Category Archives: Adam is re-hired to the team
I’ve heard that racing with your spouse can ruin a marriage. I’ve heard horror stories of couples nearly killing each other out there. But I’ve never had doubts about my marriage, and the High Profile Adventure Camp only made me realize how fucking lucky I actually am to be married to Becca. The weekend in Mount Carroll, IL only confirmed that my wife is indeed my soul mate… even though she literally wished she was with another man at one point, but we’ll get to that in a minute.
The original plan for Team Virtus was to all go to camp together and bring our significant others. It was to be an epic battle (and party) with all of us there. Unfortunately, this thing we call life got in the way. Work, children’s sporting events, medical procedures, and perhaps a touch of Antisocial Behavior Disorder kept many Virtusans and their partners from attending camp. But nothing would stop Adam, Michelle, Becca, and I from going. (EDIT: There was one more Virtusan there. Kate, as she pointed out in the comments below, was also there. She volunteered, and she kicked ass as the camp’s social media guru and helped clear the orienteering course.)
We saw a lot of our AR friends as we made our way through the painless check- in at Camp Benson, and we got our fantastic swag bags (worth well over $100 at least). Then we hauled all our gear down to our
orgy love shack cabin before heading back up to the lodge for burgers followed by Gerry Voelliger’s opening talk on all things Adventure Racing.
After Gerry’s talk, I headed over for the advanced orienteering lecture (although I am anything but advanced). Adam stayed with Michelle and Becca for the beginner orienteering talk, and our friend and camp volunteer Dave Huntley promised he’d help out if Becca needed it. Big thanks to him.
It was great sitting next to our friend Scott Frederickson from Team Bushwhacker at the advanced orienteering lecture. He chimed in with some great pointers a few times, and anything I didn’t quite understand was easily explained by Scott.
After the lectures, we hiked back down to the cabin for some
group love shut-eye. The flatulence was somewhat disappointing without our friends from WTFAR there and no Bob Jenkins, but Michelle almost made up for their absence. She can really rip ’em!
The next morning we practiced our orienteering skills at Palisades State Park. Unfortunately, the Mississippi was partially frozen over, so there would be no paddling practice for us. That’s probably a good thing since Gerry still uses this damn photo of us from our first year at camp in his opening lecture. That also meant we had more time to practice our navigation and, later, fixed ropes.
We decided we’d stay in a group of four for the orienteering practice. We headed straight up – and I mean straight UP – to our first checkpoint. On the way, we had to stop off at one of our favorite views, a spot we’ve visited every time we’ve gone to camp.
We were mostly successful, although I led us astray on one point that other teams swore was not there. So of course Adam and I had to try and find it. That was stupid. We spoke with our friend and camp volunteer Kim Heintz later, and we figured out where we went wrong. Even though I’ve been doing this for over 10 years, I still have lots to learn and a ton of room for improvement.
Although we didn’t have a perfect run of CPs, I thought we were all having a blast. But then, as we were hiking, Becca turned to me and said:
“I wish Bob Jenkins was here. He’s way more entertaining.”
Ouch. That one hurt. I tried to hide the tears, but everyone knew I was crushed. She’d rather be with my BFF than her own husband? Damn! That just killed me.
Becca claims that she thought she was boring me and that I’d rather have Bob with me instead of her. Don’t get me wrong. Bob always makes everything fun, but there was no one else I’d rather have by my side than Becca. (Cue the sappy music all you want, but it’s true.)
Becca and Michelle are brand new to adventure racing and orienteering, so it was good practice for them as well. They even lead us to one of the CPs without any help. For real! Check it out:
Being new to adventure racing, Becca tried to avoid using the woods as a bathroom (maybe we should get her a Go Girl?). She tried to hold it, but eventually had to succumb to nature’s call. Adam was a gentleman and turned the other way as Becca went behind a tree to take care of business. About 30 yards down the trail – literally – we found an outhouse which Michelle gladly used.
After another CP or two, it was time to go back to the Virtus Van and head back to Camp Benson. We stopped at McDonald’s on the way back, because there was a line at Subway. Believe it or not, we were running behind – shocker, I know! – so we opted for the quicker and much greasier burgers and fries than to wait in line at Subway.
Back at camp, Gerry gave the Ropes Safety Talk which terrified me the first year we went to camp. Then the one and only Robyn Benincasa gave a brief talk about paddling followed by some great, quick-hitters on AR gear, strategy, navigation, nutrition, and more. It was a short but jam-packed session as the knowledge bombs kept raining down on us.
And then it was time for the fixed ropes practice: rappelling, zip lining, tryolean traversing, and ascending (we skipped the rock climbing to practice more of the skills we’d encounter at the race the next day).
The first time I ever rappelled was at High Profile Adventure Camp, and I was flat-out petrified. I was nauseated and sweating profusely. I wanted to chicken out badly, but I didn’t. Even today, I get a little nervous, so I was expecting Becca and Michelle to be quite scared. Well, they weren’t.
After watching my wife give birth to our four amazing kids and pass kidney stones as easily as Bob passes gas, I already know she is way tougher than I’ll ever be. Watching her crush all of the fixed ropes proves she’s braver than I’ll ever be as well.
Rather than bore you with words, I’ll just show you how much fun we had on the ropes.
Michelle opted to conserve her energy for the race in the morning, so she decided to skip the Tryolean Traverse. It’s not too bad for the first half since you’re going slightly “downhill.” But then you have to pull yourself the rest of the way, fighting gravity. It can be very tiring.
Later that evening, Robyn Benincasa gave her world-class talk on what makes winners win, what makes a good team, and what makes a good leader. This talk alone is worth the price of admission.
Then Gerry gave the pre-race briefing, and we got our maps. The Lightning Strikes report will come out soon – sometime within the next two years.
As you can probably tell, we had an amazingly good time the first day and a half. The High Profile Adventure Camp is hands down the best way for beginners to get started in adventure racing, and it’s also a great place where veterans of the sport can continue learning and expanding their skills.
For what you get – the top-notch instruction, the lodging, the awesome swag bag, some food, the super safe environment, the fun, the adventure, the laughs, and then a 4- or 8-hour adventure race – it is an absolute steal. You’re crazy if you don’t go at least once.
We’ll definitely be back (a fourth time for me), and hopefully we’ll have more Virtusans and spouses with us.
Does one of your teammates have a face that just makes you want to smash it with a fist? For us, that’s Adam.
Have you ever known a guy that just gets on your last nerve all the time? That’s Adam.
Would you rather ride 100km alone on a trainer staring at a brick wall than ride some sweet single track with a certain person? Yup. That’s Adam.
If you’ve been a Virtusite for more than a day or two, then you may know how much we hate our teammate Adam. He has been fired from the team innumerous times, he is the butt of endless jokes, and he just can’t seem to do anything right. Seriously, if you tried to make a worse teammate than Adam, you couldn’t do it. He’s just that horrible.
Adam Laffoon turned 40 years old today!
To honor him on his birthday, we thought we should set the record straight. It seems like too many people don’t know how we truly feel about Adam. For those that don’t know how the non-stop firing of Adam got started, I’ll fill you in.
The one and only Tenacious D has a bit on one of their albums about firing a band member. I don’t even remember when it was, but it was very early in Adam’s adventure racing career when Bob and I jokingly used the same bit and fired Adam from the team. And for whatever reason, it stuck.
Ever since then, every time Adam does something wrong (or even when he does something right), he gets fired from the team. Hell, even if someone else screws up, Adam is the one who gets fired. And it doesn’t even matter if he’s never been re-hired to the team. He still gets fired. It has become Team Virtus’s running gag and somewhat of a tradition.
But that’s all it is: A gag, a goof, a joke. You see, we fucking LOVE Adam Laffoon. And since he has officially become a distinguished gentleman at the age of 40, it’s about time the whole world knows how much we love him.
The truth is, Adam is a fantastic teammate. He never complains (even when I get us lost… a lot). He’s always willing to do what’s best for the team. He obviously has a great sense of humor since he puts up with so much ridicule. He’s strong in all disciplines, and he definitely makes us a better, stronger team. He’s a true Virtusan through and through.
As great as Adam is at being a teammate, he’s an even better friend. I know that if I got stuck on the side of the road in a downpour at 3:00 AM and needed help, Adam would be there. If I needed help moving, Adam would be the first to volunteer. If I broke my leg and needed a sponge bath… Well, I’d probably ask my wife. But you get the idea. He’s the kind of friend we’re lucky to have.
I’m proud to call him my teammate and even more proud to call him my friend.
With that said, for Adam’s birthday, we all decided that he has been…
PERMANENTLY RE-HIRED TO THE TEAM.*
That’s right, ladies and gentlemen. You read that correctly. Adam is now, and forever will be, a Virtusan** And nobody can take that away from him.***
So please join us in wishing Adam a happy 40th birthday today. Leave him a happy birthday wish as a comment here on the blog or on our facebook page. Let him know that you, too, love him. Happy birthday, Adam!
*Unless he does something stupid again at which time he will be fired.
**And by forever we mean until he is once again fired.
We have 5 Virtusans stupid enough to do the Dirty Kanza 200: Bob Jenkins, Robby Brown, Adam Laffoon, Casey Lamb, and me. The four of us that live in MO (which excludes Casey) decided to do our first group training ride this morning in preparation for DK.
Unfortunately, I had to be at work by 11:30, so we had to meet fairly early at 7:oo AM. When my alarm went off, I was pissed at the alarm clock. Then I looked outside to realize the weather man lied. Instead of 45 degrees and partly cloudy, it was completely overcast with a light mist, temps hovering around 35, and lots of nasty wind. I was pissed at the weather man. All I wanted to do was go back to bed. Then I remembered that Bob, Robby, and Adam agreed to meet me. I was pissed at the idiot that suggested this ride. Wait… That was me. What was I thinking?
If I wasn’t meeting up with my team, there’s no way I would have gotten this ride in. So I dragged my chubby buttocki out of bed, loaded up my bike and met the fellas at the Katy Trail Pavilion/Commuter Lot.
We headed out on a mile or two of pavement before we would hit the gravel. There was a really strong headwind, and the light mist made it really cold. I was really wishing I was not on my bike at that moment.
We soon found ourselves on the gravel, and I started to warm up. We talked, joked, laughed, and made fun of Adam. I was finally glad that I was on my bike with my pals.
It wasn’t too long before we came up on some heavy machinery. It’s a Virtus rule that Adam must pretend to drive any type of tractor/heavy machinery that we find. Bob and I yelled ahead for Adam to come pose for a photo, but he and Robby pretended not to hear us. So Adam was once again fired from the team. Bob and I decided to take some photos anyway.
While we waited for Robby and Adam to realize that we weren’t behind them, Bob decided to do some serious planking. Check it out:
Eventually, Adam and Robby came back to see why we weren’t right behind them. Adam then begrudgingly posed for the photo that should have already happened.
It wasn’t long before we were back on the gravel riding back into the vicious wind. We had all warmed up by now, and we were having fun. The wind sucked, but it was good training for Dirty Kanza. Anytime there was a frozen puddle, Bob tempted fate by riding as fast as he could through the middle of it. I kept waiting for the ice to break and reveal a deep ditch, sending Bob flying through the air to fall flat on his face. Sadly, I was disappointed every time.
The ride was great, the wind was harsh, and the miles were flying by. I don’t need to go into great detail, so I’ll just share a few photos with you…
After 35 minutes… Okay, it was only a minute or so, we hopped back on our bikes. We soon found ourselves back at Highway 94 after 10 miles of riding. This is where Bob had to leave us because he wanted to stay employed. As we said our good byes and shed a tear or two, we noticed a truck coming by salting the road. Seriously. I guess the weather man was WAY off.
Bob decided to hop on the Katy Trail to hustle back to his truck so he wouldn’t be late for work. However, there was a deep ditch with a lot of water in it preventing Bob from crossing. As Bob put it, “There’s an effing moat there!” So he had to ride pavement for just a bit before hopping on the Katy.
Robby, Adam, and I made our way on the Katy Trail into Tebbetts, MO. We then hopped back on the gravel to make our way back to the commuter lot and our vehicles. There was one stretch of gravel where the wind was absolutely sucking the life out of my legs. Fortunately, we decided to stop for a snack break by the Missouri River at about the 20 mile mark.
Before we got too cold by the river, we started on our way again. We were feeling pretty good, and with the wind finally at our backs, we were once again making good time. There was plenty of cool sites to hold our attention. Like this little creek crossing:
It wasn’t long before we were back on the Katy Trail for a short stretch before getting back on the gravel. All was going great, and I was going to be done with plenty of time to make it to work on time. Until we got about a half a mile from the Haunted Bridge where I got a flat tire. Bob is usually the one to get flat tires, so I normally don’t have to worry about it. With him gone, however, I guess I had to take one for the team. Fortunately I always carry an extra tube, and Adam had CO2 for me (again, he was trying to buy his way back onto the team).
I quickly had a new tube in place, and was ready to roll. But then I heard a dreadful hissing sound. Damn it! I guess I had a bad tube, or I missed something in the tire that had punctured my new tube. Robby and Adam were on cross bikes, so their tubes wouldn’t help me. With about 7 miles left, I was going to have to walk my bike back and risk being late for work. Robby volunteered to haul ass back to the parking lot and come back with my van, and Adam volunteered to walk with me.
I was glad to have Adam’s company on the walk. Between that and letting me use his CO2, I guess he’s back on the team. Now, don’t worry. It won’t be long until he does something Adam-like and winds up fired again, I assure you.
After walking just under 2 miles and 35 minutes later, Robby arrived with my van.
I loaded up my bike and climbed into the warm van. Adam decided to ride the last few miles back to his car. I would have liked to stay with Adam, but I was running short on time. I had to get going, so Robby and I drove back to the commuter lot.
It was a great ride with great friends. On more than one occasion, my mind wandered to Casey. I’m VERY fortunate to have my friends and teammates so close. It’s so much easier to train and push yourself when you can do it with your team. Casey, however, has yet to find a group of like-minded people to train with in NY. It’s gotta be tough to train for Dirty Kanza by yourself. If anyone can do it, though, it’s Casey. When he wraps his brain around something, he’s a very determined dude. I guess I just wished Casey could be here to train with us.
Anyway… What was supposed to be a 32 mile ride, ended up being a 24.5 mile ride, a 1.9 mile hike-a-bike, and about a 6 mile car ride for me. The route was relatively flat, but with the wind and the rough gravel, it’s an ass kicker.
Thanks to Bob, Robby, and Adam for riding with me. And thanks to Robby and Adam for helping me out at the end. It was a great day.
And by the way, I made it to work in plenty of time. Bob, however, was just a few minutes late for his job.
So, there you have it. Our first group training ride for Dirty Kanza is in the books. Our next scheduled group ride is the Super Century on February 5th. Wanna join us? And we’ll keep you posted if we plan another ride before that. Until then, Buh-Bye.
**NOTE** This race report was written by Luke and is presented in black text. Casey added some comments and are presented to you in Orange, Bob’s comments are in Green. Adam’s too good for us to add comments, but his comments would have been in Pink. Luke added a few responses in blue.
I can remember it like it was yesterday… It was Christmas Eve, and I was 8 years old. As I snuggled into my bed, snow silently fell to the ground outside my window, covering the outside world in its frosty-white blanket. The minutes slowly ticked by, inching ever so closely to midnight. It felt like time was standing still. I wasn’t sure I was going to survive the night. The anticipation was almost too much to bear.
You see, all of my friends already had Nintendo Entertainment Systems, and it was the only thing I wanted for Christmas. I would have given anything to get a Nintendo. I wanted it soooo badly. In fact, I often had dreams about hanging out at the mall with Mario and Luigi while all my friends stared at us, jealous of my friendship with the two plumber-brothers.
When dawn finally broke, my brothers and I sprinted downstairs and tore into our presents. It was a fantastic Christmas! Santa was very, very good to us. However… We did not find a Nintendo under the tree. I had built this Christmas up in my mind to be the Christmas to end all Christmases. I just knew we were going to get a Nintendo. I just knew it was going to be the best Christmas ever. I never even considered not getting a Nintendo. When the last presents were opened and there was no Nintendo, I was crushed. My heart broke, and my soul blackened ever so slightly. A part of me died on that fateful Christmas morn…
And that’s exactly how I felt at the Lionheart Adventure Race.
We had been building this race up in our minds since we first talked about it a few months ago, and the growing anticipation only added to how awesome this race was going to be. We just knew it was going to be a great race. We just knew we were going to have a blast. We never even considered not finishing an awesome race.
And then we were crushed… Just like that Christmas morning 13 years ago… (Okay, so it was 25 years ago, but who’s counting?)
We were originally planning on doing The Thunder Rolls Adventure Race, but since Casey has traveled 12+ hours to race with the rest of Team Virtus here in the Midwest several times, we decided to broaden our horizons and head East to race a little closer to his home in NY. After much deliberation regarding which race to do, Bob, Adam, and I decided to meet Casey in Ohiopyle, PA for the Lionheart Adventure Race.
All of us prepared for battle with our customary facial hair, but Bob definitely gets a gold star for going all-out this time.
We were incredibly excited for many reasons. We had trained our asses off for this race, especially in the paddling department (something we usually neglect). We were also excited about racing in a new state with more mountainous terrain than we have here in the Midwest. The paddling looked like it was going to be an absolute blast, and there was going to be a 130 foot high rappel! On top of all of that, our brand new team jerseys had arrived in the nick of time to debut them in PA. We had researched previous races in the area as well as the local trails and rivers. Basically, we were probably more prepared for this race than we’ve ever been for any other race. We even had a game plan: Pace ourselves early so we would be strong throughout the entire race, passing those teams that went out too fast. After all, it was a 25-hour race, right? Well, no it wasn’t, but more on that later.
Before Adam, Bob, and I left Jefferson City on Thursday evening around 9:15 PM, we had to scramble a little bit to make sure we had all of the required gear. The gear list had changed a couple of times over the previous week, so Bob reserved a snake bite kit with the race organizers (which wasn’t actually reserved for him, but thankfully, Casey had already picked one up in NY). We also hoped to pick up an “Aqua Strobe Flashing Rescue Light” when we got to Ohiopyle. This just raised our level of excitement even more…
**We might get bitten by a snake!!! We’re going to have to paddle at night!!! Sweet!!!**
Um… Yeah… Just keep reading.
With all of our supplies ready, we loaded the Virtus Van, and we were ready to roll. The drive would take us roughly 13 hours to get there, and, thanks to Bob’s amazingly awesome Mom, we had enough snacks and supplies to make the drive at least 5 times. We took turns snacking, driving, and napping. Thank you , Mrs. Jenkins! You made the road trip a GREAT one, and you rock!
After driving straight through the night, we finally made it to Ohiopyle around noon. The drive into Ohiopyle was beautiful. However, the terrain was a bit intimidating. The mountains in this area make the Ozarks look like ant hills, but we were ready. We parked the Virtus Van, and we walked along the Yough (pronounced Yawk) River. We were blown away.
We grabbed a quick bite to eat in the small town of Ohioplye while we waited for Casey to arrive (and I’m not exactly sure what it was we were actually drinking in the little pizzeria). After unsuccessfully trying to get a campsite at the state park (apparently PA State Parks won’t let you get a campsite if it’s after Noon – WTH?), we found a little hole-in-the-wall campground (Scarlett Knob Campground) nearby and set up our camp. Shortly thereafter, Casey arrived. After many top-secret Team Virtus hand-shakes, high-fives, and a man-hug or ten, the four of us made our way back into Ohioplye for a quick dip in the river. Hijinks and tomfoolery ensued…
Bob: I like how these photos show the contrast between my manboobs and Luke’s ripped back. Way to rub it in, asshole.
Luke: Dude, I love that photo of you. Your face shows the sheer joy of racing down those natural water slides.
We were a little timid when we first started going down the natural water slides. I mean if you stop to think about it, it probably wasn’t a great idea to be doing this kind of thing the day before a “25-hour” adventure race. It really was a lot of fun, though. However, all good things must come to an end, and we knew it was going to be a long race the next day. We didn’t want anyone getting hurt, so…
We decided to go down the water slides head first for the next hour.
Videos of us having more fun than anyone else can be found here: Luke (notice the bikini girl is terrified of me at the end), Casey, Bob (sorry about the angle, but notice he takes care of his comb-over in the middle of water sliding), and of course Adam (who is fired for dropping my flip-flop that Bob’s mom packed for us). You can also see a first-person-point-of-view video right here. We seriously had a ton of fun.
Bob: Lest we forget that a new Virtus term was coined in those frigid waters… That water was so cold, everyone was “Laffooning”. Heck, I’m Laffooning right now just thinking about it.
Casey: Remember how slick it was upriver from the slides? We were sitting in the river waiting for Luke to catch up and as he passed some teenage girls he lost his footing and went airborne. He was parallel to the ground and about 4 or 5 feet in the air. Luckily he wasn’t hurt. Oh course, we didn’t laugh until we were sure he was alright.
Luke: I’m pretty sure I heard you laughing before I hit the ground.
After our swim, we went to grab a bite to eat at “The Pub”, one of only a couple of places to eat in Ohiopyle. It… Took… For… Ever… The food was good, but we actually had to get it to-go since the pre-race meeting was starting at 8:00 PM sharp. So we took our cajun chicken pasta with us and hurried over to the pavilion for the meeting. At the last minute, however, the meeting had been moved to the next morning. Bummer.
We checked in, grabbed our t-shirts, maps, UTM coordinates, and passport. Then we copied the off-limits roads from the master map.
We went back to our campsite to plot the points and get our gear ready to go. The race meeting was rescheduled for 8:30 AM sharp, and the race would start at 9:00 AM. I’ve never been to a race that started so late… especially a 25-hour race (which was actually turned into a 23-hour race for reasons unknown to us). We all went to bed ridiculously early for the night before an adventure race, and we got a very good night’s sleep, something I’ve never had before an adventure race.
We all woke up around 6:45 feeling refreshed and ready to race. We finished packing our gear boxes and backpacks. For long races, we all prepare in our own way. Adam likes to meditate and visualize himself as an actual member of Team Virtus. Bob likes to stare at photos of his girlfriend for motivation. I prefer to pretend to lose things so Adam and Bob can help me find them (Man, that was hilarious, but you had to be there). And Casey apparently likes to hump the Virtus Van…
Casey: Although the Virtus Van appears to be enjoying the special attention, I was really compressing air from my e-Vent water proof bag.
Luke: Uh-huh. Sure you were. Perv.
We drove to the start of the race, and we made our way to the pre-race meeting… Well, all of us but Casey went to the meeting. He was looking for his camera that he swore one of us had hidden just to mess with him. He didn’t miss much, though, since there really wasn’t much info given out at the meeting. We learned that we had to be back by 8:00 AM the next morning, and we had to stay off the off-limits roads. And that was it. Nothing else was said. Remember this. It becomes important later in the race.
Casey: I thought one of you were screwing with me because you kept laughing every time I asked about it. You guys even said you had hidden it in the glove box at one point (I checked and it wasn’t there). I needed my camera for the race or we wouldn’t have any pictures of Luke. This would lead to fewer hits on the race report since Luke has such a huge following…woof!
We went back to the Virtus Van to get our packs. Casey was still looking for his camera when it was time to go to the starting line. He said he’d catch up, so Bob, Adam and I left without him.
Standing at the starting line, we were ready to go… Well, Casey was still looking for his camera. He finally gave up so he wouldn’t miss the start of the race. He would have made it to the starting line in time too, if he didn’t run to the wrong location. He ran to the pavilion where the pre-race meeting had been held instead of to the starting line on the bridge. What a great start. Once again, Team Virtus starts at the back of the pack. That’s okay. It was all part of our plan.
Casey: I never looked at the map to see where the start was actually located. Luke was navigating and I didn’t think I’d need to know. When I got to the pavilion, nobody was there and the people inside the store had no clue where the start was. I was starting to panic a bit and then I remembered something about a bridge, so I sprinted a good quarter of a mile to the starting line. I got there just as the back of the pack was getting off the bridge. I was breathing heavy and sweat was dripping off my face for the start of the race. Sorry guys, maybe you shouldn’t have hidden my camera.
Bob: You totally cost us the podium.
If you wanna take a look at a map of the area to sort of follow along, here you go. The race started on a footbridge above Hwy 381. We were faced with a 3-mile trek heading north on an old railroad trail (The Great Allegheny Passage) to get checkpoint (CP) 1, and then a 3-mile trek back to the Transition Area (TA) in the parking lot. Since we knew we would be back to the TA shortly, we decided to forgo filling our packs with water and food to lighten our load. In hindsight, this was stupid.
We also knew that a lot of teams would go out hard and run all 6 miles. That was fine with us. We’ve had success in the past by pacing ourselves early while other teams go out too fast and blow up. Our plan was to “power hike” the 6 miles to keep our legs fresh. That lasted about 5 minutes, though. Take a look:
(By the way, leave us a comment if you actually get my reference to marsupials in this video)
Um… Yeah. We started the race with a 100 meter sprint. So what? It was fun, and I clearly won. Other than that, though, we stuck to our plan. It was kind of fun trying to guess which teams were going out too fast too soon as they passed us on their way back to the TA while we were still on our way to CP1. We found the CP with no problems, and we then made our way back to the TA to grab CP2.
I’d like to tell you that we flew through this TA, but I’d be lying. Clearly, this is an area in which we need a lot of work. It took us 35 – 40 minutes to get out of the TA. That’s just pathetic. Part of that was because we needed to fill our bladders and pack more food. In hindsight, it was stupid to not do this before the race started. The little bit of time it saved us on the trek paled in comparison to the time it cost us at the TA. The good news, though, is Casey found his camera in the van. However, he never apologized for blaming us. What a jerk.
Casey: You guys never apologized for hiding it from me. Plus, I apologized a few paragraphs ago.
While at the TA, I got a nice little surprise. As I slipped my foot into my bike shoe, something impaled my foot:
My son, Otis, had somehow left his toy car in my bike shoe. I’d like to think that he did this on purpose to put a smile on my face, but he’s only two. I’m guessing he was just playing, and the car ended up in my shoe on accident. It did bring a big smile to my face regardless of how it got there, but I wish I would have found it later in the race when I would really need something to brighten my spirits.
As I waited for everyone else (Adam) to finish getting ready, I tweeted:
“2 cp’s done. Transitioning to bikes. In last place, but just pacing ourselves. Feeling great!”
Aside from taking too long at the TA, though, everything was going according to plan. The weather was great, we were feeling great, and we were excited to get on our bikes. The next CP looked easy enough to find. We simply had to hop on the Great Allegheny Passage rail-trail heading east for a short distance, jump on the Baughman Trail, pick up the Sugarloaf Trail, and find the CP at the “sledding area.”
Unfortunately, we managed to completely miss the trailhead. We must have blown by it while flying on the flat, smooth rail-trail. Fortunately, we caught our mistake quickly… Or so we thought. Rather than backtrack, we decided to bike-whack up the hill. This was another mistake. The bike-whacking was about as easy as proofreading one of Casey’s race reports. Take a look:
So it turns out that we had biked farther on the rail-trail than we had originally thought. We only tried bike-whacking for a few minutes before stopping to reassess the situation. Rather than waste a ton of energy, we decided to head back on the rail-trail to find the trailhead. We found it easily, and I have no idea how we missed it the first time.
We started riding on the Baughman Trail, and it was pretty fun… at first. We somehow managed to completely blow by where the trail turned and went up some steps. Bob was leading, and he was wearing Casey’s GoPro Hero helmet cam. If you’ll watch the video below, you’ll notice that Bob actually looks at the stairs, but then he just keeps going. He thought the stairs just led to some lookout, and he saw a pile of brush in front of him. He thought it would look cool on the video if he rode over the pile of stuff in front of him, so he disregarded the stairs. In hindsight, this pile of sticks was to let riders know that it was the wrong way. Whoops.
To see the video, just go right here.
We can’t blame Bob, though. I was behind Bob, with Adam behind me, and then Casey behind Adam. I saw the stairs, too, but I didn’t really think about it. Adam saw them too, but he didn’t think much of them either. Casey never even saw the stairs, which is amazing in itself. So, it was a collaborative mistake.
Soon the trail petered out into nothing. We realized that we must have missed the turn, so we decided to bike-whack up the hill to get back onto the Baughman Trail. The bike-whacking in this area was MUCH easier than what we attempted before. We quickly found the trail and got back on track.
While the trail was easier than bike-whacking, it was still an S.O.B. of a climb. It seemed to go on… and on… and on… for… ever… We didn’t do much biking on this part of the trail. We lost about a gallon of sweat, though.
It was was hot, the climb was steep, we were hurting, and it was still very early in the race. Not good. We eventually made it to the top of the climb, and we took a short, 5 minute break at a beautiful look-out. Was it worth the climb? Well, yes and no. Yes in the sense that it was beautiful and No in the sense that this was actually a race, and we didn’t exactly relish how much energy was just exerted. Regardless, it was a very cool spot, and of course we had to take some photos.
Casey: There was one good section that had a bombing downhill that you could ride in stretches. Below is a clip of Bob riding it with a headcam rolling. If you listen really closely you can hear BLD laugh like a little kid. He was really enjoying the moment.
Bob: The video does no justice to that downhill, but you can kinda tell how fast I was going by the way the trees get blurry. That section was reaaally fun.
We made our way over to the “sledding area” to grab CP3. The volunteers here were very cool. I wish I remembered their names, but I’m drawing a blank. Anyway, a big thank you to those two ladies. They were very friendly, and they laughed at all of our bad jokes… Even Casey’s.
We took a little longer here than we normally would. The bike-whacking fiasco followed by that hellacious climb had taken a toll on us. Bob wasn’t feeling very well at all, so we sat down and had a little picnic lunch. Bob asked Casey for some sausage (insert your own joke here), but Casey said he was saving it for later in the race. What a jerk.
We sat in the shade, ate some Honey Stinger Waffles and other food, and drank some e-Fuel as we planned our route on foot to the kayaking put-in. Yes, that means we were dropping our bikes here, which also meant we would have to come back up this S.O.B. of a mountain.
After refueling, we thanked the volunteers, bid them adieu, and headed out on foot. (Didn’t Bob promise to bring the hot chocolate for them upon our return?) It was going to be a 7-ish mile trek to the river mostly on gravel roads. It was a loooong hike, but at least it was almost completely downhill to the river. Many jokes and stories were told, Adam was fired from the team numerous times, and many memories were made. I won’t bore you with all of the details (I know, it’s shocking that I’m trying to keep this short…er). Here are a few photos from our trek:
Casey: We actually bet on whether we’d be paddling in tandem or single inflatable kayaks. I bet it would be single kayaks and Luke thought it would double kayaks. So who really won the bet? You make the call…read on.
It was a great, but looong, hike, and my feet were aching. We had a blast, and we were absolutely stoked to be getting on the river soon. We had watched videos of the Middle Yough River, and it was going to be an absolute blast! We were also going to be using inflatable kayaks, something we’ve never experienced, which only added to the excitement. We simply could not wait. And since we were running very low on food, we were even happier to be getting on the river for a 2-3 hour paddle back to the TA and our supplies.
We found the CP and met the two volunteers. As we punched our passport, one of the volunteers walked up and said to the other volunteer, “So, did you tell them yet?”
**Uh oh… That doesn’t sound good at all.**
Volunteer: “Well unfortunately, I’ve got some bad news for you guys. You can’t get on the river”
Volunteer: “You guys and 5 other teams missed the cutoff and can’t get on the river. You had to be here almost an hour ago at 4:00 PM.”
**Um… What cutoff?!?!**
At this point, I looked around to see if there was a video camera. I seriously thought this was a prank. As we stood there in silence for a few moments, I realized there was no camera, no “gotcha!” moment, and this was no prank. This guy was serious.
There was no mention of a cutoff on the race’s website. There was no mention of a cutoff at the race check-in. There was no mention of a cutoff at the pre-race meeting. There was no mention of a cutoff on the clue sheet. Why was there no mention of a cutoff? Because…
There was NO EFFING CUTOFF!!!
We were absolutely dumbfounded. We informed the volunteers that there was no cutoff, that there must be some kind of mistake. They told us that the State Park does not allow paddling on the river after dark, and there was nothing they could do about it.
**We had 3 and a half + hours of daylight left!!! And WHY did we need to buy an “Aqua Strobe Flashing Rescue Light if we couldn’t paddle after dark!?!?**
We couldn’t believe it. How could this have happened? We didn’t come all the way from MO and NY for this. We just didn’t understand.
Bob was silent.
It was really, REALLY hard to not take out our frustration on these volunteers. I know they had nothing to do with it. They were simply the messengers, and we all know how that saying goes. We tried to plead our case, but their hands were tied.
Bob was silent.
We asked what our options were. They said we could drop out of the race or hike all 7 miles back to our bikes (UPHILL THE ENTIRE WAY), skip the 100+ foot rappel that we were soooo looking forward to, skip going back to the TA where our much-needed food was, and continue on with the race on our bikes.
Bob was still silent.
For those of you that don’t know Bob, there are only two reasons for him to be silent: 1) He’s battling a Prairie-Doggin’ turd so he doesn’t poop in his pants, or 2) He’s really, really, REALLY pissed. All I’ll say is, he had a healthy bowel movement earlier in the day, so he was not in danger of soiling himself. You do the math.
Now, let me break this down for you. We had just been completely blindsided by, what we have now dubbed, a Phantom Cutoff. We were going to miss out on the two things we were most excited about: the kayaking and the rappel. And we were going to have to hike 7 miles uphill and finish the race without refueling. All because we missed the Phantom Cutoff by 1 hour.
Just let all of that soak in for a minute…
For those of you that haven’t raced much, I’ll just tell you that racing with cutoffs is entirely different than racing with no cutoffs. Having a cutoff makes it a “race within the race.” You know you have to be somewhere at a certain time, so you plan everything around that cutoff. In all of the Adventure Races I’ve done over the last 10+ years, I don’t remember ever missing a cutoff. Not one. I’ve dropped out of races before due to injury or being fat and out of shape, but I’ve never missed a cutoff. There is no doubt in my mind that we could have made it to the kayak put-in by 4:00 PM had we actually known there was a cutoff!!!!
Completely deflated, with our heads hung low, we walked over to the park bathroom to fill up with water, relieve ourselves, and discuss what we wanted to do.
I was pissed. I was depressed. I was deflated and dejected. No one wanted to go on the trek from hell with no food. No one wanted to skip the kayaking leg. No one wanted to skip the rappel. But what could we do? I, for one, wanted to quit. I think quitting crossed all of our minds… Even Casey’s.
If you know Team Virtus at all, though, you know we didn’t quit. There is no Strength & Honor in quitting. It was very hard not to quit at the time, though. Since there was nothing we could do, we decided to walk into the tiny town, buy any food we could find with our emergency funds (something you should take on every race), and then start our long, uphill trek back to our bikes, skipping the paddle, the rappel, and the TA.
As we were on our way to tell the volunteers that we had decided to continue with the race, we saw another team walking towards the volunteers. They were all eating ice cream and drinking sodas (which looked ridiculously delicious by the way) that they had purchased in the small town across the river. We informed them of the Phantom Cutoff. And their reaction was on par with ours. Actually, they may have taken the news worse than we did.
As we started walking away while they were discussing their options with the volunteers, the race director pulled up in his truck. So we decided to stick around to see what he had to say.
I believe the racer you see in the photo above said to the race director as he approached, “It would have been nice to know about a fuckin’ cutoff!” I couldn’t have said it better myself.
Bob was silent.
The RD said that he has organized races in this area for 13 years with very similar courses, and he had “Never seen teams move so slowly and take so long.”
Wow. So it’s our fault. And we’re fat and slow. The nerve of this guy!
When we and the other team tried to tell him that we had enough daylight left to finish the paddle before it was dark, the RD said (and I actually didn’t hear this, but all 3 of my teammates confirmed this), “Well it took Team SOG (affiliated with the RD and the race promotion company) 2 hours, so it would probably take you guys like six hours.”
I’m glad I didn’t hear this. I might have completely lost what little patience I had left. So, not only was missing the cutoff-that-didn’t-exist our fault because we’re fat and slow, but we suck so bad compared to Team SOG that we would take 3 TIMES as long as they did on the water. This RD’s customer service was top-notch. And by top-notch I mean it’s the worst I’ve ever seen in the Adventure Racing community. Man! I get riled up just typing this, and it’s been several months since this happened.
Casey: Team SOG is an elite team and might very well be 3 times faster than we are on land since they actually run during races. However, on water I’m sure they aren’t three times as fast. That is a huge margin of superiority. They’d most likely beat us in a kayak race, but I assure you not by the margin their friend, the RD was assuming. We are big, strong guys and would have crushed the paddle. We paddled a lot this summer, and we were really looking forward to paddling on the Yough River. Apparently, American Adventure Sports cares more about catering to elite teams than the average Joe. If that is their target audience, they should say so from the beginning.
Bob: I feel like I should point out that Team SOG was a very classy crew. They made sure to say hello every time we ran into them, and they always had something positive and encouraging to say. Our beef is definitely not with Team SOG.
We expressed our utter disappointment in missing the paddling leg AND the rappel as well as our concern about not having enough food. We asked if there was anyway to get a ride so we could do the rappel, go to the TA and refuel, and then hike to our bikes and continue on with the race from there as a “short-coursed” team. He thought about it for a moment, and said, “I don’t see why not. It’s about the same distance on foot.” So the Race Director himself gave us the green light, and nothing else was ever said.
Okay, so all was not lost after all. We were still really pissed and feeling down, but at least we were going to get to do the rappel, go to the TA and refuel, and then finish the race to the best of our ability. So we piled in the back of the RD’s truck and the other team piled into one of the volunteers’ trucks for a ride back to the TA.
Bob was still Silent (maybe his new nickname should be Silent Bob).
Bob: I haven’t been that disappointed and angry since I was married. I make a habit to process my emotions before I react to them. I knew if I said anything, it would come out wrong and I’d look like a major jerk. I was convinced noone else had heard the RD’s condescending comments, so I was trying to keep it to myself. Having said that, I’d been looking forward to that paddling leg for months and had trained accordingly. I just couldn’t get past the disappointment.
Casey: I heard his comments and just assumed he was star-struck over his friends, Team SOG. I chose to ignore his insulting comment and assumed he was just an ignorant jerk. Because we are not elite on our feet doesn’t mean we’re inept on the water. We could have floated down the river in tubes in less than 6 hours. Hell, we could have carried our inflatable boats down the cinder path along side of the river in less time than he was assuming it would take us to paddle it.
We made it back to the TA and walked along the rail-trail to the bridge over the Yough River where we would be rappelling. Even though we weren’t in good spirits, we were still pretty excited for the rappel. And it didn’t disappoint.
Casey: It was pretty scary. The volunteer set my ATC up for a lefthanded rappel but my ATC was on the right side of my body. I pointed this out to him, and he told me that I was wrong, it was safe and that I should just go. I looked down at my harness and showed him how the ropes twisted over each other if I rappeled right handed. I was not going to attempt a rappel with this set up, and I called over another volunteer. He agreed with my assessment of the situation and helped me reclip in properly. Once this got straightened out I really enjoyed the rappel off the bridge. It was one of only a few highlights of this race for me.
It was quite an adrenaline rush, and it was just what we needed to kick-start the rest of our race. When we went to punch our passport, we realized that we had left it at the TA. Adam was fired for not reminding us to bring it. We quickly went to get it, came back, and punched the passport.
We re-stocked our packs with food and water, and then we headed out on foot to go pick up our bikes. This time, however, we decided to take the Sugarloaf Trail instead of the Baughman Trail. I was actually against this , but Bob campaigned for the Sugarloaf Trail and I was outvoted. It turned out to be a great decision. We made decent time as we climbed our way up the mountain. Steep in spots, the trail was pretty rocky, but it was much faster than taking the Baughman Trail. I remember all of us commenting that it would be fun to bike down this trail and that we’d be getting off and walking some of the steeper, rockier sections.
We soon made it to our bikes to find the same smiling, friendly volunteers. (They asked about the hot chocolate they were promised. BLD lived up to his name once again). It was now getting dark, and we decided to have a snack before hopping on our bikes. I believe Casey was nice enough to share his sausage with the rest of us at this point (insert another joke here). In all honesty, Casey was right. It would have been too soon to eat such a delicious treat, and it was definitely worth waiting for. I needed more food, though.
Casey: I felt like such a jerk for telling Bob no earlier in the race. I was planning on saving it until we needed something to pick us up. I think it worked out though.
We once again said good bye to the wonderful volunteers, and we headed out on our bikes. I don’t remember exactly where we went, and the order of events may be off slightly. I can’t seem to find my maps (I may have either burned them or wiped my ass with them). I remember riding some fun, but tough, gravel roads for quite a while.
The navigation on the bikes wasn’t difficult, and we eventually found ourselves at the CP where we picked up our maps for the Optional Bike CP’s. After looking at the maps, we decided we would not be getting any of the Optional CP’s. The distances were too great, and the hills were ridiculous.
This turned out to be a good decision. Less than half a mile from the CP, we crossed a creek and heard a horrific sound – metal against metal. We stopped and looked back to find Adam off of his noble steed, looking at the chain. His derailleur had been torn off of his bike. It was bent badly, and no one had an extra hangar anyway. Our only option was to make it a single speed and hope for the best.
Bob had been dealing with a blister for quite some time at this point. Since we had been stopped for quite awhile anyway, we talked him into giving me the gift of letting me help him. I punctured his blister, covered it with a circle of moleskin, followed by a cover of moleskin, followed by some Kinesio-Tex Tape. I learned all of this from the great book, Fixing Your Feet (highly recommended). Thank you, Bob, for such a wonderful gift.
After fixing the bike and working on Bob’s blister, we hopped back on the bikes to head back to the TA. We took the gravel roads, and they were quite hilly. Adam’s single speed was in a pretty big gear, but he was a champ. He never complained, and he kept up quite well. He was so good, in fact, that he was almost re-hired to the team. Almost.
We found ourselves back on the Sugarloaf Trail, descending the rocky, hilly trail that we had previously hiked up. It was soooooo much fun. We absolutely flew down this trail, even though it was very rocky, steep and dark. It was one of the highlights (although there weren’t many) of the race. All of the parts we previously talked about getting off of our bikes and walking seemed to fly by us. We didn’t even think about getting off the bikes.
We were having way too much fun. I kept waiting for something bad to happen since this race had not gone as planned. Nothing happened, though. We all made it down safely, and it was one of the best downhill rides I’ve ever done. Well, there was one crash, but it was on a non-technical, flat section. Bob just fell over for no reason at all, and he mashed his junk on his handlebars.
We rode back to the TA, and we stopped briefly to fill up with water and food. We got back on the rail-trail and headed north once again, the same way we started this race on foot so many hours ago. At this point, Adam decided for no reason whatsoever to ask, “Hey, are we sure we have the passport?” For some reason, I had been carrying it (which usually isn’t the case), and when I reached down for it I realized it wasn’t there. Holy crap! Adam saved us a TON of time and heartache. For that he was re-hired to the team… For now.
Bob: As much as I hate to admit it, he really saved our bacon right there. Knowing Adam though, he probably hid the passport before “reminding” us to go back and get it. Tricky guy, that one.
We went back for the passport, and then hopped back on the rail-trail. We passed where we had turned off the trail to get CP1 earlier in the race, and we found the trail leading to Mitchell Trail. We took this trail, and it was brutal. The climb was steep, and it would have been crazy-hard without our bikes. With our bikes, however, it was pure hell. There were steps, rocks, washed-out and over-grown sections, and the incline was ridiculously steep.
We finally made it to the manned-CP where we learned that there was one mandatory CP to get on foot and several optional CPs on foot. The mandatory CP was on top of the rappelling cliffs, but we had to walk down Bruner Rd. to get there. It doesn’t look like much on the map, but this hill was STEEP and long. Bob’s heels and feet (they’ve always been a problem for him) were really starting to hurt, and the downhill walking was not helping. On top of that, Bob was getting some serious chafing on his… uh… “mini-me” if you know what I mean.
At one point, the chafage got bad enough that Bob walked behind us with his shorts pulled down to his knees. He was “letting it all hang out” so to speak. I tried to snap a photo, but Bob was too quick for me. Then, using my cat-like speed and reflexes, I managed to capture a photo of Bob in all of his full-frontal glory. I was like a Photo-Ninja. It was hilarious! Bob was very worried that it would end up on this blog, but I just couldn’t do that to him… or to you. You’re welcome. But here’s a shot of Bob in pain:
Bob: I feel like I should mention my life-long phobia that someone is going to see “Stanley”. I was the guy who never showered in gym class, electing to smell like a jockstrap over standing around in a shower-room with my business out in the street. Fast forward 20 years and here I am walking around in the woods waiting for my junk to burst into flames. I enjoy a brief reprieve while I’m “airing it out”, but then a camera flashes and I hear giggling. My worst fears were realized as I knew there was now a digital photo of my weiner on Luke’s camera. Talk about panic.
We got to the bottom of the hill and found a trail taking us up to the top of the rappelling cliff, but we had some struggles finding the CP. After some searching with several other teams, we eventually found it, though. Actually, I think Adam was the one that found it, thus reaffirming our decision to re-hire him.
We climbed and clawed our way back down the steep slope to the road below. We were all dreading the long climb back up, but it turned out to be waaaay better than the way down. It still sucked, but it was much easier than we had anticipated. I think it was a lot easier on Bob’s heels and knees too.
After making it back to the top, it started to sprinkle a little bit. We decided to take a break, grab a bite to eat, and discuss whether or not we wanted to try to get any of the optional CPs.
Well, it was nice while it lasted. Adam was promptly fired from the team again. Don’t ever let him sing to you under any circumstances. Ever!
Casey wanted to try to clear the course, but that just wasn’t happening. Some of us didn’t even want to try for any of the optional CPs, especially after the rain started to come down much harder. We decided to try for the closest CP, and then we would go for the next one if all went well. However, things did not go well.
Casey: We had time left and heading back before the cutoff without all the CP’s we could get seemed like quitting. Unless somebody was physically injured or if it was unsafe for some reason, I always vote to get one more CP. I am so glad that we made the effort, I felt much better about it.
Luke: True, but sometimes staying out there longer for “just one more” costs you in the final results. I think we could have had 3rd place at another race had we not tried for one more CP.
The rain was really coming down now, and it was hard to see more than a few feet in front of us. We started down the trail towards the CP, and we headed into the woods where we thought we’d find the CP. There were several other teams doing the same thing with no luck.
We rechecked the map, and we decided we needed to go farther down the trail before heading into the woods. We thought we’d find the CP for sure, but when we turned around, Casey was gone. Now, you would think it would be hard to misplace a 240 pound MMA fighter, but apparently it’s pretty easy to do. Especially when said MMA fighter wanders off on his own. Bob, Adam, and I stood around in the cold rain waiting for Casey to come back to us. We tried yelling, but the rain severely dampened our voices. We eventually headed back up the trail where we waited for Casey some more.
Honestly, I was getting a little worried about him. Finally after an hour and 15 minutes… Okay, it was only 5 minutes or so, but it seemed like forever… Casey made his way back to us on the trail. Apparently, Casey thought Adam was right behind him with Bob and me right behind Adam. With the rain drowning out all other noise and the hood of our rain jackets forcing us into tunnel-vision mode, it’s easy to see how this could have happened… Sort of.
Casey: I actually thought they were right there behind me. I was talking to them and felt we were really close to finding the CP. It looked like an obvious trail (it was a very old jeep trail) and I was sure it was heading to the CP. I turned around and saw I was alone. I immediately aborted my search for the CP and backtracked to my teammates. It turns out that I was probably within 25-30 yards of the CP. I stopped just on the other side of a little knoll down trail from the CP. I guess I should have expressed my thoughts better to my teammates. Somehow, getting just this one more CP would have made it better.
Luke: You think you were within 25 – 30 yards of the CP. We’ll never know.
I’m sorry to say we never found the CP, and when we discussed what we should do, Bob and Adam wanted to cut our losses and head back. Of course, Casey wanted to go for the next CP. No one can ever call Casey an underachiever. Annoying as hell and really ugly? Yes. Underachiever? Nope. I was kind of torn. Part of me really wanted to get another CP, but the other part of me knew the navigation in the dark, cold rain was very difficult.
From experience riding the Katy Trail back home, we knew that it could be a real “female dog” to ride when it rains a lot. It can get real soft and mushy, making it nearly impossible to ride. We were afraid that the rail trail here in PA would be the same. We were all wet and tired, and it was getting late. So we decided to skip the rest of the CPs and head back to our bikes.
We got on the bikes and rode down the hill on Bruner Rd. Yes, the same ridiculously long and steep hill that we had previously hiked down and back up. It was raining now, though, and it was very sketchy riding such a steep grade on wet pavement. We flew down it as fast as we dared to, and we hopped back on the old rail-trail. We had roughly 6 miles of flat, cinder trail between us and the finish line. We just hoped the trail was ride-able.
It was in great shape, and we rode as fast as Adam’s single speed would carry him. It turned out to be roughly a 14mph average, which, all things considered, was pretty darn fast. As the sun started to rise, the rain let up, and we made it back to the bridge off of which we had rappelled earlier the day before.
We were now at most a mile from the finish line, but we took a moment to take in the view and reflect on our race. Below us would have been the take-out point for the kayaks, but that just wasn’t meant to be… Because of the STUPID EFFING PHANTOM CUTOFF!!! (Yes, I’m still pissed).
We dropped the bikes off at the TA, and walked as a team across the finish line.
All things considered, we did the best we could do with the cards we were dealt. We could have (and really wanted to) quit when things beyond our control didn’t go our way. We didn’t, though, and that’s what it’s all about. And hey, even though we did the short-course, we were still official finishers, right?
It wasn’t until we were on our way back to MO that we found out we were “Unofficial Finishers” which, In my opinion, is a nice way of saying DID NOT FINISH (DNF). Casey had already made it back to his house in NY, and he looked at the online results. Even though we got permission and a ride from the race director himself without even so much as a mention of being DNF’d, that’s what happened. If we knew we would be DNF’d… Oh, wait… I mean “Unoffical Finishers”, we would have walked back to the bikes like we had originally planned to before the RD showed up.
I just don’t get it. I’ve never before seen a race with less communication than this one. I’ve never been more disappointed in how a race was organized and run than I was with this one. I’ve never been more disgusted with how a race went down than I was with this one.
We each paid $180 to do this race, not to mention the gas, food, and camping costs. We all took time away from our families to do this race. And to have it ruined by a Race Director’s carelessness really sucks. And then to be insulted and blamed by the same RD really sucks. And then to be DNF’d without ever knowing about it was the final straw.
Was it a complete waste of time? Of course not. I had a helluva a good road trip with two of my closest friends. I got to do a race with my brother and friends in some beautiful country. We got some great mountain biking and navigation work in. We had an absolute blast camping after the race (especially watching Bob try to shield the fire with wet pizza boxes – successfully, I might add). We overcame a lot of adversity and became a stronger team.
Oh, and the post-race meal was fantastic. It’s pretty bad when the post-race meal was the best thing put on by the RD.
So there you have it. That was our experience at the Lionheart Adventure Race. The good, the bad, the really, really bad, the total Bull Sh*t, and the ugly. I’d like to thank the volunteers that helped out at this race. You guys rocked! Nothing else to say, though.
But wait!!! There’s a happy ending!!!
No, not regarding the race. The race still sucked. I’m talking about that Christmas morning so many years ago…
As I sat in my living room trying not to show my disappointment while playing with my new toys, My mom said, “Wait a minute. I think I see another present that Santa must have dropped behind the couch.” My head snapped up.
What?!?! Could it be?!?! Was it possible?!?! YESSSSSSSSS!!!!!
Christmas miracles really do happen, and it was definitely a Christmas miracle that day. Although I got the original Nintendo and not the Nintendo 64 (which came out later), if we had a video camera, my reaction would have looked something like this. I literally got blisters on my thumbs from playing my brand new Nintendo. It was simply amazing. And I still remember the code to get to Mike Tyson on “Punch Out” – 007 373 5963.
Casey: I remember this Christmas and Luke was so excited.
Unfortunately, there was no Christmas miracle for Team Virtus at the Lionheart Adventure Race. I can’t speak for the rest of the team, but I will NEVER… NEVER… NEVER… EVER do any event put on by American Adventure Sports. I could have overlooked the Phantom Cutoff error. Don’t get me wrong. It was a HUUUUGE error, but I know mistakes happen. We could have dealt with that. It was how we were treated after the error that is simply unacceptable.
Bob: The more I think about it, this may have been the most team unifying race we’ve ever done. When you stop and recollect our triumphs over bike mechanicals, foot blisters and weiner phobias, it’s hard not to look back on this whole thing as a very positive experience. Granted, the organizational skills of the RD threw a pretty huge wrench into things, but those are the moments when you really find out what your team is all about.
I, for one, was 100% ready to quit when those guys told us we wouldn’t be paddling. Casey wasn’t having any of that. He MADE us keep going, and while I hated him for it then, I’m grateful for it now. I also wanted to murder his ass when we were walking around in that typhoon trying to find “one more CP,” but now I look back on that experience and laugh.
Casey: Adversity is like a strong wind. It tears away from us all but the things that cannot be torn, so that we see ourselves as we really are. ~Arthur Golden, Memoirs of a Geisha. We came together as a team, faced adversity, and showed our true selves by persevering with strength and honor, the Virtus way. This race has ultimately made us a better team.
Luke: While the race itself was a disaster, I agree with Bob and Casey. We became a much stronger team, so it definitely wasn’t a waste of time and money.
So, what do you guys think? Have you ever had a similar experience? Let us hear it. Did we overreact? Are we spoiled divas that expect too much? Or are we justified in how we feel? Seriously, let us know what you think, both positive and negative. Inquiring minds want to know.
***NOTE: This race report was written by Adam (so if it’s terrible please let us know, so we can fire him from the team). Comments have been added by Luke (in blue) and Rusty (in red). Enjoy***
I’m not sure how Luke found out about the Tour de Donut but when he described it to the rest of the team we were immediately on board with doing it. It was a 32 mile ride with 2 donut stops and for each donut you ate, you got a 5 minute deduction off your time at the end. I mean, really, what goes together better than riding your ass off for 32 miles and gorging yourself on donuts? Sadly enough, it was only Luke, Rusty and myself that ended up going. Bob couldn’t get anyone to cover his shift at work (I’m glad to see St. Marys employees working together to help each other out) and Robby was getting ready to move into his new house.
We showed up the night before at approximately 9 and found the city park in which we were to set up camp. Much to our surprise, there weren’t too many people camping and a few hours later we would find out why. After we set up the tent we went to work on some minor adjusting of the bikes. Since Bob was unable to attend, I was fortunate enough, or unfortunate as it turns out, to borrow his cross bike.
Luke: As we set up camp, Christian Hasselberg, the race director, came up and introduced himself. It was great talking to him, and he was a genuinely nice guy. We thanked him for putting on a great event, and I snapped the following photo of him for our blog:
Luke: Now if you look closely at Christian’s shirt from last year’s race (click on photo to enlarge it), you may notice something peculiar. Don’t worry if you don’t see it right away. I didn’t see it until I was looking back through my photos, and Adam and Rusty never did see it on their own… I had to point it out to them. Anyway, you’ll notice that the first line reads, “22st Annual” instead of “22nd Annual.” Not a big deal, but we all talked about how it would be cool to have a shirt like that. It would kind of be like getting a rare baseball card with a typo, thus upping its value. After the race, we learned that we could indeed buy shirts from years past at the ridiculous price of two for $5!!! We all snatched up a Typo shirt from last year, and we even snagged one for Bob since he couldn’t be there. I love it, and it’s one of my new favorite shirts.
Rusty, who proved to be the intelligent one of the group, pulled out a cooler with a few beers in it. As we drank and worked on the bikes we discussed what would be the plan for tomorrow. Luke and I both had a goal of at least 20. We discussed if the smart thing would be to ride our butts off the first 10 miles and eat as many donuts as possible at the first stop knowing we would be slower after eating so much or should we pace ourselves and spread the amount of donuts over the two stops or the third option of only eating at the second stop. We decided to just see how we felt tomorrow during the race.
Luke: Adam and Rusty must have a blinking problem, and I’d just like to point out that it took 5 attempts to even get the crappy photo above… And Rusty still just barely has his eyes open.
Rusty: We could have tried to take pictures all night and we would have ended up with the same results. My eyes are sensitive to bright lights, man.
As the night wore on we eventually noticed that we were the only ones awake and since it was around midnight we figured we should get some sleep. The weather was perfect for camping out as it was a clear night that wasn’t hot and humid. It was shortly after we fell asleep that we realized why many people don’t camp at the park the night before this race. Trains seemed to go through there every hour with the deafening sound of the whistles breaking the silence in the night…say it with me now…rails to trails.
Luke: I’d also like to take this opportunity to let you know that Adam only brought TWO air mattresses for THREE people – one single bed which Rusty claimed immediately, and a full-size bed which Adam and I shared by sleeping sideways with our feet hanging off the bed. For this, he has been fired from the team, and I wanted to include the photo below:
Rusty: And since neither one of them took me to dinner first, I felt it only fitting to snag the single air mattress.
We got up about 6 and started getting ready to go, exchanging pleasantries about the trains the whole time. They were starting to set up the registration area, which started at 7. We got dressed and figured we should register as soon as they were set up, so we could avoid the onslaught of people that was sure to arrive with the 1620 racers that were signed up for the tour.
Luke: Above we see Rusty getting his game face on. I, on the other hand, decided to get my “game-hair” on…
The registration seemed very well organized and it only took a couple minutes. We ran into Kate at the registration. It was finally nice to meet “SuperKate” and I was glad to hear that my endless terminations from the team bring joy to someone other than Luke and Bob.
Luke: Kate is basically the Den Mother for Team Virtus. She handed each of us a ziplock bag full of baby wipes to wipe the thick, gooey glaze off of our hands at each Donut Checkpoint. It never would have even crossed my mind, so big thanks to her!
As the 9 o’clock start time drew near we figured we had better get lined up. I think people started lining up around 8. It was insane how many riders there were. The entire street was filled with them. We found an open spot somewhere in the middle of the pack. There were a few announcements, and they handed out the Golden Helmet award to the person who traveled the farthest. This year’s winner was from Salem, Oregon which I thought was pretty awesome.
When the race started, it was a few minutes before we actually got to the starting line. It was chip-timed which meant our time didn’t start until we actually crossed the starting line. We actually had a decent pace early considering the hundreds of other riders we had around us. As we pedaled through the streets of Staunton, the streets were lined with crowds of people yelling and cheering us on. They were also ringing cowbells which I found amusing but when I yelled “more cowbell” nobody laughed. Apparently they didn’t find that “Saturday Night Live” skit as funny as I did.
Luke: Maybe they thought the skit was funny, but they probably heard “More Cowbell” a few hundred times already.
It was a couple of miles before we actually made it out of town and the first part of the course was mostly downhill. We tried to stay together as much as possible but with the massive amount of people it was easy to get separated.
Rusty: No I am just that slow!
At the first major downhill, I decided to pick up some speed for the upcoming climb and dropped my chain. I yelled to my compadres that I had to stop, but they didn’t hear me and kept riding. They stopped about a half mile up when they noticed I wasn’t there, although I think they heard me and it was the overwhelming guilt that made them stop. I was impressed with the number of people that offered assistance if I needed it. It only took me a minute or two to get it back on but it seemed like forever. I finally caught up to Luke and Rusty, and we rode on to stop number one.
Rusty: I don’t remember Adam yelling at us (we were too busy blazing down that hill) but what I do remember is Luke and I waiting towards the top of the hill debating on what to do next, and then about that time here comes Adam mashing down on the pedals and leaving us behind. I think Luke fired him again.
Luke: Yes, he was fired again indeed.
When we arrived at the checkpoint, we laid our bikes down and walked over to the donuts. I saw a rider dipping his donuts in a tub of water and overheard him say that he was already on his 13th one. Luke grabbed 6, I grabbed 4, and Rusty grabbed 2. We started eating and quickly realized they weren’t going to go down as easy as we thought. I tried pressing mine together but it didn’t seem to help. The donuts were dense and difficult to chew. We all finished our respective quantities, and Luke and I went back for another four apiece.
Rusty however may well have proved to be the intelligent one again and decided not to eat anymore. He decided to take off and finish the race because there was no sense in staying if you weren’t eating donuts to help your time. As we sat there and ate on the donuts we had just grabbed, we realized we were going to fall well short of our goals. They just weren’t going down easy. We finally choked down what we had left and decided to press on. Check out the video of the carnage that ensued:
Rusty: I was going to stick around with my teammates, but they encouraged me to go (I think I embarrassed them with having only two tallies on my race number). So the rest of my journey was solo.
Luke: Yeah, it wouldn’t have made any sense for you to stick around to witness our gluttony.
At this point in the race, it was just Luke and I. Rusty was well on his way to Donut-stop number two. Shortly after we left stop one, I got a flat tire and it was the back tire nonetheless. Are you kidding me…a dropped chain and a flat tire, all in the span of 12 miles? This was either bad luck or the work of Bob Jenkins. I haven’t decided which. We both pulled over to the side of the road and I started to change the tire when I told Luke it was OK if he wanted to go ahead. I didn’t even have the sentence out of my mouth and he was on his bike pedaling off into distance. OK, so it didn’t really happen that way but he did go on ahead at my urging. I knew I would see him at the next stop. I finally got the tire changed and was once again impressed with the number of people that asked me if I needed anything.
Alone with my thoughts, most of which were about throwing up and the pain in my stomach, I continued on to stop number two but Bob Jenkins wasn’t done yet because I dropped my chain…again. Along this stretch was the dreaded Possum Hill. I only say dreaded because I had heard some people talking at the start of the race about what gear they climb it in. It’s steep and short but it really isn’t that bad. I guess if I would have thought about it, I wouldn’t have worried. I mean anything that’s named after an animal that litters Americas roadways and plays dead when threatened isn’t really scary. If they would have named it “good luck getting your ass up this” hill then I would have worried. In reality it’s only named Possum Hill because the road is named Possum Creek Road or something like that. After a short time I made it stop number two.
As I was rolling to a stop I immediately spotted Luke and walked over to him. He was trying to eat 4 more donuts and from the look of things, it wasn’t going well. I told him there was no way I was eating anymore and I was just going to fill up my water bottles. He told me I should go ahead and ride toward the finish. He was only going to finish what he had and go on but every bite was a meal at this point, and he was going to be a while. I knew he had to be struggling. He had just eaten 10 at the last stop and I felt bad after 8. Clearly, we went about things the wrong way. Bob Jenkins where are you? I filled my bottles and headed down the road struggling to pedal with my stomach feeling worse with every stroke.
At this point in the race it was every man for himself. Rusty was closing in on the finish, I had just left the second stop and there was no telling how long Luke would be there trying to finish his 14th donut. I was keeping up a good pace despite the feeling in my stomach and I managed to chat up a few fellow riders along the way. The last part of the ride was going pretty smooth for me. For the most part, it was the same road we rode out on at the beginning. I kept thinking how bad I felt and knew Luke had to be feeling worse and I had no idea what Rusty was up to.
I was approximately 6 or 7 miles away from the finish when I saw a young man just taking off from the side of the road. I looked down and noticed he had a flat tire. I asked him if he needed help, as I’m sure most people would have done had they noticed the flat, and he said yes but he didn’t have a tube. I looked at the size on his tire and as luck would have it, the tube I had was perfect. I put it on and aired it up with some CO2 and told him he should be able to get back OK.
Luke: For following the Virtus Code and helping this young man, Adam has been reinstated as a full member of Team Virtus… For now.
I went on and rode toward the finish. After a bit I knew I was getting close because of the houses and people along the streets. I picked up the pace trying to finish strong while wondering how far back Luke was. I knew Rusty had to be done by now. The last little bit was through town. With the town rib cookoff going on the streets were lined with more people than ever. The worst part is that I couldn’t even stand the thought of eating ribs at that point. I pedaled faster knowing the end was near. If I wasn’t ready to be done after stop one, I was definitely ready now, although I have to admit it was pretty cool riding through town with all the people cheering. With the finish line in sight I took off in a sprint just wanting to finish strong. It was over at last.
I had finished the Tour de Donut with a chip time of 2:40:43. Not knowing how long it would be before Luke would finish, I made my way through the mass of people to the Virtus Van. I was surprised to see Rusty up and about when I got there, but it turns out he didn’t eat anymore at the second stop. Luke was there as well, sprawled out on the ground ready to pass out. He apparently passed me when I was changing that boy’s tire and didn’t see me. I promptly joined him on the ground so he wouldn’t have to suffer alone. He had ended up throwing two of the donuts away but made sure they marked them off his total which stood at 12.
To see how it went down at Donut Stop #2, check this out:
The miles on our legs, the sun on our backs, the sweat in our chamois, and the donuts in our bellies was just too much to bare. Luke and I simply had to assume this position for 15 minutes or so post-race:
Luke: I assumed that Adam had finished before me and was with Rusty somewhere under one of the pavilions, so I just crashed out on the lawn by the Virtus Van. I was surprised to learn that I had passed Adam without ever seeing him on the side of the road helping that kid out (I guess that’s easy to do with 1600+ riders). Before Adam and Rusty found me on the lawn, I had to listen to a guy describe to his wife, IN GREAT DETAIL, what the donuts looked like, smelled like, and tasted like. I nearly threw up all over myself just listening to this guy. Rusty, on the other hand, was faring much better than Adam and I were…
As we lay there, wishing the misery would end, we admitted to ourselves and each other that it was much harder than we had first anticipated. Now that it was over, we could really appreciate what this ride was about. With 1600 plus riders of all ages and skill levels, it was hard not to have fun. Sure we didn’t eat as many donuts or ride as fast as we had hoped, but it was a great time nevertheless. As you can see by the numbers below, we have something to shoot for next year. I have a feeling 20 will still be our magic number.
Most eaten overall: 40 donuts
Luke – 12 donuts
Adam – 8 donuts
Rusty – 2 donuts (wtf? seriously only 2 donuts?)
Fastest chip time: 1:16:27
Fastest adjusted time: -53.52
Below are some photos of our experiences after the race and on the way home. Enjoy…