|Sunrise from Race HQ at Wyman Center.|
|Only about a third of the bikes at the start line.|
Team Alpine Shop was also racing in a new configuration. Two weeks before the race, our regular teammate Doug separated his shoulder in a cyclocross crash, and couldn't race. This seems to be the year of injuries for us (Carrie's knee, my knee, now Doug's shoulder) and we went through a frantic few days trying to find a substitute. Do you know how hard it is to find someone who rides mountain bikes, runs, and paddles, all at a reasonably fast pace, and is a fun person to hang out with, and is available all-day Saturday to race with us? Let me tell you - it's difficult. But thankfully we didn't have to stress too long - local super-stud Mike agreed to race with us after only a few phone and email exchanges. I am always really excited to race with people new to the sport of adventure racing, and I was doubly excited to race with Mike after following him on Strava - dude is FAST!! (side-note: if you are looking to get into adventure racing, but don't have a team, one way to do it is to log your training on some site like Strava or AttackPoint, that lets other teams stalk you (and your fitness) and might garner an invitation.)
Anyway...the four of us met up at our favorite store in St. Louis, of course that would be Alpine Shop, on Friday night for pre-race check-in. We got our maps, got some pizza from Dewey's (also a CW8 tradition for me - 5 races, 5 pre-race meals of Dewey's pizza!), and then headed over to David's studio to plot, eat, and strategize. We did all of this with another Alpine Shop team - Carrie and Yvonne were racing 2P female as Alpine Shop-NNC. It was a fun night and after we got the maps finished up (really, not much to do) then we talked a little bit about gear and headed to our respective homes for final packing and sleeping. Race morning came early and cold - once I got to the Wyman Center my phone was reading 12F. But there were 2 heating buildings to use for changing/TA and after all of the usual pre-race fretting and socializing, the whole herd of adventure racers headed outside for the start.
TREK 1, CPs 1-5, 3k redline, 0:28
|1:15k map of Greensfelder. We went 2-4-1-3. Sorry about the crossing out, we marked up this same map later in the race.|
BIKE 1, CPs 6-13, 8.5mi road, 0:45
We race out of Wyman Center on our bikes in what we think is the lead. The roads are not icy so we organize into a towing paceline and ride hard. The next few CPs are just at various road landmarks so the nav isn't hard at all, and there isn't much route choice. We're soon joined by our main rivals, plus a couple other speedy teams. It's really hard to recognize everyone in full winter gear! The bike path into Route 66 State Park is really slippery, so we take a few extra minutes around the turn and lose the main pack. Once in the park, we execute out route choice without any difficulty, catching back up to DBB/RR/Kuat and making it to the canoe put-in in 4th place.
|David, Mike, me, and Jeff riding into TA.|
PADDLE 1, CPs 14-16, 4mi, 1:31
|Me and Mike running back to get the second boat.|
|Jeff got it for us.|
Because the Castlewood 8hr does not allow personal paddles, we adjusted our paddling strategy a little bit. Normally Jeff and David paddle in the back of the boats, but today we are trying me in the back of Jeff's boat, the theory being that Jeff is a stronger continuous motor in front and then I can just steer. We've practiced this once and it went well, so today I'm in charge of keeping the boat between the navigational beacons. Once we start paddling, it takes me a bit to get comfortable - the bikes are sliding around, there is a little riffle to be negotiated, it's stressful! But Jeff talks me through everything and pretty soon we're charting a great course downriver. And then, my hands start to get cold. At first I just deal with it, but as they keep getting colder and colder, I start to
|Approaching the take-out!|
|Jackie and Suzanne, awesome volunteers!!!|
SURPRISE TREK 2, CPs 40-42, 1.5mi, 0:13
BIKE 2B, CPs 24-27, 6.5mi road, 0:24
We charge out onto the trails of West Castlewood, still in 4th place overall. We have some route choice here so we go get CP17 first and then over to the Blue Ribbon (aka Cedar Bluff) singletrack loop. We're instructed to ride this counter-clockwise and collect 3 unmapped CPs along the way. We all are making good progress on the snowy singletrack and now that my hands are warmed up, it's really fun. We start sharing bottles here too, drinking from whomever's is least frozen at the moment. Once we pop out of Blue Ribbon, we get the rest of the West Castlewood CPs on the trail and then motor westbound onto the Al Foster. We all work together to keep our team speed high through the tire-sucking snow. We have one CP left on the trail before hitting the roads back into HQ, and when it comes into view there is a crowd of people. What's this?
|CP20, before the other teams got there.|
|Running back to our bikes.|
|Let's go! Jeff, me, Mike, David.|
TREK 3, CPs 28-35, 6k redline, 1:18
|I added the orange lines to show our order, we went clockwise.|
As we make the climb up to CP34 (same as CP3 from this morning), I remind the boys that this is the last trek of our adventure racing season and we've got to make it count. Once we punch CP30, we have a good bit of trail to run and David and Mike lead out at an incredibly fast pace - Jeff and I can barely keep up. We don't see anyone in the woods ahead of us, but these points are rogaine-style (we can get them in any order) so there's no guarantees that we'll see the lead teams anyway. So we just run really, really hard. David's nav is perfect, taking terrific routes and then spiking each control on the money. The climb up to CP31 is really hard, and as we're leaving the area we see Off The Front just getting to the control. Panic! We've got to get out of their sight before they can potentially follow us to CP32. So we grunt up the huge snowy climb, run the little out-n-back to CP32, and then throw ourselves downhill to CP33. This late-race push seems to work, we can't see anyone else behind us now (of course, maybe they went the opposite direction anyway?). We punch CP35 and then just have a long run back to the finish with 1 huge climb and 1 smaller one. David narrates as we all climb as hard as we can. Finally, we crest the last ridge and tumble downhill back to the finish line. We see our friends Tiny Trail Ninjas (former Bonk Hard owners Jason and Laura) and they cheer us on, suggesting that we might be first back. Could it be possible?
|Team Alpine Shop: me, Mike, David, Jeff.|
Sneat's photos: https://www.facebook.com/skiefner/posts/10201153402818970
BORED's photos: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.1443274859229050.1073741844.1422175918005611&type=1