Friday, April 30, 2010

Bonk Hard Chill Report

Team Forum Dental did as well as we could expect for the 2010 Bonk Hard Chill at Lake of the Ozarks State Park!

The Thursday prior to the race I got a frantic call from one of our team members. “I’m sick on my deathbed – I can’t do the race”. WOW the phone lines lit up around the Midwest. EVERYONE we knew had something going on that weekend. It was almost comical.

We finally did the unthinkable. We decided to go coed. This is not a slight to our coed-ness, but it basically threw us into the mix with Alpine Shop and Bushwhacker. This is an arena that we were not prepared to compete in. As hansom as Dave is, and as chiseled as Scott’s physique is, 3rd is basically the best we could do.

Friday night - Pre-race meeting at 8:00pm
I spent a small fortune at the bike shop, and really liked my odds of winning the kayak. Didn’t happen. Fortunately it was not a precursor of our performance at the race. We got the location of bike drop-off, map and instructions. Jason was working on a pretty raspy throat, so the meeting actually was brief and to the point.

Hoping to get to bed early, Dave, Kari and I dropped bikes off in a park in Tuscumbia, MO, while Scott plotted our attack back at HQ. We had a new strategy for bikes this time. Rather than have water and Heed in the bottles, we went with Yoohoo. Yoohoo is the official post-race drink of Team Forum Dental. I’m working on some additional sponsorships from manufactures like Cheetos, Gogurt and Slim Jim – but I digress.

We decided to put the calories in liquid form and take them with us rather than wait for after the race. We figured the race was so long, that we needed multiple recovery drinks. I think this Idea was birthed from prior races when we would leave cans of Yoohoo at the bikes. We drank them and crushed and carried the cans. Jason was clear that we were not to leave anything with the bikes except bike gear. This produced the Yoohoo in the bike bottle idea. Simply Genious!!!

We set tire pressures to 38psi, adjusted seat height, and were headed back to HQ.

Our plan of being in bed by 11pm somehow got thwarted. It’s just not a race if we get in be before 1am.

Wake-up was 4:15. I’m the only one who feels it is necessary to take a shower prior to a race, so I jumped in the shower and woke myself up. Anything prior to 8:00am is rough on me. We got to the start point at Camp Clover Point, only to wait while the buss’ tried to find their way there – Good thing the drivers weren’t navigating for the race!!! Jason had to go find them and lead them to the right spot. We all loaded up and headed to the true start out east of Osage Beach.

So we get to race start, and there is a rush to the bathrooms. There tend to be more men than women at these races, so the line to the bathroom looks like the woman’s bathroom at a sporting event. After about 30 seconds, anyone not takes a duce winds up nourishing the local plant life. There was a large group of guys “admiring the view” at the riverfront. One girl was standing behind the firing line looking out over the river when a racer turned and mentioned to her that everyone was really just urinating, not looking at the river - she quickly turned away quite embarrassed.

Jason apparently forgot his iPod, which means we butchered the National Anthem. Still pretty cool that we do that before these races though.

So everyone has their rain top on, because a slight drizzle is coming down. There I am in my bright yellow Frog Tog top – thanks Scott. Everyone has these cool, lightweight rain coats on. Scott picked up some lightweight Frog Togs for us over a year ago. They are great to pack for adventure racing because they work, and they really are lite. But his is a casual tope color. Mine - Banana Yellow.

7:10am and we are off and running. We started with a 3 mile out and back run. Surprisingly, this really does spread the group out a bit. CP1 and CP2 down. Into the canoes we go.

We see several people we know. Say our polite hellos, but this is a race where we know the best we can do in our category is 3rd, so we become all business. I’ve lost about 25 lbs since Castlewood, so I’m about 15lbs heavier than Dave now. With me in the front, and Dave in the back with his an my pack, the boat is fairly balanced.

Canoeing is not our forte, but we busted it out during this section. We actually passed a few teams during the 11 mile 2 hour paddle. We reached CP3 and made a fairly smooth transition to the bikes. Plenty of bikes still there, so we knew the race was going well for us. By this point we had doffed our rain jackets, so I no longer looked like a giant bumblebee.

We started out by crossing a poorly maintained bridge over the river with plenty of traffic. I wouldn’t be surprised if a few teams looked at the bridge and decided to throw in the towel. It was long and uphill – the first of many. Our towing system – a dog collar with some surgical tubing – worked great, and thankfully we didn't stay on pavement very long.

Scott was taking us right to the CP’s. Many of which were just red cables wrapped around a pole or sign with the orange punch there. Tough to spot while flying down the road! We passed a few more teams here.

We were climbing up a hill to a CP, and saw a team up ahead. I’m a pretty lighthearted guy, and was jokingly going to ask if anyone had a cigarette. I opted not to, and then realized that one of their teammates was actually smoking a cigarette. That would have been the big foot in the mouth. But it does raise two questions. 1. What the heck are you doing smoking during an adventure race? 2. How the heck did you get in front of us after a run, paddle and bike section, with the lungs of a smoker? Maybe it was time to pick up the pace.

About 2 miles after CP5, and some fairly difficult climbs, a team asked us if we had found CP5. Sorry guys, it’s about 2 miles back. Ouch.

Scott’s $1.99 bike-map-holder-thing-a-ma-jigger worked great. During the whole biking section. I don’t really understand how people can wear the map and navigate at the same time. As an added bonus, it works like a fender, so while the rest of us have mud flung up in our eyes and mouth, Scott is looking as pristine as ever – Pretty Boy.

CP7 was at an Osage Beach gas station. Everyone had a $1.50 credit at the store. I was too focused on passing teams that were waiting for Gatorade, pizza, hot dogs and beer. I wanted to treat this like any old CP. What do I care about $1.50. Alas, the bathroom called out as a safe haven to a few of the teammates, and you couldn’t deny that a toilet seat was better than a squat in the woods. We busted out of the gas station, and realized that on the bike up to that point, we had passed about seven teams.

We passed our first strip club, next door to the VFW, promptly followed by several churches. “Where you going honey?” “I’m swinging by the VFW to hook up with some old pals, and then maybe catching sermon.” - Yea right. It reminded me of a Bar in Prescott, AZ named The Office, and one in Phoenix named The Library. “Where are you?” – “I’m at the Office.” “Are you going to be out late dear?” “Yea, I’m going to be at the Library.” It’s all about marketing.

CP8 was on a cabin at the top of a hill. At this point, those of us who read the directions knew that the paved road that did not rip your quads apart was off limits. You were supposed to attack this CP from the hilly gravel road. Needless to say, we saw other teams approaching the CP from the off-limits road. This sport has honest people in it for the most part. I’ve seen a few exceptions to this rule. Basically a limited number of folks who blatantly leave teammates behind to go a few miles and get a CP, or take easier routes that are off limits. These racers are few and far between. We knew the guys who approached on the road. Good guys, who obviously were not out to cheat, but just didn’t read the rules of travel. We mentioned it to them. Didn’t turn them in. Don’t know if they turned themselves in. It’s always nice to have a good reputation, so that people assume the best about you.

CP9 was the check-in for some single track. The people there had Oreos for us, and were really upbeat. It’s great to have volunteers that enjoy what they do. This was the trailhead, and CP's 10-12 were down some muddy trails.

This is not single-track that you love. More of a horse trail. Scott did us some favors here. We initially passed the proper turnoff on this trail. About 3 other teams of aggressive mountain bikers were right on our tails. We stopped to reorient, and they went smoking by us. Never saw them again, but they were going in the wrong direction. We walked our bikes back up a muddy trail and found our missed turn. Off we went, never to see the other teams again.

The route from 10-11 was basically un-rideable with extremely steep, rocky, muddy terrain. Dave probably could have handled it on his Specialized, but since the rest of us had Gary Fishers, we decied to push our bikes.

We picked up CP12 and then were off to Camp Pin Oak. “Scott, how far to Camp In Oak?” “It’s just down the hill, up the hill, down the hill and up the hill again.” - Thanks Scott

CP13 was at Camp Pin Oak where we received more points to plot. Kari and I took care of the incidentals of the transition, while Dave and Scott plotted. I dumped my water at this point, because I knew the end of the race was near, I wanted to cary as light a pack as possible, and my water was tasting quite foul. I must not have let the water run at our dive of a hotel, because it was nasty.

Off we ran. The rain was beginning to fall again, making the leaves on the forest floor quite slippery. However, with the leaves on the ground, rather than the trees, spotting checkpoints from 200 yards away, was much easier.

I’ve recently taken up the job of pace counter. I also have an altimeter that keeps track of distances. I have to say, I finally feel useful. 25 pounds liter allows me to get up hills faster, and move through the forest more quickly. That, and my pace counting duties really gave me a since of pride. I don’t really know if it helps that much, but it made me feel good. I think we move through the woods a lot faster now. For one or both of these reasons.

We busted through this section almost flawlessly. We botched one checkpoint, which cost us about 45 minutes, but otherwise this was a smooth run. Even botching just one CP was good for us. We headed back to our bikes, and saw a few teams just leaving. Some of us were not feeling 100% at this point (probably because the Yoohoo was gone), so we knew with the monster hill in front of us, that we would not be catching these two teams on our way back to Camp Clover Point.

Scott’s legs were shredded at this point from doing all of the towing. I looked over at him to offer words of encouragement, but realized I’d better be quiet, and let him focus. Then I hear Kari, his wife, say “you can go faster if you want to”. Smack!!! Get it move’n buster, this ain’t no night train.

It was daylight and we came up to the finish line with Cowbells, yells, air horns blowing with a time of 9 hours 7 minutes. About 2 hours behind Bushwacker and Alpine Shop – but a solid 3rd place in the elite coed division. I might add, that we finished a good 30 minutes ahead of the first place All-Male team. Double Smack!!

What did we learn.
1. Yoohoo and Ensure in the Bike Bottles – It’s all about the liquid calories!.
2. We can hold our own in the coed division. Not with the elite teams, but certainly with many teams.
3. We found a new war cry “you can go faster if you want to”

Friday, April 2, 2010

A bad influence

Ha Ha Ha.....After 10 years I am starting to have some success. All this time I have been tempting my wife ever so slightly to come to the dark side and I believe I have made some serious progress. Of course a few months ago she began mountain biking, then adventure racing and she keeps coming back or more which is excellent. Then a few days ago she asked me to fix a picture frame that she was having trouble getting to stay up. I take a look at it and find that she had applied a ginormous amount of duct tape (see pic above) to the back and I knew then that her journey to the dark side is nearly complete, it won't be long before I'll have her not bothering to throw the dirty clothes in the hamper (I mean why have so much floor space if you're not going to use it), hocking lugies during races, and just wiping her nose on her sleeve like every other adventure racer (Ok MALE adventure racers).....Ha ha ha