Advertisements

Category Archives: Epicnicity—yeah it’s a word

3rd Time’s the Charm – Team Virtus Takes on the Dirty Kanza 200 Again

I feel lost. I don’t really know what the hell I’m going to do with myself this weekend as my fellow Virtusans set forth on a mission to finish The Dirty Kanza 200. I will sadly, for various reasons with which I won’t bore you, not be in attendance this year. I feel like I should be there as part of the support crew, but I just can’t make it happen this year.

Buffalo Penis over Robby's head.

So many great memories have been made at DK over the last few years.

Finishing DK two years ago alongside Bob and Adam was one of the highlights of my supremely mediocre (at best) racing career. Last year, my heart wasn’t into it, and it showed when I pulled out at the 108 mile mark. I doubt I’d have finished anyway because the wind was horrible, but both Robby and Casey crushed it last year.

finish line of DK 200

I was so proud of Casey and Robby. What an unbelievable effort to have finished in that effing wind last year!

Unfortunately, Kate hasn’t quite been able to finish this beast of a race. Two years ago she made it 165 miles after getting into the race with just a few weeks to train for it. Last year she succumbed to the wind as so many others did. This year, however, she’s more than ready. Barring a serious mechanical or severe weather (both very real possibilities), Kate is going to finish this fucker this year. No doubt in my mind.

And to make sure Kate finishes, I apparently gave her some extra motivation a few months back. I don’t exactly remember how this all came about, but both Bob and Kate assure me that this happened. Somewhere in an email conversation or facebook chat or maybe even in a face to face conversation, I said if Kate finished the DK this year, I’d be at the finish line in…

Wait for it…

Wait for it…

… Nothing but a jock strap.

What the hell was I thinking?! It’s not that I’m betting against her at all, because that would be a foolish thing to do. In fact, it isn’t a bet at all since Kate owes me nothing if she fails to finish (which ain’t gonna happen anyway).

It’s just that I know how much pleasure we all get out of embarrassing each other, and when the going gets tough – and it will get tough – Kate will keep going, knowing that my utter humiliation is in her hands. And I honestly can’t remember how those words ever came from my mouth or keyboard, but I guess they did. I’m such an idiot.

Unfortunately, as I mentioned before, I won’t be in attendance. So all of the wonderful people at the finish line will be spared from seeing me nearly naked. In lieu of being at the finish line in a jock strap, Kate has agreed to accept a photo posted to our facebook page instead. So, that’s gonna be a treat for everyone.

As much as I don’t want to have to post that photo, I truly want Kate to finish Dirty Kanza this year. I hope all of them – Kate, Bob, Adam, and Travis – finish the race and have a great time. I’m just bummed I won’t be there to see it all go down. And I’ll be even more bummed when I have to post that stupid photo.

So, to my Virtus brothers and sister, good luck, ride strong, and have fun! Strength and Honor to you all.

Advertisements

High Profile Adventure Camp 2014: Couples Edition

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.

Cabin at Camp Benson for High Profile Adventure Camp

The ladies in front of our cabin.

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.

lookout point at palisades state park

Aw… Isn’t that – BARF!

luke and becca at the lookout point

So beautiful. And the view ain’t bad either. (I apologize for the hard nipple in this shot. It was cold.)

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:

Orienteering at Adventure Racing Camp

They were excited. Can you tell?

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.

Gerry Voelliger at High Profile Adventure Racing Camp

Hey Gerry, quit playing with your dinghy! Oh wait, that’s just a carabiner.

Robyn Benincasa Paddling Lecture

With 3 world records in paddling, I’m pretty sure Robyn Benincasa knows her shit.

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.

Rappelling

Michell Rappelling at Adventure Racing Camp

Michelle had rappelled before, but it was a LONG time ago. She rocked it!

Becca rappelling at adventure racing camp

Becca’s first rappel ever!

Becca's rappel at High Profile Adventure Camp

Becca on her second rappel.

Ascending

Becca ascending at Adventure Racing Camp

Becca struggled just a bit to get started ascending, but once she found her rhythm, she crushed it!

Adam ascending at High Profile Camp

Adam is an OLD pro at ascending by now.

Ascending for Michelle at AR Camp

Michelle made it up too!

Zip Line

Becca on the Zip Line

Becca coming down the Zip Line.

 

Michelle at the bottom of the Zip Line

The Zip Line was a bit slow at the bottom, so you had to pull yourself down the last half or so.

Tyrolean Traverse

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.

Becca on the Tyrolean Traverse

Becca at the midway point. It’s all “uphill” from there.

Dave Huntley and Becca at the Tyrolean Traverse

All of the volunteers at camp are top-notch. Dave even gave me a bouncy ride on my traverse, but he was kind enough to let Becca have a steady rope.

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.

The 3rd Annual MLK Ride

If you missed the 3rd annual Martin Luther King ride back on January 18th, I really feel sorry for you. You missed out on a great day. Below you will find a brief write up of what went down, but trust me when I tell you that it was 412% more awesome than this will show.

MLK 3 Ride at the Berryman Trail

Above is the group that stuck around for a photo at the start of the ride. There were a few people who rolled out earlier for TWO laps at Berryman and one guy who even ended up doing THREE laps! There were a few people who showed up later and did a lap as well. We probably had 20 – 25 people all together.

Since I’ve put on a serious “winter coat,” I only planned on doing 5 – 10 miles before heading back to the trail-head to fire up the grill. My friend Rhonda had only ridden single track once or twice before, so she wasn’t planning on doing a full lap either. So we decided to stick together at the back of the pack.

Rhonda on one of the climbs.

The trail was in great shape, and although it was chilly to start, the weather was pretty damn nice considering it was mid-January.

The riding was fun, but my lungs and legs hated my fat ass. So I talked Rhonda into bailing around the 5 or 6 mile mark. We cut out on a jeep road that would lead us to a gravel road leading back to the trail-head. There was one frozen puddle across the jeep road that was a bit tricky.

Icy crash on the Berryman Trail

This photo may or may not have been staged. It may or may not have actually been me who crashed.

We hopped out on the gravel road and made it back to the trailhead with no more issues. We changed into dry clothes, and I fired the grill up.

But first I tapped the keg (courtesy of Dave Baettie via Team TOG – HUGE thanks to him/them). I only tapped the keg so early to make sure it would be ready for the rest of the riders when they rolled in – of course I might have had a sample or two. Besides, the keg had my name written all over it.

Blue Moon Keg at the MLK ride at the Berryman Trail

It’s mine. All mine!

After the grill was good and hot I kicked off what has become an MLK tradition: Grilled Chocolate Chip Cookies! Kate brought a bunch of cookies, and when grilled over charcoal, they taste just like they’re fresh out of the oven with just a hint of smokiness.

So.

Damn.

Good.

If you’ve never done this, do it the next time you grill and thank me later.

There was a plethora of tubed meat, beef patties, cheeses, side dishes, desserts, and ice-cold Blue Moon. Everyone brought a little something to share, and for that, I thank you all.

BBQ after the MLK bike ride at Berryman Trail

Food always tastes better after a good ride.

As the riders started to roll in, everyone gathered around the grill, eating, drinking, and making merry while trying to stay warm. Here are a few photos of the festivities:

Berryman Trail Group Ride

L to R: Becca, Steve, Dave (or Jim) Chuck, Josh, and Rhonda.

Helmet hair at Berryman

Blue Moon Dave rockin’ some serious helmet hair.

Group at Berryman Trail

L to R: Kate, Me, Becca, Phil, Chuck, Caleb, Rhonda, Dave, and Dave (Jim).

Mo and some of the other Team Red Wheel guys were there, but this is the only photo I got of any of them. I think the rest were always at the keg.

Mickey Mouth was there too! This ride was good training for the Super Century… Oh wait… Mickey never did the Super Century.

Everyone was having a grand time after the ride, but then I turned around to see a truly horrific sight. As my eyes fell upon the ghastly scene, it felt like someone kicked me in the nards and punched me in the face simultaneously.

How could anyone, especially someone I considered a close friend, do something so terrible?

Please be warned that the photo below is difficult to look at. If you are sensitive, you may want to scroll right past it. You’ve been warned.

Virtus Jersey on the ground

This poor, poor Virtus Jersey was abandoned by Kate.  She left it to die alone on the cold concrete. This is blasphemous!

Kate tried to hide the fact that she had disgraced our team, but I’m a photo-ninja. I was too quick for her, and I got the above photo. Then I snapped one of her trying to hide the evidence:

Kate with her disgraced jersey.

What’s that behind your back, Kate?

Many miles of single track were shredded, lots of stories were told, much bread (and wind) was broken, gallons of beer were consumed. It was another fantastic ride and barbeque.

Our brethren from the Hoosier Daddies  were dearly missed. They were the ones who truly made the 1st MLK and 2nd MLK rides/parties a smashing success. Hopefully, they’ll once again join us at MLK 4 next year, and hopefully so will you. And maybe someday, our very own Bob Jenkins will make it to the MLK ride… maybe.

Missouri’s Best Kept Mountain Biking Secret – Two Rivers Bike Park

Not many people know about Two Rivers Bike Park, but let me tell you: It is incredible! This past weekend, Bob, Adam, and I met up with Travis for his 30th birthday party. We decided to ride at Two Rivers Bike Park before the party.

None of us were too motivated to ride, but we decided to go anyway. And we are all glad we did. Even with a few inches of snow on the ground, we had a ridiculous amount of fun.

Rather than bore you with words, I’ll simply show this video. Just know that photos and videos never show how truly awesome this stuff is.  Here you go:

Big thanks to Trailspring for building such an amazing park. There’s some great single track, a skills course, a pump track, a downhill course, a slopestyle course, and a cool spot to hang out between runs where you can chill by a fire or have a snack or just relax and recover. We didn’t even ride it all since we had a party to get to, and we still absolutely loved it! There is absolutely no fee (which is unbelievable), although they accept donations in a lock box. If you’ve never been there, do yourself a favor and go as soon as you get a chance.

Another big thanks to Travis and his lovely wife, Crystal, for inviting us and making us feel welcome. We had a blast at the party, and some of us may have had too much fun (ahem… me). We really enjoyed getting to meet some of Travis’s friends and family.

MLK 3 is This Weekend- Oh Yeah!

You know you don’t want to be one of those people that misses out on this, so don’t do it! The third annual MLK ride is happening this Saturday, and the forecast so far looks great.  We had a blast at the inaugural MLK ride, and we had a great encore last year.

We’ll be meeting at the Berryman Campground Trailhead around 8:00 AM, and we’ll plan on rolling out around 8:30.  Ride a little or ride a lot.  Ride fast or ride slow.  I plan on riding a little and doing so slowly.  Then I’m heading back to the campground to fire up the grill.  I’m not sure if the Hoosier Daddies are returning with their smorgasbord of food and beer or not, but I’ll make sure there is a grill there.  We’d love it if you’d bring some meat to throw on the grill and/or a dish to share along with your own frosty beverages.

Whiskey on the Berryman Trail

Mid-ride whiskey break at the first MLK Ride.

Some people may camp the night before and/or the night after the ride.  Plan accordingly if that’s you.  More info can be found on the facebook event page, and if you need one, here is a good map of the Berryman Trail that shows many options to cut the ride short – courtesy of GORC.

This is a low-key, unsopported group ride.  No pressure to do anything other than have a great time.  Bring what you need, and we hope to see you there.

%d bloggers like this: