We all arrive at Kentucky Dam Village, site of the pre-race activities (check-in, dinner, meeting, cabins) and are given really nice Columbia fleece vests as part of our race entry. Thanks, Bonk Hard! Jeff's reserved an "Executive Cottage" which is probably the nicest pre-race accommodations I've stayed in - tons of room for all of our gear and bikes, a kitchen, and a great table for map prep. We do some bike fiddling and then go to eat dinner where Carrie is bombarded by questions about her knee. She has been a fixture on the AR circuit for so many years, and racers want to know what the story is. We all finally manage to feed ourselves (2 servings of the bread pudding for me, thanks!) and go across the street to the pre-race meeting.
|Planning in the Executive Cottage.|
|Doug, David, me, Jeff just minutes before the start. Sorry about the headlamp glare and Jeff's weird grin.|
TREK 1 (CPs 6, 5, 23. 2mi. 5:00-5:40)
|We started at Hillman Ferry Campground. |
On the way to CP23 (aka the bike drop aka North Welcome Station) we picked up CP6 and CP5.
BIKE 1 (CPs 4, 3, 2, 1, 11, A. 12.5mi. 5:40-7:45)
|Picked up bikes at CP23. CW loop of the Canal Loop trail, punching CP4, CP3, CP2, CP1. |
Then onto the paved Trace Trail to CP11 (off the map).
PADDLE 1 (CPs 10, 26, 8, 25, 24, 12, 14,
I'm in the boat with Jeff, paddling with my Christmas/birthday present, a new Epic 4-piece carbon paddle inspired by the one I borrowed from Brian of Epic Machinery for the 2012 MNOC Adventure-O. This paddle gives me great feedback from the water and makes me look like I actually know what I'm doing (hint: I'm not a very good paddler...yet). So we start paddling our way to CP 10 and before I know it, the wind has picked up and I start to get cold. No worries, I tell myself, just paddle harder. It doesn't help that I'm getting wet from paddle splashback, and it's barely 25F. Then on the way to CP26 I start to realize I might be in trouble. Jeff seems to sense this and starts asking how I'm feeling. Um, pretty cold, but I think I just need to eat something, can you hand be a probar from my bike's bento box? He does, and I chow down while David and Doug complete a mini-portage, punch CP26, and return to the lake. We are faced with a really strong headwind on the way to CP8. The chop on the lake picks up and there's nowhere to hide from the gusts. Jeff does an incredible job guiding the boat through the waves, but the situation is such that I forget about the race and just focus on not dumping the boat. At least it helps take my mind off being cold. And I am REALLY COLD - the worst I've felt in recent memory. There are Coast Guard safety boats on the water and we speculate if they will call off the paddle due to dangerous conditions. I am in enough discomfort that I hope they do. But, no announcements are made as we pass them (very slowly), so we just keep paddling. We make a plan to full stop at CP25 and put more clothes on me and Doug while Jeff and David punch 25 and nearby CP24.
|Doug's wheel and David's fork at the take-out. Cold.|
|Alpine Shop at the take-out, wearing just about every piece of clothing we brought.|
BIKE 2 (no CPs, <1mi, 11:00-11:15)
|Me back at the take-out, feeling like an Easter egg.|
TREK 2 (CPs 17, 19, 18, 20, 21, 22. 6.5mi. 11:15-2:00)
The first few CPs on this loop are completed on frozen feet. Since 5:00am, we have been racing in bike shoes which, at least for me, have been soaking wet since 7:45am. Now that I have my dry trekking shoes on, my feet finally have a chance to thaw. My body is warming up too; at each of the first few CPs I'm removing various items of clothing until I'm down to my base layers and the new 2013 Alpine Shop jersey (still can't believe I get to guest race on this team!). I don't really remember much about this section except David nailing the navigation and the team moving very efficiently through the woods. We're not sprinting, but we're not stopping either unless it's at a CP. Constant forward progress helps us make up time on our schedule and we are back at the bikes with a smaller deficit than when we started.
BIKE 3 (CPs 16,
We return to our bikes that we stashed a few hours earlier and find that our spot has turned into a mini TA. Several other teams have left their bikes next to ours and it's sort of humorous to see them all in this random spot in the woods. But there's no time for laughing, AR is serious (ha!) business and we transition back into biking gear and back onto the fire road. Although less severely than before, we are still behind our self-imposed schedule, so we decide to drop CP15 and CP40, two CPs that would have required a longer out-n-back run from the road to collect. We're all warmed up and we fly through this section. The boys tow me when the road is good. We even run into a few 8hr teams and exchange shouts and cheers.
TREK 3 (CPs 37, 36, 41, 42, 39, 38, 34,
CP C is a manned CP at a fire tower. As we arrive, we are finally ahead of our self-imposed schedule and ready to gobble up as many CPs as possible before the sun sets. We also get access to our gear drop bags which hold delicious treats - Coke, more sandwiches, and some EFS LiquidShot for me. I fill my pockets with calories and we jet off into the woods. The first 4 CPs are flawless. We are running really hard, spot on to everything. Things are jamming and we are happy (How happy are they, Jimmy? Happier than an adventure racer that doesn't have to paddle any more!) So happy, in fact, that we start chatting and get distracted as we trek right past CP39. Like literally 10 meters away. Pretty soon David realizes what's up and we take some time to relocate under the rapidly-setting sun. Thankfully, there is a fireroad we can use, but it's still sort of confusing and it takes some time to get things straightened out. But, we soon do, and are more focused for the remainder of the trek. The sun completely sets now and we switch on our lights, but our pace through the woods and enormous calorie consumption keeps us plenty warm. We decide to drop CP30, because it looks really hard to attack on foot, in the dark. It is close to a trail and we plan to instead get it on our final biking leg. For all our worrying about CP30, David is absolutely spot on for the remaining controls, including a really tricky attack on CP33 that he just nails. Solid. Jeff starts singing a custom version of:
BIKE 4 (CPs 30, 29, 7,
Once we return to the fire tower, we are surprised to find out that no other teams left their bikes there like we did. We frantically consider alternate route options for a few seconds and then have to dismiss the distraction and focus on the business of transition. Everyone's shoes are frozen and it takes extra time to cram our feet into them. The zippers on my shoe covers won't work either, so I am just going to have to cross my fingers that they don't get caught in my cranks. David, Doug and I finish transitioning just a few seconds before Jeff and are lured to the fire to warm our hands up. Approaching a warm fire in the middle of an adventure race is dangerous. Fires have magical abilities to lull racers into never leaving a TA. Jeff is aware of this and yells at us to get moving. We snap back to attention and depart the TA down a steep gravel hill. I chant IlovemybikeIlovemybikeIlovemybike because the windchill is really cold. We have a short bikewhack, then cross the Trace, then set out to get CP30, the one that we dropped from Trek 3. It's a little tricky with some new singletrack being built in this area. On our way to CP30, we pass Bushwhacker riding the other direction and it scares us. What if they have a better plan? We hustle even more. David is fairly confident on our attack to CP30 and we strike off into the woods. He and Jeff thrash around for a good chunk of time without finding the CP. This is not a good sign. Finally Jeff takes a closer look at the map and sees that there are two similarly-placed gridlines. We might have used the wrong one when plotting the night before. We check the cluesheet quickly and his suspicions are correct - CP30 is misplotted. Fortunately, the actual location is only a few hundred meters away so we are able to fix our mistake quickly and are back on the bikes, once again behind schedule to make the final 11:00pm cutoff.
We blast down the singletrack and I start to get nervous. Racing against a team is one thing, but racing against the clock adds a whole 'nother level of stress. We pick up CP29 after a short out-n-back run. We stop at the attackpoint for CP7 with 42 minutes left on the clock. We know CP9 is impossible at this point, and we estimate we need 30 minutes to get from here to the finish line. So we give ourselves 12 minutes to hike up the reentrant, punch CP7, and get back on the bikes. Let's do this. We strike off into the woods, Jeff and David leading the way, until our headlamps ping the reflective tape of the control flag. Perfect! Jeff flies up to get the punch as we all start picking our way down the dark reentrant. We complete the out-n-back in 9 minutes. Now we have 33 minutes to bike the remaining few miles of singletrack back to Hillman Ferry Campground and the finish line. Those are some tense miles, I'm checking my watch every time the trail smooths out for more than a few feet. Pretty soon, we can see the campground lights filter through the woods. We use a short bikewhack to get onto the access road and start to hear Bonk Hard's signature cowbell greeting. It's such a relief and we cruise into the finish at 10:49pm!
|David, me, Doug, Jeff, and the new Alpine Shop jerseys!|
|A different team approaching CP B later in the day. Racing is beautiful.|
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