Wednesday, October 27, 2010

BT Epic

Lesson Learned

Well the BT Epic has came and went. I had a great time camping at the Bass River Resort, it is a wonderful campground. Crystal and Ethan came along for the weekend since the weather was forecast to be mild temperatures, although there was rain forecasted. We headed down on Friday and set up the pop-up camper that Kelly from work was so gracious to lend us for the weekend. Camp was already set up by the time that Chris arrived, so we settled in to enjoy the evening. We ordered a pizza from the camp store and enjoyed a couple beers before last minute prep. and turned in for the night.
Race day came and we got up and around at 7 a.m. In hindsight, a little earlier wake up time would have been better because I felt a little rushed to get everything ready and make it to the start line. There was a pre-race meeting@ 0815 and the race would start @ 0830. With over 200 racers I knew the mass start would be a little hectic. The fast guys were lined up in the front and then everyone else behind them. Chris and I lined up pretty well at the back with only a few people behind us. We were told that we would need to listed closely for the little firecracker that would start the race, not exactly the case. The race started with a big bang that sounded about like a stick of dynamite going off, I think this probably caught everyone off guard and spiked the heart rate a little. Once the fast guys took off everyone gradually took off slowly behind them and it seemed like things were great. But only about 150 yards from the start I had my first crash of the day. One of the female racers had dropped her chain and was off to the side of the road and apparently the guy in front and to the opposite side of me knew her so he cut directly in front of me and stopped, catching me off guard. I ran into his rear wheel, didn't get unclipped and went forward smacking my ribs on the handle bars and falling over. Not exactly the start I had envisioned. I quickly uprighted and took back off, but by this point pretty much everyone had passed me. I started pedaling pretty hard so that I could try to catch back up with Chris before he got to far away. I thought I could see him up ahead, but as we started up the long climb out of Bass River I just couldn't seem to catch up. I figured maybe I would catch him later and just settled in to spin my way up the hills. This was the second thing of the day not going according to plan. My goal was no matter what to keep Chris in my sight if he was in front of me, and his plan was to do the same if I took the lead. Even though neither one of us had really said it, this ride was going to be a race between the two of us and we knew it. By the time I reached the single track I had passed several people, but still had not seen chris. I figured he was gone for the day. Once on the singletrack people behind me gradually began to catch me and pass me. I knew that I had very limited experience on the trails and did not want to hold anyone else back. After 4 or 5 miles I was pretty sure I was in dead last place and was starting to feel down on myself. Soon I heard another biker coming up behind me so I pulled over to let them pass and it was Chris, I still have no idea how he ended up behind me, but there he was. This made me feel a little better and we pedaled on. By the time I made it to the first checkpoint Chris had taken off and left me behind, he is more experienced than me and went a little faster on the downhills. I rolled through the checkpoint and kept on pedaling. We had to ride up onto the road for a little while to get back on the trail and as I hit the road I saw Chris leaving the road onto the trail. I quickly caught up with him and we decided to stop for a minute and eat something. By this point in the day we had both came to several realizations, most importantly that we were not even close to being ready to do this race. Chris was already talking about if we made it to the next checkpoint he was going to get a ride back with Crystal. I wasn't feeling very peppy and I had already thought the same thing. It didn't take long for the gremlins to creep into my head and soon I was ready to call it a day. By the time we made it to the second checkpoint we were both feeling pretty spent, it was about 1245 and the guys that were picking up the arrows and sweeping the course had caught up to us. We just weren't feeling it and knew that there was a cutoff of 3 p.m. for coming back through the Berryman Campground. Crystal was there waiting on us to take some pictures and we decided to call it a day and catch a ride back with her.
We got back to the camp and several riders were coming in past our campsite to the finish the line. We kicked back enjoyed some chips and cheese dip and a beer. Chris headed out shortly after that, he had a halloween party to attend later in the evening so he needed to get home. Crystal, Ethan, and I loaded up our chairs and cooler and headed up to the finish line to watch racers come in. I sat for a little while and then took a shower to clean up before coming back to watch more people finish. We settled into our chairs out by the road so we could see riders as they came in, and eventually began to direct riders to the finish, I guess it was difficult to decipher where they needed to go. It was a lot of fun and gave me a chance to cheer them on to the finish line. Jim Davis eventually came along from his camp he had some problems and had also dropped at the second checkpoint. I visited with him for a while, he said his wife was still going strong and should be coming through around the 7 hr mark. I stood my post until after I saw Wendy come through so I could snap a picture and then we headed off to find the food. The rest of the evening was filled with lots of food, fun visiting with the racers, free beer, a band, awards and giveaways. I didn't win anything, which is nothing out of the ordinary for me. My luck with giveaways is always terrible. Chris' name was drawn but he was not there so no prize for him.
Now that I have given you the details of the race, I will elude to a few of the lessons I learned. This was my first mountain bike race, I have done adventure races, but never bike races. In hindsight this may not have been the best one to start with, but maybe it was because short of doing a 100 miler or something this has to be one of the tougher ones around, or at least I hope so. I went into this race thinking... I love to ride my bike, how hard can it be. I have ridden 40+ miles, no big deal. I thought I was in decent shape, I have always had strong legs and assumed that I could just pedal my way through it. I now know that racing a mountain bike on singletrack trails is something totally different than I envisioned. Doing a race like this uses a lot more muscles than just your legs. Riding singletrack is technical and is not something you can do a time or two and just fly through. There is no substitute for learning to ride trails other than riding trails. An 8 mph pace is more difficult than what a person would think. I have done adventure races and not been in tip-top shape, you can meddle your way through it and eventually you are at a transition and it is time to do something else. This does not work when riding a bike race, cause at each checkpoint there is just more riding. There is a certain amount of confidence required to ride these trails and if you don't ride trails regularly you are not going to have it. It is always easier to quit than continue on, but that doesn't mean you won't regret it later. I am sure there are a few more, but I will call it good for now.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank the organizers of the race it was a very well put on race at a great place on great trails. A special thanks to Wendy Davis for helping me out and giving me some pedals for my bike since the ones I had were giving such a hard time. The pedals worked great and I am very grateful. Thank you Bob Jenkins for offering to loan me pedals to help me. These two are great people whom I had only met once prior to their offers. I once heard someone say that adventure racers are some of the nicest people you will meet, I have to agree but add that so are mtn. bikers. Another person of notable mention... Mitch Johnson.... I had the pleasure of meeting this guy after then race while Crystal, Ethan and I were enjoying our second round of bbq. He had stopped to see Ethan and I recognized him, having read about some of his conquests on his and other blogs. He had a lot of pointers/ advice for me to consider and help me in my future mtn. biking endeavors. What a nice guy and an athlete, he rode the course in 5 hrs 21 minutes or something close to this time with two broken ribs! That is some devotion.
Even though I ended up with a DNF at this race I still had a great weekend. Everyone has a DNF at some time of another, some have more than others. The important part about it is what you take away from it and what you do to make it different next time. I have a lot better of idea of what it is all about now, and vow that my next time will be different. I am going to be doing a lot more riding and not just on roads. On that note anyone planning any rides, races, or that just wants to get together and maybe give me few pointers on trail riding just hit me up.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Berryman Adventure- 12 hr

Well the Berryman has came and went. First off let me say it was a wonderful race, Jason of Bonk Hard did a wonderful job organizing and planning the race. A HUGE thank you to all of the volunteers and the staff of the YMCA. Consider yourself warned the following race report is rather lengthy, but if you ( by you I mean the two followers I have, and what few other people will come across this) enjoy reading race reports as much as I do, then read on.

Now on to the details.... Chris and I left Lebanon around two on Friday and headed up for check-in, setting up camp, bike drop, and pre-race meeting. We drove straight to the YMCA which was the pre-planned bike drop. We gave our bikes a once over and placed them inside of a building with our shoes and helmets. We arrived at Bass River Resort a little later and were directed to the resort to check in. I have to say Bass River is a beautiful place with what appeared to be all the amenities a person could want and still consider it camping. We got our spot and headed out to it to set up our tent. I had brought my small Coleman tent which is very easy to set up and provided plenty of room for the cots that Chris had brought for us to sleep on. Crystal and I usually sleep on an air mattress, but that would have seemed a little too personal for Chris and I. After camp was set up we headed up to the lodge and enjoyed a nice dinner of spaghetti, salad, and chicken. It was a pretty good meal and prevented us from having to drive somewhere to eat which would have been all the way back to Cuba or on to Potosi and there wasn't time for that anyway. After dinner we headed back down to camp, gathered up our camp chairs, a couple of beverages and headed up to the pavillion for the pre-race meeting. It was pretty packed with all the teams cramming in to hear what Jason had to say. The maps were handed out and then Jason explained the start times for each race. The 36 hour race would start at 4 a.m., and they would have to board buses at 3 a.m. this made me glad we weren't doing the 36 hr race. The 12 hour racers would board buses at 6 for a 7 a.m. race start. We would be bussed to the YMCA for the start of the race. We headed back to camp, started a fire, and sat down to plot our points. We received the coordinates for all of our points except # 14 which would be a mystery event. Plotting was straightforward, Chris and I have a pretty good system which we have developed over time, Chris reads the coordinates and I plot them and tell him what landmarks it is near to compare to the cluesheet. The hardest part of plotting was trying to keep an ink pen writing after the maps got wet with the dew. We got the plotting done, briefly looked over the map at the routes and called it good. In hindsight it probably would not have hurt to have studied the routes a little more in depth, especially considering that the supplemental map had some very useful information on it. After getting done with the maps we hopped in the car to drive back out to the highway in search of cell phone signal. Bass River is great, but there is absolutely no signal anywere down there. We got back out to the highway and found some signal. I called my wife to check on her and my baby boy and Chris called and checked in with his wife. I told Crystal that it would be late on Saturday evening before I called back. Expecting to finish between 4 and 6 I told her not to start to worry unless it was after 8 and I still had not called. After our phone calls we headed back to camp and turned in for the night. Trying to sleep the night before a race is never an easy task, or at least not for me. I am always anxious about over sleeping, the start of the race, navigating, etc. The cots were not to uncomfortable, but coupled with anxiety and the noisy neighbors, it was not a very good night of sleep. We woke up just before 5 a.m. and started getting ready for the race. It didn't take very long to tear down camp ( we had been informed the night before when we checked in that someone could want to rent our spot, since we were not staying saturday night). I had brought some peanut butter and honey sandwiches and bananas for breakfast, with Gatorade to wash it down. I am not sure what Chris ate, he hardly ever wants to eat before the race, not necessarily the best of an idea in my opinion, but to each his own.
We boarded the buses and rode down to the YMCA for the start of the race. We took our bikes out and pushed them down to the soccer field for the start of the race. We would start off trekking, but would eventually be back for the bikes. We sang the national anthem, lined up, and the race was off. There was about a mile or so road run, up a pretty good hill to get to checkpoint one. This really helped to spread out the teams a little, but there were still a lot of teams in the area when we arrived. We had planned to go to the intersection and shoot a heading, but got caught up with all the teams and hopped off the road a little early and went right past the checkpoint, missing it. We regrouped and found it, but still probably lost at least ten minutes. From here the next few checkpoints were found pretty easily, 3-11 could be done in any order. The only one that we hit out of order was 8 which we hit after 3. After 8 we headed to 4, the clue was a spur. There were several other teams in the area, and they were all having a hard time finding it. I think we may have gotten off a little on our heading, I am not sure. Either way we got to the area and had a difficult time finding the correct spur. We had missed it, but knew the only way to get back on track was head back from where we had came, on our way back we actually walked back across the right spur and found the checkpoint. I don't know how much time we lost here, but I would venture to guess at least 30 mins or a little more. #5 was on a rock bluff overlooking the lake, it was a wonderful view from up there. The rest of the checkpoints from here back to the soccer fields were found without anymore big snafus. # 12 was a mystery event, which turned out to be a rock wall. Once person had to get into a harness and climb to the top and rapell back down, I elected Chris to do this and he didn't object. Just watching him, it looked like he really enjoyed it. At 13 we received coordinates for #14 which would be another mystery event. We lost a few minutes by going down the road and coming into it from the backside, not realizing that the road went right up to it. The mystery event was a zip line, since Chris did the first one I would do this one. I am not really afraid of heights, however standing on the ground looking up to the platform at the top I started to feel a little nervous. I climbed up and got clipped on and went zipping down. It was fun, but not until I was going, the whole process of sitting on the edge of a platform and then sliding off to free fall along the zip line was a little nerve wrecking. We quickly headed back to the soccer field for transition and headed out on the bikes. I had looked at the map and knew what road we needed to watch for, and we settled in for some pedaling. Well we were looking for a county road identified with numbers and had not paid close enough attention to the surrounding landmarks. This resulted in riding past the road we should have turned on, we probably added on somewhere around 4-6 miles with this error, not too big of a deal, but rode a couple of really big hills and wasted a lot of time, and hr or so by the time we realized, debated with some other teams and turned around. Once on the right road we encountered some serious uphill gravel road riding. Things went good for a while, although the hills took a serious toll on our legs. Later in the day we were on the Berryman trail and had a little bit of a problem finding #18, we thought we had went far enough as did some of the other teams that were riding with us, we started to turn around, but ran into another team that were familiar with the area and did not think we had went far enough. We turned around and continued on right to the checkpoint. # 19 was at an artesian well which was being put to good use filling camelbaks. Between 21 and 22 we rode a short section of the Ozark Trail which was probably the highlight of biking portion. It was fast, flowy,and a lot of fun. At 23 we dropped our bikes and hit the courtois creek for an 11 mile paddle. The creek had good current, but there were a lot of sharp turns, logs, and shallow areas. Not a super enjoyable paddle in my opinion, but in adventure racing you are not there for a leisurely float. By the time we were on the paddle it was 5 p.m., we knew at this point that we would not make it in time for the awards ceremony, we weren't going to win anything so at that point we elected not to kill ourselves to get down the river. Highlight of the paddle, the manned checkpoint was being ran by Jim and Wendy Davis, they had been at the rappel earlier in the day, but we hadn't taken the time to talk to them. While I had never met them in person, I had followed their adventures on their blogs and friended Jim on Facebook. We stopped for the punch and took the time for a formal introduction. We visited briefly, received some much needed encouragement for the remainder of the paddle and headed out. They are some pretty cool people and I look forward to seeing them next month at the BT Epic at Bass River Resort, and many more times in the future. We had about 5 miles after the manned checkpoint, unfortunately it turned dark before we made if off the river. We thought we were pretty close to the end so we didn't take out our headlamps. We hit a few extra obstacles in the dark but safely reached the takeout, pulled our canoe up, and ran for the finish line. Despite the fact that the winners had been done for several hours, there were still several people cheering us on at the finish.
Official time was 12hrs 34mins, 23rd out of the 36 2 person teams, and 36th of 59 teams total. While that doesn't sound overly impressive, it was still an admirable feat. We entered this race with one goal, the same goal that we have had for all of our attempts at Bonk Hard events, get all the checkpoints and finish before the cutoff. We accomplished our goal for the first time out of 5 races and had a great time doing it. We lost some time here and there, realized we still have a long ways to go to competetively race, but considering that I lost a lot of training time due to the ankle injury, it was a satistfying experience. The Berryman is described as "a real ass kicker", and I can honestly say it lived up to its reputation.
On a seperate note, Congratulations to Bob Jenkins and his teammate for completing the course. They had apparently never raced together and were both fairly new to navigation. Before this race I had never met Bob, but I had read about a lot of his adventures on the Team Virtus and Team Redwheel blogs. I guess I have commented on some of them and he recognized me and came up to introduce himself before the start of the race. I hope I don't ruin his reputation, but that was very nice of him. We saw him several times thoughout the day, a few times on the trek, and several times on the bike ride. Odd thing about the biking, he was always headed back the other way from where we had came from. I guess when you are that damn fast on the bike you tend to ride right past the checkpoints, but I don't know for sure. I look forward to running into him again in the future as well.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Counting down the days.

A monkey wrench in the plans.

The Berryman Adventure Race is a little over two weeks away. I am very excited about it still, despite some recent events that have placed a serious damper on my training efforts. From sickness, death, and injury it has just about all happened in the last few weeks. My dad has been in the hospital since around the first part of June as the result of a brain tumor and surgery to remove it. He was doing very well after a few weeks, but has since had pneumonia about a dozen times, been on and off of the ventilator, and ultimately ended up with a trach. I definetly have not been able to see him as much as I should so it has not taken too much of my time, but emotionally it has been very draining. Also my best friend with whom I grew up, his brother passed away unexpectedly a few weeks ago and so it has just been a depressing time lately. On top of this just over two weeks ago, I was stepping down off of the tractor while doing some farm work and sprained my ankle. When I say this I don't mean just a little either. We have all rolled our ankle and just went back on our way doing our thing. I was instanly nauseated, pale, and sweaty after this happened. I had to sit down and just take it easy for several minutes before I was able to get back on the tractor. I limped around on it the rest of the day and built fence, knowing full well that it was probably swelling all the while. Later in the evening when I got home for the day I could barely get my boot off due to the swelling. I got my boot off and didn't really look closely until Crystal said something about it. It was very swollen, and painful to the touch. I wrapped it in an ace bandage and headed out to the bowling alley for my Tuesday night league. Within a day or two the nasty bruising came, and I kept wrapping it. This was all over two weeks ago, and until the end of last week when I took the advice of Ken Chappell, and purchased some KT Tape, it seemed to be slow healing. But now it is feeling a lot better and I am going to be running at full strength soon. I haven't lost much time off of my bike, I have been able to ride pretty much unaffected by the injury.

This picture is from about 36 hours afterwards.

No, I did not go to the doctor. I don't know for sure if there was any actual damage done, but if I was guessing..... I would say that I probably tore or severely sprained some tendons. I just hope I can keep from spraining it at the Berryman Adventure race. After that I can take it easy on the running and just focus on riding in preparation for the Berryman Epic.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Summer heat, Vacation, and planning for the fall.

Well it has been a hot one here lately, and it is making it miserable to do pretty much anything outside. I mean anything, even just sitting outside will cause you to break a sweat. Crystal and I just recently returned from a wonderful vacation to Minnesota. The weather was very nice and not near as hot as hear in Misery...... I mean Missouri. Lol. We camped on the lake shore in our tent for an entire week. There was plenty of fishing done as well as swimming and some tubing behind the jet skis. It was a lot of fun, but it did leave me with some serious bruises. The great thing about vacation is exactly that. You can do what you want when you want. I decided to take my bike along and it was a good decision. I took the opportunity almost every day to get out and ride and I really enjoyed, it also helped to get me motivated for some events that are coming up in the fall.
Now on to the upcoming events. With fall comes numerous outdoor events ranging from 5ks to 36 hr races. I am not sure what all I will attend, but right now there are two things on the agenda. #1 Berryman Adventure Race sponsored by BonkHard Racing. The race is being held in Steelville,Mo. I have to say that I am very excited about this race because the Berryman was my first race 2 years ago. It will be interesting to see how far I have came since then. For right now Chris and I are just going to have a 2 man team and do the 12hr race, unless we find two more people that are interested in the race, or unless we are talked into the 36 hr race.
#2 The Berryman Epic Mountain Bike Race. This is a 56 mile mountain bike race that takes place on the berryman trail and the surrounding area trails. I know it sounds crazy, but biking is usually my favorite part of adventure racing and is what I usually accel at. I am excited for this race, it seems pretty straightforward... go and ride! Sounds simple enough. While I know that I am not going to win, nor will I try. I would like to finish in the 7-8 hr range since the winner last year was around 4hr 45 mins, I think this should be an acceptable time for me, although I may be setting my sights a little high.
The weekend after the epic will be the Sand Springs Sprint race, don't know if I am going or not, not sure if I would have a partner. Later in the year comes the Smithville lake race and Castlewood both put on by BonkHard Racing. Time will tell, expecially closer to then.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Bonk Hard Chill

March 13, 2010

It has taken me a little while to get around to it, but here it is. Chris and I once again traveled to Osage Beach to compete in the Bonk Hard Chill. This race had been originally scheduled in February but had to be changed to March 13. Though the weather was great last year, this year would have shown racers the true meaning of "chill".

I met Chris at his house around 3pm and we headed off to the lake. We stopped and checked in at our hotel and saw several other racers checking in as well. Then we were off to visit one of the race sponsors, Oz Cycles and Kayaks, racers that stopped in and bought items were given a free entry, for every 5 dollars spent, into a raffle to win a kayak. The store had some pretty good deals on some cycling clothing. Unfortunately for us, we were not the right size to take advantage of the good deals. After this it was off to check in for the race. We arrived at the church and were pleased to find out that all gear checks would be done on the course. We checked in and headed off to eat some dinner. We arrived back at the church for the pre-race meeting, received our maps and directions to the bike drop and race headquarters. We didn't win the kayak, but the guy that did was a volunteer, so I guess you could say that he probably deserved it as much as any one. Once the meeting was over we quickly headed out to hit the road for the bike drop. We knew that the bike drop would be about an hour round trip, and there were still points to plot, so we didn't want to waste any time. The bike drop was at the park in tuscumbia, the bikes were left under a pavillion and there were volunteers to watch the bikes. We got back to our motel, plotted our points and made it to bed by around 11. Which was plenty late since we agreed to wake up at 4:45 to make it to race HQ by 5:45 to board the buses by 6 and be bussed to the start.

We were bussed to the lazy river rv park just off of 54 hwy, right on the Osage river for the start of the race. We sang the national anthem acapella and lined up for the start. Check point one was about a mile run up the road, and then a run back to the start for #2 and into the canoes for the paddling leg. The run spaced the teams out a little, but not too much. Once teams hit the river they started to spread out though. Last year we had learned the lesson of needing a kayak paddle and once again the teams with their own paddles were able to gain some serious ground on those that didn't, and once again we didn't. We made pretty good time on the river and were only were passed by two teams, both had kayak paddles, and even passed a few other teams. We were off the water and at the bikes in 2:19, this included the run for the first check point. Which wasn't to bad, and since there were no checkpoints on the river all we had to worry about was paddling.The fastest team was just under two hours, and of course they had kayak paddles.

After the river, we arrived at the bikes, and we were glad. It felt good to give the shoulders a break and stretch the legs. We hit the roads and clicked off the checkpoints as we went, 4,5,6 were along the road, #7 was at a gas station, which was a treat because all racers had a 1.50 credit in the store which was good for a water, gatorade, or a slice of pizza. Chris and I both opted for the slice of pizza, even though we were a little hesitant that it would cause stomach problems, we quickly scarfed it down and were back on the road. # 8 was at a cabin that we had drove past on the way to race HQ, then #9 was at the trail head for the beginning of the single track, this was also the location for the gear check. The volunteers were great, they had a sign showing what needed to be shown and we were able to make good time of this. Before we departed, one of the other racers who was waiting to do the gear check, asked if the trails were very muddy. The volunteers said, they might be a little big soggy. This was the understatement of the day, the trails were very muddy, probably 5 or 6 inches deep in places, very tough to pedal through. Navigation was pretty simple at this point, due to all the bike tracks from previous teams. There were a couple of hills that were pretty much unrideable, but things seemed to be going good, and we hit 9,10,11, and 12. At checkpoint 12 Chris informed me that he thought he had a low tire. Once we made out to the road we checked, and sure enough his front tire was going down, and quick. We found a spot off of the highway and started the process of changing it. We had been staying right with several other teams and were feeling like we were doing well. It was at this point that we realized just how much of a toll the 30 or so miles of soggy gravel roads and 5 miles of muddy trails had taken on us. We got the front wheel off of the bike, but then we had some difficulties getting the tire off of the bead, the tire was muddy, and had obviously been off in a while. We eventually got it fixed and headed off to camp pin oak. I would say that the tire cost us a good 15 minutes or a little more. We made it #13 to receive or next set of points for the trekking section.

While we were plotting our points there were teams coming in that had already completed the trekking section, not a lot , but the word was that there 4 or 5 teams already finished. This was a little bit discouraging, but not near as much as Chris discovering that his camelbak was completely empty. This was not a good discovery, seeing that all water was off in the park. Chris had taken only a drink or two, but had said earlier that he was having a hard time getting any water. It still remains a mystery as to where the water went, best guess, while in the canoe the bite valve got pressed and it leaked out in the canoe. We plotted our points and headed out on foot. I have to say at this point we were definetly feeling the effects of the ride. But we still had hopes for achieving our goal of getting all the checkpoints. We opted to head down the road and look for a clearing to head to the first checkpoint, and this would give us a chance to stretch our legs and loosen back up. We continued down the road for what seemed like a long timeand passed several landmarks that I asked if were on the map. It was at this point we had our first navigational error. We ended up going way past where we needed to, and had to do some significant back tracking. This took some serious wind out of our sails, but we found a landmark and were soon back on track. We hit another checkpoint or two before things took a turn for the worse. We missed a couple checkpoints and soon became very discouraged. It seemed that we should be close, but couldn't find them. Daylight was fading quickly, and with a 7 pm cutoff to be back to the bikes, things were not looking so great. We decided that no better luck than we were having navigating in the daylight, it would not be a good idea to try it in the dark. We got on course and headed back to the bikes. We crossed the finish line in 11:19 with 16 of the 26 checkpoints. We changed into dry clothes, enjoyed some post race pasta and headed home.
In closing, we were 18th out of the 22 2 person male teams, not near what we had hoped for. But once again we refreshed a few previous lessons ie; If you have the opportunity to use kayak paddles, have them and use them. When you think you are strong enough in one area, train some more. Be familiar with your compass, practice, and stick with it, no mater what. While this was not a highlight in our racing career, it happens, and it will only make us stronger.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Racing 2010

Soon to come.

Well it is official, I signed Chris and I up for the Bonk Hard Chill on March 13 @ Lake of The Ozarks. We attended this race last year and had a good time. I am hoping for a little bit better finish this year. I know that we have not trained as hard yet, but I am sure it will pick up starting this week. This year we should definetly be able to shave some time off due to more experience navigating.

After the chill there is not a lot scheduled yet. I would really like to attend the LBL in April, but with our baby due on the 20th my wife is reluctant to let me head to a race 6 hrs away. Probably not a bad idea, but I really do want to go to this race, maybe next year. May will bring the Greenways race, unsure about the team, but this year the staff have changed it up and coed or all male/female teams of two will be allowed, also a solo division. So not matter what, I will attend the race, and with a little luck it will be a better experience than last year. Maybe we will hit a few duathlons or 5ks for the summer and hopefully hit the Berryman in the fall. I have hopes of doing a 24/36 hr race in the future, maybe even the Berryman. It should be a fun and exciting year.

Friday, January 29, 2010



On December 4, Chris and I met up to head off to the race. We met at the base and then headed to Wal-Mart to meet up Marc and Kenny of Team Cyclewerx and Kenson who would be joining them for this race. We followed them to St. Louis to Jill's house where we would all be staying for the night. We all headed to race check in at Alpine Shop, I must say it appeared that there was everything an outdoor enthusiasist could ever want. After check in we headed to the bike drop off. It was a tough decision on what we should leave with the bikes hydration wise, due to temperatures being forcasted in the low teens. I left two bike bottles full of gatorade, hoping the freezing point would be lower than that of water. I think Chris just left water with his. We all put our bikes together outside of the pavilion where the rest of the bikes were, for the sake finding them easier the next day.

After the bike drop we headed back, stopped and got a few last minute necessities, ie. gatorade for in the morning, water to fill the camelback ( city water in the St. Louis area just doesn't taste very good), and some poptarts for breakfast. While we were in the grocery store Marc and the gang grabbed a couple of pizzas to stave the hunger off until dinner was ready. We all made our way back to Jill's and she prepared a delicious pasta dinner. Since we did not receive any maps to plot on or to study, all we needed to do was get our gear ready to go in the morning. After this we were able to just hang out and share some war stories about past races. I have to say it was a very enjoyable time to get to hang out with Team Cyclerwerx. They are a fun group of people and I look forward to seeing them at future races. A special thanks to Jill for the wonderful dinner.

Now to get down to business. We woke up around 4:45 to load our gear and eat breakfast, before heading to race HQ to board the buses. The thermometer in Kenson's truck showed a temperature of 16 degrees, all I know is that it was cold! We boarded the buses and headed out to the start location for the race. We unloaded and received our first map, but no passport. It appeared that we would have approximately a 2 mile run to where our passports were located. We all took off running, for the most part the pack stayed together for about the first mile and then everyone started to spread out, a few teams decided to cut off the road and hike through the woods. I am not sure if it was any quicker or not, but the big hill right before the pavilion slowed everyone down. We got our passport and headed out to get the first 12 checkpoints, they could be done in any order, but I think for the most part we hit most in order. After the first couple we were feeling pretty good. However it was somewhere around this time that we realized our tubes on our camelbaks were frozen solid. For future reference always blow the water back into the reservoir. For the most part I was spot on with my navigation and we were making decent time. However when we headed off to look for # 9 we strayed a little from our course thinking that we knew right where we were and soon were looking on what was inevitably the wrong hillside. Knowing from past experience that when this happens it is best to go back and start over. However on our way back to # 7 we ran into Team Cyclewerx, they were jogging right along and since we knew them and they appeared to know where they were going. We decided to follow them. ( We have tried this same thing at past races when we had less experience at navigation, and it usually never works) We kept up and followed them to another hillside, which looked like the right one. Long story short, we spent about an additional hour and a half, searching and climbing multiple hillsides, none of which held the elusive checkpoint. We eventually made our way back down and found a creek which led to #8. At this point knowing that we still had 2 more checkpoints until we were headed back to where we started. The guys of Cyclewerx only needed # 9, so we parted ways. We headed on to 10 and they shot a new heading to locate 9. We made our way to the next checkpoints without any trouble, checked in at 12 and headed off on our way to 15 which held our bikes. The next few were relatively easy to find, 14 took a few minutes, but not to long. We arrived at 15 and much to our suprise Cyclewerx's bikes were still there. We went in to transition and receive our maps and they weren't inside plotting either. We received four additional maps two were pre plotted, and two needed to be plotted. We made quick work of the plotting, despite the scale changes which nearly threw us off. We have a pretty good system of plotting and were ready to head out in 20 minutes. We were preparing to leave when one of the volunteers received word that there had already been a coulpe of teams finish the race. I have to say that was just a little bit discouraging, knowing we still had so much to do, and people had already finished.

We headed out on the bikes and were breezing right along until we made a turn and hit the hill on the Alt Rd I believe. This hill went on forever, I have seen steeper , but I don't know if I have ever seen a hill this long. I am not sure, but I would guess it was around 3/4 of a mile long. The only good thing was getting to the top and going down, it was cold though, especially when the bike computer was showing 36 mph. We kept pedaling and came to the Al Foster trail and continued on with the checkpoints. We did have a slight error at one point which led to a small hike a bike, it seemed rough, but I think it actually saved us time. We arrived to find several other teams in the area of #20. The ground had thawed out by this time of the day and there was some horrible mud. Chris left his bike and walked to get the punch. He came back and we headed on down the trail. The mud just seemed to get worse, it was slick to ride on, and eventually clogged up my brakes preventing me from even pedaling. I stopped several times, trying to clean it out, but just couldn't seem to get it out. I eventually caught up with Chris and actually had to take off my front wheel to get the mud from around my brake. This didn't suck up a lot of time, but it definetly zapped my energy level. We eventually made our way to the canoes and prepared to head out on the river. We had to load our bikes into the canoe, which we have done before, but we were having a little difficulty getting them both in. We eventually got them secured in and headed out on the river. Knowing that there was a five o'clock cutoff we elected not to go up river and get the checkpoint. Shortly after starting down the river, we realized that we had put the bikes in preventing Chris from paddling on the left side of the boat. Which meant that I would have to do all the paddling on that side. We made it down the river and arrived at the take out point, I think it was around 4-5 miles of paddling, but it seemed longer, only paddling on one side. We checked in, carried our canoe up the bank, and went back and got our bikes. There was a gear check before we were allowed to continue on. The volunteers said that there was about an hour or so of riding to get the last 4 checkpoints. After careful consideration, knowing that the hour was for a team probably faster than us, we elected to just head in to the finish and skip the last four checkpoints. This put us missing a total of 6 checkpoints, not what we had hoped for, but better than we have done in any other bonk hard races. We finished the race in 9:01, with 5 missed checkpoints. Definetly not a strong finish as far as standings go, but not bad considering we did not train at all prior to this race. On the plus side, my navigational skills have greatly improved from previous races. Chris was so comfortable with it, that he never even took out his compass all day! Castlewood was a fun and challenging race and I look forward to returning in 2010.