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Monthly Archives: November 2009

Castlewood Recon a Crashing Success

On Wednesday, November 25th, Bob Jenkins and I headed out to Castlewood State Park to pre-ride the trails before we destroy all in our path at the Castlewood 8 hour Adventure Race on Dec 5th. We printed off a trail map from Gateway Off Road Cyclist’s site here, and we were ready to roll.

Bob and Luke at Castlewood State Park

Ready for Action - Or Do We Just Need to Take a Dump?

We did not want to kill ourselves by riding as hard as we possibly could, so we came up with our new motto – “Fun is better than Fast.”  Our goals were to get a feel for the trails and, more importantly, to have a blast. Mission accomplished.

It was around 40 degrees, but the wind made it feel a lot colder.  Once I got my bike shoes on, I turned around to see Bob bundled up from head to toe.  I had a couple of thoughts: A) I was clearly under-dressed and was going to freeze my bean bag off, or 2) Bob was way over-dressed and would be shedding layers soon enough.

Bob Bundled Up

Bob pondering if he'll be warm enough in all of his bundled-up glory

We left the parking lot and immediately climbed an old jeep road that sucked balls.  It was really steep with lots of loose rock, but the view from the top made it all worthwhile. As we took in the view and recovered, Bob decided to shed several layers.

Bob's Monster Cross Single Speed 29er

Bob's Monster Cross Single Speed 29er at the top of the climb

The maps were pretty good, although there were a couple of places where one could get a little turned around.  The Roller Coaster Trail is marked on the map, but it is not marked on any of the trail signs at the park.  There are also a couple of side trails that are not on the map, and they are unmarked at the park as well.

The trails were a lot of fun with only a couple of rough climbs.  The Roller Coaster trail was so fun, we rode it twice. The River Scene Trail was also a lot of fun.  It’s flat and fast, and we rode this twice as well. We took our time and goofed around a lot.  We (and by “We” I mean Bob) practiced some bike handling skillz, and then Bob worked on some of his trail blazing technique down the side of a mountain.  This will surely help us dominate the upcoming adventure race.

Bob's 180 pivot

Here is Bob in the middle of a perfect 180 pivot

We headed over to ride the Stinging Nettle Trail.  The connecting trail along the river from River Scene Trail was also flat, fast, and fun with several slalom-like sections where you could take alternate routes.  At one point, I took an outside line and blew by Bob as if he was standing still – total annihilation.  Later, however, Bob decided to take an inside line right through a swampy section to fly by me.  As Bob blasted past me in a furious blur, a tidal wave of nasty, smelly mud-water douched my entire body.  Thank God it wasn’t cold and windy or else getting completely wet might have… Oh wait, it was cold and windy (Thanks, Jerk).

Bob in a muddy creek

Bob's unsuccessful attempt at crossing a mud-infested creek

Bob crossing the muddy creek

Bob's 2nd and successful attempt at crossing the muddy creek

As we got closer to the Stinging Nettle Trail, we encountered just a little bit of mud.  Then the mud got worse… and worse… and worse… Within about 100 yards it got so bad that we had to abandon the notion of riding Stining Nettle and Cedar Bluff Trails.

Muddy Bikes at Castlewood

The mud made this trail unrideable

Mud Covered Wheel

The mud was ridiculous

We didn’t want to destroy the trails, so we turned around and headed back.  It was a lot of  fun, and now we know the trails at Castlewood State Park like the back of our hands… Sort of.   Team Virtus is now ready to destroy anyone that stands in their way a the Castlewood Adventure Race on Saturday – or at the very least we’ll have more fun than everyone else, and that is a guarantee.

Team Virtus after riding Castlewood

We had a muddy-good time

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Next Up: Castlewood 8 Hour Adventure Race

Although we have yet to sign up, Bob “Nighthawk” Jenkins and I, Luke “The Dragon” Lamb, will be competing in Bonk Hard Racing’s Castlwood 8 Hour Adventure Race near St. Louis. The race will take place on Dec 5th, 2009 at Castlwood State Park in Ballwin, MO.

According to the race website, we need to be prepared for 10 – 25 miles of mt. biking, 5 – 10 miles of trekking and running (and maybe some slow walking/limping), and 4 – 8 miles of paddling.  Having done many of the Bonk Hard races in the past, I’m sure the mileage will be much closer to the upper end of those ranges.

Weather could also be an issue.  This time of year in Missouri, it could be 15 degrees and snowing, or it could be 65 and sunny.  As long as it isn’t 40 and raining, I won’t complain… Too much.

Neither Bob nor I have ever ridden the trails at Castlewood, so we are going to try to make it up there sometime over the next week.  We’ll keep you posted.

Twelve Hours of Pain & “Fun” – The Sleepy Hollow Rogaine Race Report

A month and a half ago, we decided that we should do a 12 hour rogaine in Ohio since it is roughly halfway between Missouri, where most of Team Virtus reside, and New York, where Casey lives. Bob had a hair appointment with his stylist Bruno, and Drew could not make it due to a prior commitment as the keynote speaker at the local Star Trek Convention (I think that’s what they said, but I could be mistaken). So, it was just going to be the brothers Lamb – Casey, Zack, and myself. We agreed to meet in Ohio and race our asses off.

 

Team Virtus at the Sleepy Hollow Rogaine

Zack, Luke, and Casey before the "fun" started

 

 

Unfortunately, things would not go smoothly leading up to the race. Zack threw his back out about 10 days before the race. He tried to train through it, and, in the process, bruised his boys downstairs by running with unorthodox form in boxer shorts. A trip to the chiropractor and some R&R for his boys left Zack feeling a lot better, although still not 100%.

At about the same time, I found myself in the hospital with pneumonia. The pain in my lungs, back, and ribs left me feeling like I was suffocating. A few pain killers and several doses of antibiotics later and I felt much better. One short trail run confirmed that I would indeed survive the rogaine… At least I hoped so.

Five or six days before the race, Casey came down with the swine flu. Feverish and coughing his face off, Casey wasn’t sure if he was going to make it to the race. After resting and taking care of himself for a few days, though, Casey was feeling well enough to attempt racing.

Zack and I didn’t get into Ohio until 1:00 AM or so. Casey had arrived much earlier. We tried to get as much sleep as we could, but Casey’s coughing attacks sounded like a band of gorillas in the midst of an orgy.  After getting as much shut-eye as we could, we woke up early, packed our gear, and headed out to check in for the race. We checked in, got our t-shirts and maps, and we started to strategerize our route.

 

Route planning for the rogaine

The three of us planning our route

 

 

After we had mapped out an ambitious day-time route South of the hash house and a night-time route to the North, one of the race organizers let us know that the toughest navigation was to the North.  He said that they even had trouble placing the checkpoints using a GPS.  So, we decided that we should flip-flop our plan and do the tougher navigation while the sun was still up.  This decision, in hindsight, probably ended up hurting our overall score, but we’ll get to that in just a minute or two.

At 11:00 AM sharp, we were off.  We knew we were not going to be the fastest team, so we decided on a route that we thought no one else would take (we didn’t want to be following any other teams).  With the sun shining beautifully, we headed out from the hash house along a paved road for a couple of miles.  As we were jogging down the road, we met a man walking his dog.  He looked at us and said, “What is this?  A chubby race?”  Wow. This kind of took the wind right out of our sails.  Now I know we are not built like ultra-marathoners, but I prefer the term “husky” instead of “chubby.”

After leaving our new “friend” behind, we found the trail we were looking for and headed in.  We were all excited and talking non-stop which led to me taking us off the trail a little too soon.  Apparently, I had guided us up the wrong reentrant.  We soon realized this, and we headed over the ridge to the correct reentrant to find CP 55.  My mistake maybe cost us 20 minutes.  Not too bad, but I still feel bad about it.

Zack at our first Checkpoint (55) at the Sleepy Hollow Rogaine

Zack at Checkpoint 55 - our first checkpoint of the race

As we bushwhacked our way over to CP 55, we got a small taste of the rugged terrain and ridiculous thorns we would face throughout the race.  Casey also mentioned that his calves were about to start cramping pretty badly.  As we started to bushwhack up the reentrant to the top of the ridge, Casey’s calves and achilles tendons started killing him.  By the time we got to the top of the ridge, Casey was only able to manage very small, excruciating steps.  Zack and I thought the race was over.  At the pace Casey was moving, we would probably only get one more checkpoint before dark if we were lucky.

Casey showing where it hurts

Casey showing us where it hurts

We stopped on top of the ridge, and Zack began figuring out the best way to get us back to the hash house if Casey could not continue.  As he was doing this, I took out my first aid kit and gave Casey some Tylenol and two Ace bandages to add some compression to his calves.  Casey stretched his calves and downed several gels and other goodies along with copious amounts of water to get some electrolytes into his system. Zack and I decided to take turns carrying Casey’s pack so that we could hopefully make it to the next checkpoint at the very least.  However, we didn’t realize that Casey’s pack weighed forty-seven pounds or else we might not have offered to carry it.

Luke Carrying two packs at the Sleepy Hollow Rogaine

Luke with his own pack on his back and Casey's ridiculously heavy pack on the front. This is not the best way to carry an extra pack.

Luke with two packs and Casey Smiling

Self-portrait of Luke with two packs. Notice how happy Casey is in the background with no pack on his back.

I wore Casey’s pack on the front of my body, but this was not very comfortable. When it was Zack’s turn to carry the pack, he simply threw it over his own pack, and this was a much better way to carry it – especially when climbing some of the outrageously steep hills.

Zack with two packs climbing a monster hill

Here we see Zack carrying both packs up a monster hill. This hill was pretty typical of the terrain we traveled during this race.

With some pain killers, bandaged legs, and no pack on his back, Casey was able to maintain a fairly decent pace.  He was still in pain, but at least we were still in the race.  We followed the ridge line and headed down a finger to checkpoint 72. From here, rather than heading in a straight line down a reentrant and up a huge hill, we stayed on top of the ridge until we found the trail.  The trail led us close to CP 61, and we found this one without any problems.

We weren’t sure how long Casey was going to be able to go since he was still in a lot of pain. We had originally planned on skipping CP 34, but we decided to go for it since we were so close to it and since Casey’s legs were still functional.   It was now 2:30 PM, and we had a total of 210 points for an average of 60 points per hour.  This is not what we had hoped for, but that’s part of the adventure. We made a mini-goal of getting out next 3 CP’s (44, 52, and 81) before 4:00.

From CP 34, we headed off to find CP 44.  It was on the way to 44 that Zack fell flat on his face.  It was not a typical fall.  His laces got caught on something which took his feet out from under him, and he literally went straight down onto his face and stomach in the blink of an eye without having a chance to catch himself at all.  It provided some much needed comic relief.

After getting CP 44 with no problems, we hit CP 52 with no issues.  Then we trekked North to find CP 81. Casey’s legs were now feeling good enough to carry his own pack, although it was MUCH emptier and lighter at this point.

Casey finally carrying his own pack

Casey carrying his nearly empty pack

It was getting close to 4:00, and we needed to pick up the pace a little if we were going to get 81 by our self-imposed cut-off time.  On the way to 81, we found ourselves in an open field left behind from what appeared to be some clear-cut logging.  It was one of the few times we were not in deep woods and brush.

Clear Cut Field at The Sleepy Hollow 12 Hour Rogaine

On the way to CP 81

The clue for 81 was “deadfall.”  This seemed straight forward enough… Until we started heading down the reentrant. Everywhere we looked there was another deadfall and everything looked exactly the same.  After searching for roughly 10 minutes, we finally found the right reentrant.  It was very close, but we made our 4:00 deadline… Barely.

Just in Time

We had less than a minute to spare to reach our goal

Reaching our mini-goal seemed to boost our spirits.  There was still about an hour and a half of daylight left, we had gotten every checkpoint that we set out to get so far, and Casey’s legs seemed to be holding up.  Our spirits were high…

Then came our long, arduous trek to the next CP.  We had all run out of water by this time, and we were planning on filling up at the water drop after getting CP 60.  CP 60, though, was roughly 3 miles away with an abundance of elevation change that sucked the life out of us, and my feet and knees were beginning to hurt.

The sun disappeared, and the temperature started to drop.  It seemed like we would never get to CP 60.  It was as if we were Frodo, Sam, and Gollum on their impossible trek to Mordor.  Clearly, I would be Frodo and Zack would be Sam, which must mean that Casey is Gollum.  Anyway, we finally made it to where we thought we should turn into the reentrant to find CP 60.

The thorns and brush were ridiculously thick here, though, so we kept moving, hoping to find an easier path to the checkpoint.  We finally found an easier way to 60.  Had we fought our way through the thorns and brush where I originally thought we should, we would have gone down the wrong reentrant and scratched the hell out of our legs for nothing.  I don’t think I would have ever lived that one down.

From 60, we bushwhacked up the worst climb of the race.  Seriously, this effing climb was absurd.  It seemed to go on forever, and we literally had to grab branches and small trees to pull ourselves up a few times.  We hadn’t had anything to drink in nearly two hours, so this climb almost killed us.  The only thing that kept us going was the fact that the water drop was across the street at the top of the hill.

After finally summiting, we expected to see the glorious water waiting for us on the other side of the road.  A small piece of my soul died when the water was nowhere to be seen.  We thought that maybe we needed to head further West to find the water, but this was not the case.  We decided to just head into the woods to hit CP 40, and then we would skip CP 21 and go straight back to the hash house to get more water.  It was going to be a crappy mile and a half, but we could make it.  As we headed into the woods about 20 yards, we saw several jugs of water and a large cooler full of water.  Jackpot!!! We couldn’t be happier.  This was just what we needed.

Filling up at the Water Drop

Filling up with deliciously cold, fresh water - Casey looks so happy

With our water supply filled up, we headed down the ridge and found CP 40 easily.  Then we hit the trail to head down to CP 21.  Part of this trail was incredibly steep and covered with nearly tw0 feet of leaves and debris, making it very difficult to walk upright and wreaking havoc on my feet and knees. We soon found 21 without any problems, although the climb up to 21 was rough.  It was a big enough climb to make us wonder why we were exerting so much energy for a mere 20 points.

After hitting 21, we had a total of 500 points.  We followed the trail back to the hash house to get warmer clothes and more food.  We devoured barbecued pork sandwiches that were to die for, scarfed down parsley potatoes that warmed our souls, and we washed it all down with several ice cold bottles of water.  It was simply amazing.  The only bad part about our return to the hash house was fact that we knew we had to leave shortly.

Zack at the hash house.

Is this Zack or Zoolander?

Casey at the hash house

Casey looking satisfied after filling his belly

Luke at the hash house

So happy eating delicious food at the hash house

At the beginning of the race, we were told that one of the CP’s close to the hash house would reveal a clue for the “bonus” checkpoint.  Since we knew that we weren’t going to get many more CP’s, we figured we would try to find the bonus CP. So we left the hash house around 8:30 or so, and we headed West to CP 20.  Casey was feeling better than he had all race, but my feet and knees were killing me.  Zack’s knee was bothering him a little bit, too, but we really wanted to get to 600 points at the very least.

We skirted around the small pond, and we saw 5 or 6 teams through the trees trying to find the CP.  We were all tired and starting to hurt, so we just figured we’d follow everyone else to the CP.  This was a mistake as we seemed to blow by the CP without finding it.  After searching for CP 20 for 20 t0 30 minutes, we went back to the pond to start over.  This time we didn’t worry about what other teams were doing, and we took our time to make sure we found it.  Again, this was a lot of wasted time and effort for just 20 points, but it became a matter of pride.  We were determined to find CP 20 no matter what.

We found the CP with no more problems, and fortunately it was the CP with the bonus clue.  The clue said something like, “Find the head and Get 30 points. Take a 330 degree bearing for 205 yards.”  So, off we went.  The only problem was that we had to bushwhack the entire way up a pretty steep hill.  At this point, though, we felt like we had to find the head and get the bonus checkpoint.  After a little searching, we heard some screaming a short distance ahead of us.  We then saw red flashing lights, and we knew we had found the head and the bonus points.

Casey and the Bonus Head

Casey loved getting some bonus head

Now, I’ll admit that I didn’t really want to continue at this point.  I don’t know how Casey and Zack were feeling, but I was hurting.  I knew that we only needed 50 more points to hit a total of 600, but we were running out of time.  We had about an hour and a half left.  So, we decided we could definitely go for CP 41 and then reevaluate.

We found CP 41 easily, and then we started to head back towards the hash house. We came to a road/trail intersection, and we could either take the trail directly back to the hash house or we could go for one more CP.  It was 10:15 PM, so we thought that we had plenty of time.  We decided to go for CP 30.

We headed down the road and then down a steep reentrant.  I was starting to limp and hobble, and I was ready to be done.  This part of the park did not seem to match the map. We split up a little bit, and Casey soon found our final CP.

It was at this point that I thought Zack might actually try to strangle Casey.  We literally only had less than a quarter of a mile left in the race, and Casey said to Zack, “Hey, man.  You want me to carry your pack?”  Zack’s response was an emphatic “Hell, Fuck NO!! You’ve got to be kidding me!”  I was too tired to know if Casey was kidding, and I was in too much pain to care.  I just wanted to get back to the hash house before 11:00 PM.

We rolled in to finish the race at 10:54 PM with a total of 620 points.  We ate more delicious barbecued pork sandwiches, potatoes, and cake.  We found out who the top three teams were, and I was amazed that the winning team actually cleared the entire course in less than 10 hours.  That is simply incredible.

My feet and knees were shot, but I felt a little better when I saw several other teams hobbling around like I was.  I think we all underestimated how brutal the terrain would be in Ohio.  After looking at the map, I think we could have gotten more points had we headed South of the hash house at that start.  Many of the teams that placed ahead of us started South of the Hash House.  I guess next time, we’ll stick to our own game plan regardless of anyone else’s opinion.

A big thank you must go out to our sponsor at homework-help-secrets.com for making this race possible.  We couldn’t have done it without your support.  We also need to thank our mother for hooking us up with some incredible trail mix and pemican.  It was delicious.

We ended up 25th out of 36 teams which was a little disappointing.  I think we all thought we were capable of placing higher.  On the other hand, it was our first rogaine, and I got to spend 12 punishing hours of fun in the woods with my two brothers.  So no matter how we fared, I had one hell of a good time.  In the end that is all that really matters.

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Flat Tires, a First-Timer and Fun – The Inaugural Truman Lake Adventure Race

In early March I finalized my plans for a quick trip over my son’s Spring Break to visit our family in Rolla, Missouri.  I decided to fly my son out Friday after school and I’d drive out with the rest of the family Tuesday night/Wednesday from upstate New York.   After speaking with my brother, Luke “THE DUKE” Lamb, in mid March I realized that he was going to be gone the only weekend I would be in town.  After some discussion I found out that he was planning on spending the weekend competing in the first Truman Lake Adventure Race with one of his race buds, Drew West.  Upon finding this out, I rudely invited myself to join their team and planned to compete in my first ever adventure race.  Luke and Drew graciously turned their experienced two man team into a three man team with a newbie.   I figured I was in good shape.   I mean I do some martial arts, eat right, and lift a few weights.  One single 10-hour race, no problem, I could do it.  I soon learned what I was in for…

Now that I was part of the team we needed a name (This is before we formed Team Virtus).  We kicked around a lot of good names but kept coming back to Two and a Half Men.  This seemed to fit.  Luke and I are definite Clydesdales, I am around 235 and The Duke is around 225.  Drew I think is around 140.  So I guess we all knew who the “half” man would be.  Since Luke could not get in touch with Drew and the name was due (we had to meet the registration deadline), we decided to go with a nicer more PC name that would not offend the little guy on the team.  The Duke came up with Team Sweet Lincoln’s Mullet.  In case you don’t know, it is a line from the movie Anchor Man:  The Legend of Ron Burgundy and more appropriate than “San Diego, which of course in German means a whale’s vagina”.  Now that we had a name I had to get myself ready for the big day.

Ron Burgundy - Whale's Vagina

The first thing I had to do was to dig my bike out of the garage and brush off the cob webs.  I rode it a couple of years ago around the block to the store with my son.  It was in dire need of a tune up.  When I got my bike back from the shop, I did a couple of quick, two to three hour rides and I was all set.  However, my ass felt like I had broken a whole heard of wild stallions.  I consulted the AR guru, THE DUKE.

He recommended I invest in a pair of bike shorts with a chamois built in.  Was he serious?  A pair of spandex shorts with a crotch pad built in?  However, my ass convinced my pride that I needed to buy a pair.  A quick trip to EMS (Eastern Mountain Sports) and I was all set.  I had purchased most of the recommended gear that I was missing.  I bought a nice pair of bike shorts, a pair of running shorts, a running shirt, an ultra light head lamp, a 3-Liter Camelbak pack with some cargo room, and several pairs of smart wool socks.  I now had everything I needed to race.

I got in two more short trail rides (I found out that there is now a sweet mountain bike park near my house), a couple of short runs, and I read a book on orienteering (since I hadn’t done any since my Boy Scout days).  I got all my gear together the Monday night before we were leaving on our trip and loaded the car Tuesday after work.   We were off to Missouri and I was headed to my first race.  15 hours later we arrived in Missouri (15 hours of travelling with a 2 year old, a 6 month old, and my wife – another story in itself).

The Duke was at my parents’ house to meet me.  We trained some martial arts (kind of like the guys in Step Brothers) and visited a couple of days with the family.  Friday morning we found ourselves in Jefferson City at The Dukes house making last minute preparations and to meet Drew, whom I had the privilege to meet at a New Years Eve party a few years back and at a wedding.  I guess Drew frequents heavy drinking events.  We decided to go to The Duke’s favorite BBQ place, Lutz’s BBQ, for some lunch.  I had what he recommended…A huge ass Pork Steak Sandwich, Homemade Chips shaved with a cordless drill (seriously) with gourmet seasoning, and a Diet Coke (I gotta watch my figure).  I thoroughly enjoyed my meal and could barely finish the damn thing.  I’ll be eating there again next time I visit.

When Drew showed up, we loaded up his truck with our bikes, our gear, some food, and headed off to Warsaw, Missouri and some plush accommodations that The Duke had arranged.  Before we checked into our sweet room we headed to the restaurant for the Pasta Dinner Special that was offered to racers for $10.

Let me tell you, for $10 we got screwed.  We each got 1 cup of salad (if that), 1 small scoop of spaghetti with watery canned sauce and a meatball or sausage, and 1 slice of bread.  We also had a glass of a beverage of our choice and a piece of a brownie for dessert.  That’s it.  I thought we were getting a huge prerace meal where we could “Carb-Up”.  Even Drew West, the smallest of our group, complained about how small the meal was.  The Duke and I, both much larger men, usually would have more than we just ate for dinner as a snack or an appetizer.  Oh well, next time we will do dinner on our own.

We headed to the hotel and were in for a real treat.  Not only was the room something out of a movie (a 1976 Porno Flick), the hotel was fully booked with fisherman (for a local tournament) and us.  They were all in the parking lots polishing their boats and drinking cheap beer.  After working our way around a bunch of trucks and bass boats, we found our room, parked, and unloaded.  We gave our bikes a quick lube and work over.  The Duke taught me to clean and lube my chain.  We all finished working our bikes over, rode around the parking lot to make sure everything felt right and then locked our bikes in the room.

As we pulled up to the restaurant, for the pre-race meeting, I have to admit I had a little butterfly action going on.  Are you serious, nerves over a little race?  We were apparently one of the last teams to show up and stood in the door way of the small back room.  They reviewed the rules and handed out the maps and the Swag Bags (bags with free goodies and ads inside).  During the meeting I eyed down the competition.  I was thinking that we would do just fine.  There were a couple of dudes with beer guts (turned out to be volunteers), some elderly people, and other first time racers.  I picked out one team that we would not, could not lose to.  They were an older, all female team who called themselves the “Golden Girls”.  They had to be pushing 60 years old.  I told our team that we could not, would not lose to them.  The Duke imparted some words of wisdom – “Looks can be deceiving, they may haul ass and smoke us.”  Not a chance.  I would die before losing to a couple of female senior citizens.

We headed back to the hotel where The Duke taught me how to plot the points on the map.  After plotting all the points, under the Duke’s watchful eye we were ready.  We discussed our game plan and goals for the next day.  Then we walked across the parking lot to a Sonic and had a real supper.  I Carbed-up, Fatted-up, Greased-up, and Everything elsed-up too.  My Belly was finally full.  We headed back to our room, collected our gear, prepped as much as we could and finally crawled into bed.   I spooned that night with The Duke when the half man got his very own bed.  How the hell did that happen?

After a good night’s sleep (no screaming kids) we felt well rested and ready to kick some serious butt.   We packed up, made up some “go-go” juice, lubed our feet up with Hydropel, and headed to the starting line after hitting Sonic for some great prerace nutrition.  We got there a little early, got our bikes down, put our packs on and stood around anxiously waiting for the start (6:00 am).  Just before the start, Team Sweet Lincoln’s Mullet all slammed a Spike Energy Drink and we were ready to go.

There was a couple of miles worth of road riding before we hit the trails.  The Duke recommended that we push it a little on the road so we didn’t get stuck behind slower bikers on the single track.  This was fine by since me we were leaving the Golden Girls in our dust.  There was a “speed” pack a little ahead of us of about 4-5 teams.  Then we were at the front of the next peloton.  We hit the single track and started moving along.  For this part of the race you had to bike the entire trail system in the predetermined order that the race director had set up.  You checked in before heading  into the single track, rode the trails, and then checked out.  We had Drew out front setting the pace. He would play the role of the rabbit for most of the race for us.

We passed a team or two and then a couple of more.  We thought we were hanging around the 4th to 5th place at this time.  We were moving along and came to a split in the trail that was not well marked.  We went one way and came to some virgin trail and thought we were off track.  About this time we came up on another team and we discussed the trail.  Team Sweet Lincoln’s Mullet (SLM) decided that we were off course and back-tracked.  We confirmed our beliefs and were back on track in no time.  We were moving along pretty quickly and passed one of the volunteers stationed near a big curve in the trail.  He waved, I waved back, and then my rear tire blew out.  I called out to the team and we had to stop and fix my ride.  The Duke took charge and asked for my spare tube.  I handed it to him and with Drew assisting him we only lost 10 minutes and got passed by 3 teams.

We were moving along again and trying hard to make up some ground.   We passed a team or two and were eating up the single track.  Then we saw another volunteer who waved, I waved back and my front tire went out.  We quickly jumped off our rides and pulled off the trail and more quickly this time changed the tire using Drew’s spare tube (which I never have replaced, I still owe him a tube).  We once again got passed by a team or two.  We hopped back on our bikes and took off again.  The Duke told me to quit waving at the volunteers; it must be bad luck (he was serious).  We didn’t need any more flat tires.  So if you were a volunteer and saw me after this point in the race, I apologize for not waving back.

A little later on some sweet single track, my front tire went flat AGAIN.  A third flat tire?  You have got to be kidding me.  We went through the drill again.  However the only tube we had left was The Duke’s spare tube.  He said that I could use his tube.  However, we quickly discovered that his tube had a Schrader valve and my rims only would take presta valves.   We decided that our best option at this point was to patch the existing tube.  I ran down to the river and located the puncture by where the little bubbles came out while Drew read the instructions on how to use his patch kit.  Then Drew slapped a patch on my tube and we used another CO2 cartridge to pump up my tire for a third time.  We only got passed by 1 team this time and quickly overtook them once we started up again.

I sarcastically stated, “There’s no way we can get another flat at this race.”  The Duke stared into my sole and then scolded me like a naughty puppy.  He was dead serious when he told me not to tempt fate and that I should shut up or I’d end up getting another flat.  I thought about pushing it a little and teasing him with another statement about what the future holds and how the odds were against us getting any more flat tires.  I am not a statistician, but what were the odds of us actually getting another flat tire?  However, I feared that I might actually be predicting another flat and maybe even causing it by taunting the Mountain Bike Gods.  I decided to keep quiet and hoped that we had repaired our last flat of the race.

The rest of the single track portion was pretty uneventful and a pleasure to ride.  We finished, checked out and thought we were around 8th or 9th place at this time.  There was a quick gear check, we all had to show them our whistles and fleece jackets.  Then the unexpected… it was time for the dreaded “mystery event”.

Finishing the Warsay, MO Single Track.

Finishing the single track before the gear-check and mystery event.

We were informed that you had to dance as a team for 30 seconds or you were DQ’ed.  The Duke, who is known for his dancing prowess, took the lead.  He jumped into a freaky little move with his leg pulled up behind his back and thrusted his leg back and forth.  Then he fully sprawled down to grassy ground onto his stomach and got a little old school by busting out the centipede or the worm (break dance style).  All the while Drew and I provided some half hearted backup dancing (we did not want to distract from The Duke’s stellar performance).

The Duke got up and looked me straight in the eye and said, “Let’s get a little Dirty Dancing on their ass.”  I nodded in agreement.  With that The Duke backed up and asked if I was ready.  I nodded yes.  Then The Duke let out a “Nobody puts Baby in a corner!” as he ran towards me and jumped.  I caught him and locked my arms up, and for a second or two I was Patrick Swayze and The Duke had become Baby.  It was beautiful.  Then he dropped to the ground.  Drew then became Baby and I dropped him a little too hard as I put him down and he ended up sprawled on the ground (he should’ve busted some moves but just got up and brushed himself off).  I felt left out and wanted a turn as Baby.  The Duke wouldn’t let me down.  I backed up, ran towards him, and jumped.  He almost pulled it off.  He was just short of a full lock out.  So close… I almost was Baby…

We all want to be Baby... Even for just a moment.

Everyone wants to be Baby... Even for just a moment.

Any way our 30 seconds were up and we were done dancing.  It was time to get back to what we were really there for…to race.

At this point of the race we were back to plotting our own course to the check points.  You could go any way that you wanted.   The Duke looked at the map and found a power line crossing over to where we needed to go.  We took off on our bikes down the power line instead of all the way around on the trail.  We made up some serious ground at this time.  Were moving along pretty fast and looking forward to the paddle and it happened AGAIN!  My back tire blew out.  We burned our second to last cartridge pumping up my tire, hoping it was never inflated properly or just a slow leak.  We took off again and about 5 minutes later my back tire was almost completely flat.  I pushed through it and we made it down the power line row and to a wide dirt path.

Casey realizing he has ANOTHER flat.

Here we see Casey either taking a dump on his bike, or realizing his tire is almost completely flat.

I took the lead and peddled hard but moved slowly because I was riding on my rear rim.   When this trail ended we were on a cinder path that lasted a mile or two along the edge of a lake and to where the paddling leg of the race would start.  We decided to take the wheel off, try to patch it and see what happened.  I ran down to the lake, located the hole.  I came running back (it was pretty far and I ran hard) breathing hard and showed SLM where the hole was.  Drew threw another patch on, and we tried it again.  Our last CO2 cartridge was bad and we were out of options and maybe out of the race.

However, The Duke reached into his pack and pulled out his micro pump.   He slapped it on the valve and pumped away.  His hand was a blur and he pumped like a man with lots of pumping experience.  We were up and at it again and took off.  We were back in the race.  Or so we thought.  It went flat again.  Maybe Luke was right about tempting fate.  We decided just to try to make it to the canoe put in and try to bum a tube from another team there.  I got on Drew’s bike and he peddled mine on the rims (thinking the lighter rider would do less damage).  This did not work as well as we thought it would, and we were afraid of ruining the rim and being out of the race for good.  We stopped to think.  We got passed by several teams, some for the second or third time.

Then The Duke had an epiphany.  He said that he had a presta valve tube on his front wheel and we could take his wheel off and put that tube on my back tire.  Then he’d put his spare Schrader valve tube that wouldn’t fit in my rim on his front tire (his rims would take either valve) and we’d be back in business.  More people started to pass.  Luke and Drew worked frantically switching the tubes and tires all around.  More teams passed us.  We tag teamed the pumping up of my back tire and had it up in no time.  This was going to work; we were going to be back in the race.  All we had to do was pump up The Duke’s front tire and we’d be right back in the race.  At this point the unthinkable happened.  The Golden Girls went riding past us, and I thought I heard them make a comment about the evil team or the evil ones.  We are evil?  And they rode on without a care.  If we had to finish the race with my bike on my back I was willing to do so.  We had to catch and beat the Golden Girls, now it was personal.  At this point in the race we were convinced that we were in last place.

The Duke put the pump on his Schrader valve and started to pump furiously.  He suddenly stopped and was silent.  You could actually see steam rising off his head and out of his ears…he was about to blow.  His pump was broken on the Schrader side, and we could only pump up presta valves.  Luke sat down and said that it was over.  It was time to go find a bar and get drunk.  Drew and I tried to talk him out of it (although a couple of beers did sound tempting after all the frustration we had been through).  We said we would run.  Let’s just get to the canoe and we could try to bum a tube, a pump, or a CO2 cartridge….something but at least we would still be in the race.  I did not want a DNF for my first adventure race.  SLM had to rise above these challenges and push on.  After a while The Duke begrudgingly got up and took of his bike shoes and started to put on his trail shoes.  He really didn’t want to continue but he was doing so because the rest of his team wanted to continue.  He was down but not broken and very selflessly agreed to continue.  Then it happened…

We heard voices and saw a team emerge from the woods at the trail head behind us.  We were not the last team and we hoped that maybe they would be able to help us out in some capacity.  They (Team L.A. I think) stopped and asked if we needed anything.  They said they were bitten by the flat bug as well and had 3 of their own.  They offered us the use of their pump (which they had, believe it or not, found on the trail), and we gladly accepted.

We topped off all the tires and were back in business.  They took off as we gathered our things together and got back on our bikes.  The Duke told us we shouldn’t pass them right away since they helped us and it would be poor race etiquette to pass them immediately since they lost some time helping us out.  They were really biking slowly during the last part of the bike leg, and it killed me to bike so slowly when we had already lost so much time.  At the end of the cinder path we ran into the leading team (Team Kuat) who was going the other way on their bikes.  They had already completed the canoeing leg of the race.  We had a lot of ground to make up if we were going to win this thing.

Coming into the Canoe Put-in at Truman Lake

FINALLY making it to the canoe put in after 4 flat tires.

We finally got to the canoe put in.  We put on a puffy orange life vest, grabbed a plastic paddle and our canoe.  We had one aluminum canoe for all three of us.  The Duke took the bow; I the stern and Drew sat in the middle on a turkey hunting chair with his legs over the thwart in front of him.  As we pushed off I looked down and we had maybe 3.5 inches of freeboard, not more.   This was going to be interesting.

Maxing out the canoe

Almost taking on water with that much weight in the canoe.

We left the doc, paddled hard, and shot out into the lake.  We heard a faint yelling and looked back and saw a group of volunteers waving their arms and pointing in the other direction.  I was afraid to wave back.  If waving to volunteers gave me flat tires, what would it do to the canoe I was in?  The Duke called for a break in the paddling, pulled the map out and took a quick bearing.  We were headed in the wrong direction.  The Duke instructed me to turn the canoe around and we took off in the right direction this time.  Thank you to the thoughtful volunteers for bringing our misdirection to our attention.  I have no idea how far we might have paddled before we realized our mistake on our own.

For the canoe leg of the race you could go directly to the take out or get 4 optional check points along the way.  We were still intending on clearing (getting all the checkpoints) the course and decided to get all the optional check points in this leg.  It was at about this time that the sky turned black, the wind picked up and it looked like it was going to storm.   We began to paddle harder and the wind picked up.  The gusts matched us stroke for stroke.  By now, we were out in the middle of the lake and the waves really started picking up.  They were easily 12-18 inches tall, with an occasional whitecap.  The Duke shouted out directions from the bow, as if he were a captain of a fishing boat in a hurricane.  I was half expecting to hear him yell out, “Batten the hatches”.

The waves were hitting the side of the canoe and the boat was rocking side to side and the water was getting closer and closer to coming over the sides.  We had to be very careful or we would all be getting very wet.  The Duke instructed me to point the front of the canoe directly into the waves or else we would capsize.  I struggled and paddled hard and got the boat turned the correct way.  The boat was more stable now and blasted through the waves instead of over because we were sitting so deep in the water.

The only problem now was that we were not headed towards the first check point.  But, we had no choice, we had to go that way or take a swim in the frigid water.  Several times water crested over the bow and The Duke was getting soaked.  Slowly, we were able to loop out into the lake and around into the cove where the first checkpoint was located.  Once we made it around the bend the water was much calmer and became manageable again.  I was relieved.  I thought that we were going in on more than one occasion.

I began to wonder if we could get all of the optional canoe check points.  We quickly made our way to the first optional canoe checkpoint.  We beached the canoe and jumped out to punch our card.  We decided to take a quick snack break at this time.  The Duke and I each had a Cliff bar and some “go-go” juice.   We turned around and saw that Drew was tearing into some tacos that he brought along.  Tacos…Are you serious?  He packed tacos all day.  Actually, they looked pretty damn good.  (Note to self:  next adventure race bring some tacos.)  During the snack break we discussed our options and plans.

We decided that we should push on and take the optional checkpoints one at a time and see what happened.  If the water stayed as choppy as it was or got any worse we would head for the take out.  (Possibly we would be swimming if it got much worse.)  We climbed into the canoe and took off.  When we left the cove we were surprised to see a perfectly calm lake.  It was like a mirror, the wind had gone away and the water was as smooth as Drew’s butt.  We quickly hit the checkpoints in what The Duke determined was the shortest possible route.

In the distance we saw another boat ahead of us.  Could we actually catch another team after losing so much time with all of the flat tires?  We made it our goal and really dug into the paddle.  The Duke called out a cadence and gave quips of advice like, “Pull the boat, don’t push the water.”  We worked in unison and the boat surged forward.  We began stroking together as a team and the canoe began to pick up speed.  As we began to close the distance we could identify the other team…it was the Golden Girls.

That motivated me even more and I really began to dig in, and I gave it all that I could.  With all my might I paddled away and with each stroke (Stroke…LOL) I would see the canoe jump forward.  We were really moving quickly for a boat sitting as deep as we were (we left a large wake because we were sitting so deep in the water).  We greatly closed the distance and pulled in as the Golden Girls were heading out.  We pulled the canoe up and had a Spike Energy Drink break to charge us up for the cross country hump back to the canoe put in to get back on our bikes.  However, I am afraid that I slowed down SLM once again.  Nature called and I had to answer.

I hit the pit toilet and dropped a huge deuce while the others waited.  The Duke decided to use this time to answer his own call.  While The Duke and I were taking care of business, it began to rain.  It rained pretty hard for the 5-10 minutes that we were talking to nature, and Drew was standing outside in the rain.   When we finished our business, we headed out again as a team in a light sprinkle.  I had one goal in mind…Catch the Golden Girls.

We hit the first point no problem.  To get to the next point The Duke recommended taking a slightly longer route by hugging the shore because he thought that we could move more rapidly and save time instead of bushwhacking over the hill.  We found the second point and headed out for the third.  As we headed out we saw another team heading back towards the checkpoint we just got…It was team Golden Girls.  They decided to bushwhack and had apparently overshot the checkpoint.  The AR Guru made the right call again and we were once again ahead of the Golden Girls.

We pushed on.  As we neared the next checkpoint we noticed an awful smell in the air.  It grew stronger as we headed towards the checkpoint.  Near the next checkpoint we found a dead, rotting beaver carcass (It was by far the worst smelling beaver I have ever smelled).   We quickly punched our card and left the stinky beaver and the control ,behind us.

Then we came around the cove and neared the canoe put in.  To get there we must cross a 15-20 foot wide river.  We looked for a bridge, but none seemed close.  We slid down the bank, jumped into the river, sunk knee deep in some mud and waded across to the other bank.  Once on the other side we scurried up the bank and headed to the canoe put in.  As we looked back, Team Golden Girls was on the other side of the river.  They were like “The Terminator” or something.  No matter how fast or hard we would go, when we looked over our shoulder they were right behind us walking slowly in our direction.  They headed up stream in search of a bridge or better crossing.  We jogged back to the canoe put in and grabbed our bikes.

We took a few minutes to refill some water bottles and took off back up the power lines to the rogaine section of the course.   The trail turned out to be much more manageable with air in your tires.  We made good time and were told that we had to be off of the optional rogaine section of the course by 4:00 instead of the original time because based on the leaders’ times the course was taking longer than anticipated.  The 10 hour race had now become a 12 hour race.  This was great news for us because we now had time to get more optional checkpoints.

Planning for the rogaine section

Deciding on a route for the rogaine section of the Truman Lake Adventure Race

The Duke led us around the course tackling as many points as we could get.  We used trails and even bushwhacked a bit.  Time was running short, and we still had 5 more optional points to get.   We passed the sign-out station with about 25 minutes to go before you had to be off the rogaine section of the course.  The volunteers assumed we were going to sign out and take off on our bikes.  To their surprise we headed back out to try to snatch some more precious checkpoints.  All other teams had already left the rogaine section or were doing so as we headed back into the bush.

We jogged along and down a power line trail to quickly find another checkpoint.  It was a little tricky because it was kind of hidden behind the trunk of a tree.   We had a quick team meeting.  We had about 17 minutes left and were about 7 minutes from the sign out station.  The penalty for getting back late was a deduction of 1 checkpoint per minute past the 4:00 cut off.  What should SLM do?  The Duke let out a “Not It” and I followed suit with a habitual “Not It” because I didn’t want to get stuck making the call.  This left the decision up to Drew.  He said, “Oh Fuck it.  Let’s get one more.”  This would be no problem for Drew, the strongest runner of the bunch.  For the two Clydesdales, however, it was going to hurt.  So, we took off at a good pace and made our way across the power lines and to the shore of the lake and found the last optional checkpoint that we would have time to get.  As we approached the flag we heard a little jingle.

It was The Duke’s cell phone ringing.  We heard what we were hoping not to hear, The Duke’s cell phone.  Our race may be over, again.  The reason for the dread was The Duke’s wife was at home very pregnant and waiting to have their fourth (yeah, that’s right fourth) child and first son (Casey would have been great boy’s name).  The Duke slid his pack off his shoulders, quickly reached his hand into his pack and pulled out his ringing cell phone in a little plastic bag.

After a brief discussion with his wife, The Duke confirmed everything was all right and I would have to wait a little longer to become an uncle again.  It turned out they were calling to see if we were headed home yet.  What we planned to be an 8-10 hour race was turning out to be much longer.  He told her we’d be later than we originally planned and that we’d call when we were headed home.  I punched our card and then it was time for Drew to play rabbit once again.  He set a grueling pace back to the checkout station to insure that we’d check out on time.  We got back with plenty of time to spare, like 7 minutes.  We did as much as we had time to do.  I believe we were the last team off the rogaine leg of the course.

Unfortunately, we left four optional checkpoints out there (three on one peninsula and one at the way back of the rogaine course).  We could have gotten all of them had we not lost so much time with all of those pesky flat tires.  Unfortunately, we would not be clearing this course.  Also, much to our dismay, one of the four checkpoints we did not get was pointed out by the race director as being unique, and he asked everybody to help come up with a name for it.  It turns out that the unique checkpoint was a huge boat built out of styrofoam and junk.  I believe the name that stuck was “The Red-Neck Yacht Club”.

We were in the home stretch now and were on schedule to finish with plenty of time to spare (assuming I didn’t wave to anymore volunteers and get another flat tire).  We hopped back on our bikes and took off.  The Duke led the way and we moved more quickly now as we were back on the road and started to smell the finish line (it smelled better than a stinky beaver).  We came to a huge downhill section were we really got moving on the bikes and were able to coast for some way afterwards.  We quickly snatched up a couple of checkpoints and caught up with the team that had helped us by lending us their pump.  A quick hello and we had passed them.

We found the next checkpoint without any issues.  To get back on track we would have to ride up the large hill that we had so much fun cruising down.  But then The Duke saw something.  There were lots of footprints in the grass going up the very steep hillside back to the bridge that we would eventually end up on.  We could circumvent the huge uphill climb on our bikes if we walked our bikes up this very long, very steep grassy hill to the road up above.  We decided to hoof it.  We walked up the hill with some effort, probably less than biking up and around the way that we came down.

We crossed the bridge and headed towards the last checkpoint.  We found it tucked behind a fence as we got on another bridge leading to the road that would take us to the finish line.  We were cruising along as a team when The Duke looked to me, winked, and said in a fatherly voice followed by a little nod, “Bring us home.”  I picked up the pace, pulled to the front of the team and led Team Sweet Lincoln’s Mullet down the hill to the finish line with my arms up in the air.

Finishing the Truman Lake Adventure Race

"Bringin' it Home" for Sweet Lincoln's Mullet.

There were many teams and volunteers standing around and clapping us in.  Much to The Duke’s chagrin, I was waving to all the volunteers.  I figured it was OK if I got another flat tire now, the race was over.  I even saw The Golden Girls clapping for us.  What a great community.  We did it.  It was finally over and we had overcome four flat tires and an additional tire change and patch and a tire switch.  But we persevered and finished the race.  The last team came rolling in about 10 minutes after us and then they began handing out the awards.

We finished with a time of 11 hours and 34 minutes, with a total of 21 out of 25 checkpoints (only 2 teams got all the checkpoints) placing us 6th out of 11 teams overall and 1st place in the 3-Person Open Division.  We were, however the only team in this division (Hey, it still counts as a win).  We also tied for the fastest finishing bike leg.  For official results go here.

Much to our surprise we also won 1st place in the mystery dancing event which won our team a whopping $20 (which was awesome and it sure beats a kick in the teeth).  We edged out a very competitive dancing team which took second…The Golden Girls.  I give the Golden Girls props and respect.  They never quit and plodded ahead at a steady pace the entire race. I hope to be racing when I get to be their age.  Maybe our paths will  cross in the future at another race.

We stood around and talked for a while, packed up and headed back to Jefferson City.  However, on the way home we splurged and hit a Long John Silver’s/A&W combo restaurant to enjoy our team winnings in a final team meal ($20 will buy you 3 nice meals at such a restaurant).  We got back to The Duke’s house where our families were waiting for us along with tons of pizza.  Although I had planned on leaving for New York that night after the race, it was too late and I was too tired.  The Duke graciously put me and the family up for the night.  We got up nice and early and drove all day back to New York with a van full of crying children (another story in itself too).

However, it was all worth it.  I learned some valuable lessons, had some fun, made some friends, and beat the Golden Girls.  I appreciate Drew and Luke letting me crash their race and become part of their team.  I am into racing now and I am looking forward to racing again.  I am hooked on Adventure Racing and will be back in the future.   Next race I will be properly trained, properly equipped, and bring plenty of tacos.

I learned not to wave to volunteers, not to tempt the tire gods, and to relax and just have fun because the unexpected will definitely happen.  Hopefully, we will have better luck next race and finish even better than we did at this race.  A big thanks goes out to Off Road Fixation and Kelly Sumner and all of the volunteers that made this race possible.  If we are lucky and there is a Second Truman Lake Adventure Race, we’ll be back to defend both of our titles and beat the Golden Girls once more.

Heading Out for a 12 Hour Rogaine

Team Virtus will be sending the brothers Lamb to Chillicothe, OH on November 14th for the Sleepy Hollow 12 hour Rogaine. Casey, Zack, and myself will be meeting in Ohio for the race.  Unfortunately, Bob and Drew couldn’t make it because they “had to work” and stuff.

For those of you that only know rogaine as a product for hair-loss, let me enlighten you.

This is not what we mean when we talk about a Rogaine.

This is not what we mean when we talk about a Rogaine.

There are two stories behind the term rogaine.  I have read that it comes from the first two letters of the names of the three athletes who supposedly invented the sport.  There names were Rod, Gail, and Neil.  Rogaine is also an acronym. The letters stand for Rugged Outdoor Group Activity Involving Navigation and Endurance.

This is the Rogaine we are referring to.

This is the Rogaine we are referring to.

A rogaine is an orienteering race usually lasting 12 to 24 hours where each checkpoint has a point value. Teams of two to five can get checkpoints in any order they so choose, and the team with the most points at the end of the race is the winner.  So, strategy plays a huge role in a rogaine race.  Do you try to get all of the low-value checkpoints that are closer and easier to find?  Or do you try to go for the high-value points that are farther away and more difficult to locate?

We have participated in adventure races with small rogaine sections in them, but this will be our first true rogaine race. It should be interesting to say the least, and I’m sure we’ll learn a lot.  We’ll post a race review and share our lessons learned when we get back.  That’s assuming we all survive.

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