolling road with a huge tailwind. We’d picked up Johnny ‘Not in my happy place as I’ve had a flat’ Headroom by this point. I was wondering how the Express Train was faring up front given we were doing over 30miles an hour a lot of the time. Given Gary’s state at lunch I think it’s safe to assume it was pretty toasty.
A quick feed (I was sensing they’d eaten some time ago!) and we headed into Calgary. Main highlights were 5 goons jumping off the front on a climb when we were supposed to roll easy together and John haring off straight at a right turn to retrieve the two people who hadn’t made the turn upfront. The fact these two people had nothing to do with Epic camp didn’t dawn on John until he reached them. Gold.
After the longest crossing of a city known to man we arrived. We were done. I had the yellow jumper (so I now have one more ball and one more yellow jersey than Lance – neat), Zach the polka dots and Louis the old farts red (sleeveless of course). Sweet as, bro. I contacted Maria saying something like ‘I’m one stubborn arsed mofo when I want to be’ and she responded saying ‘Great to see Epic’s changed you!’ (Thanks for the card on arrival honey – nice touch but no more than I’ve come to expect.) Well, hopefully it has changed me and maybe more of that in a wrap up blog if I can keep my eyes open longer than Rip Van Rowe on the plane later.
Quick turnaround and we were in the hotel bar toasting our achievement. Probably the two people (certainly for me) that have added most to the social side here are in the header picture. I got a great snap of them and it’s entitled Two Great Scots. They both had a few sherberts and were holding court well into night with the small band of late night revellers.
So tomorrow running 10k or going for a 100k bike ride will feel like a chore again but for the last 12days in the world of Epic it’s been a blast and we’ve redefined normal. Apparently there’s another one in France in 2016 – I look forward to reading all about it ;o)