Last years Parry Sound XC race left my bike, body and ego battered and bruised. This year would be no different. Why do I thoroughly enjoy taking such a beating?
During the 2.5 Hour afternoon race, riders covered an average of 50kms and would have burned well over 2000 calories during that time. If you’re fast and smooth, you’re used to the intense heart rate. The rest of us would get the intensity from pulling ourselves out of the mud or pushing our bikes up rock hills.
Morning classes ran a slightly different course. Thankfully for us running in the afternoon, one of the worst mud holes from the morning was removed from the afternoon program, hallelujah!
Blair Sharpless designed a fantastic course for us. It was fast and flowed well, at least until you hit one of those rocky hillclimbs or mud holes! The course had a little bit of everything. Climbs were mostly sand/clay base with rocks throughout. These lines would get harder with every lap as ruts would form and the rocks would protrude even more. Other climbs were pure rock face where momentum was key to making it up and over. The afternoon classes joker lane was a steep rock face climb with a 3-4 ft ledge on top. Once you reach the top, your way back down was a steep slippery decent threading the needle through trees. These features were difficult enough to slow down some of the best riders in the field. The muddy sections developed seat deep ruts pretty quickly, new lines would form and become too deep within one lap. It pays off to ride smarter on terrain like this, choosing the wrong line could cost you a few seconds or a few minutes.
After watching the morning classes, it was easy to tell that getting a good start would be more important than usual. The dust on the motocross track was intense! The track itself was sandy/hardpack mix with some fun tables and even a few doubles.
Since it was another scorcher I was excited to see a river crossing, I purposely hit the river with speed to get maximum soakage. There was certainly a deeper line in there and I’m pretty sure we all found it.
There were several difficult climbs throughout the lap. Most of these would have riders stuck on them every time I approached. Sometimes I was the stuck rider. At some points you’d see a bike laying on the trail and its defeated rider sitting off to the side. Whenever you finished a tough section another one would soon follow. I learned a lot riding this course last year and learned even more riding it this year. Even if you had tough race, it would be impossible not to take something away from this event. Maybe you tackled your steepest hill, crossed your first river or navigated your first mud hole. Maybe you just took home a garage floor full of Parry Sound Mud. Either way, this race is a can’t miss!
By far, Blairs Parry Sound XC is my favourite Cross country of the season. The technical terrain and elevation is really exciting for racing. Finishing the race was gruelling enough, placing well means you’ve really got some skills. Huge thanks to Blair Sharpless and the Ontario camp of the deaf for holding this event, as well as Lino Zecca and motocamp. Thank you as always to Off-road Ontario and World enduro Canada for this great series!
We would like to dedicate this race report to Jeff Golden who sadly lost his life on Saturday July 22. I met many new friends this season thanks to this website and Jeff was one of those people. Our condolences go out to Jeff’s family and friends. Ride in Peace.
Full results have been posted on the Off-Road Ontario forum, Click here to view them.
Check us out on Facebook for more photos from the event. Be sure to tag yourselves and your fellow riders!
See you at the next one.