27 March 2013

Brace Yourself

Without even realizing it, I've booked myself solid for seven weekends of racing in a row. SEVEN. This summer is soooooo much different than last summer. Wow. And it's only just begun! But I'm pretty excited about each weekend's happenings, and all of them (well, except the adventure races) are casual enough that if my legs aren't feeling it on a particular day, I can just spin easy and ride instead of race. Bring it on!

April 6/7 = Team Virtus weekend! I'm participating in their annual non-race, the CAC, on Saturday and gravel grinding on Sunday. Camping at Pine Ridge in between. What's a non-race? It's one step up from a group ride but one step below a race, if that makes sense. It's the PERFECT place to test out adventure racing to see if you'd like it. I plan on helping newer teams by non-racing with them, assisting with navigation, gear, food, basically answering any questions anyone has. My Alpine Shop teammate Jeff is doing the same thing. If you've ever wanted a chance to race with Alpine Shop, this is your opportunity! Except no pressure to go fast. We just want to have fun!! On Sunday we'll be riding gravel around Jefferson City, led by Cedar Cross guru Bob Jenkins. Bring your Battlefinch! RSVP to Team Virtus by 8pm TONIGHT 27-MAR-2013 if you plan on coming (and you should) so they can print a map for you.

April 13/14 = Tour of Hermann Gravel Challenge. 90-100 miles of gravel each day, organized by THE Jeff Yielding. Jeff puts on amazing events. I was first introduced to him in 2009 during Hermann Cross. This year Jeff is expanding into the world of gravel, and I couldn't be happier. His events are more organized than triathlons. Seriously. Come out and join me!
April 20 = The OGRE. 154 miles of gravel with 11,000+ feet of climb. The whole reason I built the Thunderchicken. Racing with Jeff as a 2-person coed team, with Carrie as our support crew. Currently there are no other 2-person coed teams. Please come out and race us!

team gearjunkie iowa race - photo 3.jpg
April 27/28 = Boonecrusher 12hr AR on Sunday as a guest racer with Gnome Hunters. Before Carrie got injured (which led to my guest racing gig with Alpine Shop), I put out an ABP for teams looking for female racers. My buddies with the Gnome Hunters responded right away and we picked out this race in Boone, IA as a fun event. On Sunday, there's a slight chance I'll continue my road trip up to the MNOC AR Tune-Up to race with my favorite Russian.

Cedar Cross Fields
May 4 = Cedar Cross 100 mile gravel. The Combatpigeon needs miles. Bob Jenkins is awesome. Done and done!

Me racing Mission 2011 with Mike and Bill.
May 11 = DINO Mission 18hr AR with Jeff and David for Alpine Shop. This adventure race is always fun because it keeps all teams in the woods for the full 18 hours. And this year they're bringing a new discipline into the mix - roller blading/scootering!! This used to be popular in adventure races about 10 years ago. Then, for some reason, it faded. Now DINO is bringing it back! Thankfully, my teammates have been doing adventure races for more than 10 years, so I'm the one with the steepest learning curve. It pays to race with old people!!
May 18/19 = Planet Adventure 24hr AR with Jeff, David, and Doug for Alpine Shop. Except I can't find an updated 2013 webpage for this race. I hope it's still on?? I've never done it before and I'm super excited!

May 25/26 = nothing. rest. sweet, sweet rest.

June 1 = Dirty Kanza 200 mile gravel on the Attackpheasant. My brother is coming in from Detroit to crew for me. I am beyond excited about that. Never mind that this will probably be my hardest day on a bike, ever, bar none, enough said. I am very much looking forward to this. Pin It

Meet the Warbird Part TWO

BIKE NERD ALERT: Here is my exact build of my new Salsa Warbird. As you can see, if I had ordered the complete bike, I would have ended up changing a lot of things anyway. I think the key component here is the SRAM X0 crank, specifically the 29/42T option. It's taller than a typical mountain crank (26/39T), but smaller than typical cyclocross set-up (36/46T). Or in other words, it's perfect for the OGRE. I have no worries that my bike will be up to the task of 11,000 feet of climb. Just hope my legs can hang in there!
FrameWarbird EV6 Aluminum
ForkENVE CX Disc, Carbon, Tapered
Front DerShimano CX50

Rear DerShimano 105

CassetteSRAM PG-1050 11-30T

SRAM 1070 11-36T
ChainKMC X10

CranksetFSA Gossamer PF30 34/46T

SRAM X0 28/42T, 170mm 
Rear Shocknil
HeadsetCane Creek 10 IS42/56
StemSalsa Pro Moto 2

cheapo Easton 90mm aluminum
HandlebarSalsa Cowbell 2
GripsSalsa Gel Tape
ShifterShimano Tiagra STI

SRAM Rival
Front BrakeAvid BB7
Rear BrakeAvid BB7
Brake LeverShimano

SRAM Rival
Rotors160mm Front/140mm Rear

Ashima 160mm Front/160mm Rear GOLD!
SeatpostSalsa Pro Moto 2

Easton Haven 27.2mm
SaddleWTB Valcon

Bontrager something

ISM Adamo Racing II
TiresClement USH 700c x 35mm

Clement LAS 700c x 33mm

Ritchey Speedcross 700c x 40mm
Front HubSalsa 2 by Formula, 32H

Rival 32H disc GOLD!
Rear HubSalsa 2 by Formula, 32H

Rival 32H disc GOLD!
SpokesDT Swiss Competition white
RimsSun Assault No Brake Track

Velocity A23 white

Other Small Parts
  • PF30 bottom bracket
  • Jagwire Road Pro XL kit for the cables/housing. I got this in the sparkly GOLD MEDAL colorway. We got the XL kit to make sure there was enough housing for full-length coverage, which Salsa designed into the frame's bosses. 
  • Inline barrel adjusters for shift cables. Decided not to use them on the brake cables (instead going to rely on the BB7 calipers inboard adjusters if needed).
  • Gold spoke nipples
  • Gold bottle cages
  • Clear chainstay protector from Lizard Skins
  • Walmart-brand bento box and REI-brand saddle bag

I've said it before but I'll say it again...this bike would not have been possible without SIGNIFICANT help from the guys at Big Shark, especially Doug, Colin, Dirk, Dave, Matt, and Howard. They helped me with with frame selection, sizing, component installation, wheel building, and a bunch of other stuff. I brought the completed bike over to the Loop store last night and their reaction when I brought it into the shop area was priceless!! Thanks again for the help and encouragement, I'm so stoked about this bike and ready to crush some gravel! Pin It

26 March 2013

Meet the Warbird

Let me be clear, I had no intention of buying not one but two new bikes this year. It just, sorta....happened. Bike people will understand. It all started with me agreeing to race the OGRE with my Alpine Shop teammate Jeff. When I first heard about this 154-mile gravel race with crazy amounts of climb, I had absolutely no interest in doing it. Too long, all one discipline, just didn't inspire me. To be honest it didn't interest any of my friends either. But for some reason the idea kept sticking around, kept getting talked about as a sort of "can you believe some people are actually going to do this?!" and then before I knew it Jeff flipped. He recruited a support crew (Carrie) and dangled it in front of me like a gravel-dusted carrot...okay. Fine. I'm in. Go Uncle Perv & The Pervette.
Me, Jeff, and Carrie on a training run at Chubb.
Then came the question of the bike. The OGRE promoters issued this lovely little snippet on their website to assist racers in bike setup:
Riders should expect to descend equal to the elevation gain estimated at 75ft - 80ft per mile. Tire selection and gearing choice are critical to completing this up and down race. The Oz Cycle group that rides these roads regularly suggest that tires be at a minimum of 700 x 35 (they use 700 x 40 or 29er 1.75-2.0) with low profile tread and lateral knobs. Gearing should be no higher than 42/27 crank, 11-34 cassette. Pushing a granny gear of 24x36 or 22x34 will come in handy 100 miles into the race, so go lower if you have it.
I had planned to use my cyclocross bike (a Cannondale CAAD8 from 2009 or so) but this little paragraph made me VERY worried about gearing. See, the Cannondale had a normal 46/36 crank with an 11-28 cassette in the back. And let's do the math...a 154 mile race with approximately 75 feet of climb per mile means...MORE THAN 11,000 FEET OF CLIMB. ON GRAVEL. This is serious. I took it in to my friends at Big Shark to talk options. Could I just switch cranks? Maybe put a mountain bike cassette on the back? Turns out, there was no simple answer. The Cannondale's Shimano road components don't play nicely with the mountain bike options I wanted. Plus, the cantilever brakes were touchy at best and scarily unreliable at worst. Oh dear...this smells like a new bike.
Me and the Cannondale at Hermann Cross 2009. Photo probably by Dan Singer.
More research. More spreadsheets. Steel? Aluminum? Mountain bike frame with drop bars? Cyclocross frame with wide tire clearance? Maybe throw skinny tires on the SegSlayer? (Wo)man up and ride the Cannondale with a 46/34? Thankfully, Uncle Sam chipped in with a well-timed tax refund. With the direct deposit burning a virtual hole in my pocket, I marched back over to Big Shark, spent even more time talking to their people (saints, all of them), and came away with an order for a brand new 2013 Salsa Warbird frameset. I had crunched the numbers and initially wanted to buy the complete bike (with plans to immediately replace about half of the components), but turns out there was no more stock left so frameset it was!!

The cool thing about the frameset was that I could build it EXACTLY how I wanted. The bad thing about the frameset was that I had to source every single piece and part myself, checking compatibility, availability, pricing, ship times, etc. It was tedious but...I learned A LOT. Like there are different versions of BB7 brakes for mountain and road levers. Like rear axle spacing. Like shift cable diameter vs. shift housing diameter vs. brake cable diameter vs. brake housing diameter (1.1mm, 4.5mm, 1.6mm, 5mm). Like headset specs. And don't forget the ferrules!! It was an absolute fire-hose amount of information but again, I had a speadsheet to take it all in.

Once the parts started rolling in, it was time to start assembling. I did some things myself, but I relied very heavily on Big Shark mechanics for stuff that was beyond my knowledge/skill level, or that I simply didn't have the tools for. Colin installed my bottom bracket, crank, and headset/fork. Then I did the seatpost/saddle, spacers/stem/bars/shifters, first pass of housing and cables, front and rear derailleurs, temporary wheelset, and chain. I messed with the cable routing for a considerable amount of time, mostly because this is my first build and I wasn't familiar with how much radius is too severe or too lax. Finally, I took everything over to Doug's house for final review and to build some sweet wheels.

Doug basically went over the entire bike, checking the work I did and fine-tuning almost everything. We installed inline adjusters that actually fit the 4.5mm housing. We took slack out of the brake housing, checked ferrules, adjusted derailleurs, and drank bike-related beer. I asked A LOT of questions. After that was all done, we still had wheels to build! I helped where I could and by the end of the evening, we had a mostly-done rear wheel and a half-done front wheel. Doug offered to finish up both wheels, cut my (kharbon) steerer tube, and tape the bars the next day while I was running an O-meet. I happily accepted that offer and went on my merry way.

And oh, what a merry way that was! I picked up the Warbird and immediately had to crush some afternoon Katy gravel. I had lost my Garmin at the O-meet (sad) but I put about 3 hours of ride time into the bike right off the bat. Nothing crazy hard, just a few solid miles in peaceful Missouri countryside. Let me tell you...this bike...it just hums. It eats up the miles and is such a pleasure to ride. If I'd had a credit card with me, I would have kept riding to Jefferson City, got a hotel, and then ridden back the next day!

Detailed build specs here.
Pin It

19 March 2013

Race Report: 2013 Bonk Hard Chill 12hr AR

Exactly a month after our overall win at the 2013 Bonk Hard LBL Challenge 18hr AR, I reunited with Alpine Shop to take on the 12hr adventure race known around these parts simply as The Chill. We had been training together a little bit more since LBL and were excited for this barn burner of a race which would feature some smokin' fast teams from around the Midwest.

I meet up with the boys at our favorite commuter lot to load everything into the Sona-van for the trip down to Osage Beach, MO. There's nothing I love more than the sheer absurdity of 4 bikes mounted on 1 mini-van and we get a lot of looks as we cruise down I-44 to the race site. A quick stop for lunch lets us visit with Jeff's dad which is awesome, they are even wearing the same pair of Crocs!! When we get to Lake of the Ozarks, we check in at race sponsor Oz Cycles & Kayaks. We get our race packets, visit with Gary and Ellen, and chat with Dan about the upcoming OGRE.
Any guesses which car is ours?
After check-in we stop at next-door Paul's Supermarket for some last-minute junk race food and water. Then we bring everything back to the hotel for bike prep, and thankfully it's nice enough to do this outside. As we are messing with our gear, racers start streaming in and it's fun to greet our friends! Pretty soon it's time to head over to the pre-race meeting where Bonk Hard hands out tons of schwag, along with a kayak raffle (we did not win) and the race map for tomorrow. We get coordinates for the first 27 CPs, and will receive coordinates for 2 more CPs (8 and 27) on the course tomorrow, along with however many checkpoints he will have after we punch the first 29.
The map!
Back at the hotel, we chow down on my favorite pre-race meal (pizza!!) and get to the business of plotting. This course is more traditional than last month's LBL Challenge, but we are excited for the head-to-head competition it will bring. Gary still manages to include some choice into the race, allowing CPs 16-18 to be visited in any order and in any mode. We decide they will be a short trekking loop for us. We also pack our gear bags with extra food and water which we will have access to at CP20, slightly past the mid-way point of the race. After the map is done, we spend some time agonizing over clothing and food choices. It's clear that the resupply bag isn't all that necessary - each of us could carry enough calories to get us through the entire race - but we plan on stashing a few treats in there, just because we can. And although it takes us at least 20 minutes to decide on which pair of gloves to wear (fleece? wool? windproof? waterproof? mittens? etc etc etc), it takes the boys about 30 seconds to decide how I should do my hair ("PIGTAILS!!!").
Doug fraternizing with the enemy...
Race morning wakes us up at 4:45am, and I am proud to say I have had yet another sound pre-race sleep. We quickly pack up the Sona-van, eat breakfast, drink Doug's special turbo-charged coffee, and head over to the bike drop at 5:30am. Then it's back to Race HQ in Osage Beach City Park for the pre-race meeting at 6:30am and the race start at 7:00am!

TREK 1 (4.7mi, CPs 1-6, 1:06)
It's a mad dash to CP1, with 39 teams all gunning for the same location. We push the pace out of HQ and run right past the Sona-van where David chucks his warm-up fleece. Turns out that most of the field follows us and we run in a crowd to CP1. I'm excited about racing and it occurs to me that this is so much better than a mass Ironman swim start. At some point we slide down a super-steep bank and I can feel something's wrong with my tights. Did I rip them? Is my butt hanging out for the entire race to see? My tights were already tattered from the infamous CP E at CPT Nationals, but I keep hoping they'll last for one more race. In any case, there's no time to worry about unintentional flashing now, because we have punched CP1 and are streaking (pun intended) through the woods on our way to CPs 2, 3, and 4. On the attack to CP4, we have a little bit of hesitation, but there are several other teams around us and everyone struggles from the group think. But we bounce one reentrant north and find the CP. We jet off to CP5 and then up the trail to CP6 where our bikes are waiting.
David, (Jeff Ryan from 34 Down), me, Jeff, Doug at CP6.
It's mass chaos as there are at least six other teams all arriving at the TA within 5 minutes of each other. I do my best triathlon-inspired transition and then help the boys with their remaining shoes and gear. Then it's time for some biking!

BIKE 1 (7.5mi, CPs 7-9, 0:36)
We have a slight (aka 30-second) lead leaving the TA and we are firing on all cylinders. We enjoy a lightning fast, paved descent and then it's time for a towing paceline. My goal for this race has been to stay in the boys' draft as much as possible to keep the team speed high. It's working so far as we hit CP7 in the lead. Here, we are given UTM coordinates for CP8, which we must plot on the map. It's my and David's job to plot and my brain completely freaks out...we can't find the right box, I use the wrong scale on the plotter, and suddenly we are surrounded by other teams and it's chaos. Jeff snaps us to attention and we finally get the point plotted correctly, but by now our slim lead has evaporated.
Gear check at CP9, me showing the race volunteers' my emergency blanket.
But we do our best to push to CP8 and CP9 and get the job done, clawing back a few seconds' advantage over 34 Down, Team Fusion, and Bushwhacker. When we arrive at CP9, we have a gear check, which we pass successfully and then it's time for a short trek to the boats.
Me taking David's shoes off after passing the gear check at CP9.
TREK 2 (1.5mi, CPs 10-12, 0:22)
Alpine Shop leaving CP9 in the lead!
We run out of CP9 just barely in front of 34 Down and Team Fusion, but we are all feeling good on our feet.  David nails the nav as usual, but so do the other 2 teams and we all pop out of the woods together at the paddle put-in.
Approaching CP12.
PADDLE 1 (3.5mi, CPs 13-15)
At the put-in, Doug and David pick out some boats (what kind? good ones!) as Jeff and I assemble paddles. We are trying a new nav strategy for the paddle, and it involves me holding the maps. At LBL, David had his hands full trying to nav and steer the boat through tough conditions, and he suggested that it might be easier for someone in the front of the boat to take over nav. With my recent success on the maps, I volunteered and we are trying the arrangement for the first time today. I am slightly terrified about holding this responsibility, but I just narrate our route constantly and things actually go pretty well. We are able to pull slightly ahead of 34 Down (who are using canoe paddles) and Team Fusion as we punch CPs 13, 14, and 15.
Time to paddle and nav! Leaving CP12.
TREK 3 (2.1mi, CPs 16-18)

The race instructions have told us that we can punch CPs 16-18 in any order and by any mode. If you look at the picture above (recreated from google maps), you can see that if you were a good paddling/bad trekking team, you might want to hit one or more of these CPs from the water. But, we are a good trekking team, so last night we decided to beach the canoe at the north end of the peninsula and trek 17-16-18 and then get back in the boats. We punch CP17 cleanly, but Team Fusion catches us on the way to CP16. They get slightly ahead and as we're running, David starts to sense that we've gone too far and missed our spur. We backtrack a little, and then get on the correct spur for CP16. We breathe a sigh of relief (actually more like a gasp, we are really pushing the pace here to get away from Fusion). But our good vibes are short-lived as we spot 34 Down attacking CP16 from below and they get the punch first. Crap!! We chase them to CP18 and then back to the boats, where they are in the water a few minutes ahead of us. And, just as we push off the shore, Team Fusion comes crashing out of the woods. This is a tight race!!

PADDLE 2 (3.5mi, CPs 19-20)
The chips are DOWN here at the Bonk Hard Chill, and we decide as a team to give the maps back to David for the return paddle. The wind has kicked up a little and I find that I can paddle faster without staring at the maps, and we need all the team speed we can get to claw our way into the lead of this race. However, Team Fusion has other ideas as they put their excellent paddling skills to good use and get a decent gap on us and 34 Down. We are approaching the take-out at CP20, which is also where our re-supply bags are located. We do a team check and everyone reports having plenty of calories in their packs to finish out the race. So we decide to only grab Coke and Ensure out of the drop bags and drink those on the run to CP21. It's a furious transition as we stack the canoes, disassemble paddles and put them into the drop bags, grab the drinks, and boogie out of there.

TREK 4 (0.5mi, CP 21, 0:09)
Have you ever tried sharing a can of Coke with someone who has just chugged strawberry Ensure? I have, and the results are not as bad as you might imagine. It's like a variation of Cherry Coke....mmmmmmm. But there's hardly time to enjoy this "delicious" flavor combination since we have a super-short trek up and over a ridge to CP21 where our bikes are waiting. Team Fusion is just leaving as we arrive and we quickly throw on bike shoes and take off after them.

Getting ready to leave CP21
BIKE 2 (15.5mi, CPs 22-28, 2:13)
Time to hustle!!
We are in a really tough spot here. We are more than half-way through the race and have been unable to get a permanent gap on Team Fusion. And 34 Down is only a few minutes back, only thanks to the advantage our kayak paddles gave us on the water. How can we possible take the win here?? There's only one way to find out, and that is to bike our tails off in pursuit of Team Fusion. And we do just that, flying down the paved road and using the paceline and tows to our advantage. After about 6 miles of pavement, the route turns to singletrack and by the time we reach CP22 on the trail, we have Team Fusion in our sights. We keep pace with them to CP23, and then it's time for some race strategery.

On Friday night, we noticed that the route from CP23 to CP24 involves a large amount of singletrack. While we are a good biking team, singletrack can be slow, especially when it contours around like this trail is shown on the map to do. We also noticed that there is an airport boundary oriented almost exactly in the direction we want to go between these two CPs. So, we gave ourselves an option: depending on what the vegetation looks like on the airport fence, we could bikewhack to CP24 to shave off some distance between these two checkpoints. Trouble is, Team Fusion is right on our tails, and we don't want to give our plan away. So when we get to the airport, we pull the most obvious diversion tactic known to adventure racers: a well-timed pee break. And we sell it too, each of us finding excess liquid in our bladders that needs to get out, NOW. Team Fusion takes one glance and decides to jump on their chance to gain the lead, taking off down the trail. Once they are out of sight, we gleefully grab our bikes and take off on bikewhack along the airport fence. It's even better than we imagined; parts are actually rideable and the spur we need to attack CP24 is obvious. The woods are pretty open, too. This is good. This is really good.

After punching CP24, we bikewhack again for a short distance to CP25. On the way to CP26, we encounter a long line of horseback riders out for a trail ride. Trail etiquette (and race rules) require us to yield to horses, so we get off our bikes and wait while the horses pass. This is hard to do since we are pretty sure we just leapfrogged into the lead and have to bank any precious time we can. But, we know it's also important to be good AR ambassadors so we stay quiet and let the horses go past (and do not feed them any treats even though I want to).

We enjoy a loose, sketchy, screaming fast downhill into CP26, and then have to plot coordinates to CP27. I'm nervous about this after my brain explosion earlier at CP7, but the calm surroundings help and David is able to easily pick a route to CP27 (again with a little bikewhacking). At every soft part of the trail we come to, we are looking for tire tracks, but we don't see any so our confidence starts to grow. We zoom into CP28, our last known checkpoint, and are greeting with one of the favorite sights of adventure racers: a TA with no other bikes. The bikewhack worked! We are in the lead!
Plotting the last trek.
TREK 5 (5.5mi, CPs 29-36, 1:33)
The final trek. Map and CPs are to scale. Route is....not.
We are feeling awesome. Tired from the previous 6 hours and 43 minutes of racing, yes, but having this hard-fought lead is like fire in our blood. One last trek stands between us and the finish line, and we haven't seen Team Fusion in all our time spent plotting. We thank the volunteers and take off into the woods for the final 8 CPs. These are ROGAINE-style, but I can't remember the order we took them in. I do, however, remember absolutely hammering this trek. We are all out of breath, sore, and cramping up a little, but we work as a team to get each other up each hillside and down each reentrant. Jeff and David share the workload of the passport. Doug tows me up the steepest hills. Chocolate-covered espresso beans and LiquidShot are my late-race fuels of choice, and they help convince my legs to keep firing. David's navigation is impeccable and we tick off each CP one by one. By the time we punch our last one, I'm so exhausted that I don't even realize we are headed towards the finish line. The baseball fields appear as we crest the last ridgeline, but I'm confused as to why we are finishing when there are still more CPs out there. The boys assure me that we've got everything, and we make one last route choice around the outfield towards the Bonk Hard inflatable arch.
We're done!!
All is quiet at Race Headquarters, and that's exactly the way we like it. In another extreme departure from Ironman, a quiet finish line is the best kind there is because it means you're the first to arrive. It's like waking up before everyone else on Christmas morning and just sitting in your bed, listening to the quiet house and anticipating the awesome presents that are surely waiting downstairs. Or like hanging out in the tent before attempting to summit Mt. Kilimanjaro.

I give an exhausted hug to Gary, thanking him for an excellent course.
But as soon as the Bonk Hard staff sees us, they start clanging their signature cowbell greeting which is my favorite sound to hear at the end of a tough race!
David, Jeff, me, Doug. Shorties in the middle. Winners all around.
POST-RACE (1st place division, 1st place overall, 8:16 total race time)
After crossing the finish line, we have a little chat with Gary about route choices, and then hurry back to the Sona-van to change into warm dry clothes. While we're back there, Team Fusion finishes only 25 minutes behind us. We learn they had a flat just after leaving us at the airport, and were confused why we didn't ride by as they changed it. And that they arrived at CP28 only 2 minutes after we left. They put up a huge fight and we are so excited to squeak by with a win. 34 Down rolls through the finish line in 3rd place overall, also finishing up a really great race. On Friday night, we went through the course and made some time estimates for each leg. At one point in the race we were an hour ahead of that schedule. This just goes to show how heated the competition was, everyone was blowing past their pre-conceived paces to try and gain the lead. That's really racing, and that's why we love this sport!
Sorry to finish this report with a pic of my butt, but this is what happened to my tights in the first 30 minutes of racing. Kitten bottoms indeed.
Special shoutouts to: Alpine Shop for awesome sponsorship of the team and the sport of AR in general, Carrie Sona for cheering us on from St. Louis, Leonard for cheering us on before and during the race, Joyce for cheering and bringing us delicious gooey butter cake after the race, and all of the Bonk Hard volunteers for being on top of their game all day long! Pin It

18 March 2013

Race Report: 2013 IS/IC Champs Day 2

After yesterday's mediocre run, I have an entirely new strategy for today: pick easy routes and execute them cleanly. So simple! David and I head over to Shawnee Mission Park for Day 2 of the IS/IC Championships hosted by PTOC and OK. My start time is about the same as yesterday, but since Daylight Savings Time ended this morning, my body thinks it's an hour earlier. That, combined with some heavy fog, makes for a very sleepy morning. I try to wake myself up before my start by including some pick-ups in my warm-up jog. They seem to work as I try to enter the start tent a full 3 minutes before my assigned time - the meet officials politely kick me out until 10:08am. While waiting, I think I kind of need to pee, but since it's only a few minutes I decide to just hold it and go race. Shortly, it's my turn to start, and I get to say hi to Peggy (former national champ who beat me yesterday) who is volunteering in the start tent. Also there is Susy from the Golden Girls!! I have to remind myself to stop chatting and get into race mindset. And then, in a few short seconds, it's time to start!
Day 2 Red course.

The run to CP1 is a little wide around the pond but I just focus on executing down the spur, and pretty soon I have the first control out of the way cleanly, already a huge improvement from yesterday. Redline looks as good as any route to CP2 so that's what I pick, and as I'm descending the attack spur I feel the need to pee. Crap! I should have taken care of this at the start when I wasn't on the clock. And I'm not sure if this happens to anyone else, but suddenly I can't focus on anything else besides peeing. I can't think about the map, I can't think about controls, I can only think about peeing RIGHT. NOW. So, I do that (runners, this is the equivalent of stopping in a 10k...entirely unnecessary!) and in my haste I lose contact with the map. It takes another minute or two to relocate (you can see the red dots on the QuickRoute image) but finally I get my bearings and punch CP2. I am back in the game and pick a straightforward route to CP3. Boom. It's clean, and I'm back on track.

From CP3, it's a long leg to CP4, but there's nothing especially heinous about a redline route so I just pick that and run it. I try to make good use of the fields in the middle and then pay careful attention once I hit the reentrant system towards the end. Everything checks out and the control is right where I expect it to be. Awesome! CP5 is super short so I hop over a few meters and punch it cleanly as well. There are a few route options to CP6, and at first I decide to take the all-road route. But, a few more glances at the map while I'm running low shows the trails that lead almost straight to it, so I climb a few contours to get on them and run as efficiently as I can up the gradual climb. There is some veg to fight at the top but nothing horrible. The route to CP7 looks straightforward as well so, with David's words from yesterday still echoing in my head, I run straight at it. The rocky terrain makes me slow down a little as I descend into the creek but as I come around the spur the control is happily staring me straight in the face. Great! I punch and as I leave the circle, I hear footsteps behind me and somehow they sound familiar...yep, they belong to David who has caught me after starting 6 minutes later. He punches CP8 a few seconds ahead and I now have a great rabbit to chase on the climby route to CP9.

I work really hard to keep David in my sights. The nav on this leg is not difficult, but the climb is, so it's good to have a psudo-partner in suffering. I'm able to almost match pace on the uphills, but I'm concerned with staying in my own map so I take extra glances on the downhills while David zooms farther ahead. By the time I punch CP9 he's completely out of sight. My route to CP10 is pretty clean, but the downhill is rocky and loose so it's way slower than I anticipated. I execute CP11 pretty well too, again taking a simple route that uses a fair bit of road. As I pop into the field on the way to CP12, I spot David's green shirt on the far side, which gives me a little bit more motivation to run fast across the open and flat terrain, crossing the stream and then popping down into the ditch to punch the control.

There is some more field running after CP12, and it's all slightly uphill which makes it arduous. But pretty soon I'm back in the woods and I use a trail to take me up the reentrant, then bounce 2 streams over to get to my attackpoint for CP13. There are a few controls in this area on similar features but for once I am confident in my map reading so I can ignore the flags that aren't mine. CP13 is great and then I keep track of the trail crossings on the way to CP14, also clean. On the way to CP15 there is another bogus control but since it's almost directly on my route I stop to check the code, confirming it's not mine. After punching CP15, I have a moment of dread as I see we are being taken back into the Bermuda Triangle area of dark green and boulders...lots of potential for nav screwups here! So I take a nice safe route up to the powerline and run really hard, crossing the road and the first stream, I attack CP16 off the powercut slightly early and get confused a little searching for it. But I know well enough to stay calm and work hard at relocating, which I do in about 10 meters. Then the marsh and subsequent control flag comes into view and I breathe a huge sigh of relief - time to get out of here! I take another safe (and extremely thorny) route back to the powercut and then mostly trails to CP17. On the way out of CP17, I see my buddy Justin approaching who is running the Blue course. We exchange friendly "ka-kaws" before I hustle away - he could catch me on the way to the finish and I don't want that to happen! So I take off across the field and in my excitement I trip and fall on a grass tuft. Uff-da. But there's no time to waste so I scramble back up and run hard to the go control, CP18. From there I can see the finish and I focus on running hard, trying to win the split bet I have going with David.
Finish on Day 2. Photo by Peter W.
And I'm done! I see a few friends at the finish and squawk happily about my relatively-mistake-free run. As I reflect on it, I realize it's probably the best orienteering course I've ever done...I ran fast when I could, but mostly I just focused on the map and choosing routes I knew I could execute safely. I get my splits from the race HQ and it turns out I lost the go control bet to David by 5 seconds, so he gets the last remaining beer in the cooler. Even though the weather is chilly, I have enough warm clothes to hang out comfortably while waiting for final results to come in. I get to chat about route choice with Benjamin, one of the kids in SLOC who absolutely CRUSHED his Orange courses this weekend.
Benjamin, Laura, and me talking route choice.

A successful bunch of SLOC-ers!
Final results on the weekend - 2nd place!
When awards are announced, there is about the least fanfare possible made over adult results...we're expected to self-report our placings and come up to grab a sample bottle of BBQ sauce. I guess this meet really is about the kids since they are the only ones who get medals! But I'm happy that our kids (Benjamin and Olivia) did so well and I got to see so many of my friends. And I'm proud to have overcome a big hurdle in my navigation technique...forgetting about trying to be "clever" and instead eliminating mistakes. Now I can't wait for the next meet to try this again! Pin It