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.

Posted on November 6, 2009, in Race Reports and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. Great write up! I had forgotten a lot about this race until I read this.

    Here are some of my thoughts and notes to add:

    – I’ve learned to never underestimate anyone in a race – regardless of age, sex, appearance, weight, team name, favorite boy-band of the 90’s, and/or anything else.

    – I tried one of Drew’s tacos. I was NOT a fan. But he seemed to like them. And they were those frozen mini-tacos if any of you want to try it out.

    – Just so you know, Casey, when you ran down to the lake to find where your fourth flat was so we could patch it, Drew and I were discussing why we ever let you on our team and if it was okay to leave you behind.

    -When we race again, Casey, I WILL kick you in the pills if you ever talk about having flat tires or wave to volunteers. Just give ’em a head nod or something.

    – I really was ready to quit and go get a beer when my pump broke. If either one of you would have said yes to my suggestion, we were done.

    – I had completely forgotten how rough the lake was when we first got on the lake. I’m still amazed we didn’t go in the lake – especially with how low we were sitting in that canoe, and I’m even more amazed at how quickly the wind calmed down.

    – I’m also still a little embarrassed about starting in the wrong direction in the canoe. How does that even happen? Sorry about that.

    – I really thought my wife was having a baby when she called and that I was a dead man. I had given her explicit instructions to ONLY call in an emergency. That shows you how well she listens to me.

    – I still think it’s awesome that Drew made the call to get one more checkpoint with so little time. There is no way I would have made that call.

    – At times, many times in fact, I was not having fun during this race. At the end, though, and now that I look back, I know it was an absolute blast. I read somewhere recently that “you don’t have to be having fun to have fun” or something like that. I totally agree with that.

    – It was a great race, and thanks to Kelly and Off Road Fixation and all of the volunteers. Can’t wait to do it again.

  2. This is a great story, I can’t imagine the feeling of panic you guys felt when the phone rang.

    And who does this guy think he is tempting the Tire Gawds like that?!?!? FOOL!!!

    This story is exactly what i think adventure racing is all about; Triumph over mother nature coupled with all of those voices in your head telling you to quit over and over again.

    Imagine how cool this story would NOT be if it ended with…” and then it got really hard so we quit.”

    Bravo, boys.

  3. I just discovered this race report and must say I laughed and laughed when reading it. It reminded me of the awful storm that blew in when we were in the canoe! It was one of those “glad to look back on” experiences.

    For the record …I am turning 60 next year and yes….”I’ll be back!”

    P.S. Hint: Ask your bike shop to tell you about Slime…it would have saved you many minutes on the race.

  4. Yeah, there are usually several times throughout an adventure race where I think, “Why the hell am I doing this?” Then when I look back on it, I realize how awesome it truly was.

    It was great racing with you ladies, and it was great to see you again at the Castlewood race.

    Hope to see you again soon out there.

  5. I look forward to see you at the race again this spring. You are an inspiration and I hope to be racing 25 years from now. Keep on trekking.

  6. Hi, Luke.

    I thought of you and your website when I ran across this Adventure Racing Gear store. They have an affiliate program that could maybe earn you some money. Check it out. http://store.mpgear.com/index.aspx

    We are headed to the Ultramax 8 Hour this Saturday, first race of the season. We are racing as the Golden Girls again.

    By the way, you are getting there on your goal. Lookin’ good, Man! Keep it up. If Kelly has another dance competition, let the Chippendale moves come out!

    Hope to see you at a race, but looks like you will have to wait for us to come!

    Susy, aka Golden Girl

  7. Thanks for the link, Susy! And thanks for the encouragement regarding my weight loss journey.

    I wish we were going to the Ultramax 8 Hour. It looks like it should be a great race with great weather. Good luck! Let us know how you did.

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