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.


  1. Hey guys, Jason with Bonk Hard Racing here. Sounds like you've had better races, but hopefully you had fun anyway! That's what it's all about.

    Hope to see you all soon!

    Bonk Hard Racing

  2. Dude, I can totally sympathize with your experience. Getting mixed up in the woods is no fun, but I guess if this stuff was easy everyone would do it.

    Check out this link if you want to feel better about yourself: