Saturday, December 19, 2015

Tuning Tips by Captain Ahab

Tuning Tips From Scott Shaw - Captain Ahab 11/13/2015.

I have been thinking of making a How-To DIY series video for TeamBOR’s YouTube Channel for some time now, but never have got around to it, and since I am more of a writer than an actor I figured I would just write down some instructions for you all.  Now here is the warning; this is how I tune a bike, I am not a paid professional bike mechanic, but I have built and tuned many bikes and probably will tune a bike better than you will get it done in most local bike shops (I have seen many local bike shops turn out some horrifying work, but to be nice I won’t name names.)  I feel like tuning a bicycle is very artistic and mechanical at the same time and is why I enjoy it so much.  I love to have a couple drinks and un-wind while tuning a bike.  I only wish my hearing was good enough to play loud music and hear the tune of the bike, but since I am partially deaf I have to play the music low to hear the bike.  If you get good at tuning, or drink more, hearing the bike becomes less of an issue; although your results may vary.  I do have a mechanical background and have had many many hours wrenching (and building) on just about anything; including cars, Jeeps, bikes, boats, houses, and airplanes.  Word to the wise; make sure you use your bike stand and if you don’t have one I suggest buying one, but in a pinch you can use a hanging bike rack off the back of your car.  A bike stand will make your life easier and is worth the money.  If you are on the trail, then get a buddy to hold the rear tire off the ground.  Now here is the second warning, if you are not good with tools, have little patience, or are not sure about your ability, then turn back now and head to your bike shop.  If you think you have what it takes, then keep reading.  This instruction will be based from a 3x10 mountain bike (normal rise derailleurs, trigger shifter, Shimano), but once you get it down, you will be able to tune any bike.   This is not suitable for children as I speak of drinking and perhaps self-inflicted pain from here on out, so if you are looking for G rated instructions, then please stop reading (I did edit out some profanity…kind of). 

Step 1.   Take a Phillips Screw driver and stick it into either of the two screws on either of the derailleurs.  It doesn’t matter which one. Now turn it ¼ turn clockwise and with your other hand smack the living sh!+ out of the hand that is holding the screw driver and repeat to yourself that you will never do that again.  Repeat this process until it sinks in your brain that these screws are end stop screw adjustments and are not “tuning” adjustments.  If you feel the urge, go ahead and punch yourself in the face.  Let it sink in.

Step 2.  Let’s look at that front derailleur.  Get the correct Allen wrench and disconnect the cable.  That’s lefty-loosy idiot.  Well now your sh!+ out of luck and committed.  Get a beer and have a drink and breathe deep.  Prayer and Yoga will help you maintain your balance through the next few steps.  Put the rear derailleur in the small outboard ring.  Push that front derailleur out with your fingers while pedaling the crank with your hand…not your foot dumb@$$.  Let the chain go into the big outer ring.  Now look at the alignment of the derailleur with the chain and chain ring.  Is it straight?  Look at the gap between the bottom of the derailleur and the top of the chain ring. Does it have about 2-3mm of gap?  If not, you are going to have to unclamp that b!+ch and re-position it so it does line up with the chain ring and have the correct gap.  Good luck and God be with you.  Now that the derailleur is clamped correctly, push that thing out as far as possible and make sure the chain doesn’t come off (outside of) the big ring.  This is where the screws come in.  Select the H or High screw and turn it until you get the chain in the big chain ring without it falling outside or making a sh!+ ton of noise.  It needs to be pretty much centered on the chain and the chain shouldn’t be rubbing on the derailleur.  Now let go of the derailleur.  Did it pinch your finger? Good.  Have another drink and breathe.  Now the chain when cranked should be in the inboard little ring or “granny” or low.  Put the rear derailleur in the inboard or big ring.  Adjust the L screw until the chain doesn’t fall inside the frame side, nor shifts to middle, nor make a sh!+ ton of noise while cranking.  Now crank and push it out to the big ring, now let it go and go to the little, repeat as necessary while making micro adjustments to the screws until it is right.  This may take you hundreds of times.  Get it right!  Use your vision, hearing, hell smell the thing if it helps you, but get it right.  You have just adjusted the stop screws that keep your chain on.  Now take your screw driver and put it away or we will be slapping your hand again.  Turn the barrel adjuster on the shifter all the way in and then back it out one full 360 degree turn.  Grab the cable and pull with one hand and while shifting to release all the tension on your shifter with your other hand.  The cable should be pulling out and getting longer.  Make sure you crank until the chain falls into the little front gear.  Attach the cable.  Put the rear derailleur in the middle ring.  Now crank and shift to middle or 2nd.  Did it shift?  I bet it did.  If not, turn the barrel adjuster out until it does, or runs true on the middle ring.  Now crank and shift to the outer ring or 3rd.  You may have to adjust the barrel again.  Repeat until you can shift into all three gears with ease.  If you are having trouble, then you did something wrong and will have to start over. 

Step 3: Now let’s move on to the rear derailleur.  Do we have to talk about smacking your hand again?  Disconnect the cable.  Crank and the derailleur should drop with no spring tension to the little outboard gear or top or high normal (not Shimano Rapid Rise or low normal).  I have had a few Rapid Rise derailleurs, and although the concept sounds solid, I found the delivery of shifting unacceptable while riding, so stick with traditional derailleurs.  (A note about SRAM derailleurs, they suck, and sometimes the screws are backwards.) Now adjust the high screw so that the chain is centered on the smallest ring and doesn’t fall off into the frame, nor upshifts to the 2nd smallest while being cranked.  With your hand push the derailleur up to the big inboard ring.  Adjust the other screw “L” so that the chain doesn’t fall off into the spokes, nor doesn’t stop in the second biggest ring.  (Note: if you do this correctly invest in a chain whip and take your cassette off to get rid of that stupid plastic spoke protector, because it’s lame.)  Make the chain run centerline on the big inboard ring.  Let go of the derailleur and crank it back down to the little outboard ring.  Turn the shifter barrel adjustment all the way in and then one full turn out.  Hold the cable and gently pull while shifting, pulling the cable out.  If your rear derailleur has a barrel adjuster, then turn it in and then 1-1/2 turns out.  If your derailleur has a screw that pushes into the derailleur hanger, then adjust this until about 1 chain link drops between the bottom of the cassette and the top of the top derailleur jockey wheel.  Connect the cable.  Put the front chain ring in the big ring, the rear is in the little ring.  Crank.  Shift one gear up.  Adjust the barrel on the rear D first (if you have one) to make it shift up one gear smoothly.  Shift it all the way up to the big rear ring.  Shift the front to the inner little ring.  Adjust the rear barrel until it shifts smoothly to this ring.  Go back and forth a couple times to make sure it shifts inboard and outboard smoothly.  Now put the front inboard and the rear outboard and crank.  Does it make noise?  Well it cross chained and you shouldn’t ride like that anyway.  That’s the fasted way to break your chain.  Your chain should always be as straight as possible when riding, but this configuration does not have any cable tension on it and is best for storage.  Now put the front in the middle ring and shift the rear up and down or in and out, which ever saying suits you best.  It should be shifting relatively well.  If it doesn’t you screwed up and need to start over.  If it’s skipping a little or hanging up some on one gear use the barrel on the shifter to correct.  You may need to use the shifter barrel to correct some while riding also, but when you get good at tuning this will not be needed.  You now can tune a bike, so go ride it.

NOTE: Buying a good repair manual is a good idea.  Mountain Bike Maintenance by Mel Allwood is a good tool to have in your box. –  Ahab.

Friday, October 30, 2015

2015 BT Epic by Kevin Minton.

2015 BT Epic by Kevin Minton


                4 AM came way too early on race day as it always does.  After loading up the truck I headed out to race HQ at Bass River Resort just outside Steeleville, MO.  After getting checked in, setting camp and doing some socializing I lined up for the 8:30 start. 

A few announcements later and a shotgun blast - we were off on the course in a mass start.  We rode for what seemed an eternity on the dirt road leading out from the campgrounds at Bass.  Finally, after thinning out a bit, we dumped in on the trail.  Everything just seemed to be flowing well at this point, the trail was in good shape and the weather was near perfect.   I felt great.  My legs were fresh and I was ready to take on the BT Epic!  I hung with a good group for a few miles until one of the guys flipped over the bars (he was okay) and caused us a bit of a slow down on a downhill.  We kept motoring on and ran into another rider down on the side of the trail.  Not sure who it was, but she was bleeding pretty well from the knee and looked a little shaken up.  There were half a dozen people around her and yet nobody had a first aid kit.  As I came by I heard them asking for one so I stopped and handed mine off.  Back on the bike and I managed to hook up with another guy and we put the hammer down on the next sections.  We managed to catch back up to the original group we were riding with and we tagged along with them until we hit aid station 1

Not sure what distance that was at, maybe 10, but I was still feeling good.  I felt so good I yelled out my number, thanked volunteers and kept right on going.   From here it was a small stint on paved road with a little incline, then back to the trail.  I love going back and forth with other riders and just having a good time on the trail.  I managed to have a little spill on this section.  I came up a switchback and dropped my front tire off the downhill side.  I got a really good look at the leaves when I face planted.  To save face, I casually sat up and proceeded to take a break.  After eating a bit, I jumped back on the bike and took off.  Some sweet single track brought us to the next aid station, Berryman campground.

                I loaded up my bottle and got some spare food at this aid station, but it was not without incident.  I had the bright idea of tying my drop bag string so nothing would fall out on the trip to Berryman in the trucks.  Turns out, this is a horrible idea as I couldn’t untie it at the campground and those stupid bags are really strong.  I did eventually break into my bag, and was on my way in about 5 minute’s time.  The next section was very fast with some nice smooth downhills and short little climbs.  This section really seemed to fly by and next thing I know we were climbing the jeep road and hit the next aid station.  

                I spent around 5 minutes here eating a Payday and talking to some friends from OT100.  Next I was headed off down the dirt road and eventually another section of trail.  This was a longer section of dirt road leading to a section of the trail that contained the infamous “Three Sisters” hills.  I had been dreading this all day as I have never ridden these hills and no one really had anything good to say about them.  I reached the trail and took the left, then leaned in for a nice right sweeping turn and the front tire washed out on me.  I didn’t go down and kept riding, but thought something was off.  Went into the next turn and the front tire washed out again, confirming my suspicions of a flat tire.  After cursing the rocks I jumped off the bike and set to work.  I wasted about 10 minutes changing the tube just making sure I wasn’t going to pinch it again so I didn’t have a repeat of the OT100.  After I got the wheel back on the bike, I took off to conquer those hills.  It turns out I didn’t really conquer the hills like I had hoped.  These hills are no joke steep and had some very technical switchbacks.  I rode what I could ride and walked what I could walk and made it through all three hills and down into Bass River campgrounds.  After all that my legs were feeling a bit drained, but I was still in good spirits until I pedaled out into a field and a headwind.  Damn you Mother Nature!  Who puts a headwind in a mountain bike race?  Personally, I blame the race directors and there sadistic sense of humor.

                After about a half mile on the gravel/pavement I came up to the last aid station that was conveniently located about 300 feet from the finish line…. and BBQ… and beer… and warm clothes.  I was so close, yet so far.  Instead I gnawed on some gummy bears and got the scoop on this last 8-9 miles of trail.  At this point I have to mention that I have no watch, cell phone or odometer, so I have no idea what my pace is.  I ask a volunteer as I am heading out if he knows what time it is and he responds with 1:35.  1:35?  I’m five hours and five minutes into the race and have 8-9 miles left to go to the finish.  As long as I don’t do anything dumb, I know I will break my 7:00 hour goal.  Even more, there is a small chance I could break 6:00 hours.  BT Epic had other plans though.  Coming up out of the aid station was a monster of a paved climb.  After suffering up that there was another ridiculous climb, but this time dirt.  After we dropped into the trail there was a nice bit of single track that included this really nice rock ledge.  I glided over the edge with ease.  I was so excited about clearing this that I turned around to consider a rerun.  It was my own folly that caused me to smack a small rock off the side of the trail.  I went over the bars and got up with a much smaller ego.  After some expletives I rode off.  A mile later I hooked up with two guys named Matt (could have been one, but pretty sure there were two of them dressed exactly the same) and joked around with them while pushing as much as we could to the finish.  At this point I knew I was going to be close to 6 hours, but figured I would be a few minutes over and had accepted that.  We hit the top of the last hill and one of the Matts gave a warning that this section was really washed out last time he rode it, but that didn’t seem to matter as those guys took off towards the finish.  Not to feel left out I jumped in right behind away we went.  That final downhill was a blast and way too short.  We popped out and made the quick left into the finish.

I dropped my bike by the food tent.  At that point the biggest thing on my mind was getting BBQ.  Two years ago there was no food left when I finished so the thought of a hot plate of meat at the finish line kept me hustling throughout the race.  I saw a few of the Team Seagal guys and asked if they knew what time it was – 2:28 PM.  Had I actually broke six hours?  Someone pointed out I could go to the timing stand and see live results.  Low and behold, I had finished in 5:56!  I was pretty excited to have crushed my original goal by an hour…and still got BBQ and beer.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Adventure Racing Gear 101 by Scott Shaw

Since Robert Bart has been getting ready to start Adventure Racing he has asked TeamBOR many good questions that I thought would be good topics for a blog.  He recently asked us what kind of bikes do we prefer, which running shoes do we wear, what kind of pack should he buy and so on. 

So let’s start out with what kind of bike do we prefer for Adventure Racing.  Well Adventure Racing usually requires a mountain bike.  I have never been in a race where road bikes, hybrids, or cyclo-cross was allowed.  So that’s easy; a mountain bike.  However, what kind of mountain bike best fits AR.  That depends on what kind of rider you are, but in my experience I have seen a great deal of racers using aluminum hardtail 29ers with 3x9’s or 3x10’s.  This is also what I prefer.  Why?  Well aluminum vs. carbon or steel; I’ve broken my carbon frame and I truly believe aluminum is more dependable and if I need to shave grams it can come off my fat gut.  Carbon is also at the hands of volunteers loading trailers some times; you may end up with some chips.  Your bike is also going to get wet, super wet, even inside the frame and steel rusts.  Let’s see…hardtail; why; cheaper, simplicity, weight, and hill climbing ability, but if you have a good full rig with a rear lock out go for it, but I personally have had too many technical issues with full suspension.  29er…definitely 29er…it’s faster, rolls over objects better, higher ground clearance, yes you lose some turning ability from a 26er, but the speed you gain is so much more of an advantage; plus the big tires should make your hardtail float if it falls out of the canoe.  Yes, my 29er floats!  You could go with a 650B, but as I own one of each of the 26er, 650B, and a 29er hardtails, I can tell you that all the media hype of the 650B being the best of both (26 & 29) worlds is well media hype.  In my opinion it is a trade-off between the 26er and the 29er; you lose more than you gain.  Now let’s talk gearing.  Here is where it is truly up to your ability.  Man (or Woman) of Steel, get a singlespeed since there is not much to break and is lighter.  Take a step down to a 1x11 or 12, but I wouldn’t pick a 1x9 since I personally have one and think it would kill me in an AR, but if you have the legs then get it!  Next let’s talk about my nemesis 2x10…I kinda want to curse right now because I hate my 2x10.  It always seems to be cross chained no matter which ring I am in.  I want to ride big front ring / big rear ring while climbing and I should be able to, but it is too crossed.  I can do this on my 3x10 in middle front ring and big back ring and it should be about the same gearing, yet I haven’t totally checked yet.  I will check and get back to you all.  That big 3rd ring adds some weight but if you hit pavement you won’t spin out and if you have legs still, you can haul some booty.  The middle front ring is your workhorse, keep her there as long as you can.  That lil ring I love to call “Granny” well she is my best friend long into the race when my legs are thrashed and all I have left is spinning.  Granny always gets me to the finish line if necessary.  After this you can get into all the crazyiness that make up a mountain bike. Brands, Cross-Country vs. Trail vs All Mountain, Shimano vs Sram, bar width, saddle comfort, pedals (refer to pedal blog), tubed or tubeless, and the list goes on and on.  This is where you find out what works for you by trial and error, expensive trial and error, fun, expensive, trial and error.

Running shoes…oh how we hate running shoes! The necessary evil. I am speaking for our team now, but I believe everyone would agree for road running the lighter the shoe the better, as long as your feet don’t hurt.  My Brooks Glycerin 13 have lasted a couple years and just now are starting to hurt.  I would consider them medium weight.  I would definitely get another pair; they are expensive but the quality is there.  You can get Saucony and Asics too that are good road running shoes for cheaper.  However, you won’t be running on pavement much in an AR.  I have tried a few shoes in AR. North Face Gortex Hedgehogs are heavy and the soles tend to crack, but they have good traction and are warm and dry until you step into a deep puddle and then your feet are wet for all eternity.  Just say no to Gortex! Multiple (packed) pairs of good synthetic or wool socks will get you by.  I have two pairs of these Hedgehogs and have retired them to walking the dogs and later grass cutting shoes.  John Naas will appreciate that in this situation North Face has failed the teenage girl.  Asics trail shoes were actually not too shabby, but you have to deal with those pesky laces and the heal backs blew out rather quickly.  Saloman’s don’t have traditional laces. Instead they have “speed laces”, which make transitions super-fast and easy.  So go Saloman!  Now which one?  I have three pair of Saloman’s.  I have two XR Missions that I use to trail run in.  They are light and comfortable and have average grip, but they wear out quick; too quick!  The back of the heal always comes off!  I use my Speed Cross 3’s for AR.  They are narrower, and lower, which I kind of don’t like, but the traction on them in mud while bushwhacking is remarkable.  However, they are slipper than grease on wet rocks and roots, so be careful not to bust your butt.  The Speed Cross are built better than the Missions.  I just wish Saloman would make their shoes with a little better quality so they would last longer, but I think they are the AR shoe for now.

Packs!  You have to have a pack?  Yes!  Have you seen Dora leave on an adventure without her Back Pack?  Make sure your pack holds at least one 100oz or 3 liter bladder.  You should select your pack by the length of the AR.  I have done short sprint 2-5 hour AR’s that my Camelbak Mule was perfect for, but it’s too small for an 8 hour.  Speaking of Camelbak, their quality is excellent and they have all kinds of cool features, except most of their packs lack front food pockets, minus the Octane.  I run an Outthere MS-1.  It is perfect up to a 24 hour race.  I love the light weight, simplicity, and front grab bags.  I think their quality could be better though.  I am thinking of getting an AS-2 for longer races, but I am worried about quality and the AS-1 that I have been shoving gear in on my teammates back confuses the hell out of me.  Too much going on there on that pack.  We actually talked about giving each pocket an address so he can yell out, “put in pocket C4!”  So 8-24 hours equals 18-22 liters of space.  Make sure your pack has exterior attachment points for helmets, shoes, and paddles.  I am keeping my eye on the Osprey 22L that Kevin Minton is running and thinking of it’s big brother instead of an AS-2.  I will let you know what I decide when I cross that bridge.  Furthermore, make sure you pack fits you and has a good chest and belly strap.  The pack needs to ride high on your back for running and riding.  You will hate life if it keeps getting stuck on your saddle.  It also needs to be snug to your belly and chest for running so it doesn’t bounce the life out of you.

So Robert, I hope this helps you out a little.  You can always check out our gear lists on and remember if Captain Ahab can’t break it, then it is approved!  Now I have to go and update the gear lists I bet.  –  Ahab.

So the chain ring update is the 26er 1x9 is a 34 x 11/34, the 650 2x10 is 38 (big)x11/36 and the 29er is 32 (middle)x11/36.  I thought they were only 2 tooth difference, not 6, so that is why it cross chains and makes me feel like I need to drop to granny.

Monday, October 12, 2015

2015 Burnin at the Bluff by Scott Shaw - Captain Ahab

2015 Burning at the Bluff by Scott Shaw - Captain Ahab.

TeamBOR headed to the 2015 Burnin at the Bluff as two 12 hour teams and a solo 12 hour racer; Dave Cortivo (Beastmode) and Scott Shaw (Capt. Ahab) as the alpha male team, Amanda Lappe (SheRa), Dave Beattie (Ninja), and Neil Dickhaus (Compass) as the coed team, and Kevin Minton (Keith, Grannyless, or Sasquatch) as the solo “I got this sht” racer.  I don’t know all the team categories we entered but Dave and I were Burnin Virgins, yet all of us were Burnin Virgins, so I was greatly confused. I estimated the course to be 12 miles, but then read online it would be 13ish.  I then estimated that Kevin could manage a 10.5+ average mph (1Hr14m/lap) if he was doing one lap, but since he was all alone I knew he would drop it down between 9.5 (1Hr22m/lap) and 8.5 (1Hr32m/lap) mph averages.  I was betting if I could ride hard I could pull a 9.5 mph average or “balls out” a 10.5, but I knew I got to rest in between laps.  I figured I would then slow to 6.5 avg mph and have an overall 8.5 average mph.  I based that off my BT Epic experience.  I thought Amanda would be behind me, followed equally by Dave B, Neil D, and Dave C.  I thought all of them would be around 7.5 average mph (1Hr44m/lap) on their first laps and then would drop to 6.5 (2Hr/lap).  I know that since I am an Adventure Racer all that technical jargon should have been metric, but since I am an American the metric system doesn’t register in my mind as of yet. 

So the race starts out with an awesome run and straw jump through thick smoke grenade action.  Beastmode, Sasquatch, and Ninja are in the lineup, while the rest of us jealously watch.  They take off and I am still confused on the route.  Me, SheRa, and Compass talk estimates and I exaggerate to them like normal so their times will seem slower so they ride harder.  I also do this in AR so they think they have less time and speed up.  It is mean, but it works as long as I keep the time right in my head.  We get ready and wait.  Around 1HR26m Kevin emerges from the woods and I help him get food and drink and he is back on the course in a hurry.  Then at about 1HR40min (Sorry if I get the times wrong, we will append this when the results are posted.) Ninja pops out of the woods and SheRa takes off, I yell at her to hurry because I was gunning for her.  It seems like an eternity before Beastmode pops out and Neil tells me I can catch Amanda.  I thought it had been about a 2-5 min gap and knew I would have to work hard to catch her.  I told Neil that I may not be able to.  So I decide I am going to go “balls out” since everyone else is killing it.  I fly down the street, almost miss the trail, nearly hit the camera man, and on the second switch back barely hold onto trail and have to unclip.  I ride hard and can hear my breathing over everything else.  I keep a watch on my bike computer.  No Dropping below 8.5 mph.  I keep seeing 12.5-14.  I am happy.  I hit a big double track hill and start doubting if I am on course.  I slow and start to think about turning around.  Then I just go for broke up that hill hoping for the best.  I come around a corner and slide out and boom I am down.  I hit my lower abdomen on the bars and thank God it wasn’t my boys.  I see a water hole ahead and know I am gonna crush it and see SheRa in front of it.  I pass her at about 7.5 miles in.  I start hauling again and it gets rocky and I start bombing the rocks.  Some badass goes to pass me and I lose my line and get my front wheel stuck between two rocks and go over the bars.  I get a little cut on my shin and press on, but my rear tire is rubbing the frame.  I stop, re-set the wheel and ride on, but with no such luck; the wheel is bent!  I get off and start stomping and kicking it.  Amanda catches me and asks what’s going on, I tell her and take off.  I ride 3-4 miles with the tire rubbing.  Another camera man asks if I have another wheel.  I told him I would fix it at camp.  I make it back to the transition at 1Hr23min.  Cortivo takes off and I go into repair mode.  True wheel, break nipples, think about stomping it again, true wheel, bump air, get food, water, electrolytes. 

Beastmode is back in a hurry, I don’t even catch his time and I take off again.  That stinking switch back gets me again and I go off the trail.  I can feel my rear wheel bottoming out and think I need to add air, I will stop over there, crap it’s flat at only 2 miles in.  Ok, fix flat fast, ride, crap need more air, add another CO2, feels squishy still, crap lift ass off seat over every bump, rock, root, insect.  I pick it back up and go walking over the rock garden.  Somewhere within the reach of the end my back tire washes out and I scream like a two year old girl skinning her knees.  I figure everyone heard that.  I re-injure my cut up knee.  I get back at 1Hr40ish. 

Beastmode surprises me with a third lap.  I thank him in my mind, so I can add air to rear tire, get food, drink, and clean out my wounds.  I am now a little jealous of SuperKate’s 10-stitch shin, because I can see it requires no stitches and just needs to be cleaned.  I am thankful I don’t have a Mickey Collarbone and get ready for the next lap.  I figure this time I am going all the way to the finish so I better ride better.  Kevin gives me the ride smart, have fun speech which really helps.  I take a caffeine infused Stinger and ask him if that is considered doping since I don’t drink caffeine anymore.  Neil tells me that Dave will not complete another lap.  I told him I was already happy with what he put forward.  I wait and wait.  I am now getting nervous.  Neil told me Dave would be back at 5pm.  It is now 5:30ish and Dave comes running out of the woods pushing his bike with his chain around his neck!  He runs all the way around the transition area as the announcer and everyone else is cheering him on.  I think, “that was bad ass!” “I wonder how long he ran?”  I take off with Kevin’s speech in my head.  I think that I will slow down just some, take care of Samantha and stop raping her and maybe she will take care of me and keep me vertical.  We make sweet love and ride on.  I seriously doubt I can take another fall.  I now have my AR pack on, and although it is heavy and is making my back hot, it gives me comfort that I have my tools, tube, pump (no CO2 left), water, Gatorade, electrolytes, and food with me.  Plus my pack is usually with me and I feel naked without it. I pass Kevin as he is doing yoga on the side of the trail.  I keep my speed up until that rock garden and walk it.  I keep reminding myself, me and Samantha, ride strong, ride smart, have a good lap, no mechanicals, have fun!  I get back in the dark around 1Hr30m or 7pm, and my teammates are cheering me on.  I race to the TA, where Amanda fills my pocket with CHeeze-its, hands me two Snicker’s bars and kindly opens one.  I get a Gatorade in my cage and take off.

  I hit that trail hard and remember the switch backs.  The second one nearly gets me again.  I tell myself again ride smart, and I go into BT Epic mode, which is eat and drink early and often while walking up-hill if you can’t ride uphill and eat and drink and ride like a beast on the flats and downhills and no matter what keep moving.   I am pretty sure that the water hole is about half way so I know if I make it there in good time, then I can take it easy to recover some.  I have until 9:30pm to finish.  I know I have it as long as I don’t bonk, crash, flat, or break something.  I ride with Samantha and tell her I will get her wheel fixed, she says no she wants a new one.  I agree to buy a new wheel and then she demands a wheel set.  I give in and even make the stupid promise that we would try out tubeless if she just holds on.  Jesus rides above us on a cloud and star painted full suspension 29er and instead of making fun of me like at the Epic, he is kind and cheers me on but keeps telling me to ride safe.  I tell Him thanks for everything, but I kind of like it when He is mean to me.  He laughs and shows off and rides across the lake.  I make it to through the rock garden by walking and come out on the field.  I take a quick break to pee and think of walking and peeing, but remember in the Epic that didn’t work out so well for my shoes.  I look up at the stars for just a moment and capture a mental image and carry on.  I now am getting passed a lot and am wondering if Kevin rode another lap and would pass me.  Everyone is responsible and asks if I am ok, but I don’t think anyone is sincere until Jeff Sona (I am pretty sure it was Jeff, but it was dark) asks and tells me we were almost finished. I walk up the big hill and ride hard to the TA and finish and request beer.

SheRa and Capt. Ahab take a partial epic running victory lap. We all had a fun evening and morning of telling each other our stories and get yelled at by other campers that they were trying to sleep.  Back at the TA the music and party roll on way after we go to bed and I lay there rushing with caffeine and think I should have went back to the party.

I rode the 2014 BT Epic in 6Hr43m and if I remember correctly it was 56 miles.  I guess I could re-read the blog.  I rode Burnin at 6Hr16min at 56.3 miles.  I am still hoping for a sub-6 at Epic this year.  I was really amazed and proud of how well everyone did.  SheRa and Ninja had fast clean laps with no mechanicals or crashes.  Kevin to my knowledge had no mechanicals, although he may have broken some ribs while soloing 5 laps or 70 miles!  Neil had two flats and then navigated back via bushwhacking…AR Style Points!  Beastmode ran a freaking 5K carrying a bike and still came in around 2hr30min!  Like Amanda said, “No one is going to quit!” – Ahab.

Monday, September 14, 2015

2015 Tomahawk Challenge 24 Hour Adventure Race by Amanda Lappe.

2015 Tomahawk Challenge 24 Hour Adventure Race by Amanda Lappe.  Comments in Red by Neil Dickhaus, BOR Green by Scott Shaw.


Scott, Neil, and I met Larry at Harmonie State Park, New Harmony, Indiana, where the race would start and finish, on Friday afternoon.  After quick introductions, we set up our tents and then headed into the town of New Harmony for check-in, dinner, and the pre-race meeting at the Ribeyre Center (I was hoping that was a typo and it was actually the Ribeye Center, but alas, I was let down).  After checking in, we went with Chuck and Kate of Team Virtus to Sara’s Harmony Way for a locally-brewed beer.  
Larry arrived in town earlier than we did and had scouted out the best place in town.  He bought us a growler (thanks again, Larry!) to share and we killed some time there before dinner.
Back at the not-Ribeye Center, we had a lasagna dinner and chatted with the guys from IbuPROfen, three younger guys who we would see a lot out on the course.  At the pre-race meeting, John, the race director, told us about some of the unique history of the town of New Harmony, warned us about a missing cow we may encounter, cautioned us about the Asian carp in the river, and encouraged us to bring some warm clothes for Saturday night.  I was very happy I followed his advice.  I was excited to win a set of boot dryers in the prize drawing.  

The map we received is literally bigger than my kitchen table.  The USGS map was last updated in 1927, but John did a lot of work updating it and adding trails and boundaries for the state park.  We were given coordinates for the first 12 checkpoints and got to work plotting.  After some initial confusion (Scott read the coordinates backwards), we got 12 points plotted and Neil and I took our map up to make a couple of additional changes based on the master map.  While waiting in line, Neil and I both noticed that all of our points were plotted differently than those on the map of the racer in front of us (Scott is a big dumby).  Uh-oh.  After marking an out-of-bounds area and a change in the river course from the master map, we went back to our team with the bad news.  We finally got our points plotted correctly and headed back to the park to do some last minute gear packing and sleep.

CPs 1-12

We were told at the racer meeting that the 21 mile trip to the bike drop would take about 45 minutes each way (actual time was closer to 25 minutes the way Scott was driving, I think he had a date with the latrine back at the camps site) (This is the first time anyone on the team complained I was driving too fast), so we left the campground at 4:40am.  After dropping off bikes, shoes, lights, and helmets, we returned to the start/finish area for some pre-race pictures and got ready to begin.  Race Director John told us we would find our passports at the Cherry Hill Shelter and turned us loose.  We immediately began running the wrong way, but quickly corrected and took the trail short-cut.  (Our way was a road route that would have worked but would have been longer) There was a super-slippery bridge we ran on for part of the trail and then we were out of the woods and to the shelter.  We located CP1, a reentrant/sinkhole, without too much difficulty and then used the park boundary line to guide us most of the way to CP2.  This turned out to be a smart choice because we were close to last getting to CP1 after our initial misdirection getting to the passports and we arrived at CP2 ahead of lots of teams.  Once we arrived in the general area, we struggled to find the marker.  It turns out, if something is above eye-level, it is invisible to Scott, as he missed it the first time he passed the control.  (I actually climbed under a fallen tree directly below the point, then I couldn’t reach it). He found it though, and we moved on to CP3, a really interesting root cave.  On the way, I took the map to try to give Neil a break so he could eat and then Scott and I proceeded to get us lost (Scott shot a wrong bearing).  We made our way to the road to re-attack and with Neil back on the map we found it quickly.  He was also spot-on with his nav to CP4, a failed dam.  CP5 took us a bit of time once we were in the general area, but we located that one as well (I was standing at a reentrant junction looking at the map, wondering what I did wrong, when Scott called out from 20m behind me,”there it is”, “where?”, “lookup” there it was 2m in front of me at eye level.  I felt pretty dumb) (Harder to see than normal O flags).  We had about a 3k trek on country roads to CP6, a reentrant source/sink hole, and then we took some more gravel road to CP7, “tip of spur.”  We looked at the tip of every spur in the area and were becoming frustrated.  Chuck and Kate arrived about this time and Scott and Chuck found the control (Chuck was watching me try to molest a fallen tree and saw it behind me), on the opposite side of the creek from where we had the point plotted (wasn’t this just above Scotts head again?).  We trekked to CP8 in a Team BOR/Virtus/Solo Racer Mike conglomeration and debated the merits of popping dead, bloated animals.
 Chuck is pro-popping, while Kate and I are adamantly against it.  The clouds started getting darker at this point and we felt a couple rain drops, but the weather held and the day was mostly sunny and mild.  We were relieved to have an easy CP, as 8 was a log cabin right off the road.
 We continued on with Virtus and solo racer Mike to CP9, where we all separated for a bit.  We found the control in a spring and then followed the edge of a cornfield and a trail to what we thought was the correct hilltop for CP10.  After searching the area, Neil realized we were not actually at the top of the hill and we continued on up to the correct area (this is where I handed off the map to eat again, guess I need to quit that bad habit).  Scott punched the passport and we headed down the hill into the town of New Harmony.  CP11 was unique, as it was inside a labyrinth made of hedges.  
We all walked around the maze, searching for the control, and then Scott and I found it from opposite directions at the same time.
(I wish the hedges were taller than me) After refilling water bladders and grabbing some food from our packs, we headed through the center of town to CP12, a reentrant.  It turns out, once you reach civilization, Neil can no longer tell east from north (Kidding! Sort of.) (there were no hills to read, it was flat.  Also I blame Scott, I told him not to let me nav in town, but he let me take the map away from him) (I told you where to go and then I told you Chuck was going the right way and to follow him but you kept circling the tavern, some would think you wanted a beer, what’s 15 minutes walking aroung town during a race?  Amanda we could have got that beer), so we took the scenic route to CP12, a reentrant, which also happened to have a fantastic view of the Wabash River, where we would be canoeing.  At TA1, we had to show our knives for a gear check.  Neil and I plotted points for the next leg, while Larry patched up my blistered feet and then Scott and Larry got our gear down to the river and ready for us to start paddling.

CPs 13-19

We were informed at TA1 that we missed the time cutoff for CP13 by 15 minutes, which would have had us heading north, against the current, on the Wabash River before turning around and going back south for 14.  We were bummed at the time, but looking back, it was for the best because we heard later it was about an hour and a half of paddling for that one CP.  Number 14 was a really easy-to-find hilltop (Not easy to climb, and I walked right past it while looking in its direction, Larry saw it).  We took our canoes out at CP 15 as Team Virtus were putting in to continue on.  I watched them to see which route they were going to take downriver, as there were rocks across the middle of the channel which caused there to be a small section of rapids, both on the left and right sides of the river.  Upon first look, I thought it would be a quick, splashy ride through on the left-hand side.  Unfortunately, Chuck and Kate flipped, spilling both of them, plus their gear, into the river.  Thankfully, the race directors had posted kayakers with throw ropes on the rocks, so they were rescued quickly and one of them even retrieved Kate’s food as it was floating down the river, so actual crisis was averted.  I told Scott, with no room for negotiation, that we were portaging.  I love whitewater and I’ve done my share of swimming in whitewater much bigger than this, but I don’t like to be cold and wet.  He didn’t argue with me and we carried our canoe down the shoreline over some rocks.  (Amanda has team white water veto power) It was tough and the canoe was heavy, but we were warm and dry.  Neil and Larry took a different route, paddling up to the rocks in the channel, getting out and portaging over them, and then putting in on the downstream side of them (this turned out to be a good decision for us since neither of us felt like carrying a canoe, unfortunately we did have 1 causality, my paddle.  It was bent but usable to finish).  
CP16 was a low point in the race for me.  The map showed Mink Island to be fairly small and to have one inlet, which was where the point was plotted.  It should have been a quick punch, but instead, took us close to an hour.  We walked all over the island looking for the CP.  Larry and I started following a trail of footprints and ended up going right past the CP, which was tucked into the leaves of a downed tree.  Thankfully, Scott pays better attention, because he found it (did you notice that it was not above his head?) (Is this where I circled the island once found nothing, twice, found the point, thrice and found Neil?).  CP17 was a boat ramp where we had another gear check (strobe light and glow sticks).  We attached our glow sticks to the bow and stern of our canoes and got out our head lamps.  Scott was standing with his paddle in hand and the photographer made the mistake of telling him he looked like an ancient god.  I’ll give him ancient, but way.  (I love that beautiful intelligent woman) So with his head the size of a beach ball, we put back on the river.  When we looked back, Neil was taking off his jersey to add a baselayer, so we joked that he was jealous of Scott getting all the attention from the volunteers (no nude pics of me, I have a reputation to uphold, plus I had not been drinking). (Ancient Buddha)  CP18, Grand Chain Island, was plotted on the southern tip of the northernmost of two small islands in the middle of the channel.  We docked at the south end and looked briefly for the control, before noticing lights on the island just downstream of us.  As I was looking, I realized that there was actually a third island past the second one and that the channel between the first two was extremely shallow.  I remembered from the racer meeting the director saying that they had a lot of flooding in the area this year and that the river changed course.  I asked the guys if it was possible that the first two islands had been one bigger one and a channel opened up between them during the flood.  (good call)They thought it made sense, so we went to the next island where we found the control.  We had decided in TA1 that we would skip CP19, as it looked to be a long paddle up a tributary river for one control.  We saw a ton of flying Asian carp in the river, including one that jumped up and hit a man in a small boat, knocking him off of his seat (that was truly the funniest part of the race) and I was in perpetual fear of one ending up in the canoe with me.  The end of the paddle was gorgeous.  The stars were super bright and we could hear owls hooting in the trees.  
TA2 was up next, where we dropped the paddling gear, got some hot chocolate from the fantastic volunteers, plotted more points, had a gear check for our red blinking lights, and took off on bikes.


This section went smoothly.  Neil was super accurate on navigation and set a quick pace on the bike (probably too quick, but I didn’t want to breath the gravel dust the other teams were stirring up).  We rode in a pack with several other teams on this leg and made up a lot of ground.  After CP23, we had to make a choice whether to head to TA3 or to go for 24 and 25 (both of which I was considering, but was convinced that they were easy points with our strongest mode of travel), which were farther away and appeared be on hillier roads.  We decided to stay on bikes as long as we could, so we rode down some sketchy mud/gravel/more slimy mud roads to 24 and 25 before returning to the start/finish area for TA3.

At TA3, we received a clue sheet for CPs 26-46.  They were broken up into three main sections; CP26-30 were trekking points that could be obtained in any order.  We took a poll and decided to skip these because, as a team, we are stronger on bikes.  My blistered feet were very happy about that decision.  We plotted points 31-44, which were all biking points that had to be obtained in order, but for some of them, we could leave our bikes and some, we had to obtain from the bikes with no bushwhacking.  

CPs 31-40

Neil navigated us straight to CP31 (an old cemetery in the woods- spooky!) and 32, a trail/creek crossing.  The clue for CP33 was “reentrant.”  We looked in the area where we thought it was, but we were never certain we were on the correct trail.  When we failed to locate it, we decided to move on, but we passed Team Virtus coming from the opposite direction and Neil and Chuck had a navigator-chat and looked for the point together.  Unfortunately, we never found it and spent a lot of time on that one point.  When we got back to the road, Neil told us that he was done.  Confused, I asked, “With the map?” I told him I could take over for a while.  He replied that he was done with the race and said he was having severe headaches.  We took him back to the start/finish area and spoke with volunteers, who called EMS over to him.  After leaving him in their capable hands, Scott, Larry, and I resumed the race as unofficial.  (disappointing for me, I never had a headache come on that fast of that bad)  I took over navigating for a while and we made our way to the singletrack area of the state park.  These trails were fantastic!  We started on a trail rated as beginner for CPs 34 and 35.  It was fast and flowy, with little elevation change.  It was so much fun and a really good thing it was dark and I couldn’t tell what was just off the trail.  Scott told me later that a volunteer at the ropes course said it was an extremely steep drop-off into a very deep reentrant.  (I think that was between CP36 and CP38) CP34 and 35 were right on the trail and had the comical clues of “bend in trail” and “slight bend in trail.”  There isn’t a single straight section in this entire trail system.  They were easy to locate though and we were having a great time.  (I was in a Zen like state with Red Hot Chili Peppers playing in my head.  I tried to get Amanda to sing it to me, but she didn’t know the lyrics. I had to keep telling myself to slow down, but I really wanted to rail that trail) After we located CP36, a reentrant to the right of the trail, we had a discussion about our best course of action.  We decided we would continue on to CPs 37 and 38, mostly because I really wanted to do the ropes course.  The trail changed from beginner to beginner/intermediate around this area and added some log crossings to the twists and turns and a little more elevation change.  It was still a blast and I would make the drive back just to ride this trail system.  It was in this area that we heard a pack of coyotes in the distance, which was really cool (They were singing Red Hot Chili Peppers).  CP37, “tip of spur” was easy to locate and from there, we made our way to 38, which was the location of the ropes course. We had to show our carabiners, harnesses, and gloves for a gear check, even though we didn’t actually need the carabiners.  The ropes section ended up being a zipline and when you ran out of momentum, you had to pull yourself hand-over-hand to the volunteer on the other side and then do the same thing in reverse.  (I was a little disappointed that it wasn’t a slack line) After getting the punch for 38, we headed to some trails that were labeled intermediate.  These had the same log crossings, plus some elevation change in the form of switchbacks.  We found CP39, another “bend in trail,” with no issues and then made plans to get CP40 and then head for the road and back to the finish.  On the way to 40, we passed a team coming down a fire road in the woods.  Scott got over to the right to let them pass, but then hit a mystery object in the brush that catapulted him over into the way of the other team.  After a near collision that left Scott yelling apologies as we continued up the hill, we got on the trail to CP40 (may have pooped my pants slightly).  This was the most challenging section of trail and it was also the newest in the trail system.  The location marker flags for the trail were still in place and the bench cut was very fresh.  There was a bridge that was maybe 3 feet wide and 15 feet long, with no railing, that dropped off into nothingness, on the trail. It was a good thing it was dark and you take a corner before getting to it, because I probably wouldn’t have ridden it otherwise.  We kept riding until we hit our decided-upon time limit to head back to the road, with no success (I still think it was the wrong trail).  We back-tracked on the trail and had to ride the bridge again.  With Scott yelling at me to keep pedaling and not slow down, I made it across.  I then walked back to it and looked down with my headlamp to see how deep it was.  It wasn’t kill-you deep, but you would definitely have a bad time (it was break your neck deep).  The trip back to the road was uneventful and we passed IbuPROfen finishing up the trekking leg that we skipped.  They all got chilled and were wearing their emergency blankets as clothing or hats (I do the same thing when the government and aliens are watching).  The last 15 minutes or so was a road ride back to the finish line.  


After getting off our bikes, we checked with staff to see how Neil was doing and they said he was sleeping in his tent after being evaluated by EMS and getting some fluids and electrolytes.  We carted all our gear back to the tent and I remember just sitting in a chair, overwhelmed by the thought of packing up all my racing and camping gear.  Instead, Scott, Larry, and I shared a celebratory beer and toasted to a great race.  We finished with 36 checkpoints in something in the neighborhood of 23 hours and 15 minutes.  Neil woke up shortly after we finished and offered to drive us home, since he had some sleep.  After breakfast, awards (yay, Chuck and Kate - Team Virtus got 2nd in the 2p coed division!), and another prize drawing (Scott won a Scott helmet - lucky guy)
, we packed up and hit the road.  I think I was asleep before we left the park and I didn’t wake up until we were on Scott’s street. (Driveway) I told them they weren’t allowed to take pictures of me while I was sleeping and I *think* they listened to me(um, yeah, sure).   
For me, the race was definitely hard, and highlighted some areas I need to focus on in training (spending lots of time trekking and running with a pack and also orienteering, specifically).  We worked well together as a team and all four of us had very different skills we brought to the table.  I would definitely race with these guys again in the future.