Written by Chris Beriau Tuesday, 27 August 2019 00:00
Almost 8 months to the day of my open heart surgery to replace my Mitral valve I decided to test my fitness with a 6hour race. Up until about 1 month ago I could barely ride my bike up hill. My heart was not responding when I needed it to. Instead of my heart rate going up with exertion it would actually drop leaving my body starving for oxygen. Within the last few weeks before the race I noticed things getting better, hills were getting a little easier and I was starting to feel better on the bike. So you might ask your self, why a start with a 6 hr race....well why not, I really just wanted to see how my endurance was. I had been pushing through the pain all year and it was time to see what I could do, besides if I didn't feel good or the heart didn't cooperate I would just ride as many laps as I could.
It was my first time up to Presque Isle Maine for The Nordic Festival which featured both a 6hr mtb race and a 6 hr running trail race on different courses. The Nordic Festival is a fun family centered atmosphere with a small downhill race friday night, lots of kids races too. Camping was included at the venue for both Saturday and Sunday and with the 6hr race not starting until noon time it made for a relaxing evening knowing you didn't have to get up super early There was a dinner friday night with the downhill race to participate in or just spectate. But don't sleep in too late or you will miss the kids races. The best part of this festival is the family vibe ...so many kids buzzing around on striders to their first real bike, just having fun on bikes!
Noon time came, and we were off...racers and those of us just out to get a good ride in...my hope was for 3 laps...we'll see...
Lap 1 went off into the first hill and half way up my heart decided to do the “funky chicken” so it was back off barely pedal and wait for it to respond...a few minutes later and yea my heart is back in the game and i'm able to ride again...wahoo! The lap was 8miles long with a long techy hill in the beginning followed by a super fun LONG downhill followed by another swithback climb. Lap 1, 2 and 3 went well, didn't feel destroyed ..no walls hit, after the last few years I forgot what this felt like ...so what the hell I'll go out for a 4th lap..what the hell I'm not cramping yet beside did I mention the 2+mile downhill! The course was so much fun well worth the climbing and there was plenty of that too. By the end of the 4th lap and 32 miles, I was done at the 5hr mark and chose to get a burger and a beer to celebrate a good day in the saddle.
Going into the whole open heart valve replacement, I never expected the cardiac rehab to take 8 months. But I'm glad I stuck with it, pushing thru the months that my heart didn't want to do its job but literally 1 month ago thing started to work the way it should , now I just need to work on riding faster!
In the end, I really recommend this mtb festival ...bring the family, enjoy the kids race, the bands, the bonfires, beer and food of course. Do as many laps as you choose for the 6hr race and after sit back enjoy the bands have a beer and enjoy!
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