Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Adventure Racing and Out There Packs Review by Scott Shaw

Adventure Racing and Out There Pack Review by Scott Shaw

                When I first started Adventure Racing I used my Camelbak Mule, which was really too small for 8 hour races.  It was fine for shorter races and training, but I just couldn’t shove enough in it for anything longer than a few hours.  I started being envious of my teammates Out There MS-1’s because of their forward hip and chest pockets.  I added some temporary hip pockets to my Mule for food, but it just wasn’t the same.  I then got my hands on a larger Camelbak, but it rode low on my back and no matter how I adjusted the straps it would bounce all over my back.  It also did not have forward pockets.  I tried a ton of Camelbaks.(Some of the Camelbaks I own that are not suitable for AR are shown below.)

Anyone want to buy some Camelbaks?

I finally said enough is enough and bought a MS-1, which has 15L interior storage and 5L exterior storage.

Scott Shaw's brand new MS-1.
                I started training in it immediately and loved how it rode on my back.  In races, the front pockets were from Heaven as I could pull food out whenever I pleased.  The pack was also lighter weight than my Camelbaks, held more gear, and had more attachment points.  The permanent whistle is a great idea, but for some odd reason I still carry another one.  I need to break that unnecessary habit and delete that little extra weight.  I could put my shoes in the outer pockets with a 4 piece paddle, and my jacket.  It is a tight fit, but I started just attaching my shoes and let them swing about a bit to allow for more room.  This is how I still "stow" my shoes as it keeps dirt and stench out of my pack.  I don't even bother sticking the toe of the shoes in the external pockets like my teammates do.

Robert Bart's Osprey Talon and Scott Shaw's MS-1.
There were a few things I didn’t like about my MS-1.  My friend’s older MS-1 pack had a larger belt buckle, so I actually cut out the orginal smaller quick adjustable strap and buckle and sewed in the largest strap and buckle I could find.  (Mike just threw up some I bet.)  I preferred this because I could stow the adjustable tails away behind the hip “food bags” and the larger buckle didn’t cut into my fat gut as much.  I also missed the Velcro attachments that held the excess webbing on my Camelbak Mule, so I made some and sewed them on to my MS-1 (These are awesome Mike).  I then got a little crazy adding straps and interior pockets, but after time I never used them and decided to remove my added interior pockets, but kept the straps.  I normally use a large dry bag that fits all my gear and fits inside my MS-1.  Anything that doesn't fit gets strapped on or put in external pockets. Lastly, I found that the interior pockets behind the bladder were just not for me.  I could see some people using them, but I am all about function and having to remove a bladder, or move it out of the way, just doesn’t make sense to me, so I refuse to use them.  If you were not using a bladder they would be great as they fit a UTM and Markers perfectly. 

Stuffing my hat and jacket in my MS-1.

                My slightly modified MS-1 lasted me 6 years of heavy training and rough racing.  I wore it all the time, so much so that my wife called me “Dora the Explorer” and the roadies I ride with called me “Backpack Man.” I used it in several 24 hour races and a 30 hour.

               After 6 years of heavy use I was bragging about what a great pack it is to my teammates that were searching for a new pack.  This jinxed my pack and a day later the main zipper tore about an inch away from the pack.  Before that I only had one small rip in the rip stop nylon from barb wire.  I just kept an eye on it and it never spread.  I was devastated at the thought of having to replace my beloved MS-1.

Team BOR likes duct tape.

Neil Dickhaus
 with Dave Cortivo's MS-1
 and Larson's Medical Kit.
                I started thinking about my friends larger AS-2 that he has.  I have raced with him several times and always give him trouble about stowing items in his rear pockets.  He says, “Hey, put this in my backpack.”  I say, “Which pocket? Pocket 1A2C, 2B3D, C3PO, or R2D2?”  It has so many pockets that they need labeling.  It is really just jealously that I tease him about his pack and I would love to have the newer AS-3 version of this pack for longer races.  I will eventually purchase one as the MS-1 is probably too small for expeditions.
               I ended up deciding that for the time being that I don’t want the larger pack and I start looking at my teammates Osprey Talon 22’s (22L storage).  They seem to like them and try to sell me on their highlights, but every time I spy theirs I don’t see much I like.  I decide that is not fair and head to a local retailer to try one on.  I grab a Talon 22 and it immediately feels heavier than my MS-1.  I start to look at the “suspension system” that is supposed to balance the weight for comfort, but then I notice the lack of forward pockets.  I also notice the hip pockets are small and hard to reach and remember my teammates ripped up mesh hip pockets and ripped up mesh outer back pocket.  The mesh on my MS-1 never ripped.  I set it down and tell the salesman I’m not interested.  I tell him I just want my MS-1 back.  I remember my teammate telling me that Osprey has a lifetime warranty, so I decide that I would drive home and try to contact Out There Packs to see if they can repair my pack, replace it, or give me a discount on a new MS-1. 

Larry Lazo loving his MS-1 like a baby and fingering his...what? Yuck!
Karl Kilthau in the background mesmerized by Larry. 

                I contact Mike Kloser of Out There Packs, tell him about my situation and send him some pictures.  He explains to me what I thought I would hear that the repair would be too costly because the entire main zipper would need to be replaced.  He offers me a new MS-2 at a great discount and I snatch one up quickly.  I want to mention that Mike helped me all through the week and over the weekend answering my many questions and offering me advise.  He also shipped my new pack in time for the upcoming race I was preparing for that next weekend.  I doubt you will get this type of service anywhere else.  Mike is awesome, so much so that I hit him up for a TeamBOR sponsorship and he agreed!
Scott Shaw's Brand New MS-2!

                I chose a black MS-2 because it had the new removable hip belt option and still had the mesh pockets instead of rip stop nylon.  I chose the mesh over the rip stop because it held up much better on my MS-1.  I believe the blue MS-2 had mesh, and the orange had more rip stop.  The MS-2 has bigger hip pockets!  It also has dual bladder attachments.  I don’t know if I will use the removable hip belt, but it is a cool idea.  I will try it out before I dismiss it. 
Add a Hip Pack Pocket to make your
removable belt hold more.
Removable belt with Hip Pack Pocket installed.
I have been using the removable hip belt webbing adjusters to move my hip pockets fore and aft.  The pack also has webbing tail stowage and a trekking tow attachment.  It does have that smaller quick adjust belt buckle, but I’m just going to try and get used to it (no modifying this pack).  I just find that I grab the wrong strap when trying to buckle without looking.  I would like to have stowage for the adjustable tails as I usually set mine and forget about them.  The pack still has all the cool features of the MS-1, but is just new and improved.  It is also slightly bigger.  Mike's specs below.

"Compact and feature-rich, our MS-2’s lighter weight means more comfort and energy for “done-in-a-day” outings, such as adventure racing, climbing, short ski tours, bike adventures, or just walking around town. It offers a full-featured, ultra-comfortable design in a versatile and ventilated day-pack. Offering highly efficient and accessible storage options, while exhibiting a simplified fit with upgraded style and materials. One of the highlights of the new MS-2 pack is the detachable Hip Belt, which doubles as a separate Hip Pack.

  • Colors – Black, Blue, Orange
  • 2 in 1 Hip Belt– Airmesh lined, with NEW -ergonomic 1” waist belt webbing & buckle. NEW -Adjustable width buckle system under back panel, NEW-Hip Belt detaches from pack for use as separate Hip Pack
  • “Beaver Tail Pockets”™– 4 easy access pockets on shoulder straps (2 zip, NEW -1 water resistant) NEW -Velcro attachment for swapping with Bottle Tail accessory pockets
  • Stow Pocket– NEW Zipper pocket on bottom of pack with towline/key ring tab, and NEW -Ice Axe tip slots
  • 2 Accessory Webbing Loops– Bottom of pack with buckles for Ice axe, poles or skis NEW -Adjustable buckle added to 2nd strap
  • Accessory Bungee Cords– Bungees with NEW -squeeze cord lock hooks and webbing tabs for attaching helmet
  • Internal Stretch Mesh– NEW – 4-way stretch mesh on internal pockets for more pocket storage volume
  • Elastic Webbing Loops NEW – Elastic keepers to gather excess webbing on shoulder straps and chest strap
  • 4  External Pockets – 2 side easy access, one lg. helmet compatible, one zippered. Note; NEW Orange model, all external pockets on main pack body are Rip stop nylon

Packed with Features

In addition to the NEW upgraded features, the MS-2 incorporates the signature features listed below:

  • Rip Stop Nylon – Durable, silicon treated water resistant, light weight construction
  • Foam Padded Venting  – Airmesh covered foam venting on back panel
  • Ergonomic Shoulder Straps– Airmesh wrapped perforated foam for enhanced comfort
  • Chest Strap– Vertical and width adjustable, with integrated buckle whistle
  • 2 Hip Belt Pockets– Integrated, easy access zippered pockets (one water resistant)
  • 2 Hip Belt Water Bottle Pockets– Convenient easy to reach side mesh pockets
  • Hydration Bladder Compartment– Internal sleeve-compatible to stow laptop
  • Hydration tube External Port– Two internal webbing/hook attachments for bladder
  • 3 Internal Organizer Pockets– One mesh pockets (1 zippered), 1 nylon organizer pocket
  • 4-Side Compression Straps– Double as Ski or Snowboard attachment straps
  • Top Zipper Pocket – With waterproof zipper, stows strap for diagonal ski attachment
  • 4 Nylon/plastic Webbing Tabs– Sewn on bottom of pack for attaching camping gear"
One bad ass MS-2!

                I have used my MS-2 in two races now.  The first thing I noticed is that I didn’t really realize it was on until late in the race.  That’s a great thing!  The forward pockets are even better than the MS-1’s.  The only issue I find is that the removable hip belt sometimes pops out some, but that’s probably because I moved the hip pockets forward some by loosening the straps.  It’s really no big deal as when you go to put it on you just have to push them back in, but I wish I didn’t have to. (Update 01-06-18) just realized I didn't have the straps installed correctly and now they stay in much better).  Another positive is that the bladder stays in place better with the new attachment.  I set up the trekking tow, but I couldn’t get my teammates to try it out, which probably saved my legs. 

Mesh chest pockets and nylon covered straps on MS-1
One H2O resistant chest pocket and mesh covered straps on MS-2.

Larger hip bags on MS-2.

"Camelbak" tail accumulator modification.

MS-1 front, MS-2 rear bladder attachment.

One concern I have on MS-2 is that the heavy duty mesh and rip stop nylon has been replaced with stretchy "cheaper Osprey looking" mesh.  We will see if it holds up inside the pack.

                I couldn’t let my old trusty MS-1 die so I tore out the old zipper and searched all over for a new one.  I couldn’t find the exact one, but I bought one that was a close second and sewed it back in (I should have asked Mike where to get one).  It functions and looks good from the outside, but I made a mess of the inside.  If I would have taken my time I could have made it better, but it was better than throwing an awesome pack away.  I can always clean up the inside later if I want.  I will use my MS-1 for training and my MS-2 for racing, which will hopefully extend the life of my MS-2.  I could also sell a bunch of my Camelbaks and my MS-1 and buy some more Out There's!

             Our team almost exclusively runs either Out There Packs or Osprey Packs.  We have a large AR team with around 30 members.  I think Osprey is slightly beating out Out There as the most used pack on the team, but that is because our team is full of cheap bastards.  I need to figure out that percentage.  Rough estimate looks like a 60/40 split.  Now that Out There is sponsoring Team BOR I think that balance will shift into Out There's favor.  Why buy a pack that is not designed for adventure racing when Out There Packs are?  It seems like a simple decision to me.


Alane Wollins new MS-2.

I think she loves her pack.

I have asked the team to give me honest feedback on their Out There and Osprey Packs and will post it here.

Osprey Packs = "Belt pockets, but not very big. Had held up really well. Has tiny pocket on shoulder strap, but can't fit much in it; It has whistle to satisfy AR requirements. About the right size for up to 24 hr race. Fairly simple; not a ton of different pockets. Water resistant at least. Not adjustable. Like the orange color!" JESSIE BROWN

"Scott, I’m still not convinced that the MS 1 can hold 24 hours worth of AR gear. If you have the cash to buy expensive packable gear (a fleece for example) and all the mandatory gear you may have to pack for a race that’s my AS 2 (? I think that is the one I use for 24 hour). So what I’m getting at is recommend that if your only gonna buy 1 bag then get the larger of the two. Also, I have had my MS1 for over 4 years and I have only had to do 1 repair and it was my fault. Not the bags. Hope this helps." LARRY LAZO
Larrys MS-1. He also has and AS-2...spoiled brat!

"I’ve used the MS-1 for up to 84-hrs. We had the ability to re-pack every 24-hrs. It worked great!!  And it still had the ability to clip on lots of gear if needed. A larger pack could give you extra space, but extra space could mean just packing extra gear which just adds extra weight." PAUL FRISBEE

"Agree Paul. While I have not raced that long if you have the ability to repack for different sections that would make a huge difference. Also, good points on the outside of the pack. Mike made sure there were plenty of tie down points on the outside." LARRY LAZO

"Osprey 22L Talon.

Pros: large main pocket works great for storing large amounts of gear. Pack has a small outboard zipper pocket on top and one inside the main pack for storing smaller pieces (e blanket, lighter etc) so you don’t have to empty the pack at gear checks. Built in helmet carrying system. Integrated pole (think paddles or walking sticks) carrying system. Stiffer backing between the bladder and back keeps the pack fitting the same whether a full or empty bladder is installed. Many more load adjustments on the straps than any camelbak I have owned.

Osprey will repair/replace the pack for free with their all mighty guarantee. As with most packs, integrated whistle.

Cons: hip pouches are a bit small.  Mesh on kangaroo pouch and hip pockets will tear over time with bushwhacking. Mesh tends to get sticky if you put empty gel wrappers in it. (Annoying thing, not really a con)" KEVIN MINTON

Kevin's Osprey Talon 22
Kevin's dog Osprey...Kevin likes Osprey packs we guess.

Team Mates Osprey (not sure of model). I have to buy an Out There AS-3!  I also want the 45-L for backpacking - Ahab.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

2017 Alpine Shop's Castlewood 8 by Scott Shaw

2017 Alpine Shop Castlewood 8 by Scott Shaw

After a crazy amount of switching people around on the Team BOR teams (Sorry Emily and Erl), I found myself on a two person male team (Team BOR - Quadfathers) with Paul Frisbee.  Having raced with Paul several times before on 4 person teams I felt like we would have a really good fast race.  The Team BOR teams consisted of 15 members and one Off The Front racer, Lo Mattson.  Team BOR teams listed below.

Team BOR – David Beattie, Amy Crews, Alane Wolins, Jessie Brown – (the Team BOR name always goes to our fastest 4 person coed team, so no hyphen needed.) (– 4PC)

Team BOR – Oh My Quad – Cassie Bart, Robert Bart, John Naas, Tim Johanns (– 4PC)

Team BOR – Oh Quad Why? -  Jeremy Jamerson, Scott Herbst (– 2PM)

Team BOR – Quadfathers – Scott Shaw, Paul Frisbee (– 2PM)

Team BOR – 2Tops Racing – Larry Lazo, Karl Kilthau (– 2PM) Too cool to have quad in the name?

It’s BORing Off the Front – Steve Fuller, Loreen Mattson (– 2PC)

Still Married? – Reanna Person, Kevin Minton (– 2PC) Shouldn’t this be The BOR Minton’s?

                So after all this teammate / team switching I started changing my race plans.  Instead of going easy, I decided Paul and I could go flat out.  I also decided that since the start/finish venue requested no alcohol, I wouldn’t drink before or during the race.  I have been testing different medicines to alleviate the pain in my knees during races.  During training I don’t use any meds and just “listen to my knees.” If they feel good, I go hard, if they hurt, I go easy.  In the last few races I have tried aspirin, Ibuprofen, Tylenol (Acetaminophen), Alcohol, and Aleve (Naproxen).  I don’t consume caffeine at all what so ever, so I can’t try that; mainly because I have a crazy addiction to Coca-Cola.  I also don’t like using Western Medicine as I think Western doctors push too many meds, so at Berryman this year I used alcohol, which worked great removing the pain, but also made me very drunk during one portion of the race.  The effects caught me off guard some, but we still had a very good race.  On the med side everything seems to just dull the pain for a short time and have some serious side effects to the body’s organs, but Aleve has been working the best.  So I decided to pop two Aleve’s and give it all I had.  I also changed my plans of using tows as I didn’t think we would need them, but this decision was a bad one as I will tell later.  I tried to pack as light as possible so I could be the mule and Paul could be Check Point Charlie.  We didn’t really decide who would navigate as both of us can.  We met the Team at Alane’s, plotted the maps, picked a route, and crashed at my house.

                In the morning we quickly showered (separately), dressed, loaded the Jeep, and dropped the bikes off at Castlewood.  We then dropped Paul’s truck at the Learning Center (note: we were the only team that followed instructions).  We got some Mc’Ds and headed to the start.  After numerous pictures and the pre-race meeting we lined up for a team photo (thanks SuperKate).  Paul then made the comment that we should move up in the pack; we didn’t move up far enough. 

                We started running in a herd.  Paul ran like a stallion, breathing effortlessly, legs and feet graceful as if he were dancing.  His backpack small and light clung to his back like a jockey on his race horse, and then there was me, hoofs stomping, breath roaring, snot spewing, sweat dripping.  My back pack bounced around my back like kegs of Budweiser on the wagon, pulled by the old used up Clydesdale they don’t ever let you see.  We moved up the ranks after passing several teams, but that passing was taking precious time away from us.  We finally got into a good pace, well my pace as I grabbed on to and held on to Paul’s pack.  As we passed Mickey, he said, “Oh look, Paul is blowing up Scott early!” I thought, “Yes, yes he is!” We passed and passed as teams turned off to CP’s 1 and 2.  Our plan was to hit CP4 first to avoid traffic, back track to CP2 and then cut across to CP1, then 3, then 5.  I stopped a little early to look at the map.  Paul said we have to keep going a little to the trail.  I thought, “how does he know that, he has no map.”  I looked at the map and realized Paul was correct. We ran a little farther and could see the CP from the trail.  We ran up the reentrant to it with only one other team.  We then took the trail around to CP2 as planned and ran into a whole lot of BOR’s coming in the opposite direction.  With no time for photos we pressed on to CP1 and saw Lo and Steve. 

We then took the trail to CP3.  I noticed a lot of the teams were moving really quick.  Paul had a zippered glove to stow the passport, but I noticed it took him some time to get it out, unfold it, punch, fold it, and zip it back in.  Instead of taking the single track trail to CP5 we planned to take the asphalt back to single track.  This was a wise decision I think and we caught a lot of teams, but that meant a lot of traffic and we had to slow down in a single file line.  I thought about passing, but I am not a real fast runner, so I stayed behind a team that was running a little too slow for me.  The plan was to recover and then pass.  We picked up CP5 and then ran in the same line to CP6.  From 6 we had a slightly different plan than the others and we stayed on the trail and ran around the woods as most teams ran through the woods.  We ended up at CP7 at about the same time as the other teams.  We bushwhacked to CP8.  I started getting real tired as Paul was moving effortlessly up the hillside.  I asked Paul to slow down and then I grabbed on his pack again.  At least the pack allowed him to tow me some, but I wish we would have set up a running/trekking tow.  We found CP8 then bushwhacked to the trail that led to CP9.  That same trail took us most the way to CP10.  We whacked up the hill to the road, scaled the concrete wall, and then ran the road all the way to CP11. 
All this time Paul was calling out the turns and strategy by memory!  He then tells me he has a semi-photographic memory and I believe him because he is right on the money.  I think I should have let him navigate and I should have been CP Charlie, but as I listen to our breath I realize I still made the right decision.  We stop for a quick photo op at CP11 and move down to CP12.  Paul says, “I don’t have CP11!” I said, “Very funny! You’re f@cking with me right?”  He says, “No.” We head back up the trail and get CP11.  At least it was really close by.  Paul blames it on Emily, I blame it on Paul and tell him he can’t do that again.  We run back down past CP12 and I tell another team that all CPs are optional hoping that us passing it confuses them and they don’t punch it; sneaky right?  Extreme Electrical passes us in the confusion and we lose about 3 spots.  We run to CP13 and transition fairly quickly into the canoe.

                We get into the water and Paul makes a few strokes on one side of the boat and then switches and then does the same again.  I am confused on his technique and ask what he is doing.  He says he is counting 5 stokes on each side.  I ask if he is doing that because he is tired.  We have only been in the water a minute.  I tell him to try 10, 15, 20, 50, 100, the more the better.  The less you switch the more you have your paddle in the water, the more you have the paddle in the water, the faster you are.  I tell him that I am really good at the paddle.  I ask him to trust me.  I ask him not to steer the front of the boat unless I ask him to.  I ask him to never brace, just to J-stroke, and only if I ask him to steer the front.  I ask him to stay in the current at all times and tell him to avoid the “V”’s pointing at you and shoot down the “V”’s pointing away from you.  I ask him to stay in the outer turns as that is where the current is.  I ask him to watch the paddlers ahead, paddle consistently until you see their strokes wain or get sloppy, then their boat will veer to one side, and then we will attack on the opposite side.  I tell him to “hug” obstacles and avoid canoes.  I forget Paul really likes to hug and hug is a bad description of what I am asking.  I say, “hug is a bad description as it implies touching; don’t touch, get close as possible, with no touching, “intimidate” will be our word.”  Paul likes to get really close to the other canoes.  I tell him that is bad when passing as the paddles get intertwined.  I tell him to follow one side of them in their wake and then pass wide, “Shake and Bake Ricky Bobby!” We get our paddling in sync and I tell him that I am the Captain when paddling and he is the Captain in everything else.  We pass team after team and I know we are flying.  To intimidate the other teams I watch their strokes and when I see a weak stroke I tell Paul to attack and I start singing Gilligan’s Island or Jimmy Buffett’s A Pirate Looks at Forty, which I pretty much know the entire song by heart.  I see the teams looking back and as they do their strokes get worse, so I sing louder.  We pass everyone we see!  We are killing it!  I tell Paul that even if he gets tired to keep digging as after the canoe we don’t need our arms again, but to hang on to the bike handlebars.  I tell him to use his core and burn his arms.   Paul is a great sport and did well listening to all my barking orders and my terrible singing, even not being able to understand me saying “J-stroke.”  Another team agreed with Paul that it sounded like I was saying, “Help, joke on the right” (I actually can’t remember what they said I was saying, but I believe them that it was crazy nonsense).  I told him no waving to anyone as it took away a paddle stroke and he smiled and said there is always time to wave at kids.  I said that’s creepy and no waving allowed, but then he caught me waving to a photographer.  We brought the canoe in to Castlewood beach and threw it on our shoulders and walked into transition.  We had passed so many teams that I didn’t want to lose the spots to transition, so I hurried Paul along in changing shoes and eating.  He said he needed to eat and I said me too, but let’s eat while we move.  Larry and Karl were there in transition, Mickey’s team had just landed, and I really wanted to beat both of them. 

                As soon as I we got on the bikes, with a mouth full of food, I realized I missed a CP. Paul’s photographic memory kicked in just as I was finding it on the map and we agreed it was just down the trail and we had barely missed it.  We picked up CP15 and headed to Grotpeter.  I started to follow another team instinctually, but Paul quickly corrected me to go to the trail head.  Here we had planned to go straight up Grotpeter, but being familiar with the trail I decided to change our plan and take the long switch back around.  As we did, I realized it was a lot rougher going uphill as it is going down and thought I may have just made a bad decision and may have hurt some of Paul’s riding power. We climbed to CP16 then descended Rollercoaster to CP17.  We easily found CP18 off the trail junction and took the direct path trail cut off to the road.  I noticed Paul wasn’t moving very fast on the single track, but he doesn’t ride single track often and is more a runner.  I think on the road we will move fast again, but on the way to CP’s 19-24 I notice Paul is struggling and I wish I would have had a tow because I feel as I am moving very slow and have a ton of energy.  I keep reminding him to shovel food in when he can.  I try to hold his bike as I eat and check the map and he punches CP’s.  Our team work is still solid and we are passing teams and not getting passed very often.  I just keep kicking myself for not having a tow.  We move slowly to CP24 and grab the bonus map.  I look at the bonus map and take off.  Paul is getting an Extreme Electrical whisky hand out and he asks if I want some.  I hear SuperKate ask Mickey if he wants to strategize and I tell Paul to move!  I want to get the CPs pretty much in reverse.  I know these trails well and take the trail directly to Cedar Bluff CP42, then CP40, then CP41, then CP39.  I tell Paul to not let me forget CP39.  We see Adam Rybar, a non-racer this year, but a friend, and quickly say hello.  This slight interruption messes me up and I say I don’t want to ride the sand traps.  I say we have to go West to avoid them and Paul looks at me like I am a mad man and says, “you mean East.” I say, “sorry I have my map upside-down pointing in my direction.”  Paul is right again and we avoid the traps and make it back to CP24.  I am confused as whether to stop here or not and they tell me we can move on to CP25.  I had almost lost Paul a few times back in the Stinging Nettle, so I slow down a lot down the Al Foster and curse myself for not having a tow.  Paul falls farther and farther behind and I start worrying that he is bonking.  He says he is cramping up and I tell him to eat and drink and spin until we get back to single track.  I notice he is eating mostly sweets so I give him some salty pretzels.  We move up Rock Hollow to Zombie and get CP25.  Here we had planned to avoid the single track and take Rock Hollow up, but I change our plan to stay on the single track as I don’t want Paul climbing hard at the end of the race.  We hit tons of traffic and Paul drops behind and teams start passing us a lot.  On the way up to CP25 I see teams bikewhacking and tell them riding is faster.  I come around the switch back and their female team mate says isn’t that the guy who just told us it was faster and easier to ride?  I say, “Yes, that was me” as I fly by.  I round the next switch back and giggle as I pass them again and their navigator laughs too.  We ride on to CP26-29.  I can see Mickey just around the switch back, but Paul just doesn’t have the gas to get to them.  I see Larry and Karl and Paul gives them an ass chewing for leaving their bikes behind, since that is the mode of travel.  I listen to Paul and notice a lot of teams don’t have bikes.  We ride on and Larry goes the wrong way, so I know we have beaten them as they are backtracking to a missed CP.  I really really want to catch Mickey’s team and beat them, but Paul is seriously falling behind.  I stop leading and pulling away and ride behind him, thinking it will be better for his mental state.  I keep telling him we are almost done.  One last big hill climb and we are done.  He says, “There is no beer!” He says it and I feel his heart break and his will to race is over.  There is no reason for him to ride hard anymore and I feel his disappointment.  We ride up Rock Hollow and I try to stay side by side with him or slightly behind him and tell him spin until the last steep part and then push until you cross the line.  I get in position and push him up the hill the best I can.  We finish and Mickey rubs it in that he beat us, I congratulate SuperKate, and I think we are the first BOR team in until I see Jeremy laying relaxing in the grass. 

                Paul and I had a great race, but we would have moved so much faster with running and riding tows set up.  Our effort in the canoe got us the third fastest paddle split, with Jeremy and Scott getting the fastest! GO TEAMBOR PADDLERS!  Paul and I made small mistakes, which added up over time.  I thought about if I were a stronger runner, I should have been the CP Charlie, and Paul have navigated and been the mule.  I wish I could memorize the map like he did.  I have never seen someone do that before.  It was amazing!  Our strategy of going to CP4 first seemed like it backfired on us some.  I think going around Grotpeter was a bad decision on my part.  I think Paul’s zippered glove took some time and Jeremy’s retractable lanyard would have helped a lot.  I am thinking of having a mule bag with team gear that can be passed along during different modes of travel.  Paul could have navigated the trek and muled, while I punched CPs, then on the bikes I could have navigated and muled, while he punched CPs.  We should have eaten in the canoe and early in the canoe.  I think the effort we put out in the canoe is what led to Paul’s bonk.  On the bikes, Paul said he never had time to recover from the cramping, and if I would have towed he probably would have recovered.  I know grabbing on to his pack as we ran helped me tremendously.  He probably felt that 220 something pounds latch on to him like a leach, but just holding on steadied my pace.  It was a great race, no navigation really, but fast, real fast!  Writing this is making me want to do it again. 

                We hung around, ate, met our sponsor Dr. Brian Laiderman of Optimal Performance Center, showed him Amy’s butt, took some pics (none of her butt), and cheered our Team BOR teams as they crossed the finish line. 

What great weather, fun race, and great friends!  I skipped the post-race party to go to my wife’s company Christmas Party, got really hammered, got sick, screwed up my recovery massively, and was sore for 3 days after, and contracted someone’s illness and missed a day of work to feeling just plain poopy; so is an Adventure Racers life!  God Bless and I love all you crazy bastards; except Mickey and John…I hate those guys!  – Ahab