Saturday, May 11, 2019

2019 The Epic Gravel Race Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri by Scott Shaw of Team BOR

2019 The Epic Gravel Race Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri by Scott Shaw of Team BOR

Robert Bart, John Naas, Larry Lazo, and I of Team BOR planned on racing the 150 mile route.  Larry has done very well in the past in the shorter distance race and this year he decided to step it up to the 150 and ride with Mickey from the team we shall not speak of.  
The team that shall not be named
Tim Johanns and Jessie Brown planned on the 90 and David Beattie decided to ride the 90 for that same stinky team.  Our friends from Team Virtus, Chuck and Kate, were also planning on the 150, but Kate decided to wear a stinky jersey, which Chuck tells me is how she usually smells. 

Training for the Epic started months before the race.  I rode outside all winter and when I didn’t feel like freezing I rode my rollers and trainer.  Ever since I injured my Achilles years ago I haven’t been running much and have gained some weight, which makes it even harder for me to climb hills which I have never been good at.  The first year I did this race I think the elevation was over 11000 feet of climbing, which I walked a lot of.  The second year, which was rained out mid race, I felt much stronger and didn’t walk any hills and decided against the race directors advice and rode back in the storm.  I didn’t want to walk any this year either, so instead of worrying about my weight like I have done in the past, I actually decided to just focus on strength by eating well and riding hard and building muscle.  John, Jessie, and I started longish gravel rides early in the Cannonball Series and we rode one on our gravel bikes and another in the snow on our mountain bikes.  
Cannonball 1
Cannonball 2

This ride in the snow the route was frozen and the gravel bike riders gave John and I a spanking.  We were out there longer due to rolling resistance and ended up sinking in the thaw.  This started my going back and forth on what bike to ride and what tire width to run, 2.35s were just too damn slow.

 I normally flat a lot on my CX bike, the brakes suck, and the gearing crushes my legs on hill climbs.  My mountain bike although it climbs like a goat has slow rolling resistance.  I therefore decided to build a bike specifically for this race from one of my mountain bike frames.  I took one of my titanium Lynskeys and put a steel Surly rigid bike packing fork on it.  It already had Shimano XT hydro disc brakes and I decided to put a 3x10 (24-32-42/11-36) drive train on it, mainly because I had most of it laying around and wanted a granny hill climbing gear.  I used to run this set up years ago when I first started adventure racing so I knew I would have every gear I would ever need and accepted the weight penalty.  I didn’t care if I was heavy, nor my bike.  I just wanted to be strong and roll as fast as I could. 

AR bike
Robert joined Jessie, John and I in training and we started learning some valuable lessons.  During Death by Gravel, Robert and I learned that the CX bike gearing and tubed skinny tires were going to force us to walk some of the steepest hills and ride our crappy brakes down the other side.  Robert managed a flat and I ripped my derailleur off at mile 92, converted to a cranky single speed, and with a tow from Mickey was able to finish the 100 mile route.  This took my CX bike out of training and forced me to train on the Lynskey, which I now call my AR bike, or do it all bike, it’s a mountain bike, gravel bike, bikepacking bike, and an adventure racing bike. 

I started rebuilding my CX bike while training on my AR bike.  The CX bike would be my back up bike if anything went wrong while training on my other bike.  I put a gravel bike Shimano 105 derailleur on it, new hanger, new chain, and changed the gearing from 36-46/12-30 to 34-46/11-36 so I could climb steep hills.  I also failed at an attempt to make it tubeless.  I still haven’t rode it since DBG.
DBG broken CX bike

At Alto Pass I struggled to keep up with Jessie and Robert, so I knew I need to reduce my tire size.  I think, if I remember correctly, I was still running 2.35s.  Robert had switched to Kate’s old bike and promptly destroyed it.  He bent the derailleur hanger, which may have already been bent, because it looked like an S turn.  It was also was not tuned.  I managed a rough road side repair and we finished a shortened version of the ride.  Later Robert changed the hanger and I tuned it up.  I feel like I did more work on Kate’s bike than any other bike on the team.
"Robert how did you get Kate's bike beans above the frank?"

At the Double Barrel race, Jessie, Robert, and I learned a very valuable tire lesson in either we all rode through glass, or Arkansas gravel is glass, as we all flatted numerous times.  I punctured both of my brand new 2.1s, but the tubeless set up kept me rolling without any plugs.  Robert flatted Kate’s bike a couple times and Jessie almost made it until she bragged about how awesome her bikes is and then God promptly smacked her with a flat and since then a plague of flats that is still continuing to this day.  Never ever brag about not getting flats…God don’t play that!  The Double Barrel race really deserves a blog of it’s own.  It was the very best organized free race ever!  I will stop there before this becomes a blog about it, but I have to say riding home with a 12 gauge shot gun on my back will probably be the highlight of my entire year.
I won I won I won the BB gun!
Gravel the 13th was also a good donation ride.

So all this training led all of us to discuss our bike set ups and dial them in.  It led some us to lose weight, some to gain muscle, some of us to just ride more.  It gave me a lot of bike maintenance practice as I worked on Kate’s/Robert’s bike, John’s bike, Jessie’s bike, and Tim’s bike.  I kept going over questions in my mind of; did I train enough, did I train more my first year of the Epic, was I stronger than the first year I did the Epic, was I making the right bike set up choice?  I am sure everyone else was thinking the same things.  Then John slowed his training and Jessie, Robert, and I thought he probably should drop to the 90 and we convinced him to do so because of the 10 mph average speed requirement to finish the 150.  Jessie, Robert, and I were training around 13.5 mph average on rides around 60 miles.  We were hoping we would average slightly less in the 150.  I kept trying to convince Jessie that she should ride the 150 as she was training so hard and getting so strong, but she has never rode a century and has that century brain block.  We will have to get her over that demon this summer.  Robert had terrible news right before the race that he had to drop out due to a death in the family.  Now I would be riding the Epic all by my lonesome, so the last thing I did was swap my punctured 2.1s for brand new 50’s.  I was able to get one short road ride on them before the race.

Race day:  I start the race in the back and quickly jump up to mid pack.  I don’t see Larry, Mickey, Kate, or Chuck in front of me, but I figure they will be passing me anytime.  Around mile 4 Larry and Mickey pass me and I don’t really care because I knew they would be in front of me anyway.  I am racing my own race at my own pace on my own facing my own demons. 
Rolling in my duct taped frog togg looking like the Hulk
At mile 12 I see a water crossing and as I slow I see concrete and a hole under the water.  At the last second I try to jump onto the concrete to avoid the hole, but it is too late and I side swipe the concrete which rips a gigantic hole in my tire.  I try to boot it.  While I am working on it 4 more riders flat in the same water hole and some even bend their rims.  Kate and then Chuck pass.  My boot is poking out the sidewall at least an inch and a half.  I try riding on it but the bubble is hitting my chain stays and my front derailleur rips through the duct tape boot and the tube blows out.  My race is over.  I am so upset after all the training, all the money spent, all the bike building, that my race is over at mile 12. 
Boot that hole...nope!

I start trying to call my wife for pick up.  Reception is terrible or non-existent.  It’s raining and my phone won’t acknowledge my fingertips, nor will Siri listen to me.  I’m about to lose my shit and think this is an enduro rim, I’m riding it.   Riding on the rim on the flats was slow going, I couldn’t get traction to climb the hills, so I had to walk them.  Riding downhill was absolutely terrifying.  I get ahold of my wife, but we can’t understand each other.  I have 14 miles to the check point and I didn’t bring my other bike or my other tires.  I guess I will ride the rim until I find my wife or the sag Jeep, or just ride the rim all the way to the CP.  I think I will go buy a tire and ride as long as I can before they pull me off the course.  I send coordinates to my wife and she drives to them as I ride away.  She didn’t understand that I wanted her to drive the course backwards and meet me head on.  The sag Jeep finally finds me somewhere between mile 16 and 19.  I can’t remember because by this time I had lost my damn mind after almost dieing on a downhill asphalt drift. 

The Jeep guys are awesome and the Jeep is awesome and we hit it off great since I am also a Jeep guy.  I tell them about my unfortunate race and my Jeeps and they tell me about their club.  We talk about Jeeps and trails and I am just about to forget about the race and my bike falls off the bike rack.  We stop, I put it back on, and we make it to the gas station.

I lay my bike down and a bunch of people are there with broken bikes.  One team is there and has a pair of broken carbon rims. 
Their teammate broke the rims, took another team mates rims, and carried on, or something to that effect.  The teammates left behind offer up the tires on the broken rims and I snatch up the opportunity.  I grab the Panaracer tire with the most Panaracer sealant in it and put it on my rear.It has a hole in it and I plug it.  I throw the other tire in my Jeep with all the trash I just made as soon as my wife Tanya shows up.  She is looking very confused and asking me what is going on and what my intentions are.  I’m throwing trash in the Jeep and reloading tubes and CO2 into my bike bag.  She loads me up with more food, water, and Gatorade.  I ride off telling her I am going as far as I can before they pull me off the course. 
Panaracer to the rescue!

Now I have to make a choice.  My legs don’t feel the greatest.  I used up so much energy riding that rim and being upset.  I have to choose to ride as hard as I can for as long as I can.  I decide that I will not quit, I will not stop, I will not take pictures, I will eat and drink, and I will finish.  I keep repeating the Adventure racer motto of “relentless forward progress” which is tattooed on my good friend Kevin Minton’s arm.  I actually am picturing his tattoo in my mind as I keep reciting it.  I tell myself to keep moving forward no matter what. 

I ride alone for many miles wondering if my teammates on the 90 will pass me.  I then realize I will never see them.  I probably won’t see anyone.  I keep moving as fast as I can, but am extremely careful on water crossings.  I find Tanya at the checkpoints and again she is like a pit crew changing out my bottles and food and getting me in and out of check points in seconds.  She shoves food in my mouth and tells me how I am doing and whether she has seen any other riders.  I tell her I will probably get pulled from the course.  She tells me she thinks I am 2 hours behind.

I start seeing racers going the opposite direction so I know they already rode the Tunnel Dam loop and I am many hours behind.  I climb a crazy hill and get a beer hand out at the top which I slam down.  They guy tells me the check point will be closing soon.  I have beer in my mouth and want it out.  I am already feeling its affects and drink water and spit out the beer taste and as I go to put my water bottle back in the cage I run off the road and Superman over the bars.  I go limp and am ok.  The bike is ok.  I carry on, but decide I will be much safer as I am the last rider.

I see Larry and Mickey leaving the CP as I am entering it.  They are the entire loop ahead of me.  Tanya tops me off and I am on the loop.  Some riders warn me there are some slippery water crossings ahead.  One of my water bottles pop out on an extreme downhill and I have to skid to a stop and run back up the hill to get it.  I keep riding and pass my first rider at around mile 80.  I can’t believe I actually caught someone.  I catch another and another.  I finish the loop and feel strong.  I am proud of myself because I am eating and drinking and riding everything and I am being much more careful.  I climb out of the loop and see Tanya waiting for me at the top of the hill.  I restock and help a guy who needs chain lube.  Tanya tells me a few riders ahead of me have dropped out.  I ride on.
Massive hill climbs

I start catching and passing riders more often.  I find the beer guy again and down another, but this time I follow it immediately with water and stop quickly to put the bottle back in the cage.  I am not repeating that mistake twice.  I ride and ride and ride.  I have to stop at mile 100 to hook up my Garmin to a charger, put a tire plug in, put sun block on, pee, and put chamois cream on.  This was the longest I stopped all day.  Around mile 107 I see a Team Virtus jersey ahead.  It takes me a little while to catch him, but I can tell it’s Chuck.  He walks a hill and I am almost there.  I pass him on asphalt and he tells me we are very close to cut off.  He says we have to go 13 miles in about and hour and half to make the cut off for the next CP.  I decide I need to keep racing my race and head off.  My tire plug starts leaking and I stop to put another one in and Chuck catches me and helps me install it.  I double it up to be safe.  I leave Chuck again.  I feel like a complete dick, but I have ridden so hard for so long that I want to make cut off. 

I see a Jeep at the top of a hill and he offers me water, but tells me the CP is only 4 miles away, so I tell him I am good as I have half a bottle.  I ride 4 miles, no CP.  I ride on and pass another Jeep that tells me the CP is only 6 more miles and he has no water and neither do I.  I am now worried.  I ride and look for creeks.  I find one and load 2 bottles with creek water.  I ride and eventually find the CP, which was way longer than the Jeep guys thought.  Jeep odometers, you just wouldn’t understand.  I roll into the CP without drinking the creek water.  Kate is at the CP.  Tanya is feeding me and changing out my bottles telling me about Kate’s condition and a rider they found in the middle of the road.  Lori is asking me where Chuck is.  The whisky guy is asking me if I want whisky.  The food lady is asking me if I want food.  I tell Tanya that I passed a guy who was slumped over his handle bars, but told me he was ok, and that is probably the guy past out in the pickup bed.  I tell Lori that Chuck is ok and slightly behind me.  My head is spinning.  I leave the CP and go the wrong way 3 times before I find the route.  They are all yelling at me. Chuck rolls in.  I ride about a mile and realize I forgot my second light.

I try to ride hard, but safe.  The sun is starting to go down so I try to make ground, but feel slow.  I know I am not doing well mentally, so I force myself to eat and drink even though my stomach is locking up.  It gets dark and I can barely see.  I slow down.  I can’t afford getting hurt or flatting this close to the finish.  I figure Kate and Chuck will catch me in no time.  I have to pee so bad that I stop and pee and look for their lights.  I ride on and start watching the time versus my distance.  I am barely going to make it.  I have to keep moving as fast as I can.  I eventually make it to the road that leads to the start.  I have to pee so bad again and now I know I am going to make cut off and would rather relieve myself instead of peeing my pants in front of everyone so I stop and pee.  It is the absolute longest pee in my life.  Urine is actually crossing the road downhill and I am like how is that possible?  I keep peeing and start worrying that this pee is going to cost me finishing on time.  Jeeps and trucks have been passing me for a long time in the opposite direction and I know they are picking riders up.  Finally the pee stops flowing and I ride the last mile to the finish.  I’m listening for music, or people, looking for lights, but I cross the finish line in the dark and in silence until I hear a few cheers from my wife and Team BOR teammates that waited for me, Steve Fuller, David Beattie, and Jessie Brown.  Steve grabbed my bike as I grabbed a beer.  We talked and put my gear away.  We told the race directors that there was no way they would pull Chuck and Kate from the course and they should be finishing soon.  We wait for them to finish and then head back to our hotel room where I immediately get shaky and sick to my stomach.  I take a shower to clean up and then soak in the tub while trying to hold back vomit.  I don’t vomit.  I finished on time, only lost 6-9 miles, and didn’t vomit.  Epic.

Congratulations to all my Team BOR teammates for finishing their Epic mileage.

Captain Ahab

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Ozark Trail Hike by Alane Wollins

Teams Virtus, Lederhosen, and BOR

Ozark Trail Section Hike Project:  Trace Creek, April 2018
I believe this was Chuck’s idea originally, but I jumped right on board.  Since through-hiking was not really an option we decided to do full sections at a time.  First up:  Trace Creek, 26 miles, going from north to south.
We had scheduled the weekend several months ago, and as it approached watched the weather anxiously, what with the cold and rainy spring so far.  As usual with Missouri it changed hourly and we never did discuss cancelling.  Optimism ruled.
The plan was to meet at the Hazel Creek campground on Friday and car camp overnight, while staging a car at the Highway A trailhead for when we finished, then do the hike on Saturday and Sunday.  The hikers for thisfirst section were Chuck, myself, Jessie (and her dog Ruby) and Derrick (with his dog Molly).
Chuck brought a ton of firewood for Friday night camping.  But by the time we met Derrick at Hwy A and got back the thunderstorms and heavy rain nixed the campfire.  I was just glad to be sleeping in my car, it made for a comfortable night, except for the worry of flash flooding.
Chuck:  I was a little less than excited to head off into my tent during a ‘slight’ break in the storm.  But, I ended up sleeping great and now have 100% confidence in the waterproofing on this tent.  
Saturday morning we discovered that the campground roads were flooded, but not too deep for cars.  Fortunately the campsite was up enough that no tents were flooded.  We moved the cars over towards the trail head and got started hiking about 8:20 am.
The first creek crossing we came to was within five minutes of starting. As the water was very swift and there were large slippery rocks I opted just to cross in boots and keep camp shoes dry, especially since we would be crossing Hazel Creek very soon afterwards.  I would guess we had at least twenty water crossings on Saturday, there was water in basically every reentrant.   Since the water from my boots was draining I tried to do the rock/log hop over the creeks to reduce the amount of water in boots.
Chuck:  I opted for the other method of using my lightweight camp shoes for the wet crossings and keep my hiking shoes dry.  It worked pretty well except for all the time eaten up by shoe swapping at the many crossings that did not have a dry stepping stone or log option.  Jessie opted for a much quicker change into flip-flops for the crossings.
Alane:  and Jessie has now earned the trail name FLIP because of this.
When we began our hike I ended up in short sleeves for a good hour.  It started raining and I took the opportunity to try out hiking with an ultralight umbrella, which actually worked great, since there was little wind in the woods.  
Temps fell steadily during the day and we had very light rain for most of it.  We were able to take a few minutes for a lunch break but mostly kept moving with occasional map consultationThe terrain was really hiking friendly; climbs were short and not steep and the trails mostly dirt. Lots of long stretches in valleys and on old fire and farm roads.  Trail was marked really well; there was no time where we were left wondering if we were going the right direction.
Late in the afternoon the sun came out and we arrived at the connector trail for Council Bluff.  We ended up going 50 yards or so up that trail to a flattish spot and made camp.  Jessie and Chuck built a fire ring and despite it being so wet Chuck the Master Fire Starter got a really nice fire going.  We all put our boots and socks around the campfire to dry them out some.   First day mileage ended up being around 16 or so miles- longer than what the map said, due to some rerouting around creek crossings and whatnot.

We sat around the campfire til well after dark, along with some pooped pups!  Jessie covered Ruby up completely with her raincoat and we didn’t see her move.  Molly the GREAT DANE, crept into Derrick’s lap when he was sitting on a log, then onto the log and sprawled over Chuck’s lap as well.  She was cozy even if they were not.  Eventually everyone wandered to their own tent.  I slept like an absolute rock, probably one of the best nights in a tent ever!
Chuck:  I slept great too, and waking up to turkeys gobbling was pretty awesome!
Sunday up and puttering around and we hit the trail about 8:30 am.  The temperature was not bad, I’m guessing around 40 degrees.  Another grey day with the wind increasing, temps falling and we ended up having some snow spitting on us.  The terrain changed this day- the climbs got longer and steeper and we had some walking along the edges of drop offs.
Jim Davis and friend Drew found us near where we were to cross Hwy 32 and we chatted for a few before getting cold and moving on.  He warned us about the crossing at Ottery Creek- it had the most potential for deep and swift.
Fortunately the Friday night rains had had time to drain so although it was swift there were only a couple pockets of deeper water, nothing to get the pants wet.  Jessie and Chuck spotted me at the end of the crossing just in case.  
Total hiking for the day was around eleven miles for humans and a lot more for the dogs.  We were happy to be done, in the cars, and headed to Mexican food in Potosi!
What I did right:  tried a new way of sleeping.  My normal at home is often to sleep with covers over my head, especially when it is cold.  This doesn’t work in sleeping bags/quilts as then you have condensation in the bag and it gets cold and clammy.  Instead I wore a balaclava and hat.  Between this and 16 miles of hiking I slept like a rock!  Also the umbrella was a new and welcome addition to gear.  In this sort of terrain I could hike with a hiking pole in one hand and manage the umbrella (stuck in my chest strap) with the other.
Chuck:  Yes. Please continue to hike with the umbrella Ms. Poppins.

To improve:  I lost the end piece of the umbrella and need to fashion something to replace it.  The homemade Paleo muffins for lunches did not work out- they stuck in my throat.  Go back to tortillas for now.
Chuck: My pack sucked.  The belt kept loosening and sliding down my hips, causing me to make hundreds of mid stride tension adjustments.  I hope I can figure out some fit issue to get it to stay put before the next section.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

2018 Land Between The Lakes LBL Adventure Race by Kevin Minton

Starsky and Hutch do Epic Shit! by Kevin Minton
Commentary by Scott Shaw

Cemetery and sign in the middle of nowhere.

​Scott Shaw and myself aren’t known to half ass much, especially when it comes to drinking and writing blogs.  So, sit back and enjoy the drunken ramblings of an adventure racer reflecting on the epic race that was 361 adventures LBL CHALLENGE 2018!
Friday, I can’t remember the date, but it was before the race:

​Scott and myself had decided we would leave at around noon to head to Kentucky Lake and a resort that I can’t remember.  At about 2:00 pm we head out from STL and are headed to the resort, discussing how the flooding of the lakes was going to affect the race.  As it stood Friday, the Coast Guard had cancelled the paddle due to safety concerns over the water levels in the lake, which was fine by me as I do not really like the long paddles, but Scott was beside himself in anger.  Before you judge Scott, keep in mind that I think he cares very little for his own safety and well-being.  I’ve heard stories of this dude sailing a boat into a tornado……  typing that makes me wonder why I even want to race with this dude? wife warned you when she first met you.  Anyway, we were not in a big hurry to get there as the pre-race meeting was not until Saturday morning and we would receive maps at that time.  I would be lying if I told you I wasn’t worried about this as I was going to navigate, but I played it cool for Scott. After a pre-race, too much margarita dinner with Team BOR's Amy Crews and Dave Beattie and a team name that I cannot remember that had our friends Super Kate and Regular Mickey we headed back to the resort to prep gear and get some sleep.
Tanks are awesome!

Race Day, ungodly hour:

​Woke up to alarms blaring before the sun was up.  Lame.  COLD Scott and I loaded up the truck and proceeded to drive off to the race HQ located by the nature center off Hematite Lake.  At this point we got the quick welcome speech from 361 and were given maps, UTM coordinates and clue sheets with instructions to be ready by 10:30am for the start.  Scott and I setup on a piece of sidewalk in the sun to stay warm and begin plotting all 31 points (including bike drops) on our two maps.  At this point it became clear to us what we were going to be up against.  The first leg was 10 CPs around Hematite Lake on foot and then back to the Start/Finish/TA1.  Once there we had decisions to make.  There are four bike drops scattered around the area, and at each bike drop was a foot orienteering section.  BD1 was south of TA1 with 4 points around it, BD 3 was south east with two points, BD 4 east with 3 points and BD 2 was north with the largest section with seven points.  Scott and I figured we would be better served to hit BD2 first with its large number of CPs and hopefully finish by dark, then bike to BD4, BD3, BD1, then back to the finish.  As these bike drops had less CPs much closer to the bike drop we figured we could locate them easier in the dark.  

Race Day, 10:30 am: CP 1 - 10
​GO! As all the teams tore off down the hill to the lake, I immediately regretted volunteering to navigate this race.  I realized I had up to 18 hours of serious mental exhaustion in my future

and the responsibility really started closing in about how difficult this nav was going to be.  This really hit home when Scott and I were the first team to branch off the pack because we had decided to do the first section in reverse.  My heart was instantly in my chest as I realized that we were alone in this decision.  Did we miscalculate?  Have I already taken a wrong turn?  Will Scott murder me in the woods and assume my identity after I get him lost?  I quickly put most of those thoughts to bed and started focusing on the maps.  We were quickly caught by our Friends Larry and Jay and that eased some of my fears heading to CP10.  I slightly bobbled the nav here by jumping into the wrong re-entrant, but a quick recovery got us right were we needed to be, boosting my confidence.  The next few CPs we leap frogged with Larry and Jay by taking slightly different routes.  I can’t remember much else from this section other than getting a few points right and a few others wrong.  I think we only backtracked on CP8.  I think this was the same CP other teams were having issues with.  I do remember going from CP6 to CP5 I dropped my left foot in a hole while going downhill and immediately felt a sharp pain in that knee.  As my weight shifted forward and my leg didn’t move, and the knee started to hyper extend.  Immediately I jumped in the air to take the pressure off my knee, but then fell on the landing and rolled slightly down a hill.  Begin knee swelling that would continue to hurt for around a week.  I thought you were seriously hurt for a few seconds.  At this point we started running into all the racers that had done the section in numerical order and got to see how the field was looking.  Scott and I figured we were not doing too bad and put ourselves roughly mid pack based on where we encountered everyone.  This was great for our morale as we had no idea where we were relative to the rest of the pack.  Fairly smooth sailing from here as Scott and I were able to knock out all the remaining CPs on this leg without too much trouble.  As I later told Scott, I was very impressed with how accurate the vegetation was on the maps and that really helped with some of our navigation on this leg.  We reach TA1 and do our gear check, then hop on bikes to ride to BD2.

BD2: CP 11 – 17 

​Super Kate had mentioned over dinner the previous night how bad all the roads were up here, so Scott and I had told ourselves to budget extra time on all the bike legs for hike-a-bike and impassable road section.  I was paying close attention to our time on this section because I was going to use it as a baseline for how long the rest of our rides should take us.  There is so much crap a navigator must keep track of in their head like estimated times and bailout routes while keeping involved enough in the surroundings to know when the next turn is going to be.  Doing this for 18 hours was going to be brutal. Back on the bike ride things were going smoothly for us, a few creek crossings here and there until we hit a very flooded creek.  There was no staying dry here, so we got wet.  There is a video of my caring the bike across this creek, and to say to was cold is a huge understatement. Balls In Racing!
I think the air temperature was only just over 50 and the water felt even colder.  Thankfully the instant numbing that came with that helped me forget about my swelling knee from earlier and we carried on uneventfully to the BD.  Roads on this section were way better than described…… I hoped the rest of the race would continue like this.  Once we got to the bike drop.  Scott and I decided our best bet was to take this section 15-17-14-13-11-12-16.  Looking back, it would have made more sense to do 15-17-14-13-12-11-16, but I will get to that.  
We left the bike drop on foot after finding an inspirational message and candy (mmm Taffy, but my bad tooth hurt so freaking bad!)left by the race directors (thank you!) and trekked up the road to 15.  It was an easy find down a re-entrant and then we made our way to 17.  On the way I got us slightly confused on what re-entrant we were in, but we did end up finding Kate and Mickey in the same re-entrant, and together decided we had messed up, finding the CP in a re-entrant to the east.

I think this was the CP we looked for the longest.  We parted ways and both teams took differing routes to CP14.  Kate and Mickey up into the woods and Scott and myself taking the trail to the road.  About a half mile down the trail, Kate and Mickey pop out and turn towards us.  Mickey talks a little trash but both teams continue in opposite directions.  This really got in my head.  Was I going the right way?  I must have done a map and compass check 20 times in the next 2 minutes until Scott told me to put it away and trust my gut.  I knew you were correct.  So, we continued until we came to the road.  I was right! Mini victory dance on the road, and it was glorious.  Bagged 14 and continued to 13.  We came down a nice spur that took us right up to a powerline cut.  I remarked again, how good the vegetation on the map was because it was clear for what seemed like miles in either direction on that cut, so I made a mental note of that for later.  We got in some nasty thorns on the way into 13 but found it easily.  Then came the what can only be described as the kilometer from hell.  Understatement. I decided to keep us low and go straight west back to the powerline cut.  This would involve us pushing through some thorns but would get us to that nice powerline cut and we would use that to get us to the road.  In my head it was easy, clean and bloodless.  The reality of this though, was dirty, explicative filled and had us swimming for about 300 yards.  Once we fought our way to the powerline, we encountered walls of some of the worst thorns I have ever encountered.  The bushes were as tall as I am and so thick we found ourselves crawling on the ground following small game trails trying to get through.  After what seemed like an eternity, I could see there was a gap in the thorns ahead perpendicular to the direction we were traveling.  Finally, we would intersect the road and be out of this hell hole.  Except it wasn’t a road, it was a flooded creek that could almost be called a river at this point.  The opposite bank was nothing but thorns,

behind us was nothing but thorns and everywhere that wasn’t water was nothing but thorns.  So as the road was about 300 yards up the creek we decided to swim it.  We jumped in the freezing cold water, and immediately regretted the decision when we discovered it was over our heads for most of the way.  I wasn't going back the way we came, the swim was so much better, but if there was room to prepare, which there wasn't, we could have better prepared ourselves by dry bagging our gear and clothes and removing our shoes.  It also got deep so fast that I still had my camera in my hand, which made swimming more fun.  Too bad there is no video of our breathing and cussing as that's all I could hear. It sucked watching Mickey and Kate walk by on the road as I swam. When we finally reached the road, my extremities were so cold that pulling myself up on the road was a challenge, but I was so happy to see that fucking road… At this point we knew where we were and where we had to get to, so we easily navigated to CP11 laughing at our stupid selves for the swim we had to do.  After finding 11 Scott had a grim realization:  we were wet and cold, and we didn’t have much sun left.  It was mid 50s during the day on the race, but projected lows were in the low 30’s.  This was not good.  Everything we were wearing was wet and everything we had in our packs we didn’t put in dry bags.  We ended up putting on all our wet gear on the way to CP12 and decided all we could do was run from here on out to try and dry our clothes out before it got really cold.  We pass Mickey and Kate again, make quick mention that we may die of hypothermia and continue.  It was good we stopped to wring out our clothes. We take a round about way to CP16, so that we can run on roads for as long as possible and avoid crossing anymore creeks.  We run across Dave and Amy who had been having mechanical problems on the way to BD2 and had just recently arrived, making an already long race even longer.  Scott and I grab CP16 and head back to BD2 and get there sometime between 6 and 6:30.  We barely did it, but we completed this section before sundown.  Both of us though had some major issues to deal with.  I couldn’t use my fingers well enough to plug my main bike light in or to refold my maps.  I didn’t want to tell Scott how bad off I was, so I went to Mickey who was just about to leave the bike drop and asked him to refold my map.  I think he knew how bad off I was, and he wasn’t his typical asshole self and just did it.  I knew if we got on the bikes I would heat up and I had stashed spare, dry gloves for the ride.  Scott and I didn’t talk much the first part of the ride, both probably fighting internal demons and wondering if the actual risk of hypothermia was as real as we thought, but eventually we warmed up.  Wet gloves sucked. This was thankfully on of the longer bike legs, with some decent hills and the only single track of the race.  We arrived at BD4.

BD4: CP 18-20

​Our route 18-20-19. My first real night nav section! I wasn’t really that excited about it at the time.  I knew we had 9 more CPs to go and every single one of them was going to be in the dark.  I have never done a night nav before, but I figured if we didn’t have to swim again I was going to call it a victory.  Scott and I changed over to trek shoes, shut down bike lights and set off to CP 18.  Oh, I forgot another inspirational message and candy at the bike drop! Taffy Tooth Pain! Mickey and Kate were there as well and headed off in an odd direction from here.  18 was down the road some ways and off a small side road that did not appear on the map.  The road was headed the right direction, in the right spot I needed to jump down the spur, so I followed it and it led us right to the CP.  We trekked back out and passed Mickey and Kate headed into 18.  Scott and I were really confused about their tactics here.  We finally assumed that they had corrected the earlier mistake and were making good time.  NO; I kept saying there was no way they got the CPs!  We had to go about 1.5k past the bike drop to get to our attack point for CP20.  Once we got there we decided pace count and holding a bearing was the only way we could do this one in the dark.  So, I gave Scott a bearing and we calculated a distance and away we went.  While he let me know every time we did 100 meters, I was making sure to compare the topo I could see and feel with the map.  100 meters at the bottom, 200 on side of spur etc.  When we hit out distance, we didn’t see the CP.  However, because we had worked so well together I knew we were on a hilltop and were within 50 ft of the CP.  Boom, easy score.  We then got a bearing and distance and walked within 50 ft of CP19 as well.  Scotts pace counting and bearing holding really saved us on these two CPs.  We then shot a bearing due south and marched to the road and then back to BD4.  When we got back there was a surprising lack of bikes.  Most notably the bikes of Kate and Mickey.  I'll take this time to fill you in on why I mention them so much.  I wanted to beat Mickey.  I wanted to beat him badly.  Me too! While Mickey is my teammate he tends to talk a lot of trash and the only way to silence him, if only briefly, is to out perform him.  It is also just friendly competition, but in a race situation its serious stuff!  We had been leap frogging all day and I could not figure out how they got so far ahead of us in this section.  Did he find a secret line?  Did they unlock teleportation? HOW ARE THEY DOING THIS TO ME!?!  Scott and I loaded up on our bikes and headed to BD3 bewildered.  This should have been a nice easy single-track ride with no places to make errors for a good long time.  So, I was getting excited to drop the map and enjoy some single-track bliss.  I was worried though, based on how flooded the lakes were that some places would be flooded nightmares, but figured we'd deal with that if/when we got there.  When we got to where the trail dropped off from the road we encountered a trail closed sign.  Crap. Thankfully there wasn’t much back tracking to get to were we needed to be to follow the road the very long way around to BD3.  This road had us riding in some low areas for most of the ride and very rutted and muddy road filled with low water and creek crossings as well as giant man eater holes.  I knew the only confusing part of this nav was going to be in the last 1K where there were some very tough intersections all lined up one after another.  I got us a little turned around in here, half due to inexperience and half to needing to eat something.  Thankfully every time the map started to look foreign to me Scott was able to help me get it sorted back out. 

BD3: CP21 and 22

​Just two CPs, we can bang this thing out in like an hour!  Reality is that didn’t happen quite as fast as we had liked.  We decided to take these in the easy routes and do CP22 first then come back and get CP21.  We walked right up on CP22, raising spirits.  As we came back through the bike drop we made our turn for CP21.  This one threw not only us, but another two-man co-ed we were battling back and forth with for a loop.  It took us at least 3 tries on this one before we finally found it.  The area was very congested with re-entrants and we just kept getting in the wrong ones.  We had to be within 100ft of that CP for most of the time, but the placement of the CP was such that you couldn’t see it unless you approached from the east, and we kept approaching from the west until we finally stumbled on it.  Also, the clue had us perplexed.   As we headed out to the BD.  From here we had a decently long ride to BD1.  It was 12:00am and we had until 4:30am to be back at the finish, or risk losing CPs.  While Scott got ready I started doing some math and figured if we could make it to the last BD by 1:00 am we would have time to try for 3 of the 4 CPs before we needed to decide on our bailout route.  We geared up and rode towards BD1, for what seemed like an eternity.  We eventually arrived at BD1 as frost was starting to settle in and I was so glad that we had warmed up.  

BD1: CP 23-27

We got to this BD at around 12:30am, 15 minutes ahead of plan.  I will come to regret that push later though.  We change into trek gear while I put a plan together for us that is 24-23-27-25?  25 was my possible point to drop.  Somewhere along this we had seen Mickey and Kate and they informed us that they had dropped two points in BD4, so I knew that we didn’t need 25, but I really wanted to clear the course if time allowed.  We ventured out on foot for the trek to CP24.  Located it right where it should be but there was something different about this one.  It was HUGE.  

After a good laugh, we trekked on to CP23.  Had to battle a couple thorns on this one but was an easy find and we went back to the road.  My plan to get CP 25 had us going right past the bikes to follow the pipeline cut down into a creek and then the creek for about a half k to the CP.  We found this one after a little looking around.  Now, it was 2:15am.  We had just gotten enough CPs to secure victory over Mickey and Scott was tired.  My cracked tooth was really killing me.  I was trying to eat and drink, but it was so painful.  I also was worried about running out of water so I was conserving some for the last push.  Looking back I wish I would have drank it all no matter the pain.  The cold had really started to settle in and I honestly had no idea what the roads were like on the way back.  Kate’s description of the roads last year had me worried about making it back and I knew I didn’t want to push any harder than we needed as that had drained Scott when I did that on the way to BD1.  So, we made the decision to leave CP25 out there and head back to the bikes.  With the information we had at the time, I think we made the right call.  I was doing great on the treks, but the bike was killing me.  I also didn't want to re-visit my Fig experience of coming in super late and losing all our CPs.  We loaded up on bikes, took some candy from the BD and hit the road to the finish.  As we were riding I saw some tail lights ahead of us.  Thinking these were Kate and Mickey I began ratcheting up the pace, kind of forgetting about Scott.  As we caught the team that sadly wasn’t who I thought it was, I heard a small “can we slow down” from behind me.  Oh Shit…. I killed Scott.   He was flying! I thought we were road biking! Thankfully he dug deep inside himself and we could power through to the finish at 3:09am.  
I would have liked to have gone for that extra point looking back on it, but I don’t regret leaving it out there.  I wish we would have cleared too, but looking at the results it would have made no difference to our standings.  Kevin's nav was solid!  Scott and I raced a good race, nav was about 80% (a learning experience for me) clean and we fought through almost getting hypothermia with a positive attitude.  All in all, it was a great race put on by 361 Adventures and I am glad to have finally gotten to race the LBL and race with my friend Scott again.  Waited a long time to get that race in...well worth it!  Also, so worth it getting that tooth pulled two days later.

Teammate pics!