|The start! Where's Alpine Shop? Still packing...|
TREK 1, CPs 1-10, 3.5k redline
|Trek 1: CPs 1-10 in order.|
BIKE 1, no CPs, 2k back to HQ
It's a super-short ride back to HQ. Jeff remembered to top off David's and my tires before the race, but not his own, so his handling is a little squirrely on the pavement, but he adjusts well.
BIKE 2, CPs 12-18, 22mi
|First part of bike leg - start at Race HQ (bottom middle of map) and ride NW, then straight N to CP12, then continue N.|
|We are biked north, then east.|
|Last part of the bike - riding to "Picknick Shelter O". David's spelling :)|
TREK 2, CPs 19-24, 2.5k redline
|map for Trek 2 - 5 CPs in order, then return to 18/24. Map stolen from Toporadicals.|
Now I have to mention something about racing against MRA. Alpine Shop is extremely blessed to have David as our navigator - he can make sense of a map better than most adventure racers in the country. And since there is no explicit rule against following other teams, we sometimes find ourselves having picked up a tail or two during races - teams that can keep up with us physically and just follow David's lead instead of doing their own navigation. NOT SO with MRA. They made their own attack on CP20, striking off into the woods a bit earlier than us, and choosing their own route. Turns out, we overshot the control downhill, and ended up reuniting with MRA at the flag, but approaching from different directions. I was extremely impressed that they stuck to their own game plan, and it was a great route choice too! Good on you MRA!
Our two teams emerge out of the woods together and we pass MRA on the road run to CP21. This clue is "naked tree" and it brings back horrible memories of the "change in forest maturity" clue from MISSION. What the heck does a naked tree look like? No leaves? No bark? Growing next to a stripper pole? Honestly, in the dark, all of the trees look the same and we are not excited about this attack. The woods are only slightly less thick than before so again it's slow going as we thrash around. MRA is with us too, but they are sticking to their own nav which I continue to be impressed by. After a while of flailing, MRA disappears, which can only mean one thing - they've found CP21 and we haven't. Not good. David does his best to relocate on the map, but it takes a while due to the subtle features and thick vegetation. We do our fair bit of wandering. Finally, FINALLY, David pings the CP with his headlamp and we breathe a sigh of relief. CP22 turns out to be relatively close by, and on the way to CP23, T-rad catches up to us after their own struggles at CP20. These woods are eating everyone alive! Back at the TA, Dawn tells us that MRA has about a 30-minute lead on us and T-rad. That is scary and we focus on transitioning swiftly onto our bikes.
BIKE 3, CPs 25-27, 8.5mi
It's a short road ride to the paddle put-in, but we are determined to make up time. I am feeling super motivated so I pull at dirt-crit-effort for as much as I can. Jeff takes over for me about half-way through and we cruise into the paddle put-in having made up 10 minutes on MRA, and T-rad nowhere in sight. This is hugely motivating to us since it was a short bike! We rush through transition, getting our glowsticks and PFDs sorted and pushing off into the Rock River amidst a flurry of bugs.
PADDLE 1, CPs 28-32, 9mi
|We put in on the right side of the map (CP27), paddled upstream to CP28, then downstream the rest of the way. Sorry the map is marked weird, there were typos in the race booklet so we had to re-plot 2 points.|
Jeff guides us upstream on a flooded Rock River, and we hit CP28 cleanly before turning downstream. CP29 is on a tributary creek but based on the verbal hints given to us a the pre-race meeting, it's easy to find. Then we paddle on to another tributary creek for CP30, with the clue "fallen tree over creek".
|The main river is just south of the map cut-off.|
Sure enough, we find the control hidden in a tree overhanging the creek, just not completely across the creek like we were expecting. Shame on us for not paying closer attention to the map! We punch and get back to business trying to make up time on MRA after our 1.5k mistake. The rest of the paddle is fairly fast. The current is ripping along, and we're working hard to make up time. CP31 is a little sketchy, it's hung slightly on shore but David's eagle eyes spot the flag after a few minutes of searching. We have about 3km left to the finish, and I have to mention it's 3km that I will remember for a long time. Having made two fairly large mistakes (for an 18hr race), we are not feeling very keen on our chances of winning. MRA is a good team and they've proven that they can handle the difficult nav and unfriendly forests that seem to be the hallmark of the course so far. So we decide to take every CP as it comes, focusing on our own race and our own best effort. There is a fair bit of pep talking done by all of us, and by the time we reach the take out we are ready to throw down.
Once we take out, we have about a 900m road portage to the next TA. After our river pep talk, we are ready to totally crush this. Jeff and David flip the boat onto their shoulders, I grab everyone's packs and paddles, and we RUN everything down the road. It is not comfortable, nor easy, but it is our best effort. By the time we reach the TA, the volunteer tells us we're in 2nd place by about 12 minutes. TWELVE MINUTES!!! We are elated to hear the time gap is that small, and hustle through TA and onto the next trek.
TREK 3A, CPs 34-43, 4k redline
|Meadow Trek. Take out at CP32, portage to CP33, then trek CP35-42 in order.|
CP39 is actually my favorite since it's "in a marshy area" and the frogs' voices serenade us as we wade through the knee-deep swamp. It kind of reminds me of Star Wars, #nerdalert, except I'm hoping we avoid any leeches. CPs 40 and 41 go easily enough, except only about half of the roads shown on the map exist in real life, but David battles through and we punch both with relatively little issue. Then we carefully attack CP41 with the clue "in a well", trekking back and forth on a big, unmapped east-west gravel road, before spotting a slight opening in the vegetation that might have once been access to a house, or, perhaps, a well? We follow the overgrown path bang onto the control. Then it's a short, infinitely relieved jog back to the TA for the last trek. We haven't seen anyone in the woods since CP37, and with the difficulty of the navigation, we're guessing that we've gained the lead.
TREK 3B, CPs 44-46, 4mi
|Final trek from CP33/43, back through town to the Race HQ.|
I am really, really proud of our effort at Plot Pedal Paddle 18hr. We won, and that's cool because we qualified for USARA Nationals, but what's more important was our mental game. We clawed our way back from two rather egregious mistakes, kept believing in the team, and didn't give up. That is one of the most important things in adventure racing - so many things can go wrong to your team and others, you just can't give up on a race because your behind by a few minutes or even a few hours. You never know what's happening to teams around you so you just focus on executing your own best race. Simple. Do your best. And that's what we did!
I also want to mention one more thing about Toporadicals. They had a major nav error on the paddle, missing CP31 and 32, which resulted in more than 10km of upstream paddling in a flood stage river, a very difficult task. It would have been so easy for them to say "let's just skip those two" and continue on with their race. But no, they decided that they still had enough time to clear the course, so they paddled ALL THE WAY BACK to CP31, then back downstream to CP32, then continued on, clearing the rest of the course. I can't say enough how impressed we were when we saw them at the finish line and heard their story. That is also another great thing about adventure racing, you get to meet incredible determined and tough individuals. Good job, T-rad!
Brian from Toporadicals: http://brianrodenbeck.blogspot.com/2014/06/plot-pedal-paddle-adventure-race-6212014.html
Results and split times: http://teamdragonaz.wix.com/plot-pedal-paddle#!2014-race-results/c9h7