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Monthly Archives: December 2009

No Playin’ Possum – The Possum Trot XIII was Serious Business

Possum Trot 2009

In the photo above, you see me proudly showing off my hard-earned trophy from yesterday’s Possum Trot XIII Orienteering Race.  Okay, that’s not true.  I didn’t win anything.  I did NOT, however, finish last.  It was an awesome race, though, and I had a lot of fun.

Bob had to “work” (aka – sitting on his ass and bitching to anyone and everyone), Zack had to “study” (aka – cramming at the last minute for finals), Drew had “piano lessons” (aka – …actually he really did have piano lessons), and Casey still lives in NY (damn Yankee!).  So I ventured out to Knob Noster State Park on my own.

Apparently, the competitors that show up for this race every year are no joke. There were people from Minnesota, Kansas, Texas, Colorado, all over Missouri, and even a guy from England.  I think the race director said that there was even a female World Sprint Orienteering Champion there whom I of course ended up beating by an hour and a half (this is clearly another lie).

There was a short course consisting of CP’s 1-14 and 26-30 (~9 km).  The long course consisted of CP’s 1-30 (~15 km as the crow flies), and this is the one I signed up for.  The short course racers were allowed 1 skip, and those doing the long course were allowed two skips.  We were told we could skip any 2 of the 30 controls that we wanted (they could be consecutive, but they didn’t have to be).

The race was to start at 9:00 AM, and there were two time cutoffs for the long course.  The first cutoff was (I thought) CP 14, and you had to be there by 11:00 AM.  If you didn’t make it here by 11:00, then you needed to do skip ahead to CP 26 and do the short course or just head back on the highway for a DNF. However, keep in mind that the short course racers were only allowed One skip. The second cutoff for the long race was at the finish, and you had to be done by 2:00 PM.

The skips made the race very interesting, because you have to think and plan ahead on the fly to determine when and where to use your skips. We were given the maps 2 minutes before the start of the race, so there was not a lot of time to stategerize.

Possum Trot Map XIII (North Section)

Click on the Image for a Larger Version that You Can Magnify

Possum Trot XIII Map (South Section)

Click on Image for a Larger Map that You can Magnify

There was a mass start (everyone started at the same time instead of a staggered start), and when the race director said “go”, everyone took off in a flash.  I was like, “Aww, shit.  This race is probably not designed for slow chubby guys.”

I started out jogging along the trail around the pond towards CP 1.  I overshot it, though, so I had to back-track a little.  I found a CP, but it was for a different course (there were also regular white, yellow, orange, and green o-courses going on).  I had to back-track some more and soon found the right CP.  It “only” took me 20 minutes.  After doing some quick math in my head (28 CP’s x 20 minutes = Never Going to Make the Cutoff) I realized I was screwed.  Damn! Not a good start.

I found CP’s 2 – 5 without any problems, and while I was moving faster than I had been for CP1, I just seemed to be moving slowly – even for me.  During this stretch there was a handful of people around me, and we kept leapfrogging each other as we chose different routes to the CP’s.  Most of these people, however, were doing the short course, so I figured I was in dead last for the long course.

I went down the wrong reentrant for CP 6.  The group of racers around me seemed to miss this CP as well, and we all found the CP at roughly the same time.  On the way to CP 7, I had a decision to make.  I could skip CP’s 8 & 9, cutting off a decent bit of distance and quite a bit of elevation change, or I could save my skips for later.  If I skipped 8 & 9 I would be burning both of my skips early, but this was probably the ONLY way I was going to make the first cutoff.  However, if I skipped two CP’s and still missed the cutoff, then I would be demoted to the short course, already having missed a CP (remember, the short course was only allowed one skip) and ranked below anyone that got all of the CP’s.

So I decided to go for it.  After finding #7, I skipped CP’s 8 & 9 and headed over to CP 10.  I HAD to make it to CP 14 by 11:00 now, or my race was ruined.  I found 10, 11, and 12 with no problems, and I seemed to picking up the pace.  I was getting a feel for the terrain and the map, and I was getting into a groove. I felt good.  I was running out of time, though, and it was going to be close.  I hit 13, and then I had to haul ass to get to 14 in time.

I got to where I thought 14 should be with 5 minutes to spare, but I couldn’t find the CP.  With some frantic searching, I found it and realized that no one was there to make sure I made the cutoff.  Then I remembered that we actually had to get to the Water drop at the road junction to the South-East of CP 14.  I hopped out on the road and heard my watch beep.  That meant it was 10:59 (my watch was a little over a minute faster than the race director’s).

I started to sprint (using that term loosely)  as fast as my chubby ass could go. I was picturing a race volunteer standing there looking at a watch with an evil grin on her face, counting down the seconds and getting ready to tell me I had failed.  I made it to the water drop with mere seconds to spare and… there was nobody there.  I guess the whole cutoff thing was on the honor system.

It doesn’t matter, because I made the cutoff.  Yes, the margin was thinner than a supermodel on a two-month long herion binge, but I had made it.  So skipping the two CP’s was the right decision so far.  I had covered 12 CP’s in 120 minutes exactly.  So, if I could keep up the 10 min per CP pace, I might actually make the 2:00 cutoff (16 CP’s left x 10 min = 160 min and I had 180 minutes left).

I slammed a cup of Gatorade, ate a couple of cookies, and headed off to CP 15. I hit CP’s 15 through 20 with no problems.  I mean I nailed them!  I was still moving slowly by most people’s standards, but, for me, I was rockin’ it.  I was keeping contact with the map at all times, and I found the CP’s exactly where I thought they would be.

Next, I would’ve really liked to skip CP 21 (it was actually the most skipped CP of the race), but I had already burned my two skips.  I hadn’t seen any other racers since CP 14, so I was sure I was in last place as I reached CP 21.  After I punched my passport, a woman comes jogging up to the control out of nowhere and punches her passport.  We both commented that we thought we were the only ones left on the course and then started on our way to #22.

I “let” her start out ahead of me since I am so chivalrous – you know, ladies first and all that.  Okay, that is yet another lie.  She took off ahead of me before I took my bearing.  We both seemed to be taking the same route to 22.  We also took the same route to 23, with her ahead of me once again.  I hope she didn’t think I was following her, because I wasn’t – seriously.  No really, I wasn’t.  I swear.

On the way to #24 is where I made my move.  I was like Cole Trickle in Days of Thunder. We slammed into each other as I was trying to pass her (“Rubbin’ is Racin'”), and I smashed through the brush as she fell behind me wondering what the hell just happened (“He’s going high. Goddamn it!” Trickle takes the lead).

Cole Trickle Possum Trot

Yeah, I felt as cool as Cole Trickle looks.

Okay, so it didn’t happen exactly like that.  She decided to take the trail, and I decided to bushwhack.  I got to CP 24 and didn’t see her anywhere.  Did she beat me here?  Did she have a skip left?  I had no idea, but there was no time to think about it.  I moved on to #25, and then hit the water drop again on the way to #26.  Always looking over my shoulder, I never saw her again, so she must have taken the faster route.  Another cup of Gatorade and a couple more cookies at the aide station hit the spot.

The rest of the CP’s went very smoothly.  My legs were starting to hurt, and time was running out.  Fortunately, I didn’t make any errors, and I made it to the finish line with 6 minutes and 25 seconds to spare.  I handed in my passport and got a couple of congratulations.  Most people had already left by now.  I ate a baked potato (apparently there was no other food left for slow, fat guys), and hopped in my car after snapping this cheesy shot:

Luke after the Possum Trot XIII

I checked my phone, and I had a voicemail.  It was from the meet director saying that they were ready to go home. Now, I know that I was slow, but this pissed me off a little bit.  If you’re not gladly willing to wait until the very end of the race for people like me, then you should make the time cutoff 3 hours.  This would have only allowed 16 of the 36 competitors to finish, but at least it would have been a shorter race. I know I’m not one of the elite guys (and maybe I never will be), but shouldn’t these races be open to everyone?  I think so.

Maybe the race director was just worried about me, and I took it wrong since I was worn out.  That’s what I’m going to think anyway because the race itself was phenomenal, and I don’t want to taint it.  The course was great, the park was great, the weather was great, and I got a lot of great orienteering practice in.  Like I said, this race was fantastic.  I’ll definitely do it again, although I hope I won’t keep anyone waiting next year.

As I drove out of the parking lot, I saw the woman I had met at CP22 running towards the finish line. I must have passed her with my Cole Trickle move after all. I wonder if she, too, got a phone call from the race director.  It doesn’t matter. I ended up taking 35th place out of 36 racers.

I know Some of you may think of finishing second to last as a failure.  Well, to that I say, “Screw you!”  Just kidding – sort of.  But I don’t think of it as a failure at all.  I had fun, I got better at orienteering, I experienced a great race, and I finished.  And that, my friends, is what it’s all about – is it not?

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Bored on A Sunny Day?

Maybe you should ride to Hermann. I did and it was great. I even made a few friends. This guy right here really likes cheddar/pretzel combo snacks but he doesn’t talk much.

Loving life burns a lot of calories, so I stopped off at this high-class establishment  for a Sammich and a Red Bull:

Then it was back onto the trail to see some more badass scenery:

I don’t know what the proper name was for this thing, so I decided to call it The “Really Big Rock” :

Click on the image to enlarge it, and look how small my bike is when compared to that rock.

Views of the MO River never really get old for me. I think I took the above and below photos in Portland (?)

Then I shocked the Biology community with my discovery and subsequent naming of the “Ninja Lizard”. These little critters are fast, but they’re really delicious with asparagus spears and a nice glass of Shiraz.

Pictures really don’t do this ride  justice, but you get the point.

When I got to Hermann I had to refuel, so I stopped here:

and got this:

What’s the point of ordering 1 when you know you’re gonna drink 3 in 5 minutes?

Castlewood 9hr and 43 Minute Race

Ok, so it’s suposed to be an 8 hour race, but big deal.

Castlewood 8 Hour Adventure Race

The Bonk Hard racing series didn’t earn its name by being easy. Luke and I knew that when we signed up for this one and we planned to train accordingly. We hit a bit if a “training glitch” when Luke cracked a rib and I got a girlfriend. Raceday saw us each at a not-so-svelte 230 lbs.

Luke’s done several of these races in the past,  and as we all know ,he and I teamed up to do “The Chill”  earlier in the year, so we knew what we were up against. The race description said to be ready for 5-10 hours of trekking, mountain biking and paddling. After further investigation and the use of a magic decoder ring, it was determined that the race would take us much longer.

Advanced Directives were written, pain killers were purchased from ebay and required gear was packed.

Bob packing gear for the Castlewood AR 2009

Packing the Right Gear so We can be "Strong to the Finish"

The night before the race we were fortunate enough to be bunking with Corey and Phil, from Team Scardick. (I don’t think they have a website yet?) Phil had made arrangements for us to stay with a friend of his who lives a mere 5 minutes from the park. Even better, Corey was even kind enough to bring his girlfriend Noelle who talked endlessly about……something? (She also farts a lot in her sleep)

This is all fine and dandy when you’re on the outside looking in, but let me ask you one thing: Have you ever smelled Corey’s feet?

No?

Let me paint you a picture…try to imagine that a zombie has clawed its way into Divine’s coffin, ate her corpse and then took a shit  into a shampoo bottle and boiled it in the microwave. Then imagine that Corey goes to the grocery store, buys the aforementioned shampoo and uses it for foot-scrub. Yeah, try sleeping with that up your nose. On the rare occasion that  I did lose consciousness I was plagued with nightmares of being trapped inside Rosie O’donnell’s vagina.

I’m not even going to say anything about the whole “restless leg” thing.

I lay on the floor staring at the ceiling….begging for the alarm to go off.

Luke wasn’t doing much better sleeping on the floor with a cracked rib.

Tick……tock.

At 4:57 the alarm went off and it was gameday. We were up and ready to go…late as hell. We took a wrong turn on the way to the race and wound up having to “use the force” to get to the park. It’s not a good sign when you get lost on your way to an adventure race.

We rolled into Castlewood Park to the sight of approximately 200 racers being loaded onto 6 school buses. If there’s one thing I can say about the “Bonk Hard” series, it’s that they make the race very interesting. Once we got on the bus we were lucky enough to hang out with our good friends Jim and Wendy from Team Trail Monster/Team Seagal. It turns out they’re pretty good at this AR thing, and they were contenders for the 2-person coed title.

A couple of the windows on the bus were stuck open, and that made for good small-talk. Jokes were told, wind was passed and all was merry. Since we were in an enclosed space and virtually noone knew us, I thought it would be a good idea to unleash the Triple-T. (defined in the Jenkins dictionary as a fart that which must travel ” through the turd,” making it particularly disgusting to the human palate and fatal for most small animals) We were quite entertained at the crowd’s reaction as “The TTT” spread through the bus.

Then the bus hit a bump. A big one. (Luke’s got a cracked rib) We were in the back of the bus and he got to feel every bump in the road for 45 minutes …good thing he took a leak before we left or he prolly would’ve pissed in his pants.

When we got to the starting area we got our maps and got ready  to go. It took a minute to find Team Scardick, but we managed to get in a quick handshake and wish them luck right before they started reminding us that they were here to kick our asses. Way to raise the bar, boys!

I guess this would be a good time to mention that the temp was 17 degrees. A week before the race it had been like 70 degrees, so we were completely un-acclimated to this kind of weather.

Bob and Luke - Team Virtus at Castlewood Adventure Race

Trying to Stay Warm Before the Race Starts

Race director Jason got us all lined up and started the race. Some ran and some walked, Corey Case took off running like this guy. Talk about focus…he had a rocket up his ass.

In order to keep teams from bottlenecking on the course, the first part of the race was a foot-run to get to our passports. I’d say it was 1/2 a mile or so to get to the first spot where we had an oppurtunity to bush-wack. We could either follow the road all the way to the passport station or cut down a steep hill to cut out a large portion of the road. We cut it. If you look at the map below and follow the pink line, you can see where we cut accross the road. (just for the record, this is someone else’s map, our route was fairly similar though)

This was Luke’s first taste of how much rib pain he would endure throughout the day. After a few choice words and some hobbling we found him a walking stick and descended the hill. Once at the bottom, we decided to cut out even more of the road by going straight up the side of the next hill. The grade was steep and uneven, but well worth the effort when we got to the top. The sun was juuuuust beginning to rise and we knew that it would probably be juuuuust beginning to set when this race was done.

We got to the passport station to find volunteers standing near a roaring fire and our passports. Most everyone else had already been there so we didn’t have to bump elbows with too many other people while we got our act together.

Now it was time to get down to the business of a 15 point rogaine. CP’s (that’s checkpoint, in case you didn’t know, mom) #1 thru 11 could be gathered in any order you wished, while #’s 12 thru 15 had to be found in order.  Here’s a copy of our map with the pre-plotted points:

Orienteering Map from Castlewood Adventure Race 2009

Click on Image to View Larger Map that You can Magnify

As navigator, I decided we would go clockwise, starting with CP # 1 and ending with 11 on our way to 12-15.  The route was easy enough; follow a hiking trail for a while along the top of a saddle:

and once we got to the most uphill portion of the far side we would cut into the woods to find the CP at the end of a finger in the middle of some rocks.

This would have been just dandy had I not gotten us completely off course from the moment we left the passport station.(Insert f-word here). Instead of being almost to Checkpoint #1, we were right on top of CP #11.  Thankfully, Luke was quick to catch my mistake and we changed our route. From here it looked like the smartest way to get to CP 10 was to follow a creek all the way there. This proved to be a smart move since the creek was nearly dry, flat and easily traveled. We found the CP with zero problems and managed to get a cool pic of this frozen waterfall along the way:

Frozen Creek at Castlewood Adventure Race

The path from CP 10 to CP 8 looked to be a bit menacing. A straight shot over to CP 8 would take us across some rather large climbs and descents laden with menacing rocks. We talked about it for a moment and decided the best thing to do would be to keep following the creek. By doing so we would  go around the climbs instead of over them. Hopefully this would save energy, prevent bonking, and be safer travel for Luke’s rib.

This whole “creek-following” thing would prove to be a staple tactic for us throughout the day. By staying along the waterways we were able to keep close track of our location and have a great reference point for where we needed to go.

From CP 8 we decided the best plan of attack was to follow the creek straight west to CP 9.  As we got closer we began to notice there were a lot of different teams converging on this spot from several different directions. I knew there would be a bottleneck if we all got there at the same time, so the decision was made to sacrifice our bodies…We smashed the hill and got there first.

Coming down the hill from CP 9 on our way to CP7,  it felt good to make eye contact with some of the other racers. Why? Because we got to see that some of them were in pain too. Maybe I’m a sicko, but I really like to know that other people are struggling….just like me.

CP 7 wasn’t hard to find, it was just hard to get to. It was right along the trail, about 12 feet above the trail on a reee—dick-you–luss embankment. We managed to get some PICS and this little piece of video…..ya gotta fast forward to 0:43 to see it though.

Bob at the Cliff that was CP 7

After that it was time to climb. Holy batshit, did we climb…getting from CP7 to CP2 was a lesson in humility. Standing at CP2 and looking across to the boulders at CP6… knowing that we were going to have to climb that beast was enough to make me reach into my pack for another mouthful of disgusting apple-cinnamon Hammer Gel. We made it though, and stood at  the top admiring a BAD-ASS view of the park.

Bob at the top

Look closely and you can see the control behind the tree

Then I’m like, “Luke, where do we go?”

Luke Showing the Way

"That way!"

Problem solved.

CP 4 was easy, CP 5 was easy…what’s going on here?

For the fist time (EVER) I’m starting to feel like I know what I’m doing. At this point we’re mid-way up a grueling climb on our way to CP 3. There is a trail clearly marked on the map which no longer exists, ( no surprise since the map is Circa 1985),and our confidence level is so high that we don’t question it. We know where we are and we know where we’re going. When we reached the top I cycled my eyes back and forth between the land and the map, land and the map…and something clicked in my head. I knew EXACTLY where we were.

I decided to kinda keep it to myself though, just in case I was wrong. I told Luke I was pretty sure we were going to go a little farther downhill and run into a  small pond. 2 seconds later we were looking at the pond and I couldn’t have been happier. I could finally call myself a (half-assed) orienteer!!

On our way from CP 13 to CP14 we ran into a father/son team who were looking for CP 13. I gave them horrible instructions because I misunderstood which CP they were looking for. Right after we parted ways, Luke asked me if I had given them shitty instructions on purpose? Of course not, I’m just a dumbass with horrible hearing:). So, we ran them down and gave them better directions. That would have really bothered me if someone thought I sent them astray on purpose… talk about a close call. I think those guys actually wound up finishing ahead of us.

Getting from CP 14 to CP 15 was a snap, and I was glad to see that we would be transitioning over to our mountain bikes. Much to our surprise there were still a lot of teams who hadn’t gotten this far. We were well ahead of the 4-person team all wearing Santa hats, and that was a very, very good thing. Luke plotted the new CP’s on our new maps and I made sure the bikes were ready to go and our Camelbaks were full.

Mt. Bike Road Map for Castlewood 8 Hour

Click on Image to View Larger Map that You can Magnify

The first several miles of the bike leg were going to be on paved roads and the CP’s looked pretty easy to find. There would be no shortage of winding climbs, though…. If you look at the route from CP 15 to CP 16, do you notice how close together those contour lines are on the map? The closer those lines are together, the steeper the climb. Yeah, so show some respect.

Since I was running my singlespeed I had no choice but to attack all the way to the top. That was serious pain, one of those times you can taste blood in your mouth coming up from your lungs.  The only real benefit to my situation was seeing the looks on the faces of skinny dudes riding geared bikes as I was stomping past them. One of the turns toward the top was so sharp that there was actually a MIRROR there so you could look for oncoming traffic. I thought they only had that kind of stuff in Germany?

After we punched the passport at CP 16 it was time to make our glorious descent to CP 17. It was all downhill and very fast. Luke’s cyclometer made it to 39.3 mph. Did I mention it was still about 20 degrees? You would think I’d have remembered to put my gloves on before we did something like that..

Castlewood 09 Mt. Bike Al Foster Trail Part 1

Click on the Image for a Larger Version that You Can Magnify

Mt. Bike Al Foster Trail Part 2

Click on Image for Larger Map that You can Magnify

Getting to CP 18 was taking longer than we expected, but since it was along a trailhead we figured we couldn’t miss it. Luke suggested,( a few times), that we should stop and check the map but I insisted we were on track.

I was wrong…really wrong. Thanks to my overconfidence we wound up at CP 19 before we punched  #18 and wound up having to backtrack about 5 miles.

Much profanity was spoken.

When we got back to CP 19/22 I disappeared into the brush to “drop the kids off” while Luke talked to one of  the volunteers. I know he doesn’t know this, but I could hear them talking. She asked him howI was doing as navigator and his response was so overwhelming that I made a point to capture it on video.

Words hurt, Luke.

Heading to CP 20, we noticed that EVERYONE coming back from that checkpoint was covered in mud and looked generally pissed off. Luke popped a pain pill and we cruised onward. It wasn’t long until we realized we were going EXACTLY to the same area where we got into all that mud on our recon ride (which you can read about right here). This was good and bad; Good since we knew where we were going and bad because we knew it was in the middle of a football field of mud.

I got to the CP a little ahead of Luke and reached into my pocket for the passport…..it wasn’t there. I checked all my pockets, my pack, even did a body-cavity search….it wasn’t there. I couldn’t wait to explain this one, especially after costing us so much time looking for CP 18.

Luke was pissed. So pissed, in fact, that he made me take a picture of how pissed off he was:

Luke Mad at Bob

And then he took a picture of me “being a dumbass”

Bob found The Passport

Right after that, I found the passport in the sleeve of my jacket. Talk about a relief…my life was spared and we trudged back to CP 19/22.

Getting to CP 23 was not fun in any way.  We had to load our bikes into a canoe and then paddle upstream for about…..forever.

Bikes in the Canoe Castlewood '09

We Forgot Bungee Cords, so We Tied the Bikes to Our Canoe with a Spare Tube

Quick math lesson:

One paddler with a cracked rib

+ one paddler who SUCKS in a canoe

+ 2 very muddy bikes

+ strong current

—————————————————

= FFFFFUUUUUCCCCKKK!!!!!!

Castlewood 09 Canoe Map

Click on Image for a Larger Version that You can Magnify

I think we both wanted to die. I vividly remember looking down into the icy-clear water and seeing a seashell on the bottom. 20 paddle-strokes later I looked down and it was still there…we had moved maybe 8 inches upstream. Further adding to the pain was the fact that another team was right next to us having just as many problems. A game of bumper-boats ensued as we kept slamming into one another, thinking the other team was at fault.  Tensions were running high to say the least.

We finally got to the CP and turned the canoe around for what would be a swift ride downstream with the wind at our backs. We both took the oppurtunity to rest and eat since we knew we would be on the bikes again soon.

Soon after fueling up we decided to set a solid, sustainable rowing pace to reel some other teams in. We managed to pass a few teams that way, including 2 poor bastards who we would later find out flipped their canoe. At the canoe out-take we got our passports punched, our gear checked and dropped off some socks and a jacket for the dudes who fell in the water. We were freezing our asses off, so I hate to think what they felt like being wet.

Now we were out of the canoes and onto our bikes once again for the final leg of the race!!

map is below:

Mt. Bike Castlewood Map

Click on Image to View Larger Map that You can Magnify

One thing that caught our attention was how closely our recon ride matched the route we would be taking on this leg…it was just a little too convenient. Instead of having to stop and think about how we were going to get somewhere based on the map, we just went there from memory. It was great.

We knew exactly where CP 26 was and we knew a shortcut that was going to get us there fast. The shortcut involved carrying our bikes up a super-steep climb that would cut out a lot of trail biking and save us time. The mtb trail’s bumps and downhills had proven to be the most painful obstacle for Luke’s rib throughout the day, so we were doing everything we could to avoid them.

I guess I should bring up the fact that there was a team of asswipes following us. When I say “following” I don’t mean in the sense that we consistently  wound up going the same way, I mean FOLLOWING us. They actually stopped in the middle of the trail multiple times to let us pass so they could follow our lines. Can you say bullshit? What is the point of competing in an ADVENTURE RACE if you’re going to follow other racers? The whole point is to find your own path, blaze your own trail and be your own man, for crying out loud. Hey buddy, ya see that piece of paper in your hand with all the squiggly lines on it?….That’s a map, jerkoff. Use it.

Well guess what, now they were following us up the hill. We were both pretty fed up with their shit so we took a breather at the top of the hill and let them go on. It was either that or throw down an ass beating, and neither of us had the energy for that. I caught a photo of Luke as we made our way up:

Hike-a-Bike at Castlewood

Hike-a-Bike up the Shortcut to CP 26

There’s a lot to be said for the view on the way to CP 25. It was hard not to just stand there and take it in, but we were near the finish and it was business time. The next bit of trail was mostly downhill and very fun for me. For Luke it was probably a lot like playing the lead role in a prison fight scene. There were lots of rocks, root balls and otherwise bumpy terrain.

It was a bitch, but that pain was nothing compared to the soul-crushing energy-vacuum known as Cardiac Hill, and that was exactly where we were going. How tall is that climb, anyway? I didn’t even try to ride it on my SS, I just shouldered the bike and started hiking. At the top I waited for Luke and looked forward to the pizza and beer waiting for us at the finish line.

Luke’s pain meds had completely worn off by now and he was feeling every pebble in the trail. We had one more heavy climb and the rest of the mtb section would be fast, bumpy downhills. I  rode behind him so he could set the pace and we started down. This bit of trail would be face-melting fun any other time, but it hurt him bad enough he was doing Lamaze breathing to ride through the pain.

After the final checkpoint there was a short bit of singletrack before we got on the road to the finish line.  We had somehow caught and passed ???????4 teams????? on the biking leg and  now we were right up the ass of another 2 man group.  My jaw dropped and my heart filled with pride when Luke whipped out to pass them riding along the bumpy frozen ground next to the trail.  We put a quick gap on them and crossed the finish line 9 hours and 43 minutes after we started.

Team Virtus Finishing the Castlewood 2009

Jim and Wendy of Team Trail Monster/Team Seagal fame wasted no time putting cold beer in our hands, and Corey and Phil jumped out of the woodwork to give us each a victory leg-hump. Not long after that we crushed some delicious pizza and got our schwag.

Castlewood '09 Finish

So Happy to be Done

Stories of triumph and failure were exchanged and much wind was broken.

For the ride home we got Luke some quality pain meds, a couple of Hobgoblins and some victory cigars. It wasn’t long before my POS truck was rollin’ down the highway like a Cadillac.

Participating in a Bonk Hard Racing event is an experience that everyone should have at least once. This is a long race report for sure, but a bajillion details have been left out.

Stop and think about why you didn’t do this race: Do you feel like you’re not athletic enough? Was it too cold for your tastes? Perhaps you don’t know how to read a map? Maybe your rib hurts? Don’t like losing?

Hmm…Guess what, we overcame all of that, and we did it with smiles on our faces. You can too, all you have to do is sign up and you’ve already won. Need a partner?…..say so in the comments section and you shall have one.

Until next time, sports fans…may your bottle be full and your ass on the trail!!

The ABC’s of Adventure Racing Gear Part II – Stuff We Use and Recommend

We recently shared our picks for AR gear starting with letters A through E.  To check that out go here.  Now, we’ll continue with our list of adventure racing gear that we use and love, starting with the letter F.

F is for Fuel – e-Gel & e-Fuel by Crank Sports

Crank Sports make some tasty gels that blow away the competition.  Don’t believe me?  Just compare it to your gel that you’re currently using and see for yourself.  The e-Gels have plenty of carbs, amino acids, anitoxidants, and electrolytes to keep you hydrated and ready to go.  They also have a product that is perfect for adventure racing – e-Fuel.  It is basically a gel in concentrated liquid form in a handy little pouch (a lot like a gel pouch) that you can pour directly into a water bottle or your hydration bladder. There is no need for mixing any messy powders that leave clumps only to clog your bite valve, it mixes immediately, it provides tons of energy and electrolytes, and it is simply delicious.  My favorite is the Citrus Slam.  You can compare e-fuel to other sports drinks like Gatorade, Accelerade, and Cytomax by going here.  Once you try e-Gel or e-Fuel, you won’t go back to anything else.

G is for Gripper Gloves by Outdoor Research

OR Gripper Gloves

The OR Gripper Gloves are fantastic.  They are not big and bulky, but they are warm and comfy while still breathing well.  The Windstopper Fleece and grippy palms make these great on paddling and biking sections.  Pair these up with liner gloves, and you’ll be all set for cold weather adventure races.  They are also quite a bit cheaper than comparable North Face and Mountain Hardwear gloves. Check them out.

H is for Hydropel

Hydropel Sports Ointment for preventing blisters and chafing

Do you always seem to get blisters and hotspots?  Or do you chafe like an S.O.B.?  Then pick some of this stuff up.  I never race without first applying Hydropel to my feet liberally.  I also apply it to certain delicate regions that are prone to chafing (that would be my crotch in case you were wondering). It works on the nips, too, if that is a problem area for you.  I prefer Hydropel over BodyGlide or Sportslick, because it is a little thicker and seems to stay on throughout an entire race much better.  Get some of your own right here.

I is for Injinji Toesocks

Injinji Socks look weird but feel great

Yes, these socks look weird.  And the first time you put them on, they may feel a little weird.  But after 2 minutes you’ll love ’em.  If you have blister problems, use Hydropel (listed above) with these socks and say buh-bye to blisters.  In cold weather I use these Injinjis as a liner sock under a wool sock. They wick well, breathe well, and prevent friction between the toes. Get a pair and you won’t be sorry.

J is for Jelly Belly Sport Beans

Jelly Belly Sport BeansJelly Belly Sport Beans are awesome.  When you don’t feel like slamming down another gel, or when you just want something to chew, you should grab a pack of sport beans.  They are loaded with energy and electrolytes, they taste great, and you can even get them with caffeine (an adventure racer’s best friend).  You can get them in 4 packs or by the case right here.

So that’s it for this installment of our recommended adventure racing gear A to Z.  Be sure to check out Part III in our series.

Castlewood 8 Hour Adventure 2009 – Report Coming Soon

Edit: The Castlewood 8 Hour Adventure Race Report is now posted right here.

I know all of our loyal readers and fans (Both of you – Hi Mom and Dad!) are dying to read our race report from this past weekend’s race.  Well, too damn bad!  No, I’m just kidding.  But you will have to wait a little bit since our scribe (Bob) is out of town until Friday.  Trust me, though… It will be worth the wait.

To quench your thirst for more about all that is Team Virtus, you really need to read Bob’s write-up from the Bonk Hard Chill ’09 here if you haven’t already.  It is fantastic.  Once you’ve read the Chill race report, you will have no choice but to check back in with us to read the Castlewood 8 Hour race report.

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