Wednesday, November 19, 2014

2014 Bonk Hard Castlewood 8...by Neil Dickhaus


Team BOR’s Race Report for Bonkhard’s Castlewood 8 Adventure Race

This race was different for me compared to all of the other races in which I have competed.  Not because of the usual differences of terrain, environment, and equipment, but because of my team mate.  This was the first real Adventure Race for Kyle, my son.  He had been to several orienteering meets and trained with me both on bike and foot.  The hardest part of the race was convincing Kyle’s mother, Theresa, that he was not only capable, but ready to do this race.  After getting the ok from Theresa, it almost felt as if we were in the final leg and the finish line was in sight, but we still had 2 months till race start.

Two nights before the race, Kyle and I get our gear and spread it out on the dining room table.  All I could think of is that’s a lot of stuff to carry around for 8 hours.  We each stuff our packs with our personal gear and I opt to take the team gear, with the exception of the cell phone.  Next we lay out our cloths in layer upon layer.  The high for race day is predicted to be in the low 30’s with snow around noon, so we wanted to make sure we would be warm enough.

The night before the race we met up the other Team BOR team (which consisted of Dave, Paul, Kevin, and Scott) at Alpine Shop to pick up our race packets and do some last minute shopping.  Upon getting the packet, the first thing I looked at was race HQ, the start and finish line.  I was please to find that it was only 10 minutes from the house, but my joy was short lived when I discovered the bike drop was at Castlewood and would cost us an additional 45 minutes of drive time.  At Alpine Shop It was friends and family night, so they were offering discounts and drinks.  Both of which encouraged us to find those items that we just could not live without.  We also ran into members of Team Virtus and Navigationally Challenged.  After a few adult libations, we decided to regroup at Kevin’s house and have a prerace pizza dinner and to do our route planning.  I think we spent a good 5 minutes planning and the rest of the time eating and harassing each other.  We departed Kevin’s around 8:30 and headed home to finalize our gear check and packing.

We got to bed a reasonable time and I woke up a few minutes before my 5:30 alarm.  I slowly got out of bed and started getting dressed.  I was happy to hear Kyle moving in the other room.  We were able to get the car loaded, bike rack installed, and on the road to 6:10.   We arrived at the bike drop at 6:40, a mere 10 minutes later than we discussed the night before.  True to our agreement the night before, BOR 4 left BOR 2, since we were already falling behind.  All I could think was, what a bunch of pricks and I’ll show them.  Kyle and I dropped our bikes and other bike gear.  As cold as it was, we opted to install our Bar Mitts.  We staged our gear and were headed back to race HQ by 7:00.

Once at race HQ, we layered up, did the prerace pics, and prepared our self for an 8am race start. It was decided that I was going to navigate and Kyle would handle punching the checkpoints.  We lined up at the starting line with nearly 70 other teams.  We found a little bit of humor when David Frei of Alpine Shop lost his team mates prior to start.  This just so happened to be the only time were ahead of them, but I’ll take it.  We had a few prerace announcements and then the playing of the National Anthem, to this day can’t believe that some people don’t take off their hats, which includes both men and women.


The countdown began and the race started at exactly 8am according to Gary’s watch, but I forgot to verify it with my watch.  We started on foot for a 3 km jog for the first 3 checkpoints.  I confirmed what I already knew, my running game leaves a lot to be desired.  As Kyle and I approached CP3, we grabbed a canoe and headed down to the beach where we encountered a bottle neck of people trying to get punched and get their bonus trekking map.  This was the only point in the race that needed work.  It took us at least 5 minutes to walk 100 yards with the canoe.  Once we got to the water, Kyle to the front position and I pushed off.  However, it was not a standard push off, the canoe started to get away from me and I jumped in at the last second and my hands slipped on the side causing me to land on my right shoulder in the bottom of the canoe.  Both Kevin and Scott saw my acrobatic attempt from a few feet away and got an early morning laugh as they saw my feet go over my head.  Not fun and pretty painful.  The 6 miles of paddling to come was defiantly slowed.  It took us a few minutes to get in a good rhythm of paddling, but after we did our pace and lines improved.  I am estimating that my shoulder injury added 10 minutes or more to our paddling time.

About 2/3 of the way through the paddle we came to the bonus trekking section and CP5.  We beached our canoe and headed to my nemesis of the day CP38.  I took a bearing and headed that direction, but with the trees and brush, I felt like I veered off course to the left.  I saw a CP off to my left and when we got to it, it just did not feel like CP38.  Looking at the map, I thought CP40, so we punched it and backtracked to try to find CP38.  We looked for at least 20 minutes and I realized it was CP38 that we were at before.  Back to CP38 to punch and then took a bearing to CP40 and found it with 5 minutes.  Next we headed to CP42, a 2 point control, which we found about 5 minutes later without a problem.  CP41 was on a knoll and it took me about 10 minutes to find it.  We got CP38 on the way back to the canoes.  My navigation was off and I broke my own rule about not listening to other racers.  Because of this, the bonus section took an extra 30 minutes longer than it should have.

On the beach getting ready to get back in the canoes, I rearranged the maps and put them in cargo pocket of my pants.  We got our life jackets on and shoved off with much less drama than our original departure.  When we were about ¼ mile from our final take out, I reached down to check the maps, but they were gone.  I checked under my seat and in the water near us, they were still gone.  I said a few choice words while Kyle gave me look of disappointment.  Hopefully they have spare maps at the next transition area I told Kyle.  Thinking to myself, I know where 3 of the 7 points are from that map and after that we get a new map.  I tried to justify to myself that we would be ok missing those 4 points.   We arrived at the transition area and told the volunteers about our map incident.  We received the very encouraging “dude your screwed” response and I thought to myself, thanks for stating the obvious.  We carried on with the gear check.  Blinky bike light, check, UTM, check, emergency blanket, check, cell phone, check, maps, #$%!*#!@$.  Not really on the maps, but that is what I was thinking.  Just then, another team arrived at the TA and overheard our map dilemma and someone called out “I just found your new best friend”.  They had found our maps in the river.  I did not catch their team name or number, but want to thank them again and may they have good trail karma.

Okay, we are off again with the maps tightly secured to my once one of a kind (till Scott copied it) bike map holder.  We found CP7 through CP13 relatively easily.  As I we were riding, my hands got warm, too warm.  The temperature had risen more than I had expected, so I decided to shed my Bar Mitts.  With no room in my pack (no Kevin, I am not kidding), I rolled them up and put them in my water bottle holder and rode on.  Over all the ride went well, I just did not feel like I was performing like I should, especially since Kyle was out riding me.  As we headed to the CP14, aka transition area, I knew there would be another set of maps for a trekking section where I could prove my navigational skills.

We arrived at the TA and Kyle punched CP14 and received our next map.  He handed me the map and proceeded to organize our bike gear.  If I could only have trained Scott that well.  Looking at the map, my first thought is the clue sheet on the back of the map is stupid.  I must have flipped back and forth 20 times trying to plot the 3 unmarked points.  I had to write the numbers on the front of the map in order to keep from transposing them.  This and the bottle neck at CP3 are my only complaints about the race.  Now in regards to my performance, I have a lot more.

Kyle and I got our shoes on and started walking and discussing which point to hit first CP18 or CP21.  I was leaning towards CP21, but Kyle started talking about CP18, so technically he made the decision where to start.  We hit the point in a semi-counterclockwise pattern.  We walked right to CP18, which was visible 100 meters away.  Then we were off to CP19, down a small hill, up a very large hill, and back down again.  No problem, we had found 2 points in 15 minutes.  Off to CP17, which was worth 2 points.  We had heard people had trouble with this one.  Our course went north till we hit the Groutpeter trail, then we followed it west zig zagging to it went north, where we left the trail topped the hill and went down the reentrant.  We walked right to it.  We contemplated CP15 or CP16 next.  I decided to skip CP15 altogether and get CP16.  CP16 was on a spur and we found it less than 5 minutes after CP17.  However, CP15 was nawing at me.  I looked at Kyle and told him we had to get it.  From CP16 we went west till we hit the road which we paralleled till it veered right (note: we were not on the road, but 3 meters off of it, unlike some other teams).  We crossed the road and searched along the hillside for about 5 minutes before we found it.  This was the hardest point on the trek for me.  From there we headed south to a trail which continued south.  When we spotted the road, we left the trail and headed toward it and crossed and found another trail that lead to the creek.  Just before we got to the creek we saw CP20 on the bank.  Another one down.  Next was CP21 at the top of Lone Wolf.  We hiked up Lone Wolf backwards from the way we ride it and it is amazing how different a trail looks going the opposite direction.  Once we made it to the Castle, all we had to do was find the saddle and drop into the reentrant and there it should be.  Famous last words.  We followed my plan an as we hiked down the reentrant, I saw it, I think.  We kept going, but we could not see it.  There it is, right behind a downed tree.  Back to the TA.  On our way out we passed a 4 man team that was looking for something around the Lone Wolf parking lot.  They misplotted and were looking for CP18.  I know how frustrating that can be, so I pointed out where it was on the map and gave them some brief directions and we continued to the TA, CP22.  1:33 on trek, not bad for walking the entire course.

At the TA we received a set of maps to finish out our day.  I think there were 4 maps, but it felt more like fifty.  I fumbled with the maps and plotted our course back to the finish.  I just could not find CP30 on any of the maps.  I looked at each of them 3 times with no luck and grabbed the clue sheet.  CP30 was on map “none”.  Huh?  Read the directions dummy.  CP30 was worth 3 points and was on an unmarked trail west of CP29.  Great now I know what to do, maybe.

Back on the bikes, we headed out of the park to CP23.  Immediately my hands got cold.  The temperature was dropping, so in less than a minute, I reinstalled my Bar Mitts.  I love those things.  CP23, CP24, and CP25 were cable punches attached to signs.  No problems with them, except for some of the hills.  Kyle was a climbing machine today and conquered every hill like it was nothing.  He had a little trouble keeping up on the flats, but lost me on the hills.  At CP25 we decided to skip CP27 and CP28 due to time constraints.  We left CP25 and headed toward Sherman Beach. We entered the Al Foster trail and road right to CP33.  In trying to find CP32, we almost missed in by not going far enough.  I knew within 10 meters where CP31 was located so off we went.  I asked Kyle if he knew where it was and he said yes, so I told him to pass me and go for it.  I called back “go ahead and pass” and 2 guys passed me, I looked back, but could not see Kyle.  He went down another path.  I called out to him and 2 minutes later he was back and we were off AGAIN to CP31.  When we got to it, it was in a ditch very close to where I had anticipated.  Being that it is the only ditch around, it was pretty easy.  We headed back to Sherman Beach on a different trail and got on the Al Foster.  Once on there, it was only a few hundred meters down to get CP26.  We carried on till we reached the Rock Hollow Trail, aka Zombie Road, and followed it up to CP29.  And there it was, a new trail.  Most of the other trails I have road before, but not this one.  The only question was how far back is CP30.  We had 1:45 before time penalties would be acquired.  Kyle and I decided to ride in for 30 minutes and if we could not find it, head back.  That would allow us 1:15 to ride out and back.  We started our ride in.  It was uphill with multiple switchbacks.  I am not sure what the elevation gain was, but I do know it was a fun trail.  It took us 20 minutes to get to CP30 and about 10 minutes to get back out.  Here I made another one of my mistakes.  CP27 was only 1.5km away on a fairly flat trail, but it was the opposite direction of finish.  Finish was 4.1km from us.  I should have made the call to go for CP27 and possibly for CP28.  So instead we went for CP34 (same as CP1), which was on our way back.  We finished strong and passed a team just before the crossed the finish.  They still beat us being they had more points, but it felt good to pass them anyway.
 
 

Overall it was a good race and topping it off, Kyle and I beat Teambor 4 man by 1 point.  I had a few tumbles, navigational issues, and loss of energy.  But Kyle and I finished his first adventure race in 8:06:12.  I estimate that we did 12.3km (7.5 miles) of trekking, 32.7km (20.5 miles) of biking, and 9.5km (6 miles) of canoeing.  Looking at those numbers, it does not sound too bad, but that is still an average pace 6.8km/hr (4.25mph) including transitioning.  Next year our goal will be sub 7 hours and all the points, but next year who knows what it what the course will look like.  I guess it time to put down my Blueberry Bonbons and start training.  Only 360 days till race start (plus or minus a few).

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