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Monthly Archives: August 2010

Leadville Reality Check

It was the only way to hide the absence of a bulge...

Pardon the vulgarity, but this moment was captured after a 10 mile ride ( from 11,000 feet elevation to over 14,000 ft), up Leadville’s famously painful Columbine climb. Normally us Virtus boys try to keep things as PG as possible, but given the nature of the achievement….I just couldn’t help myself.

I’d like for this photo to serve two purposes. Most importantly, I want this image to inspire all of you who seek to accomplish things greater than yourselves. “Toeing the line” is the greatest hurdle we must overcome to discover ourselves. It is a scary thing entering into an event knowing full well you will likely fail. I’m sure it varies from person to person, but i think that the last few minutes before a race begins are the worst. I hate standing there looking at the other 40+ racers who are all more fit, better prepared and ready to kick my ass.

The scenery is ridiculous out here

In less than a week I’ll be “racing” in the Leadville 100. Over the last few days I’ve pre-ridden most of the course, and there is no question my attempt here will be an epic FAIL. That truth was made clear to me on day 1 when we climbed St. Kieven, Sugar Loaf and powerline. Day 2 at Columbine was the icing on the cake, and today’s ride was a cherry on top. As raceday draws near, I can’t help but feel an overwhelming sense of doom at the failure that lies before me. I simply am not capable of completing this course in 12 hours. In all honesty, I may not be able to finish it in 24 hours.

There is always one truth arising from any form of athletic activity. On raceday,  posers will be revealed and true athletes will rise to the top. All those present will either witness your success, failure, weakness or inequality.

Think about this, though: The only people who see your “failure”, “weakness”, and “inequality” are the ones on the sidelines who didn’t even enter the damn race. So why would you care what they think anyway?

Think about this for a moment: Did you hear that Jim Davis  recently wore a cheerleader uniform during a dirt-crit mountain bike race? I bet you did. 

Next question… How did Jim finish?

Answer…Who gives a shit?

The man shows up in full costume, races like a madman, and then drinks beer and cheers for his friends/team-mates. People will talk about that day for years. Answer this: Would you rather have Jim on your team or some elitist d-bag who won’t eat bacon?? Personally, I’ll take J.D. all day long.

Today we climbed Columbine. It wasn’t easy, and at times I thought  the pain would never stop . In the end, the view was worth the pain.When we stood at the top I noticed one very important thing: There’s another mountain right over there and it looks taller than this one… Hmm…maybe Miley Cyrus isn’t so full of shit after all.

I’ll race Leadville and it will surely break me…that’s just reality. But I will not break easily, I’ve tasted failure before and I welcome the knowledge it brings. Without failure I’d never know my boundaries, and without that knowledge I’d  never be able to stand on top of a mountain with my jimmy in one hand and a middle finger in the air telling failure and doubt to fuck off.

Top of Columbine---colder than my ex-wife's panties

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Truman Lake Adventure Race – Without the Flats This Time!

Hello again to all of you crazed Virtusites!  This race report should have been written a long time ago, but you know how it goes – Life tends to get in the way. If  you’ve been following us for awhile then you’ll remember how we fared at the Inaugural Truman Lake Adventure Race last year.  For those of you that don’t remember… Casey, Drew, and I had to deal with roughly 42 flat tires and a broken pump, we won the mystery event dance competition, and we even won our division (we were the only 3-person team, but hey… It’s still a win).

For the 2010 Truman Lake Adventure Race, Casey and Drew couldn’t make it.  So, Darin and I decided to team up.  In true Team Virtus style, Darin tapered for this race by completing the GO! St. Louis Marathon just 6 days prior.  What a stud!  You can read his Marathon Report right here.

Darin met me at my house, and we drove down to Warsaw, MO together.  We stayed at the luxurious Sterett Creek Resort.  By luxurious I mean we had no phone, local channels only, and they included a fly swatter at no extra charge…

fly swatter

All kidding aside, this place was perfect for us.  It was affordable, clean, and it was literally only a couple of hundred yards from the start of the race.  What more could we ask for?

We checked in with race director Kelly Sumner from Off Road Fixation, and then we headed to an all-you-can-eat spaghetti dinner put on by… I forget who provided the meal. I think it was some sort of community group, and for $5 it was more than we could have asked for.

After the meal, we sat around waiting for the pre-race meeting  to start, so we got to size up all of our competition. Jason and Laura Elsenraat of Bonk Hard Racing would actually be competing in this event rather than organizing it.  Team Kuat was also there along with several other strong teams ready to compete in both the long and short course.

As we were sitting there waiting for the pre-race meeting, Darin and I began talking to a couple of young bucks from Ft. Leonard Wood.  They asked if we had done the race last year, and, when they heard that I had indeed raced last year, they asked if the trails were rough.  I started to explain to them about all of our (and by “our” I mean “Casey’s”) flat tires, and before I could finish one of them asked, “Hey, are you Team Virtus?”  Our reputation had obviously preceded us. They said that they had read Casey’s hilarious race report from last year. I’m not sure how cool it is to be recognized for buffoonery, but I guess any recognition is a good thing… Right?

The meeting was short and thorough, and we got all of the information we needed. Then we headed back to the motel for some much-needed shut-eye.

We woke up the next morning bright and early to get everything ready for the race.  Now, I don’t really get nervous for these races since I just want to do as good as I possibly can.  That means I put no pressure on myself or my teammates. My motto is “Fun is Better than Fast.”  My goals are always: 1) Have a blast; 2) Clear the course; and 3)Place as high as we can.

Darin, however, seemed a wee bit nervous.  I looked over at him, and he looked as if he had an appointment with the Grim Reaper.  His face was pale and clammy.  He was fidgitting incessantly. He just didn’t seem like himself.  I hadn’t raced with Darin in nearly 10 years, and I didn’t remember him being this nervous back then… Or ever now that I think of it. I just assumed he would get over it, so I proceeded to destroy the bathroom with my morning dukey.

When I came out of the bathroom, Darin was literally running sprints back and forth in our small motel room.  I remember thinking to myself, “What the hell are you doing?  We’re just racing to have fun. Man, I hope he doesn’t expect to win this thing, because he’s gonna be disappointed!”

Once Darin finally looked up from his shuttle sprints and saw the look on my face, he revealed to me why he was so nervous.  He was terrified, truly terrified, that he wasn’t going to be able to poop before the race.  He was “running laps” in the room to try to kick-start his bowels.  Okay… Now everything made perfect sense.  It probably didn’t help that I was able to go back into the bathroom for my second morning dump while he was still trying to coax out at least one measly turd from his poop-chute.

As we were getting ready to leave for the start of the race, by God’s dear grace, Darin FINALLY took a dump.  All of that running and praying must have paid off, because when he came out of the bathroom, he looked relieved and completely satisfied.

With all of our defecations behind us, we were now ready to go, and we made it to the starting line as the sun was coming up.

Luke and Darin at the start of the Truman Lake Adventure Race

A chilly start

The race started with a short road run.  It was maybe half a mile long, and I think it was designed to separate the teams a little bit before starting the paddling leg of the race.  It was a little too short, though, because it was a cluster-eff when we got to the canoes.

Somehow, we were the last ones on the water.  I’m not sure how that happened, but it’s clear that we really need to work on transitions.  We had a good paddle even though our canoe must have had a bent keel or something.  It pulled hard to the left no matter what we tried.  We still managed to pass 6 teams while paddling the flat water of Truman Lake.  Not too bad.

After a fairly long paddle, we made it back to the start/finish line where we transitioned to the bikes.  Before leaving on the bikes, we picked a playing card from a deck.  The mystery event this year was a Poker Run (I guess repeating as the best dancers of the race like we did last year just wasn’t in the cards… See what I did there?).  We got a measly 4 of clubs.  Not the best card for poker.

I took off my trail shoes, threw on my bike shoes, and we took off on the bikes.  I did not realize at the time that I was making one BIG mistake… More on that later.  The first part of the bike leg was on some paved and gravel roads, and the scenery was quite nice.

Gravel at the Truman Lake AR

Wow, we look really happy

There were some pretty good hills on this bike leg, and I think Darin realized that running a marathon the Sunday before this race might not have been the ideal way to taper for this race.  He did perfectly fine, but his legs felt a little dead on this first bike leg.

After getting a few checkpoints, we made it to the next transition area where we would be doing a short orienteering section on foot.  We picked another card, and we actually got another 4 of clubs giving us a pair in the same suit.  Things were looking up for the poker run. This is when I realized my earlier mistake. When putting on my bike shoes at the first transition area (TA), I forgot to put my trail shoes in my pack.  Umm… Yeah… If you’ve never done it, let me just tell you that hiking, running, and bushwhacking in bike shoes sucks.  Man, what an idiot I was!  What else could I do, though?  So, we headed out – Darin in trail shoes, me in bike shoes.

Luke Darin at Truman Lake

I'm smiling because I didn't realize my mistake... yet.

Hiking in Bike Shoes

Here I am fully aware of my stupid, stupid mistake.

The navigation went fairly smoothly, with a small hiccup here and there.  Kelly seems to like putting checkpoints in the nastiest, thickest thorn patches.  Upon reaching these checkpoints and only AFTER completely trashing your legs, arms, and any other exposed skin, we realized that we could have easily reached the CP’s along a nice, groomed trail if we would have taken a different route.  This happened several times, and each time I really wanted to thank Kelly with a nice punch to the face. What a warped sense of humor he must have.

After making it through the thorns, we popped out near the fish hatchery for a few more CP’s.  It was pretty cool hiking along this area, and we were leapfrogging a couple of teams here.

Fish Hatchery near Truman Lake

The fish hatchery behind us

One of the clues for a CP in this area was something like “Photo Op” or something like that.  I’m guessing that Kelly meant the dead, rotting deer carcass in the grass next to the pond.

Darin getting a CP at Truman Lake Adventure Race

Darin getting a CP

It was a good thing this carcass was here, because Darin and I were starving and running out of food…

Luke eating Deer at the Truman Lake AR

This really hit the spot

Darin eating Deer

Yummy

After feasting upon the flesh, we left feeling satisfied.  We didn’t want to gorge ourselves, so we left a little for the next teams…

Dead Rotting Deer Carcass

Finger Lickin' Good

Actually, I almost puked after moving the deer’s head around for the photo.  It didn’t stink at all until we moved it, but then it was brutal.  I gagged a little, and I have a pretty strong stomach. We left our feast behind, and we made our way across a long, beautiful field of tall grass.

Wide Open Field

Into the Great Wide Open

We got all of the CP’s and headed back to our bikes.  On our way back to the bikes, we saw Mac (the main guy responsible for building and maintaining the mountain bike trails in Warsaw).  He was without his teammate, though, so we knew something was wrong.  Mac said they had somehow lost their maps, and his teammate had gone back to find it. Bummer for them, but there was nothing we could do for them.

We hopped on our bikes again, and made our way to the single track.  The trails in Warsaw are well-built and a lot of fun. However, this is where disaster struck last year with all of Casey’s flat tires.  We were loaded down with tubes, patches, CO2 and a pump that worked, so we knew we were ready.

Biking at the Truman Lake AR

Happy to be back on the bikes

As we were riding the trails, Mac and his teammate caught up to us.  They never found there maps, but Mac said he had backups (this was kind of odd since we were only given one set of maps, but we were glad they were able to stay in the race – especially since they knew the trails so well).  We knew that these guys knew the trails like the back of their hands, and we were not ashamed to follow them since they clearly knew all of the shortcuts, cut-offs, and best routes.

We got all of the CP’s and got another card.  I don’t remember what it was, but it didn’t help us at all.  Then we headed out on foot for a looooong rogaine orienteering section (we could get the CP’s in any order).  This was a lot of fun, and some of the CP’s were challenging.  We got to see some cool views and interesting things, but my feet hated me.  Here are a few photos…

Harry S. Truman

We got to chat with Harry S. Truman

Crossing the Dam at Truman Lake

Crossing the damn dam

Darin eating fish

Darin got hungry again

We needed to get a CP along the shore of Truman Lake, and the clue was “Bonnie and Clyde’s Car” or something like that. So we were looking for an old, abandoned car.  This is where I screwed up and cost us some time.  After searching for this CP for 30 minutes or so, I realized that the map had two shorelines depending on the level of water in Truman Lake. Had I realized this sooner, We would’ve found the CP easily.  As I realized my mistake, Mac and his teammate popped out of the woods searching for the same CP (although they were getting them in a different order than we were).  We found the CP a minute or two later, and we went our separate ways.

I had been out of water for awhile now, and Darin was running very low. As the day wore on, the temperature climbed. We were hot and thirsty, so we wanted to fill up soon.  We tried a public bathroom… locked.  Damn. The drinking fountain outside it… shut off.  Damn.  I was about to fill up with water directly out of the lake and treat it with iodine when we hit the jackpot…

Filling up with water at Truman Lake

Filling up with much needed water

Now, the next CP’s clue was “thicket.”  We weren’t sure what a thicket was.  Was it a bush?  Was it a bunch of downed trees?  Was it a thorny area?  After some searching, it became very clear what a “thicket” was:

Thicket at Truman Lake AR

THIS is a "thicket"

After this, we headed out along some cliffs with spectacular views of Truman Lake:

View of Truman Lake

From here we got several CP’s that were hidden among some old ruins that were very cool.  The clues didn’t make sense until we got to the CP’s…

Grandma's House

"Grandma's House"

birdbath

"Birdbath"

By this point, my feet were hurting.  I was trying not to be a puss, and I was trying not to let Darin know how much my feet were hurting.  It felt like I had turf toe on both feet while walking on broken glass.  I had to do something, so I took my shoes off.  I felt liberated.  My feet felt so much better that I actually ran a little bit here and there.

Hiking without shoes

Look, Ma! No Shoes!

I kept my shoes off until we headed back into the woods for some bushwhacking.  I reluctantly put my bike shoes back on for this last stretch on foot.  I know I slowed Darin down with my foot issues, but he never once complained.  We finally made it back to the bikes and started the final push to the finish.  I was so glad to be off my feet and almost done.

Biking Truman Lake Dike

Crossing the Truman Lake Dike on the way to the finish

I don’t remember the other cards we got for the poker run or where we got them, but our final hand wasn’t good.  We finished with a pair of 4’s, so we clearly didn’t win the $50 prize.

We had a lot of fun (our #1 goal), and we cleared the course (our #2 goal), getting all of the CP’s in 10 hours and 10 minutes.  We ended up 11th out of 17 teams doing the long course and we took 5th out of 5 in the 2-person division.  The final results may not seem great to you, but we had a great time.  We also learned a lot (like NEVER EVER EVER and I mean NEVER leave your trail shoes at a TA), and that’s always a good thing.

Truman Lake AR Finish

Team Virtus at the finish of the Truman Lake Adventure Race

A big thank you goes out to Kelly Sumner of Off Road Fixation for putting the race on, all of the volunteers that made the race possible, and Warsaw Parks & Rec for allowing us to do this race.  If there’s a 3rd Truman Lake Adventure Race, we’ll be there.  Will you?

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