Rest, Explore, Race

In the absence of a structured training program (which I dropped last Fall when I found myself too freaked out by the thought of training on the road and limited by weather for consistent training on the trail), I’ve taken to riding hard for a block of time and laying off when the rides start to get arduous. Following the rides I posted about last time, I found myself needing a break from the epics when Matt and I went for a Golden Gate Canyon ride and I fell apart after the first hour.


I will say, though, when you’re having a hard time, and you open up a 4-pack of Gu Chomps to find that it’s a magical 7-pack, it can lift your spirits a tiny bit.

So, I’ve been taking it a little easy. I make sure to go to yoga twice a week almost no matter what. I’ve dedicated my ride time to exploring little offshoots and mining roads that mostly end up being extended hike-a-bikes up scree fields. Sometimes, the hike-a-bikes end at nothing in particular. Other times, you find a an outcropping that over looks the entire valley in which you reside and you don’t want to leave.


Pictures never do these things justice.

Other discoveries include a mining claim of some sort-


As well as one of my favorite trail features of all time, the aspen tunnel-


I still have some places to explore. I pushed/rode to this split the other day, and because of weather and time constraints, had to turn and go back-


Then, when I went back out the next day to find that spot, I ended up on someone’s horse trail (more accurately, a path through the national forest land on which someone has repeatedly ridden their horse) and found this spot-


I’ve borrowed a hand-held GPS from my dad so that I can go out for more adventures and be slightly less lost.

Now that I’m rested and relaxed, I think it may be time to test my legs out. Tomorrow is the Beti Bike Bash in Castle Rock. There’s a singlespeed category. If everything goes as planned, I’ll drive down in the morning and give it a go.

Scott Enduro Cup Report

Three trips to Moab since I arrived in Colorado back at the end of March, and every it gets even more fun. While Land Run was my first official race of the 2015 season, the Scott Enduro Cup in Moab was the first race of my Colorado Living Experience. I’d never been to the Klondike Bluff Trails, but I’d heard they weren’t super gnarly or technical, so I wasn’t too worried about bike choice (the Mach 6 is on order, as are a set of I9 wheels… I’m hoping they get here by my birthday at the end of the week). I packed up the Jet9 and headed west Thursday, dropping little old Indy off (he’s 15 this week!) at Karen’s Canine Campground on the way in to town before checking in and heading off to pre-ride the race course.

My basic strategy was to roll through the stages to look for anything off-the wall on my first go, then come back the next day to go at them a little faster and stop/re-ride anything that’s worthy of a little extra practice. I know you’re all hoping for a bunch of photos, but I’ve somewhat resolved to not attempt to capture the scenery at Moab. It’s too vast and expansive for a camera phone. Hell, there were nice professional photos on the walls at the place where I stayed, and they still didn’t fully grasp just how huge and awesome the views are here. This is about all I got-


The first pre-ride went well. I was slightly worried about the fact that two of the four stages seemed to start (according to the published map) in a manner that would include no fewer than three 1-3min climbs. Living at altitude has decimated my 1-3min power, so I was feeling bad on those parts. Luckily, the next day, a few course markings were up, and they revealed that the timed sections would start following the kickers.

The Friday pre-ride was a lot of fun. I met a handful of people and did lots of chit-chatting and socializing. Ileana and Max were especially nice and I tagged along with them for the last couple of runs.


The enduro crowd is pretty laid back and friendly. Not that other crowds aren’t friendly, but the atmosphere is very group fun-ride-ish. Friday after I rode, a rain storm came through. At the riders’ meeting that evening, they said that the planned start times (which had been moved up half an hour because of the chance of afternoon rain on race day) would stand unless more very bad weather came through (which it didn’t).

Saturday morning, I was up early and race-prepped. It was a little cloudy, breezy, and chilly in the parking lot, but I was excited to get going. I was mostly ready for my 8:00 start time when I heard the pro men being started at 7:30… thirty minutes later than scheduled. I had time to take jittery pre-race pics.


Katie Compton… getting ready to smash the pro field on her Superfly 100 (no dropper):


My group finally went off at 8:40 (hey, at least it was only 10 minutes late from the originally-publish-not-moved-up-for-weather start time). We promptly took a series of wrong turns because we’d all pre-ridden different routes to the first stage, and we didn’t see any course markings until we’d been riding for 2 miles. We arrived in plenty of time, though. It was still about a 30 minute wait to begin the first stage, so I just considered it some extra warm-up miles.

My first stage went alright. I felt sluggish near the top, but loosened up and felt fast as it progressed. I checked my Garmin as I crossed the finish of the stage and watched for the next girl coming down a minute after me. By my count, she was a few second slower. Success.

The second stage was the only place where I had a major error. There was a sharp downhill-to-steep uphill left hand turn that you needed to be ready for, and I blew it… I made the turn ok, but I was in a stand-and-sprint downhill gear, and couldn’t pedal up the steep kicker. I had to get off and run for a second before remounting and continuing on. The girl who’d started behind me on the 1st stage had gone a minute ahead of me at the 2nd one (after stage 1, everything else was 1st come, 1st serve). I asked the timer at the bottom of the hill how I did compared to the lady ahead of me on that stage, and he said “1 second slower.” Not bad for having a significant screwup.

Stage 3 was short (once we found it… we missed another turn that wasn’t marked and almost ended up crossing the race course), and I was really getting my rhythm. Stage 4 was my favorite, and I descended it like I wanted to break the slickrock with my tires. I knew at the bottom that I’d done well and was excited to get back and see results.

Seeing results took a while. They never actually published time limits to the transfers between stages, so some people took as long as they wanted. Eventually, though, they posted results, and I was 2nd in the expert category by 6.7 seconds. It didn’t seem to add up based on my experience with stages 1 and 2, and lots of racers had similar experiences. Katie Compton was astounded that she’d won. She wasn’t expecting it because she’d felt like Kelli Emmet was faster all around (apparently Kelli had some starting buzzer penalties added). See results for yourself HERE.

I’m not too bent out of shape about the possibility of the results being wrong. I won a set of nice tires I can use on my new bike, and I was happy with my times, which would have placed me exactly in the middle of the Pro Women’s field. That’s ok, because I know that with my inexperience, I left a LOT of time out on course. It’s not like back when I was finishing mid-pack in endurance races and feeling like I was almost at the ceiling of my ability. I had a good race, and I’ve got a ton of room for improvement right now.

I’ll have some post-race interviews with the winners up on Mountain Bike Radio soon. Hopefully some podium shots will show up as well.

Creeping Spring

It seems like cool shit happens at a pace at which I can’t keep up with, blogging-wise.

Basically, outside of the shop hours, I’m riding either the back roads around Gilpin County, or I’m making the 30-45 minute drive to the lower altitude/not-snow-covered trails in the Golden area.


Following the Sno-Ab snowstorm, the weather was nice again for a little while, then we had another small storm come through that dropped 3-4 inches of wet snow in the higher areas. Case in point- I went to yoga in Nederland, about 1000 feet lower in elevation than the bike shop, and the snow was melting immediately when I went in to class at 9:00 and was straight rain when I left class 1.5 hours later.


Back up at the house, the snow had stayed steady.




So, even though the weather seems to be slowly cranking over towards a Spring-like pattern, the trails up here are still a bit too snowy to ride. I went out on the road bike and showed Matt a fun pavement/gravel ride from the shop. He didn’t seem to embrace the thin mountain air in the same manner as I have.




There’s another less road-bike friendly loop from the house that climbs towards Idaho Springs. I rode the short version early last week and hit the climbs pretty hard to see how I’ve improved since I first moved here. I’m doing about 15 watts better on average for the two significant climbs along the route. The snow was gorgeous, so I took a photo in the cemetery at the top of the long-ish dirt climb from Black Hawk up to Golden Gate Canyon Road.


Thursday, Jon and I went out on a “let’s see how far this road goes until it’s covered in snow” exploratory ride. We actually made it all the way past where the snow was thickest and got back to some maintained roads. We tried to get to Idaho Springs from a long descent off the mountain, but the shoulder of I70 was closed for construction, and we ended up having to climb back up the 1800ft we’d just descended at 35-40mph. If this makes absolutely no sense, you can see the route/elevation profile here:



This backroads-wandering mule is my current spirit animal.



Riding trails down the mountain is equally as fun as exploring and getting lost on backroads. I’ve met Matt (who lives in Lakewood now) a handful of times, and it seems we always end up riding the Apex Park trails. We mapped out one ride from his place to Lookout Mountain and back that took us up the Chimney Gulch trail and down the Apex trail.


Along the way, he got too buck on too little air pressure and cracked his rear rim.


That sucks pretty hard, though it did mean that he volunteered to play photographer since he couldn’t continue to get buck on his cracked rim.


I met him and some of the other dudes from Wheat Ridge Cyclery Saturday evening for a “go hard, then stop for beer repeatedly” ride. It was short, and we were probably stopped for an equal amount of time as we were moving, but it was a good leg burner and downhill practice that netted me three downhill QOMs on Strava. It makes me even more excited to get the Mach 6 on order (happening this afternoon if everything goes according to plan).


Sunday, I rode with Shane and Ky at Buffalo Creek (the same friends I rode Devils Backbone with not too long ago). The trail is tons of fun, and I’m lucky to have met some really cool people to hang out with.



Currently, it’s cold and rainy (but not snowy!). However, warmer days are trying to creep in a little at a time. Indy enjoyed the brief period of sunny/62 on Saturday in his pen behind the shop.


He’s also made friends with Ky’s little doggie, Agnes.


He plays as much as a little old man can (he’s turning 15 in a handful of days) before passing out somewhere in or around his bed.


Just a few more days and I’ll be back in Moab for my first out-West enduro!

Nervousness abounds.

Old Phone Throwback

I was doing factory resets on a couple of old phones yesterday, and I found a few 2010-ish photos on one of them. So, in honor of the hokey internet tradition of “Throwback Thursday,” here’s my collection of random flip phone photos:

That time that Matt R. passed out and we drew on him with a dry-erase marker. We thought we were being super nice by using non-permanent ink.

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He’s a Doctor of Physical Therapy now. We’re all pretty proud.

Next, there’s Amanda Carey smoking a peace pipe (irony) after she won the Mohican 100. That’s the year that I blew up my drivetrain twice and DNF’d. I also cracked my Air 9 (scandium) frame… which led me into the awesome world of singlespeeding.


Speaking of Singlespeeding, that summer, I went to Colorado for the first time. I raced Marathon Nationals (my first singlespeed race) and won a bronze medal, then raced the Breck 100 (first singlespeed 100) and was the only SS female to finish (but not the only one to start).

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The Breck pump track was good times.


In between those two races, I raced my first (and only) Super D (won my age group and was 2nd overall) and met my future coach (dude on the far end of the chair) and got to giggle at Deejay blasting downhill on a Jet9 and ringing his bike bell at dudes in full DH kit on huge bikes.


I fell in love with this…


Going further back (I had that phone for a while)- My first time in Mountain View, AR. It was actually in June of 2009 (I told you this would be a random list). How I got there? I’d gone to Lake Sylvia to ride gravel. I accidentally poked a hole in the oil pan of my car. My parents happened to be in Arkansas looking at cabins, so they came and rescued me and my bike. I rode some gravel from the place where we stayed and was chased by many dogs.


I found pics of Thor, the smartest/worst cat ever, when he was a baby:

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And, a reminder of one of my least-favorite mountain bike wrecks when I hit my face on a tree at Herb Parson’s lake.

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I’d taken the pictures trailside because I couldn’t figure out what was bleeding.

So, there’s my little trip through memory lane. Some of you who are newer readers may enjoy checking out the whole stories I linked to. I know I enjoyed them thoroughly.


CX Omnium, Etc.

I was all wrapped up in Enduro-ing, and I forgot to mention the Brickhouse Racing Women’s Cyclocross Omnium that occurred while I was at Iron Mountain. Since its inception several weeks ago, some generous local sponsors stepped forward to throw in on the “hey, ladies, COME RACE!” prize money. I am extremely appreciative of their efforts and support.

Todd Mosley

Urban Fitness Kickboxing

One Stop Plumbing, Heat, and Air

901 Racing

It means the world to me to see people give their support to women’s cycling in Memphis.

Despite mine and many others’ best efforts to publicize and promote the competitions, no ladies from outside of Memphis came to race. Two local ladies- Laureen Coffelt and Lucia Colbert (respectively, in photos below) battled it out for the cash.



In the end, it was Laureen who took home the dough (and yes, those are World Champ stripes on Lucia’s jersey. She’s an age group XTerra killer).

In extra-enduro news, as I mentioned in my previous post, I’ve been charged with learning how to ride on flat pedals.


Yesterday, I installed them on my Jet, donned some shinguards under my jeans, and took off for the park near my house. I began by practicing a few wheelies (er, short, sort-of wheelies), stoppies, rear wheel drifts, and baby manuals. I then moved on to applying the baby manual to a small set of stairs…


…something I would not have attempted on flat pedals in the past. After a couple of shaky, slightly foot-slipping attempts, I was able to carry some nice speed and roll off in good form, landing both tires gently at the same time while keeping both feet firmly on the pedals. Small victories.

I’m still 100% unable to actually jump (versus manual-ing off). It’s frustrating to feel like I should have learned this 20 years ago instead of trying to learn now. Old dog, New tricks… the motor learning process isn’t as quick and pliable now as it is as a kid. I don’t mind posting my struggles here for all to see.

Matt (bless his heart) wrote it all out in math and geometry on the whiteboard in an attempt to explain the lift/push motion to me:


Unfortunately, math and geometry, no matter how detailed and well thought-out they are, don’t translate to motor nerve signals being relayed to the proper muscles to create the movement. I want to show everyone out there that I’m not a 100% Wonderwoman who masters everything at the drop of a hat. This is going to be tough, but I know that if I get it, my technical riding skill will be elevated to another level. I’m never going to be too old to stop looking to improve myself.

Syllamo Adventure Time

This weekend didn’t go totally as planned. Originally, I thought I’d race the Crossroad Clash cyclocross race, but Sunday morning, I was there and ready, and no other women showed up. With the course markings being a bit vague and the course heavy on the barriers, I didn’t really feel motivated to race the dudes considering my current training priorities (more on that in a second). I’m reasonably certain that the double-up Memphis Velo/Outdoors Inc. Cyclocross races should be different as far as attendance since the Omnium Prize has now grown to $250 for the top lady of the weekend (P.S. If anyone else steps forward with a cash donation, there will be a second place award as well).

Instead, I changed clothes and headed off on a pretty intense run workout. If you haven’t followed along, I’m in the process of cramming for the LOViT Marathon on December 6th. I’m doing my best to strike a balance between training my ass off and not getting injured, and I’ve basically come up with my own training program that’s building up long run distance with a few speed/interval workouts sprinkled on top. Since I don’t have any natural rock in town, and Arkansas is heavy on rock, I’ve taken to running the overgrown/intermittently loose & deep gravel of the unfinished greenline that runs behind my house. Even though it’s flat, I feel like it’s pretty good for building up some lower leg strength and balance. This week, I’ll also be testing my legs at the Syllamo Trails with some running/hiking/trail work. I’m going to take this along as well… just in case.


Speaking of Syllamo, after about a year of talking, planning, and paperwork, what started as a desperate email plea to IMBA for help rehabilitating the Syllamo Trails has grown in to this: Friends of the Syllamo Trail. This week, there’s a 6-person work crew (courtesy of the Walton Foundation) clearing the Bad Branch (red) trail, the longest of the trails in the system that’s also been the worst as far as overgrowth and deadfall. In addition to that, sometime after Christmas, there will be a crew of inmates coming from Calico Rock prison to continue the clearing and tread repair. Good things are happening out there, and I’m excited to see the system being slowly turned back into its former glory.

One thing I realized about making a trip over to do some foot-based training is that I can check out the Sylamore Creek Trail. It’s a foot traffic only trail, and, based on the small section I hiked a while back, you wouldn’t even want to attempt riding a mountain bike on it. It’s been a nice break from bike training so far, though I’m looking forward to getting this initial bit of conditioning over with so I can get slightly closer to the volume I’m used to.

Brickhouse Racing Women’s Cyclocross Omnium

EDIT #2: Today, (11/2), 901 Racing agreed to throw in another $100! The Omnium payout will now be $250 for first and $100 for second. 

EDIT: As of 12:30pm on 10/23, I’ve had three more people come forward to sponsor the omnium! The purse is now up to $250… so, if someone comes in and sweeps both days, she’s taking home $375! Huge thanks to Todd Mosley, Urban Fitness Kickboxing, and One Stop Plumbing, Heat, & Air! This is getting intense! 

There are not many things that keep me away from the Outdoors, Inc. Cyclocross race coming up on November 9th. Even more exciting about that weekend? Memphis Velo is holding its first annual race  Saturday afternoon (the 8th) at Shelby Farms. So, it’s a great opportunity for people to come from out of town, race twice in one weekend, and only have to pay for one night in a hotel (if you’re from out of town and need help figuring out a place to stay, shoot me an email: andrea at brickhouseracing dot com).

Fortunately/unfortunately, I will not be in town that weekend because, back at the Arkansas Enduro, I won a free entry into a two day DirtSmartMTB Clinic over in Arkansas, and it’s the same weekend.

I still want to support these races and encourage people to come to these races- especially women. So, Brickhouse Racing is sponsoring a “women’s omnium” prize of $50. You’ll be given points on both days based on your finish position, and whoever has the most points gets $50 in addition to whatever you win at the races themselves. Here’s the points layout:


In the event of a tie, the winner will be the woman who placed the highest at the race on Sunday. Only ladies who race both days will qualify, so if no one shows up both days, the $50 stays in my pocket.

In other life news, I’m not going to Nite Nationals. My legs made the turnaround and are feeling great, however, I don’t have a crewperson to help out at the race or, much more importantly, for the 6 hour drive back home on Sunday. During the race, a crewperson is a luxury, but the drive home is potentially too much for me to execute safely after being awake all night (even if I were to catch a quick nap in the morning). So, that sucks a little. Instead, I’ll be at the Crossroads Clash CX put on by 901 Racing.

After that, marathon training officially starts.

Lula Lake Race Report

In the running for “biggest success of the weekend” could be my avoidance of this traffic jam on the way to Chattanooga. I checked the traffic map prior to leaving my acupuncture appointment in Spring Hill just south of Nashville and saw the backup starting near the I-24/I-59 junction close to Chattanooga. I checked again at a rest stop, saw it was worse, and figured out which back roads would route me around it.


Chattanooga is like any “up & coming” city… gentrification abounds, and, while it whitewashes much of the cultural interest of an area, it does make for a cool and convenient place to stay downtown.

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I digress…

The Lula Lake Land Trust 5 Points 50 was (despite plenty of rain) a great race on an excellent course. I wasn’t quite recovered from the adventure race, so not only was I not firing on all cylinders from the gun, the ones I was firing on started to fail around mile 26. I swapped between 3rd/4th place for a while, finding that, while the woman I was racing for the podium spot could handily outclimb me, I was better at downhills and slippery/slide-y/technical stuff. The course really favored a strong climber, though, and I wasn’t able to fake my way ahead of her for the 2nd half of the course. I was in 4th for a while, and, while I was downing a Red Bull at the 38ish mile aid station, 5th caught up to me. She was ahead for a while, then the caffeine took hold, and I was able to pass her on a steep spot. I held her off through cramps and my building frustrations that none of the downhills seemed long or steep enough to justify using my dropper post, and ended up finishing in 4th place out of 13 ladies.


It wasn’t terrible… I knew that a lack of recovery was a real possibility, and I was game enough to have a good time and enjoy a fun trail system.  If you want to hear more about the Lula Lake race, keep an eye on the Mountain Bike Radio Just Riding Along page. I interviewed the race winners as well as the people responsible for making such an excellent event.

Post-race road trip necessity for the drive home on Sunday:


When I arrived back home, I spent the remainder of the day chilling out and occasionally assisting Matt in his ambitious weekend schedule of home improvement projects

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Ryan and I drank beer, sat in the garage, and spectated that portion of it.

The focus now is on recovery. I kicked the week off right by taking the dogs to the dog park. Marley likes to run the fence at full speed trying to catch squirrels, Indy wanders around the corners, and Turbo generally sticks by me. A good time was had by all.



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My current plan is to rest hard and try to be on top form for the 12 Hours of Nite Nationals race on the 25th. It’s going to be a close-to-gameday decision, though. My fitness prior to the adventure race was the best it’s been all season. However, it will take every bit of that fitness and then some to do well against the ladies that are going to show up at the race. So, if I don’t feel 100%, there are other things I’d rather do than flog myself in a sleep-deprived lap race.

Scratching the Itches

I keep getting this relentless itch. It happens every time I, for whatever reason, go out for a run or see one of my Facebook friends on some sort of trail running/ultramarathon adventure (especially local Billy Simpson- his post about Arkansas this morning is literally the thing that pushed me over the edge on this).

If you’ve been around since I started my blog, you might remember that my cycling addiction began when I was an avid trail runner (thanks to the Warthogs running group. If it weren’t for them, I probably would have never thrown a leg over a bike as an adult). I’ve run a handful of 50ks, trail marathons, and various other long-distance off road races. Running- especially trail running- is something I turn to when I need an off-season break but still want to stay very active. I thoroughly enjoyed all 5 runs I did in preparation for the USARA event (er, I probably should have done more than 5).

This fall, I’ve been unable to convince myself that I want to keep up with any sort of formal training that has to do with cyclocross. I’m missing most of the pretty small Memphis schedule of races (one race is the same day as the 12hr night nationals, and the other two are the same weekend as the Enduro clinic), and, with all of the late-season traveling I’ve done and still have ahead of me, I don’t feel like driving a metric crap-ton to race in Arkansas and Nashville. So, I’ve tentatively decided to do this: LoVit Trail Marathon at the beginning of December as a warm-up to this: Athens-Big Fork Trail Marathon in early January (I ran that one a long time ago, and it was, by far, the most challenging thing I’ve ever done on foot). Then, it will be back to my regularly scheduled regimen of bike training to get ready for the upcoming 2015 mountain bike season.

Not only do I feel the trail calling me, but my fear, anxiety, and growing dislike of riding on the road has really started to eat away at my soul. While I still plan on doing plenty of cycling during the time from the end of October (after Night Nationals) until the first week of January, focusing more on trail running through then will help me put off doing some the winter road miles I’m facing. And, yes… I’m serious when I say I’m going to wait to start marathon training until nearly the beginning of November for a marathon that’s on December 6th. Trust me… I’ve done this before. I have the base fitness- it’s just a matter of conditioning my body to take the impact of running in order to put that fitness to good use.



USARA Nationals

Back around the beginning of August, I was contacted by JRA fan/listener Tony Misovski about racing with his team at the Adventure Race Nationals. I’ve dabbled in shorter races, and I enjoy the format and variety of adventure racing, so I jumped on the opportunity to take on a longer, more challenging event with a very experienced team (the Michigan Racing Addicts). The race was held in McHenry, Maryland, snuggled right up in the foothills of the Appalachians. The area is gorgeous (especially this time of year with the leaves nearly at peak color) as well as rugged.

I arrived at the Wisp ski resort (race home base) Thursday afternoon. While waiting on Tony and Mike to arrive so we could check in, I decided I’d thrown on my shoes and helmet and go for a spin to check out the bike path I’d seen on the way in to the resort. Somehow that ended up with riding to the top of the ski hill.


Not long after that, the Michigan caravan arrived. After we said our hellos and whatnot, we found our way to registration and our hotel room, where I commenced to dumping all of my clothes out (two of everything) and wondering WTF I should bring with me for 30 hours that would include everything from sun and 70 degrees to rain and 60s dropping to the low 40s. The 7pm racer meeting gave me a slightly better idea of how the race would go as far as when and where we could access gear as well as the order and transportation mode of each stage.


P.S. It was freezing in the race meeting room. Also, pinky out = classy as ufck.

Following the meeting, I’m pretty sure it took me a solid 2 hours to decide what clothes to take where and when and get stuff packed and organized in a way that would make it easy to grab and go in whatever fatigued and/or sleep deprived state I’d be in. The exciting part was that the entire day would kick off with a float down the whitewater course at the top of the ski hill. I’ve never even ridden in a boat on whitewater, so I was excited to see what would happen when I’d be taking it on with a helmet, life jacket, and a boogie board.

After a few hours’ sleep, we were out of bed and back down to the meeting area to receive maps, checkpoint coordinates, and final race instructions…





Essentially, the two hours that elapsed from the time the maps came out until the 8am race start were the shortest two hours you could possibly imagine. Checkpoints are plotted first, then the route between checkpoints is planned, highlighted, and measured. In my head, I broke the race up into two parts. Part one would be the whitewater ride, bike orienteering #1, then paddling/orienteering/paddling. Part two was another bike section- much longer, and broken in half by a “score-o” orienteering on foot section that was much more difficult in both length and elevation than the first one (and performed mostly in the dark).


It seemed like 10 minutes passed before we were lined up and ready to take off on foot up the ski hill to the whitewater area. Mike’s wife Angie was there with the camera wherever we’d go, so she got some great pictures…
(she told us “serious face” for this one)


That was a hell of a hike to get us started… and the whitewater was pretty awesome. I don’t have pictures of myself in the water, but here’s my teammate, Mike, going in to the first rapid…

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That shit was no joke… it’d smack you in the face then hold you under water for a couple of seconds:

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We made excellent time on that section and found ourselves running back down the hill with some of the top teams. For the next stage, we hopped on our bikes, rode back up the ski hill access road, past the whitewater center, and into the nearby trail system. It was some awesome stuff- lots of rocks that reminded me of the trails in the Transylvania Epic.



Looking at the map, you can see the start area is the green arrow. We ran to the whitewater center and back then rode to the checkpoints in the green area (with the exception of the checkpoints with the red x’s and the one labled “final,” which were final stage bonus points- more on that later).

Part 1

We had one mix up in our navigating somewhere in there and lost some time. It was very early in a long race, though, so we didn’t stress it too much and hustled back to the ski resort to start the paddling and orienteering stage. With that one, you had the option of going for all the paddling CPs first (two were waaaay out on the far end of the lake), then orienteering and going back to the transition area, or you could paddle to the orienteering area, clear it, then go get those two far-flung paddling CPs (or not).

Part 2

The headwind and associated rough water on the lake was rowdy. Two boats capsized in that section. Luckily, we made it to the orienteering area halfway down the lake without incident (though we’d taken on a lot of water from waves crashing over the front of the boat). I was very happy that I didn’t get seasick.

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The orienteering went mostly smooth. We did have one point that took a while to find because it was on a fairly flat, mostly featureless spur that was covered in thick ground cover. The combination of that along with the length of time it took us to get there with the initially bad conditions meant that we skipped going for the two other paddling CPs. While we were on land, the weather associated with the wind passed through, bringing us a little rain but also flat water and calm skies for the return trip. That’d be the last of the good weather we’d see for the remainder of the race.

When we arrived back at the transition to start what I labeled as “stage 2″ in the map above, a heavy, steady rain started. According to the weather forecast, it’d stick around for several hours, and the temperature would drop steadily from that point on. We changed in to some warmer clothes and hit the road.

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The next part was one of the few places that really sucked. We had to ride for what seemed like forever up the shoulder of highway 291. It was busy, getting dark, and pouring down rain. I was really happy when we finally made it to the back road that’d take us to the next cluster of checkpoints (they’re the ones at the top of the pic).

Part 3

It was gorgeous just before dark… the trees along the road were all yellow, and the road itself was covered in a layer of fallen yellow and red leaves.Then, it was dark, and we found ourselves on a long-ish road climb that someone had painted with words like “agony” and “suffering.” It wasn’t really that bad… I towed Mike up most of it until he had a flat tire and we stopped to fix it. At that point, we were almost at the turn off to go into the trail system where we’d find the next set of checkpoints.

Those went well. It was really late at night by then. I saw a porcupine and a flying squirrel. At first glance, I thought that the porcupine was a giant armadillo from Hell. I was feeling really fresh at that point and having an awesome time.

The next CPs to gather were the ones along the ridge in the middle of the map (the flags, not the boxes). I don’t really remember the exact order of how we found them, except that I know that somewhere between the two clusters of them, we missed a turn, then found it, then the guys decided that wasn’t it, and we went back down to where we’d come from, only to go back to the turn we’d found before. From passing where we should have turned until we were back on track, we probably lost a good hour of time and did a healthy chunk of extra climbing. We eventually found everything, though, and made it down to the next transition area for the “score-o” orienteering section.

The idea behind that type of orienteering is that there are a bunch of points to find (these weren’t given to us before the race- it was a separate map provided once we arrived at that transition area), and each one is assigned a point value according to how far away and difficult it is to get to. For the purposes of this race, they added up your points from what you found, and divided your score by ten (rounding up), and that’s how many checkpoints towards your race finish you’d receive. So, in our case, the point value of what we found was 74, so that gave us 8 checkpoints towards our finish. The most you could get from the score-o section was 10. It was, by far, the roughest terrain we covered. Everything felt straight up or straight down, and the rain had made the leaves, deadfall, and rocks treacherously slick. I fell down repeatedly.


It was still dark, and we started by making the hardest push up and over a ridge for three high-value points. I vaguely remember following Tony’s green jacket and headlamp through the woods. A large portion of the “hiking” we did was straight up hills so steep that I was using my hands on the ground in front of me. As the sun came up, I was fading hard. My joints and toes hurt really bad, and I fell asleep while I was walking down the road. Luckily, I woke up as my knees buckled and I caught myself with a large stumble.
Mike and Tony did a very good job of calculating what time we needed to leave back for the last of the bike CPs and finish, and, based on that calculation, we collected a couple more nearly-vertical score-o points and hustled back to the TA to change and get on our bikes. Angie was there for more photos and encouragement.




I’d packed my warmest riding tights and a long sleeve jersey, which ended up being the perfect choice, because I think it was in the 40s by then, and the wind was howling.


Our next task was to collect the last 4 of the bike CPs (circled in green) on our way to the final transition area, where we’d have the option of either finishing, or going back out for the last few orienteering (on foot) points on and around the ski area.


That was a hell of a ride back… if I had to take an educated guess, I’d say that the score-o transition area was probably the lowest point on course. We did a lot of climbing, and the headwind was relentless. Once we punched the three points in the area where we’d previously been during the canoe/orienteering stage, I put it in hammer mode. Tony’s stomach had turned on him a few hours earlier, so he was bonking. I paced the guys into the wind, then towed Tony the last few miles. We still passed several teams who were succumbing to the beatdown from the wind. Someone said something about hail. I never noticed.

We arrived back at the final transition area at 1:15pm. Looking at the map, the guys initially thought that we wouldn’t be able to go for any of the extra CPs (we had to finish by 2:00pm). However, another team who had already finished clued us in that one of the points was just a short hike halfway up and around the ski hill. We quickly grabbed our packs and turnt up the hustle…



If you scroll all the way back up to the first zoomed-in map, you’ll see the point that I labeled as “final” (as well as the couple of others with red x’s that we didn’t have time to go for). We hiked up, punched it, then ran back down and hit the finish line at 1:40pm. We totaled 39 of 46 available checkpoints. Only three teams out of the 60 in attendance were able to clear the entire course. The effort landed us in 13th place in the coed team division and 15th out of all of the teams at the race (two masters teams finished ahead of us).


Super solid work.

It was an awesome experience. Mike and Tony have this stuff nailed down… all I had to do was show up, do what I knew how to do, and listen to their direction for whatever I didn’t. Angie was an amazing support person as well. The highlight of the weekend was saying something in passing to her about pizza as we were hustling out to get the last checkpoint, and, once we were back, finished, and laying around not quite knowing what to do next, she walked in with two gigantic pizzas. I could have cried, but I was too busy stuffing my face with pizza.

Fun blog fact- a 30 hour adventure race yields a 4 hour marathon of blog reporting.

Also, based on my rough memory and trash count, I ate 8 packs of Gu Chomps, 3 Roctane Gels, 6 Salted Watermelon Gels, 1 Salted Caramel Gel, a bottle of double strength blueberry pomegranate Brew, 3 Pro Bars, 2 Snickers bars, 1 peanut butter sandwich, 1 Clif Bar, 2 Clif Turbo Shot Gels (100mg caffeine boost!), half a bag of honey mustard & onion pretzel bits, three cups of hot chocolate, and 5 mini Reece’s PB Cups.