Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Actif Epica 2017 .

 Actif Epica 2017  was not in my plans. I had free entry for AE  which I won in the raffle at Arrowhead 135  few years ago. But could not to do last year (Yeva was too small to leave her without me)
But when my friends Thomas Woods( I met Thomas first time in 2013 during the Actif Epica race)  wrote at FB that he planning to go (2 weeks before the start ), I decided to ask him about carpool. And he said that he is OK about carpool. Next step find place to stay. I asked Doris Nelson  (me and Amy O. stayed at her house last visit) if it will be ok to stay at her house? And she was so nice to let do it for us . She was volunteer in this year

 Some preparation.  I did Actif Epica 2 times in 2013 (1st woman) and in 2014 (2nd place) . But in that time they had only 120K distance and in this year they add new 200K what is interesting to me .

We drove and crossed boarder without any problem and did it fast.
Registration. So many old friends and a lot of  new from FB . At this race atmosphere always so friendly and you feel that you at the a big family.

 Tom Kolesnik one of the leader of bike community in Winnipeg .
This guy is so positive and friendly.

As a organizer events like this in Belarus, I know that logistics and amount of work to do  this race is a lot harder than Arrowhead and Tuscobia.
This race have 8!!! check points, they have bus to bring racer to the start and 2 trucks for bikes.
And a lot of this (like a trucks) people donate their own trucks for make it during the race. The power of volunteers team! Thanks them a lot.


After registration and briefing we drove to Doris house. Short "nap". Woke up at 3 30 am. Breakfast and ready to go. Bus bring us to the Emerson (city at the boarder US and Canada) where was our start.
18 people was for 200K distance and only 2 women (me and Kate C.)
Group photo and ready for start.

Little bit of interesting history part of this trail
"The historic Crow Wing Trail first opened in 1844 and stretched from Upper Fort Garry to St. Paul Minnesota. Trader Peter Garrioch and his friends, fearing the Sioux Indians on the west side of the Red River, decided to open a trail on its east side where there was a good supply of wood and water. This new trail quickly became popular as a main trading route. From Fort Garry it followed the eastern side of the Red River through what are now known as the communities of St. Adolphe, Niverville, Otterburne, St. Pierre-Jolys, St. Malo, Ridgeville and Emerson. The Crow Wing Trail Association was formed in 1999 to build the section of Trans Canada Trail from Winnipeg to Emerson. This regional trail association consists of representatives from the rural municipalities of Ritchot, Niverville, De Salaberry, Franklin, Emerson and Roseau River First Nation."

on the map 200 K route  and you can see our part at the boarder 

 The volunteers always one of the best at this race. It was so beautiful served food and coffee and beautiful smiles from volunteers before the start.This people wake up at 4 am!!! to prepare all this for us.

At the start 2-3 miles we all rode together. Then  4 of us moved faster. 

 I know that Kate C. is a fast girl and after my stupid logistics and sickness  at the  Arrowhead I was kind of mad at myself for the bad strategy and that I do not use all my power for the race. That is why I decided to get revenge on this race. And make my women's and overall place as much good as I can.
At this time I do not took any extra stuff , because I remember and I know that I will push my bike a lot  (from my past experiences at this race). I also knew that I can eat at the check points.

The weather promised to be warm. This is mean  BAD NEWS .. we will  have to walk a lot. 

 But before sunrise we got chance to ride till 1st check point.  It was best part of the race. You rode at the boarder line without road ..... and fields, fields around you...

 Till fist check point me and 2 guys was close to each other. I tried to keep their speed...

 Mentally is not easy be in the  front , because you do not know how far away behind you other people? . And at the long distance race everything could be  happened.
MY GPS from the start do not working and I had to used cue cards what is take extra time and I was nervous all the time to be sure that you at the right turn (120 + turn during the race(((!!!!!)
 About 10 am conditions of the snow was changed .And at  the place  on the field where you can ride before you had  to walk...  Also because runners for 162K distance was in front of us  the snow was crushed.

 Part of me do not like walk part at the race.. But this is my powerful part. I am not speed racer , but when race have hard parts like this - this is way  where I can pass people . Because I am strong for walking and pushing my bike. My past winter backpacking experiences gave me that skills . I can do it hours and hours and do it pretty fast.
And I passed Dan Luebke  at the field with bridge. This field was the most harder. Deep wet snow. Part of the snow all the time  stuck to the wheels of my bike and you have to clean it , because bike started to be so heavy.

 I met another volunteers before and after bridge (Vern Nelson and Dallas Sigurdur) , took some water.

 At this time I do not forgot bike shorts , but forgot sunglasses what was  bad (... weather was so shiny.

 Miles and miles we have to walk. My feet was wet as all bikers . Very often snow was so deep (more than your knee high)
 Like a break when you jump to the gravel roads... which (mostly) was super wet and soft with some snow. As I heard at the briefing I tried to skipped  black dirt at the gravel roads  which could stuck at your bike .

To saw at the Canada Ukranian language was interesting.
Then I passed runners for 162K distance. They walked together, smiling  and it was looks so fun.. 

photo credit from Gregory C. McNeill

At the another walking field I  caught up David Ristau . He is strong guy ( he was 4th place at the Tuscobia in this year) and he also finished AH 135 in this year.
 Sometimes we had pretty good condition of the gravel roads
 Then we passed our turn and back to the field and saw Dan L.
All the race we passed each other ).
At the one place David step to the deep water on the field  and his feet was wet .
And at the check point he decided to change his socks . I kept going.
Worse part where I lose a lot of time orienteering in the check points cities . I lost a lot of time in each city to be sure that I read cue cards right, sometimes I had to turn and back...

 I do not took a lot of pictures  because after each race people joking that if I do not took pictures my result could be better ). And also I know that my friend Thomas Wood (photographer) racing and will make awesome photos .

 Only one check point was beautiful marked ... at Cristal Spring.
After Cristal Spring check point I had another challenge.  As I said orienteering with cue cards was hard. I came to the another cross of 2 streets at the fields and cue cars said
Right Drive out of yard
Left No sign gravel rd123.6 

Right Crystal Spring Rd 124.2 
 that you have to make turn right at the Cristal Spring rd. I did it. But I was not sure .. I feel that something wrong. Since no snow at this gravel road I could not see track from other bikers or runners ... I road to HWY about 5 miles and  realized that this is not mine HWY 305 ((((...SHIT!!!! 
I have to turn back  and ride in another side. I rode 10 extra miles... And I do not know how many people passing me.. Post a street name has been deployed in the wrong direction ( I saw it when I was back)
This was depressive moment. But I said myself KEEP GOING! My motto is to never give up
I lost about hour for this wrong turn...
I come back to another field , passed runner and saw at the field rider. I rode faster and try to catch up racer in front of me. It was David! !!! Oh! nice. Looks like he was not in a good mood. I decided that will be better to ride with someone local .. and probably it will be slower sometimes but no more stupid mistakes. He had GPS . I said let rode together last part of the race. 
 He told me that one more guy passed him.. This is mean that only 3 people in front of us.
Not so bad. But do not relax. I lost one hour. It is mean a lot of bikers now close to us!

 Tom Kolesnik was volunteer at the on of the turn to the field  and took our pic.
Me and David.
 Few more check points, walking part and another long field near Winnipeg..  At this field I saw another 2 bikers who walked very fast. I do not know why , but I feel that this is Kate C. I know that  she will try to pass me.. And I said for David lets go fast.. ( I was right - at the field I saw Kate and someone else, till Cristal Spring between me and Kate always was about 1+ hour different  ( i was in front of her) and after Cristal S (where I lost time for extra 10 miles) she knew how far I am in front of her and try  to catch up. I never know how far she is . I knew only she is somewhere behind.) And she finished about 25 minutes after us. Nice job.)
 Crazy fast long ride in the city.. It is much easier with GPS or if you local racer.. I believed David and I do not (almost) looked in my cue card in the city .
At night the temperature went down and was icy
At the some place I fell down so bad... But I don't want to think about the pain in that moment. Only after finish you can relaxed .
We catch up another guy Michael A. and made finish 3 of us together and share 3rd overall place together.
One moment was little confusing. At the river ( regular finish miles at the river - nobody waiting us and do not say could we go or no on the river and this is different of the time (
the ice was thin, and the organizers were not sure whether or not to allow to go on the ice)
And some people rode on the ice (what is faster) some (like we do ) rode on the trail.

It was good race. I did my best (even with 10 + extra miles) 1st female and 3rd overall (with David and Michel) . My time result 17 48 for 137 miles 220+K. Good end of the winter racing season.
Huge thanks David Ristau
He said that I "This lady kept me going when I was thinking about packing it in! I was standing at the field before Niverville thinking that I did not feel like pushing the bike thru the snow for half an hour again, and then, likely thru the mud the other way again on the road. I was debating on taking the shortcut to Niverville and calling for a ride home but she came racing up and was happy that we could ride the rest of the way together. So, heck, "Let's start shoving across this field and get this ride over with!"But I think we just helped each other in different way !
 It was not tipycal for this race weather in this year, regular it is COLD and super WINDY.. very challenge urban race.
I was missing about Yeti in this year (it always was fun part of the race to see somewhere Yeti )
photo from the past 2013

This race was harder than Arrowhead in this year.
Some good article about this race Ultra Athlete, Orthodox: Hutterite Woman Skis Winter Ultra Race
and another about my friend Pete

In this year I used plastic bags for my fit and it was right decision.
 I got nice shot from Thomas Woods .. I love this pic.
Thomas made race pretty good. And he did his 3rd race in this year + Tuscobia and Arrowhead .
If I will able to do this kind race in his age it will be super cool.

My opinion 10 reasons  WHY you have to try this race:
1) beautiful views

2) we have only 4 race all of them so different Actif Epica, Arrowhead, Tuscobia and Fat Pursuit this style.
3) It is more urban what is good for your start endure race
4) AWESOME friendly racers and organizers

5) One of the best volunteers team
6) Hard orienteering do not let you relaxed during the all race 
7) SO different roads all the time 
8) you can ride on the boarder US|Canada )))
9) you can see, ride or run  and learn more  about  Hutterite faith (People of the Hutterite faith are from a communal branch of the Anabaptists who trace their religion to the same 16th century roots as the Amish and Mennonites. They live in groups on hundreds of scattered colonies (known as bruderhöfe) throughout the prairies of northwestern North America.) and also 
The historic Crow Wing Trail this trail have awesome history.
10)It is ALWAYS challenge weather her and never easy to do

Good luck! Good bye WINTER!  

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