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.