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Bonk Hard….Chill or be Chilled

Note: This Race Report of the Bonk Hard Chill 12 Hour Adventure Race on February 7th, 2009 was originally published on Team Redwheel’s blog. However, since it is so damn good, and since it was written by our very own Bob Jenkins, I thought that it just had to be re-posted here.

Bonk Hard….Chill or be Chilled

By: Bob Jenkins

{The following is a really long post about a really long race. The real events included in this real story are real and they really happened to real people…really. I chose real green for this text because it’s really my favorite color.}

How can I possibly summarize 12 hours of adventure racing into words that would do it justice? It has long been my opinion that the words “epic” and “surreal” are so grossly overused that their meaning is lost. I’ll break one of my own rules right now by saying this race was epically surreal….or was it sureally epic? Who knows, but the fact remains that the race is worthy of both words.

Jason and Laura, (i.e. Bonk Hard Racing) put on a race that tested its participants’ athleticism, intelligence, and character.

From the moment we walked into the pre-race meeting/pasta dinner it was evident that this was a very well organized race. Volunteers were everywhere, all having very specific duties to which they tended with enthusiasm and attention to detail. One such person was “Diane the spaghetti lady”, who informed me that I could eat all the spaghetti and lasagna that I wished. I have to say, I’ve never seen a green sleeveless sweater look sexier. I love you, Diane:

Diane

At the meeting we met Jason and Laura, whom comprise the brains of Bonk Hard Racing. The enthusiasm these two have for their sport is intoxicating. There was a raffle for a ton of free stuff donated by the sponsors and Sonya and I were lucky enough to win some cool North Face stuff. I don’t remember what she got, but I won two pairs of $17 hiking socks and a bitchin’ camping bag. We had a good time meeting the other racers, and it was hilarious to watch them all stare at Sonya when she’d walk across the room:)

Here we see Corey taking his turn making all the other dudes in the room think that Sonya was with him:. Mack on, Corey….Mack on.

coreysonya

After being given our maps and clue sheets, the Dragon and I jumped into the “Prestige Worldwide Tour-Bus” and headed off into the woods to “Boats ‘n’ Hoes Headquarters. HQ was a pretty pimpin’ little cabin back in the woods w/ a wood burning stove and no electricity. As such, we plotted the checkpoints on the map by way of flashlight. Very cool stuff

lukemap

bobzackmap

We finished the mapwork and did a final gear check before it was time to hit the sack. Sadly I had forgotten my pillow, so I used the next best thing….my (freshly laundered) bike shorts. Hey man, ya gotta have a pillow, right? When the alarm went off I think I had gotten about 20 minutes of sleep. The Dragon whipped up some power-cakes for us and we headed out to drop off the bikes and get to the starting line.

As we got closer to the starting line we noticed that there were dudes warming up for the race by running up and down the street….WTF?!?!?…Like you’re not gonna “warm up” in the first 2 hours of the race??? Freaks.

Anyhow, one thing I thought was awesome was the playing of the national anthem before the race. It added a touch of class, and (though this was a recorded version,) it was beautifully sung. The national anthem was exactly the kind of motivation we needed to get going at 6 in the morning.

They said GO and we took off. Some people ran and some people walked…we did more of an “old-lady working-out-in-the-mall-pumping-her-arms-and-swinging-her-ass” walk. Damn we’re sexy.

Checkpoints 1 and two came pretty easily, and it was interesting to see the incredible pace some of the other teams were holding. These dudes weren’t here to play games, they had to have been running at an 8-minute mile pace thru the woods. With no desire to kill ourselves, we pressed on at our endurance pace; run a bit, walk a bit.

I guess it was somewhere along the way to ckpt 2 that a pissed off deer came charging past us. Apparently I’ve been living alone w/my 2 dogs too long, because my first instinct was to run the deer down and eat it. Much to my chagrin, she was far too fast and I wound up giving up chase after a couple hundred yards.

Not long after checkpoiont 3 or 4, (?) the teams were already very much spread out. Early in the game we had formed a sort of alliance w/ Zach & Ben’s team, I think they called themselves “The Knucke-children” or something likle that . We agreed that at it was “every team for itself”, if you fall behind nobody is going to wait for you. The 4 of us trudged along, watching the faster racers lumbering ahead of us.

My 1st brain-fart of the day came just as we had begun a full frontal hiking assault up a long paved hill. We were going straight into the sun, so I reached down to grab my beloved El Toro’s……only to find that they were gone. The only pair of sunglasses I’ve ever loved had now been swallowed down into the bowels of the Ozark wilderness. My heart grew heavy, but the race must go on.

Checkpoint 5 is an orange flag that will forever live in infamy. Somehow we had gotten sidetracked by miscounting backroads or ridges or something. We spent around an hour and 20 minutes trekking up and down ridges trying to find that S.O.B. We actually found ckpt 6 first, but decided to take the moral high-ground and not punch our ticket ’til we got ckpt 5 first.

Checkpoint 6 was home to some beautiful rock formations. We punched our passports and took some pics. Here we see Ben & Zach posing for the cover-art of their upcoming boyband cd, entitled “So Happy Together” :

zackbenrock

From further away:

rockdistance

After the checkpoint 5 debaucle we had the task of finding a way to make up for lost time. There was a road-route we could follow to get to ckpt 7, or we could bushwack our way thru some furry woods and cut out some distance. After careful deliberation we decided to charge thru the woods. Much to our satisfaction the woods were sparse and easily traveled. We made good time, and to my memory we got ckpt 7 & 8 without any further problems.

From ckpt 8 to 9, we were on our mountain bikes carrying all our required gear plus the extra food/water for the paddling leg. A bit awkward riding w/ only one hand, but this was a quick section mostly downhill to the canoes, so no problems there.

Upon arriving at the canoe station, volunteers checked our passports and sent us to the boats. I gained immediate respect from one of the volunteers for having my CXMAS spoke card. (Special thanks to Casey Ryback and the Team Seagal pimp-squad for making me look like a legit biker)

We chugged a couple cans of Powerthirst, (the official energy drink of “Boats ‘n’ Hoes), and got in the boat.

It wasn’t cold at all that day, but it was windy as hell on the water. It seemed like we were always paddling into the wind, and I have to admit that I had not done any upper-body training for this part of the race. I was feeling the pain before we made it to the first paddling checkpoint and feeling like a jackass. Fortunately for me, Luke is a master at piloting/powering a canoe, so we made the most of my mediocre paddling. Every now and then some asshole in a motorized boat would go flying past us throwing a bunch of huge waves. I nearly “deloaded” a few times, but we made it thru alright.

When we got close enough to the land-based checkpoints, one racer was required to stay with the canoe while the other trekked landward to find the checkpoint. When it was my turn to run after the checkpoints I did everything I could on land to make up for my slowness on the water. It seemed that we would find land usually around the same time as 2 or 3 other teams, and that really added a sense of urgency to finding the checkpoints. At one point I smashed my knee on a rock and got a nice little gash. The blood running down my leg totally made me look like a badass, and I could tell it intimidated the other racers……either that or they thought I was a clumsy dumbass. Either way, I’ll still get a pretty cool scar. (chicks dig scars)

At some point I was bitching about what a horrible paddler I was, and the Dragon decided to lay some wisdom on me.. He said,”Don’t push the water, pull the canoe”. I nodded to act like I understood, but it was obvious that fatigue had taken its toll on his brain and he was spouting jibberish. I ate a GU pack and tried to focus. About an hour later I was still thinking about WTH he meant by “pull the canoe”, and all at once it just made sense. I changed my rowing position and drove the paddle back, feeling the canoe lurch forward. The Dragon confirmed my little discovery saying, “I don’t know WTF you just did, but keep doing it!!”

(Cue the viking music)

Other teams’ canoes could be seen in the distance, growing in size as we reeled them in. Boats ‘n’ Hoes finally had our shit together and it was time to distribute some whoop-ass. As we closed the gap on another 2-man team I decided to use the patented “Chris Bopp maneuver”. This is when you engage your opponent in conversation to deplete his 02 levels. It worked beautifully; 30 seconds of conversation had these mofos gasping for air and wondering what had just happened. Exhilerated and re-energized from this small victory we sludged onward thru the growing wind and waves.

We passed a few more canoes before hitting dry land again for the next transition. Our new objective was to securely fasten our bikes into the canoe and paddle an estimated mile (?) to the biking section. We did a pretty shitty job of balancing the boat and nearly paid the price. I was in the front of the canoe w/ the top-tube of my mtb up my ass when we were suddenly hit crossways by a wave and a gust of wind at the same time. The whole thing went to shit in an instant, as the boat was now positioned sideways to the wind and rocking with the waves. Through a flurry of profanity and panicked pelvic thrusting we somehow managed to not capsize the boat. The Dragon was calm, but I’m pretty sure there was a bit of urine in my pants.

Now it was time for the cycling leg of the race. After being in the canoe for that long I couldn’t wait to get out and crank some pedals. The first part of the bike leg to ckpt 18 was a monster climb. Since there had been so much rain lately, there was zero single track riding for the bike portion; it was all gavel roads. There was certainly no shortage of quad shredding climbs tho, and we found ourselves gasping for air at the top more than once. There were even some climbs that had people pushing their bikes to the top. Here we see Luke & Zach ascending one of the longer climbs of the day:

zacklukegravel

I think I speak for everyone when I say one hill stood out among the others. This hill was an absolute soul-crusher. The higher you climbed, the steeper it got and the looser the gravel was. Towards the top the road turned into a quad shredding washboard of pain before finally leveling off into a gloriously flat hilltop. The view from the top overlooked a beautiful Missouri landscape.

As we pressed onward, Mother Nature obviously thought we were going too fast. She took it upon herself to bitch-slap us in the faces w/ a strong, gusty headwind. The rest of that bike-leg is a bit of a blur. Mostly we just rode into the wind and watched the miles tick by. We held a solid pace but passed only a few other racers.

Then came the church. The church was a checkpoint packed with volunteers who had prepared sammiches, cookies, lemonade, and a host of other amazing foods and drinks. They were a jovial group of people and I hope they know how much we appreciated their service. We got our new list of checkpoints and coordinates, and it was time get back on the bikes. Here are some pics of the volunteers:

volunteers

Here we see Ben making friends w/ the locals:

benvolunteers

The ladies making the quilt were the ones who baked the cookies. They spoke of a man named “Chadwick” who was late arriving for the quilt-club meeting.

quilters

With our bellies and our camelbaks full, we set out to kick some more ass. Heading northward we covered approximately 13 miles to the next checkpoint.

The next checkpoint was a transition area where we were met by our home-boy Ira. CX racers will remember Ira from our drunken shenanigans after the “Bubba in the Dark” race. (The one where Santa Claus whooped my ass). Anyhow, he had a cooler full of beer (for himself) and some very specific instructions for us. He informed us that we were entering into a portion of the race where checkpoints could be achieved in any order and you could get as many or as few as you wanted. The only catch was that we had to be back to the beach and have our tickets punched by 5. If not, we would be docked one checkpoint per minute and possibly disqualified. With Zach and Ben still with us we pressed on. The ground was completely saturated in this area, basically turning it into a spongy sloppy mess.

By this time of the day I had probably twisted my ankles and fallen down 20-30 times. It was almost comical, but I was in a shitload of pain and not hiding it very well. I tried using a walking stick to lean on, but that didn’t help much and it only made me look like an even bigger pussy. My “fat guy knees” were giving me problems too, and I have to admit that my spirit was pretty much broken. Delusions of grandeur were washed from my mind, quickly replaced by an overwhelming sense of failure. I had already started trying to figure out how I was going to explain such an epic failure to my friends and family.

But Luke had the answer…….drugs. He gave me a handful of pain-relievers and in about 20 minutes I was a brand new man. With a renewed spirit, a fully healed mangina, and a mouth full of “Sport Beans” we began our assault on the next checkpoint. The section of woods we had entered was so thick that trying to follow the map was worthless. It was time for the Dragon to pull some Macguyver shit. He whipped out his compass and started firing “azimuths”. We would slash our way thru the woods for a while and then he would shoot another one. We repeated this until we found ourselves at the next checkpoint. It was soon clear to me that Luke Lamb is the Ron Jeremy of orienteering….maybe not as hairy though.

I think it was at this point that Ben & Zach parted ways with us to get back in time to make bike repairs.

Now that we were feeling confident, it was time to do something bold. In order to save time and distance we decided to make a straight line to the next checkpoint by crossing a creek and going up a steep embankment. This part was truly epic, we were basically grabbing small trees and roots and climbing the embankment like a ladder. This was the real deal, and it felt good when we got to the top.

Two checkpoints later we decided it was time to head back over to see Ira. Going down the embankment wasn’t gonna happen, so we found a slightly less epic way to descend the hill. We made it back to Ira’s HQ to find that he was still in jovial spirits. No time to chat though, so we rolled off on our way back to the canoes.

The sun was beginning to set as we loaded our bikes into the canoe. As a result, the volunteers mandated that we wear our headlights before heading out into the water. We did a much better job balancing the canoe this time, and off we went. There were probably 5 other teams ahead of us in the canoes, and they were all beautifully outlined in a perfect Lake Ozarks sunset. It was a total calendar shot, hopefully someone got a photo.

Anyway, realizing that the end of the race was near, Luke & I fixed our sights on the canoes ahead and started to really embrace the pain. We covered a lot of water in a short period of time, beached the canoe and climbed onto our mtb’s one last time. As luck would have it, my rear brake was stuck in the “ON” position, so we just unhooked it and took off. No time for dicking around, we needed to get out of there and up the road.

The path leading out of the transition area that had been such a pleasant downhill earlier in the day was now a steep-uphill carnival of pain. A 4-person team about 40 yards ahead of us had begun the climb and were looking pretty haggard. By way of non-verbal communication, the Dragon and I decided to crush these A-holes. I know we all give him a lot of shit about his “deload lifts,” but that weightlifting came in handy as he mashed the cranks on his 157 pound Hardrock Disc MTB going up that final hill. We swung to the left of our blue-jerseyed prey and easily overcame them.

Basking in the glory of our triumphant destruction over the Blue-Man-Group, we sighted another 2-man team struggling with the next climb. These fuckers would be next. Luke clicked up a few gears and lead the charge. Restricted to my singlespeed, I ramped up the rpm’s and we took turns pushing the wind. In no time we were right next to them, but they weren’t giving up too easily. We decided it was time to pull another “Bopp Maneuver”, so I leaned over to the guy up front and said something about how it “wouldn’t be too much longer until Miller-Time.” When the dude turned to look at me, all I could see was hate and fatigue in his eyes. He seriously looked like he was on day 5 of a cocaine binge w/ no food or water. I knew that at any minute he would either keel over and die or pull out a machete and start killing people, so we simply passed them and mashed pedals until we had enough of a gap that they would not be a problem later in the race.

Reality was beginning to set in that we were going to finish the Bonk Hard Chill. The finish line was getting closer; we could already hear the cowbells and smell the spaghetti & baked potatoes. No one could be seen behind us, and there was no one to be seen ahead of us. I thought, “Holy shit, this is really going to happen.”

And it did. After a euphoria-induced last minute detour, (cough), we found the finish line and our race was over. 11 hours and 23 minutes had passed since we had first begun that morning.

Final results show “Boats ‘n’ Hoes” as finishing 6th of 19 in the 2-man team division, and 23rd of 52 overall. We surpassed our own expectations by far, and had an awesome time doing it. Before we started training for this race Luke and I didn’t even know each other, but thanks to this website and Bonk Hard Racing I’d have to say we each have a friend for life. The race may be over, but the feeling of pride for finishing this race will remain with me indefinitely. There are some captioned pics below for your viewing pleasure:

Our photo-tribute to the movie Wild Hogs

wildhogs

ckpt 6

bobcp6

Ben & I making sure we’ve packed all our required gear.

bobpack

benpack

Champion cyclocross racer Chris Bopp was also in attendance at the Chill

bopp

boatsnhoes

It just doesn’t get any more real than that.

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About Lukas Lamb

Husband to a wonderful wife, father to 4 incredible kids (3 daughters and 1 son), adventure racer, mountain biker, runner, lifter of weights, reader of books, and lover of life. He can be found on Google+

Posted on October 15, 2009, in Race Reports and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Note: This was my response to Bob’s race report, and it, too, was posted on Team Red Wheel’s blog.

    I gotta say that this is probably the best race report I’ve ever read – hilarious! I thought I’d throw in my two cents. I hope the other teams do so as well.

    Here are some of the Lows:
    – Being in the port-a-potty when the national anthem starts to play, and then realizing there was no F’n toilet paper. Thank God they left me the cardboard tubes!
    – Screwing up the orienteering on checkpoint 5. It kills me that I screwed up that badly.
    – I was F’n hurtin’ on the first part of the bike leg. I secretly wasn’t sure if I was going to make it. Bob (on a single-speed no less) carried my ass.
    – The paddle into the wind, which was steadily getting stronger, along with bigger waves and the bikes loaded horribly off-balance. That sucked.

    Here are some of the Highs:
    – Getting that first CP. Always a good feeling.
    – FINALLY finding CP 5.
    – Passing a few teams on the paddle (which is pretty hard to do, in my opinion)
    – The CP at the church with sandwiches, fruit, cookies, and quilting. Just what I needed to get my ass in gear for the remainder of the bike leg, and the volunteers there were awesome.
    – Seeing Bob haul ass through the woods with reckless abandon to get the CP’s while I stayed with the canoe. He was a man on a mission – arms flailing wildly, branches hitting him in the face, nearly falling into the lake several times.
    – Passing two teams on the bike right at the end.
    – The last stretch of biking to the finish line knowing that we were gonna make it.
    – Eating spaghetti, lasagna, and two baked potatoes with a half a pound of butter (which I learned from Bob) after the race.
    – The post-race hot shower (No, we didn’t shower together) to wash off the funk of racing 11+ hours.
    – Going to a bar at the Lake and actually witnessing a girl do a shot of tequila, vomit into said cup, and then drink it all down anyway. It was simply amazing.
    – And of course really getting to know Bob. Dude, if I was gay, I’d totally bang you.

    I guess that’s it from the Dragon. Oh, we actually took 22nd out of 53 teams, but who’s counting? I guess I am.

    Boats ‘N Hoes 4Eva!!!

  2. I will never tire of re-reading this story. It re-awakens all the memories from that weekend. We definitely need to do the Chill again in ’10

  3. Yeah, man. This race report keeps me motivated. Every time I re-read it, I relive the race. Can’t wait for the 2010 Chill!

  4. I read it for like the third time. It sounds like a blast. I imagine if I was along things would have gone a bit smoother and a ittle faster. Hope to be with you at the next race, Bonk Hard Chill February 2010. Sweet.

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