Pushing Onward – The LBL Challenge Adventure Race Report Part 3

***NOTE: This race report was written by Luke and is presented in black text.  Casey added some comments and are presented to you in Red, Bob’s comments are in Green, and Kage’s comments are in Navy Blue.  Luke added a response or two in Purple.  If you need to get caught up, you can read part 1 here and part 2 here.***

Paddle Leg #1 – 1:13 PM Saturday Afternoon – 5 Hours 43 Minutes Racing

Somehow, through all the mistakes and mishaps, we managed to make it to the TA at CP8.  We ditched the bikes and our bike gear, and we readied ourselves for the paddling leg.  We all grabbed a bite to eat as we donned our PFD’s and put our paddles together.  We only had 3 kayak paddles, and since Kage had little to no experience using one, we decided we’d let her just use a canoe paddle.

Transition to Paddle at LBL Challenge Adventure Race

Even with the not-so-perfect start to the race, we were still smiling and having the time of our lives, and THAT'S what is important.

After a fairly quick transition (although we could have been faster), we carried the canoes down to the lake.  Kage got stuck in a canoe with me, and Bob and Casey filled up another one (Bob: Is this a fat reference?).  With storms in the forecast and clouds in the sky, we were a little worried that the water was going to be pretty rough.  We were pleasantly surprised when we shoved off and headed out on a silky smooth lake.  This was going to be easy.

Paddling at LBL Challenge

We were so happy that we weren't in those yellow, tippy POS canoes!

On this paddling leg, we had to get 3 CP’s (9, 10, & 11) in any order before heading back to the TA.  We decided to get CP10 first since it was closest, and then we would either portage the canoes across a peninsula to get CP11 before getting CP9 on an island OR we would paddle around the peninsula to get CP9 followed by CP11 if the portage looked too gnarly.

The paddling was easy and we made good time… until we left the bay.  Once we were out of the shelter of the bay, the lake was much rougher.  It wasn’t the worst I’ve paddled on, but it wasn’t exactly a cakewalk either.

Bob: The pictures do absolutely no justice to the size of the waves. Coming back to the canoe takeout, Casey and I had several waves crash right over the front and sides of the boat. I was soaked to my ass….balls first.

Casey and Bob paddling at LBL

Rougher waters and dark clouds

We stayed close to the coast and found CP10 easily.  There was a team here, “For the Run of It” I believe, that was convinced this was CP11.  I was 99.99% sure that we were at CP10, but a small seed of doubt had been planted in my brain.  With the rocky start to the race and several navigational blunders, I started to second guess myself.   We couldn’t afford another mistake.

We decided to paddle on and not portage the canoes since the brush and trees looked pretty thick.  I also knew that Kage was dreading portaging a canoe, but I’m sure she would have done just fine.  I mean, we all know that she has more upper body strength than Bob does, but then again, that’s not saying much.

Bob: Wow.

Kage happy in the boat at LBL Adventure Race

"Yesss! No portage!"

Anyway, we decided to paddle to the island to get CP9.  On the way to the small island, I kept looking toward the coast.  The little seed of doubt about CP10 began to grow.  Did we somehow paddle too far and miss CP10?  Was that actually CP11 instead?  I looked at the map, and I tried to convince myself that there was no possible way that could have happened.  There was, however, a bit of doubt remaining in my mind.

The water was getting more choppy and the wind picked up as we made it to the island.  It looked like it was raining to our east, but other than a few errant raindrops, we had managed to avoid the inclement weather.  We beached the canoes and Bob punched the passport.

Bob with sealskinz socks standing in water

Bob pretended his e-Fuel was whiskey so he'd be sure to drink enough.

Bob: Actually, I was just trying to look like Scott Fredrickson. If he had a beard, we’d look exactly alike.

We paddled into the small bay to get CP11, and I was once again worried that I had led our team astray since that other team was so sure that what we thought was CP10 was CP11.  I was still 99% sure I knew where we were, but it was a huge relief when we paddled right to the CP and confirmed that we had indeed gotten it right.

At this point, we could have portaged across the peninsula or paddled around it again.  I know Bob really wanted to portage, but the rest of us voted to paddle around it.  In hindsight, I think it would have been faster to portage, but I guess we’ll never know.

Kate: In retrospect, I feel bad that I argued against portaging.  Wimpy move, especially since we didn’t have bikes in the canoes or anything.  Next time, tell me to man up.

Casey:  I was on the fence and would have been fine with the portage.  It didn’t look too far but I think we made the right decision.  I have a feeling the portage would have taken us longer.

Bob: I think it would’ve been faster. By the time we would’ve gotten there, the trail would have already been blazed.

Luke: Like I said, we’ll never know.

As we paddled around the peninsula, the waves seemed to have gotten MUCH bigger.  It was really rough out there.  It was so rough, in fact, that we had to make sure we didn’t get sideways to the waves.  We had to hit the waves straight on or risk being tipped.  Hitting the waves head-on was a rough ride, though, and Bob said that several times they took on water over the bow of the canoe as they came crashing down over each wave.

Kate: I was definitely nervous during this part of the paddle, especially being as someone had already almost tipped the canoe in calm water. 

Bob: I’m so glad Luke lost the bet.

Kate: Still stinging from that upper body strength comment, huh?

Casey:  It was pretty rough out there.  Bob and I had a hard time not pulling away from the other canoe (we had 2 kayak paddles) with the rough waters.  We’d try to coast and wait for them, and we’d get tossed around and had to paddle to keep our bow into the waves.  We eventually decided to paddle a little ahead and get into the cove and wait for them there.  We kept an eye on them and hoped they’d join us safely in a few minutes. 

We eventually made it back to the TA after roughly 2 hours of paddling, but the last half of that paddling leg wasn’t exactly fun.  Well, that’s not true.  It was actually a lot of fun… now that it’s over.  We were definitely glad to be getting off the lake without tipping.

Canoe take-out at LBL Challenge AR

See? Kage is carrying the canoe better than Bob in this photo, isn't she?

Kate: Thanks for putting in that really flattering picture of me.  Now I’ll never be selected for America’s Next Top Model.  Jerk.

Luke: Kage, there can’t be a more flattering shot than a woman carrying a canoe in the middle of a 24+ hour adventure race.  Right?

Casey:  I guess we didn’t get any pictures when it was really rough, we were too busy trying to survive.  The pictures we have don’t do it justice.  However, according to people who raced LBL last year, it was nowhere near as rough as it was last year.  Last year, they cut the paddle short because it was too rough and too many people were dumping their canoes (they were the yellow P.O.S. canoes, however).

We transitioned to the bikes for a short ride (roughly 2 miles) to the big orienteering leg of the race.  We were really looking forward to getting to our first food drop, too.  As we pulled up to CP13 and the start of the O-course, we were shocked that there were so many bikes still there.

Food Drop #1 / CP 13 – 3:56 PM Saturday Afternoon – 8 Hours 26 Minutes Racing

As we rode down the gravel road to the manned-checkpoint, we could see a team of four getting ready to get back on the bikes.  It turned out to be Team Tecnu, one of the best teams in the country.  Oh, crap!  If it took a team of their caliber that long to finish the O-course, it must be pretty damn tough.  We dropped our bikes, swapped our bike shoes for trail shoes, and started to go through our food bag as Tecnu took off on their bikes.

Then another team came out of the woods.  It was Wedali.  Double crap!  Another top team was just now finishing the orienteering section.  And then as we were going through our food, switching from biking gear to trekking gear, and just taking way too long at the TA, another team came out of the woods: One of the two Bushwhacker teams.  What… the… hell?!?!

Transitoin Area with Drop Bags at LBL Challenge Adventure Race

Casey:  Thanks for putting in that really flattering picture of Bob and me.  Now we’ll never be selected for America’s Next Top Model.  Jerk!

Luke: Casey, there can’t be a more flattering of two husky dudes with half-beards. Right?

Clearly, this orienteering leg was a big, fat female dog, if you know what I mean.  As we ate some food, restocked our packs, and got ready for the O-course, I studied the map.  It was pretty clear that we were not going to clear the course.  So the question then became how many CP’s we should try to get before the 9:00 PM (?) cutoff.  Should we use all of that time to get as many CP’s as we can?  Or should we just grab a couple of the close ones in the daylight and come back to the bikes and hope we can use that time to get more CP’s later in the race?

Since the top teams obviously had some issues with the orienteering course, I figured we just might have some issues as well – especially once it got dark.  So I wanted to get 3 or 4 CP’s, skip the rest, and make our way back to the bikes before dark and hope that saving a couple of hours would help us later in the race.  Casey disagreed.  He’s the kind of guy that never wants to concede anything until absolutely necessary, and he always wants to push the envelope, for better or worse.  So we planned on getting a couple of CP’s and then we would reevaluate.

Bob: You forgot to mention that he does it all with a million-dollar smile, dazzling facial hair and an endless supply of mind-bending flatus.

Casey:  I think you should use all the time you have to get as many CP’s as possible, especially if you don’t know what is coming later in the race.  I don’t like to ASS -U-ME anything.  You know you have these CP’s to get and can’t assume there will be more later (undisclosed at this time).  I would hate to leave early, saving time for later, only to find out that there were no more CP’s and finish with time to spare and CP’s left un-punched.  Hell, I want to get all the CP’s every race.

Luke:  Every team needs a guy like you, Casey.  You always push us to do more than we think we can, and that’s a very good thing.  Sometimes, however, it’s better to skip CP’s early to get more later.  It’s a tough decision sometimes, though, because (like you said), you just don’t know what the rest of the race has in store for you.

As we were finishing up our (way too long) transition, the other Team Bushwhacker came out of the woods, our friends Scott and Frederick.  We asked how it was out there, and they said it was pretty rough.  That’s not what we wanted to hear.  We said good-bye and good luck, and then headed into the woods.  A few minutes later, we crossed paths with Team Alpine Shop, another top contender, as they were just finishing the orienteering leg.

Man, it was going to be a rough O-course.

To Be Continued…

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About Lukas Lamb

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

Posted on April 30, 2012, in Epicnicity---yeah it's a word, Paddling, Race Reports and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. I want to go back!!

    • You and me both. Everytime I see a canoe, I think about that night-paddle.

      • Make that 3 of us! And Bob, way to ruin the surprise. Now everyone knows that we paddled at night. I haven’t even written that part yet! Spoiler!

  2. I am still waiting to hear what was so bad

    • No one said the race was “bad.” We just had a ton of problems, and we made a lot of mistakes. Every AR has these issues, but we had more than usual. And the worst is yet to come. Stay tuned…

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