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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.

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Adventures in Marriage

For this trip-report, Cara has been granted temporary access behind the Virtus curtain to leave her comments in pink 🙂

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Last year on July 1st, Gomed and I were enjoying a nice day on the river when *one of us* (we all know it was Bob)made a critical paddling error and flipped the canoe. I must’ve swallowed too much river water, because suddenly a creek-bank next to our submerged canoe sounded like the perfect place to ask if she’d marry me. Forgetting to kneel, I botched the proposal and had to “do it again.. the right way“. This is, of course, a short version of the story and only a small part of a great weekend trip together.

And so we decided that a wilderness trip on the first weekend of July would be an annual thing. This year, I’d been spending a lot of time on the Ozark Trail Planner website, and I really wanted to do their featured 2-day trip.  Basically, it’s a 13 mile hike on the OT to BASS River Resort campground, then paddling back the next day. It was going to be a challenge for sure, and we were both pretty excited about it.

Trip Overview

Trip Overview–click to enlarge

Finding the Onondoga Trailhead was a little more challenging than we’d hoped, but after a few minutes of driving around in circles we finally stumbled onto it. Striking out onto the trail, Cara wasted no time dropping my ass. I’m hardcore like that.

And she’s off!!

Since we were carrying all of our food/water/tent, etc. for the whole weekend, our packs were pretty heavy. I’d tried to do the chivalrous thing and carry most of the heavy stuff, but she was still left to carry a really heavy blanket and about 9 pounds of Slim-Jims and sweetTarts. Lucky for us, there were randomly placed benches along the trail for the first few miles.

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Totally not a staged photo

The OT website described the first 4 miles as “A pleasant walk through hardwood forests and a few pine groves”. Lies. I guess that’s mostly true, but there was some respectable elevation changes, especially with the heavy packs we were hauling. One thing I noticed was that while it doesn’t look like the trail gets used much, it was in very good shape.  The further we hiked, the better the scenery became, especially as we neared mile 5.

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We passed several caves and rock arches in the early miles of the hike

The miles ticked by steadily and soon the trail was skirting along between the Courtois River and a rather large limestone bluff. Very cool stuff. We saw a few paddlers in the creek, but for the most part we passed by unnoticed.

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And yes, I brought the entire bottle of my seizure meds. You never know when you might find yourself in a long-term survival situation… 🙂

At mile 5.2, we came to the  “wet crossing, normally 1-2 feet deep and subject to flooding.”  The water was so clear you could see to the bottom, and we learned pretty quick that the green-shaded areas were DEEP..as in, up to my waist. We had the foresight to remove our socks and shoes before crossing, so after a very relaxing swim, (Bob swam around in only his underwear, tight, green little booty shorts.. he got some looks) I sat on the water’s edge changing back into my dry socks.

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….then I had a good laugh watching her try to find a way across without getting soaked. She skirted the bank all the way around, barely getting wet past the knees.

Clever girl, that one.

Clever girl, that one.

Right about this time, we had a the option of cutting the trip short or continuing on. I left the decision to her and she wanted to do the whole 13 miles… an impressive lady on all counts. I’m tough.

Having crossed the creek, we made our way up a short piece of trail leading t0 Bat Cave, which is obviously not somewhere the Dept. of Conservation wants people playing around.

Cara was pretty sure this gate was built to contain the cave-monsters..

Cara was pretty sure this gate was built to contain the bat/human cave monsters from the movie The Descent

After that, the trail got very interesting. We basically went up, up and up before eventually reaching a scenic overlook near the 8-ish mile mark. There’s a rock outcropping that overlooks a few miles of the valley below, and the view is awesome. I don’t know if it was the spectacular view, the awesome weather  or the remoteness of it all, but we were suddenly inspired to do something more adventurous than stand there and take photos…so I hope you’ll forgive the absence of bluff-top pictures. I’m sure any other man in my position, (get it?), would’ve done the same thing.

Trail panorama

Trail panorama

I’ve got to say, for a woman who spends most (all) of her day working in a lab, this wife of mine did very well on our 13 mile hike.  It wasn’t until we’d gone about 11 miles that she finally lost her shit. But when she did…it was in glorious fashion. Let me see if I can remember her words correctly:

***Quietly hiking slong and then…..**” I f*cking hate nature!!, this is so stupid, why do we have to climb all the way to the top of  these giant ass hills,  then have to turn around and go right back to the bottom  and then come back up again?!?. This is so stupid, we’ve hiked like 7 miles and 5 of them have been in circles!! Who makes these trails, anyway??!? And how is that creek a “reliable” water source?!?! I’m not drinking that green shit, I don’t care how long you boil it.

It’s true, I said all of that plus some.

It was absolutely hilarious and I loved every moment of it. We discussed the possibility of camping along the trail and finishing the hike tomorrow, but she wanted to get to the campground. About an hour later, we reached Bass River Resort.  13 miles had come and gone (those miles did not just “come and go”, they were looong, painful miles), so we decided a victory pizza was in order:

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So many unflattering pictures of me and I don’t even care.

We set up the tent, drank a few beers and settled in for the worst night of sleep we’ve ever had together. Not bringing an air mattress was a HUGE mistake, regardless of how heavy it would have been. Having one blanket and no pillows was an even bigger mistake, but I don’t know how we would’ve gotten them into our already-stuffed packs anyway. We were awake early the next day, mostly because it was too painful to lay on the ground gravel bar.  Some leftover pizza slices and a few cups of Pine-needle tea, and it was time to break down the tent and get ready for the paddle.

Before leaving, we decided to eat one of the Mountain House meals we’d brought, but ran into a bit of trouble when we realized we didn’t have any spoons. The people at BASS told us they didn’t have any either, which I’m sure was a lie. I won’t elaborate on the rest of our experience with the employees there, but I will say their demeanor was disenchanting.

Trying to impress my wife, I broke out the old survival knife and made us a spoon, which we then boiled to make sure it wasn’t loaded with nasties.  Bob thinks he’s an ultra-survivalist from watching too many Man, Woman, Wild shows.

See how happy she was with the spoons!

See how happy she was with the spoons!

All loaded up and ready to go, we embarked on the 1 mile hike to the kayaks. Cara really didn’t want to walk, so I stuck out my thumb and we hitched a ride on the tailgate of someone’s pickup truck. We both had a good laugh during the ride, and before we knew it we were ready to hit the water.

Perfect weater..for now.

Perfect weather..for now.

You couldn’t have asked for a much prettier day. The temps were probably in the mid 80’s, no wind, sunny and pleasant. Paddling in separate boats was definitely the right thing for us to do, as we were able to choose our own lines when the river got tricky. (No arguing) I was probably 100 yards behind when I saw her boat go around a corner…then shoot up into the air upside down. She exploded out of the water like an Olympic swimmer trying to catch the boat and paddle , and I did my best to laugh quietly. Seriously, though..I don’t think I’ve ever seen her move that fast.  I’ll kill you.

Separate boats=smiling faces

Separate boats=smiling faces

The water was crystal clear and the scenery was fantastic. There were a lot of people on the river too, but we never ran into any belligerent drunks or anything. Check out the bluffs along the river:

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Since I’m an idiot and hadn’t brought a map, I had no idea how far we’d come or how far we still had to go.  We were having fun though, and our pace was decent. Things were about to change, though. The sky grew dark and the wind picked up quite a bit. Off to our right, a giant sycamore tree broke in the wind and crashed to the ground. It was LOUD, terrifying, and  an awesome sight, but also foretelling of the incoming weather.

Basically, the weather went straight to shit. It started out with some strong wind, then came the rain. The cool rain was pretty refreshing at first, but it wasn’t long before we found ourselves in an all-out downpour. Branches were splashing into the creek all around us and the rain filled the kayaks. I tried to get some videos, but they’re pretty shaky.

Beginning of the storm

Adding insult to injury, Cara finds herself on a sandbar:

I don’t think she’s havin’ fun

Next thing you know, it starts hailing. Time to get serious. I yelled for her to abandon the boat and take the paddles to the bank. Then I hauled both boats to the bank and dumped our stuff out. She laid down on the ground and I put the kayak on top of her. I’m about to get under my kayak when I look out and see a family in a raft being pelted with hail. A girl in the raft couldn’t have been more than  4 years old, so…I ran out and helped them get the raft to shore, dump it over and get them under it. After that, I crawled under my kayak next to Cara and we laughed about the “epicness’ of it all, because being caught in a thunderstorm with hail is HILARIOUS when you’re under a piece of plastic hoping to not get crushed by fallen tree, or drown in the quickly rising river.

Hail video

It’s hard to believe you can find romance in a hail storm, but laying there under the kayak while my legs were being beat to shit with ice, I was so happy and proud of my wife. This was obviously an unforseen circumstance and she had handled it like a champ. There were no complaints, no arguing..just the two of us working together to overcome an undesireable situation. There’s nowhere else I would have rather been. Aww, he’s such a sweetheart 🙂

"weathering the storm" as a married couple

“weathering the storm” as a married couple

I guess the hail lasted about 20 minutes, and when it stopped we decided to get moving before we got too cold. So back out into the rain we went, until the skies eventually cleared and the day was gorgeous again. Along the way, we bumped into a few folks we knew, including, Lisa, Pam and Randazzle, who were more than eager to share their deviled eggs, cookies, booze and water with us. (Just a few more of the things we’ll be bringing with us next time).  They saved us. We had no food, no water, no nothing.  I was so relieved I didn’t have to drink river water treated with iodine tablets.

Cara, Lisa, Pam and Randazzle in the background

Cara, Lisa, Pam and Randazzle in the background

We were also invited over to “Chateau de Dazzle”  later that evening for some delicious steaks and intelligent conversation. Talk about an awesome day. We paddled/floated with the 3 of them for the remainder of the trip, and eventually called it a day. In my book, this weekend trip together was a complete  success. The route was challenging, scenic and rewarding. We worked as a team, overcame all obstacles and even got to eat steaks at the end. Judging from the soreness in both of our lower legs, I’d say the next trip will be a bit shorter, but we’re already talking about doing it again. I’m thinking a group trip with other couples/individuals would be a REALLY kickass time.

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I dunno, I’d say her WTFAR face is pretty good. Oh look, more unflattering photos of me.

Follies at Ray’s Indoor MTB Park

It might take me awhile to express how amazing our weekend at Ray’s Indoor MTB Park truly was.  Even when I get around to writing about it, I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to describe just how much fun we had – kidnapping Bob, the laughs, the road trip, the jokes, the great food, the laughs, the new nicknames, the laughs, and of course the riding.  It was a weekend by which all other weekends will be measured, and in measuring, all other weekends will pale in comparison.

In the meantime, however, here is a video of some of our “outtakes” from Ray’s.  Just remember, this video doesn’t even compare to how it really was, but you can tell we had a blast… even when we were screwing up (which we did A LOT!).  Enjoy…

 

As you can see, there were no videos of Kage crashing her bike.  That’s because her skills are far superior to ours… Or it’s because she is a crash ninja and only crashed when no one was there to witness it.  You decide.

I’d like to thank my teammates for joining the celebration of Bob’s upcoming wedding.  It couldn’t have happened without you guys.

And I’d like to tell Bob that we really do love you, man.  Seriously.  Good luck in your new life.  Please don’t forget us.  We’ll never forget you… And we’ll never forget this weekend.

Sleepless in Steelville, the Eve of Berryman 2012

As much as I hate to do it, I’ve gotta break this report into fragments. For whatever reason, my employer seems to think my talents are better used “working” instead of AR-blogging during business hours.  The following is a brief account of the hours leading up to our domination of the 2012 Berryman 24 hour Adventure race. And by “domination”, I mean we didn’t die.

At a table littered with empty fast-food wrappers, Travis and I sat in the Hardee’s dining room plotting UTM points. The 2012 Berryman 24 was happening the next day, and we had redemption on the brain. A full year had passed since our “Four Points Debacle“, and while it was surely on our minds, there was no talk of the past. We spoke only of the grandeur that lay ahead.

Brimming with confidence and the lofty goal of a top 3 finish, we had once again found ourselves drunk with confidence. Countless emails had been exchanged in the preceding weeks, and the phrase “if we can just run a clean race..” had been repeated over and over again. Hope had become certainty, and for better or worse, we’d let ourselves believe it was going to happen. Tomorrow would be a BIG success; of this we had no doubt.

“If we can just run a clean race..”

With each plotted CP, another piece of tomorrow’s quest was revealed. It was clear we’d be covering a lot of distance tomorrow. The mileage on the bike leg alone was… respectable. That was fine though, after all our Dirty Kanza training earlier in the year, we were confident the bikes were our strong-suit. My excitement came to climax when we confirmed that all 13  miles of Council Bluff’s bitchin’ singletrack would be used on the bike leg(s). Council Bluff was the first course I ever raced on, and I’ve had a lot of good times there.  I think it was ’09 when Corey, Big Gay Bob and myself took home buckles in the clydesdale division. And I may or may not have whipped Corey’s ass at the Rimwrecker there in ’08, but it’s not like I’m gonna hold that over his head until my dying day.

Course plotted, we drove back to camp and managed to be in the sack by 11:30. Of course, this only gave me more time to lay in the sleeping bag and stare restlessly at the sky. Sleeping on the ground was so much better before I got fat, but hey, at least I forgot my pillow.

Frustrated at my inability to sleep, I watched the stars and let my mind wander. It dawned on me that we really hadn’t shown this race the proper level of respect. The Berryman is notoriously difficult, and this was gonna be Travis’s first 24 hour race. It made me nervous that we weren’t nervous, but there would be time for all of that tomorrow.

Morning finally came, and for whatever reason I was awake 15 minutes before my alarm went off. Trust me, that’s not the kind of thing that happens everyday. Resisting the urge to go back to sleep, I decided  to head for the camp commode. Much to my surprise, I’d gotten there before a line had formed. Man, I felt like such a grown-up… until I opened the bathroom door.  With a dropped jaw and bulging eyeballs, time literally froze as I realized I was standing face-to-face with a  half-naked man sitting on the toilet.

He hadn’t locked the door.

Well, this is awkward.

Thankfully he was wearing a headlamp, so all I saw was a defecating silhouette. That being said, my imagination has a nasty habit of filling in the blanks. Without missing a beat, the mystery dumper, (keeping his headlight steadily in my eyes to secure anonymity) , said “Sorry dude.”

No other words were spoken;  I quietly closed the door and got the hell out of there.

So,  just to recap: I do NOT know who you are, Mr. Mystery Dumper, and I think it’d be really cool if we could keep it that way.

I’d say this is a great time to change the subject, so let’s fast forward to the final minutes before race-start

In the final minutes before race-start, the crowd of racers was large:

I’m pretty sure that’s Emily on the front row

and distinguished:

Hands-down, the coolest race kits in AR

Our esteemed colleagues from the Orange Lederhosen cult are always a welcome sight, and I do believe Derrick has been trimming down. Emma was rumored to be somewhere on course, so we could only hope she’d have “provisions”.   Speaking of distinguished, I had the pleasure of crossing paths with several CAC veterans. Folks like “Iron Man” Chuck Vohsen, male-model Steve Willi, (my mom thinks he’s hot), and the recently expedition-tested Team Wahoo. The Hoosier Daddies were also present, albeit without any alcohol. I’m sure that won’t be the case at Castlewood, though.

The Hoosier Daddies. If you received free whiskey, brandy, port wine or bratwursts on the course during Cedar Cross, it probably came from one of these fine Americans.

My mojo must’ve been through the roof,  because I managed to get a 2-word conversation with Awesome-Butt Girl. As long as we’re on the subject, a lot of people have asked me about “ABG’s” true identity. I’m sorry to say it, but that information will never be revealed here. Firstly, knowledge is power. A woman with that knowledge could use her powers for evil, and I don’t need that weight on my conscience. Secondly, we don’t want to objectify anyone… I mean, I certainly wouldn’t want a bunch of people calling me “Awesome Abs Guy.” I’m not a piece of meat.

(Right to left) Kate, Travis and myself. And yes, my abs are amazing.

Swiftwick sleeves were donned, Bodyglide was applied and much pre-race wind was broken. The National Anthem was sung and  race director Gary Thompson unleashed 200+ racers onto his AR masterpiece.  The Berryman had begun.

Kicks in the Sticks is this weekend

At long last, a competitive trail run has made its way to Jefferson City. This weekend, the Kicks in the Sticks is going to happen and I’ll be there with my super-hot feyoncee, (yes, I spelled it wrong on purpose), on a quest for trail running glory. I fully plan to dominate the 30-39 y/o male  260+lbs category….if there is one. If there isn’t, I think all of us fatties should throw $5 in a hat and let the winner take all.

Who else is going?

Rumor has it our man Brandon Lepage will be making his triumphant return to the race scene, and it’ll be nice to see that guy again.

Red shorts make you faster

If you live in Jeff City/Columbia, there’s really no reason to miss this event.  Come on out and support local racing; if we’re lucky this will be the first of many. I’ve heard rumors of free beer at this race..

Can’t get this thing to blow up any bigger for some reason.

In case you can’t read the flyer, info can be found at www.kicksinthesticks.com and www.jeffcityrotaract.com .

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