Sunday, February 27, 2011

2011 Bonk Hard Chill Map

Below is Forum Dental's route at the 2011 Bonk Hard Chill along with a vertical profile. There were a few bike route choices and we always chose the routes with the least amount of hill climbs even if it was a bit longer. I am not sure we saved a ton of time with those routes, although we did seem to get in front of a few teams that we were behind at the diversion. It is always funny to see the "where did those guys come from" looks on faces as you come in from a different direction. Forum Dental is a "down and around" style team instead of an "up and over" team. The Marines can keep the latter strategy.

2011 Bonk Hard Chill report

For the Bonk Hard Chill this year we were back to searching for a fourth teammate for Forum Dental since my wife and I moved to WV. I was able to coordinate my work schedule to be in Missouri for the race but of course Kari had to stay back in WV and hold down the fort. I have to say that one of the hardest parts of AR sometimes is filling out a team. At the Forest Service Dave and I work with Shawn who is a former army paratrooper, is in the air national guard, has quite a bit of outdoor experience, is tough as nails and is a super nice guy, all the makings of a good teammate. When I asked him to do it he refused on account that he didn't think that he was in good enough shape, hasn't done much biking and just didn't think that he had it in him physically, blah, blah, blah... Well if I couldn't find a fourth teammate, I was going to have to sit out and watch Dave and Judd run the race since 3 person teams are not allowed at any Bonk Hard events. So I told Shawn that an adventure race is probably run at a slower pace than what he is thinking, there is not much running, the biking isn't so tough....... So after checking to see that his life insurance was paid up and that at least a few of us knew CPR, he decided to give it a go.

We packed up, attended the pre-race meeting got the entire course map and checkpoints and headed to Steak and Shake to plot where we paid an obscene sum for some milkshakes which turned out to be gut bombs and some nasty radio active cheese frys which, were they not ingested by Dave, would most likely have sat in a landfill for the next two hundred years with nary a color change to the unnatural pale yellow hue. You know that the milkshakes are sub par when Judd later complains that he wasn't sure that the ice cream was such a good idea. I mean have you ever seen Judd eat ice cream? Well actually me neither because I am pretty sure that his rate of consumption is faster than the human eye can detect. But I have seen the empty DQ blizzard containers before you even pull away from the take out window. So if Judd says that the milkshakes were not a good idea, they must have been poor indeed. We finished plotting, strategizing, analyzing and everyone hit the sack and I kept on analyzing, strategizing, planning. Then I hit the sack and kept right on analyzing, strategizing, trying to sleep, analyzing.....I probably netted about two hours of sleep, so pretty decent I'd say.

The weather forecast looked terrific for the race, mostly sunny highs in the 50's, we got up went outside and what!?? Rain?? Argggg and I was thinking that this years Chill isn't going to be chilly. Oh well. The rain stopped, we bussed to the start, played the national anthem and go. The race started with a 3.5 mile road run and of course everyone headed out with their pants on fire. I could tell Shawn wasn't really enjoying the brisk pace so I asked him what motivates him, does he like positive encouragement or the kind of in your face motivation like a drill sergeant. He responded that what motivates him when he is struggling is Schadenfreude or taking pleasure in the misery of others. So long as someone else is feeling the pain, he is fine with his. Well ok, must be some weird paratrooper thing.....

We are trucking along and Judd stops because his pants are soaked. Judd is past 40 but I figured he had at least a couple more decades before he has to hit the Depends isle but who knows, I mean Dave has already attained grand puh bah status in the Rotary organization so maybe 40 is the new 70??? (I am sure that those last comments will deserve a reminder of exactly who came in ahead of who at the Murder Rock half marathon last year, and it wasn't a member of Forum Dental in their 30s) Anyway Judd's bladder had sprung a leak (not the anatomical one). We stop, like a true enginerd I try to throw some duct tape on it but no luck, so Judd empties the thing. Lucky for us Judd is like a camel. I have seen him go a 24 hr race and still have half his bladder full at the end without refilling.

Now lets review, Shawn is motivated by taking pleasure in the misery of others and Judd's bladder that he filled the night before suddenly springs a leak, hmmmm......

So we charge back into it but are now in the back of the pack, but a couple of minutes are not going to lose the race. However it is kind of frustrating to be at the back so quickly. We hit the canoes and paddle about 5.5 miles down the river which has tons of logs and rootwads to negotiate and is pretty fun but hard to make time on anyone because the river is kind of congested. We get out and hop on the bikes for about a 10 mi bike on gravel roads. We navigate cleanly and head back to the TA where we get a small break from the bikes for a quick 3 cp 2.5 mi trek. I urge everyone to transition quick because it is a short trek and we need to make up time where ever we can, so we blast through the transition as if we were never there......

We head on and nail the first two CPs when Dave comes back to me and says hey we punched 9 and 11 and are headed to 10 but where was CP 8. I say "oh 8 was the TA" and I see the realization come across Dave's face as he whips out the passport with a big old blank in the #8 box. We were in such a rush to transition fast that we forgot to punch. The rules are that you have to get the points in order unless otherwise specified and anyone missing a CP will be ranked below any team that gets all the checkpoints. On the one hand we figured that we might be hosed since we didn't follow the CP in order rule, but on the other hand the passport is just there to prove that you visit every CP and since it was obvious that we were at CP 8 being a manned CP and since we didn't get CPs 9, 10, and 11 on our bikes maybe Jason would give it to us. So we proceeded on like we were still in the hunt.

We transition back to bikes for a 7.5 mile gravel road ride. I can tell Shawn is pretty well sick of the bike by now, but he knows that Judd is out of water and Dave is deeply immersed in self loathing about CP8 so his schadenfreude scheme is working perfectly and doesn't complain a bit. We head off on the 13CP orienteering section where we can skip a checkpoint (I have never come across that before) and have a pretty clean run when the skies open up and start dumping on us. We all throw on the rain jackets, but we are soaked in no time and now wet and with lower temps we are frozen when we go to get back on the bikes for the nearly 6 miles to the finish. Our hands are so cold that we bumble through the TA at a snails pace and it takes a yoda-esque force of will to get our thumbs to operate the shifters. It is a short ride mostly on pavement with no real monster climbs and we get that burst of energy that comes when you know you are heading to the finish and we truck along pretty good and cross the finish line in 8:45. A pretty respectable time, so I try to bribe Jason, the race director, with his favorite bag of chips, but to no avail since he didn't give us credit for CP 8 and we are therefore ranked last in our division. We have no problem with the decision since those are the rules and it was our own dang fault for not remembering to punch in the TA. Dave is still kicking himself, but to be honest all of us usually remind him to punch at TAs and NONE of us remembered so in reality it was a team mistake and no one is mad about it. In fact Dave is always so rock solid at every race, he never bonks, never feels like poo, never leads us astray when I need help with the map, never gets pissed or grumpy or whiny, has the aerobic capacity of Lance Armstrong on meth.... In short he is just about the best teammate anyone could have, so in a weird sort of way it was kind of a relief have Dave mess up for once. All in all it was one of my favorite courses that Bonk Hard Racing has put together in some time and we had a great time running it.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Bike Map Holder

My friends from Team-Virtus are clamoring for me to post some photos of my super high tech rotating bike map holder.

I used to be known on the team for great nav through the woods but you put me out on a road on a bike and bad things happen. A few examples include: During the Mission 18hr in 2009 we hop on our bikes and head off down a road through town to a river and the paddling section. We are cruising along and we run into the interstate!?! Oops, I had put the map away and went left when I should have gone right and 2 miles later we are at the interstate instead of the river. During the LBL Challenge in 2009 we transitioned to our bikes, headed off down a gravel road and down a huge hill. After about a mile I was thinking "hmmm.... we should have hit that blacktop road by now" so I pull out the map and sure enough, wrong way. Back up the hill we go.

As the teams navigator one of my least favorite things to do is say "Uh guys......I think that we went the wrong way down that hill......" Then everyone turns around and looks at the hill they just had fun flying down and starts silently cussing. No one ever says anything out loud, except for me. I used to be plagued by those moments until I made my bike map holder so that I could keep in contact with the map at all times during the bike section.

AR and Orienteering specialty gear websites sell these things for like $80, and no doubt they are superior to mine but mine costs around $1.50 and works for me.

It basically consists of a 12X12 notebook cover for the board, those big paper clip/clamp things to hold the map in place, a bunch of steel and rubber washers, and a round wood block to put some space between the handlebars and the board and a plastic round clamp thing that I got off a bike lock holder.

The clamp is the hardest piece of the puzzle, basically it could be anything that can clamp down on a round handlebar that you can put a bolt down into. I am sure there is lots of stuff at the hardware store that would work, I just happened to have a bike lock attachment on hand that fit the bill. Here is another look at it

I use one of those locking nuts on the bolt that goes down through the whole thing so that when you rotate the board, the washers just slide against each other instead of unscrewing the bolt. Putting a piece of rubber between the handlebars and the clamp is also essential to keep it in one place. Also, my handlebars are tapered instead of round so I used some electrical tape on the handlebars to build them up to compensate for the tapering.

For the board I used a binder notebook cover because it is a bit flexible and pretty water resistant. At first I used a fiberglass clipboard but after a pretty good wreck it shattered leaving jagged pieces everywhere and wasn't too safe. I used to just slip the map into the clear plastic sleeve, but I found that clamping it on with the paper clips is easier.

I have been using it for about a year now and since I have had it, I don't think that I have made any real big bike nav errors. In my opinion riding down a gravel road one handed while reading a map is just asking for trouble. For me the map holder works great, it keeps me in contact with the map and I don't have to take my hands off the bars to read it. Another benefit is that it keeps some of the mud from spraying up into your face.

There are tons of these homemade jobs out there. If you have a different design or suggestion, comment to the post and let us know about it.


Saturday, November 6, 2010

Photos from Moab

I've uploaded some photos that I took during the Checkpoint Tracker National Championships in Moab to Flicker. Check them out Here

Friday, October 1, 2010

2010 Berryman Adventure and a bit how it all started....

Ahhh it was two years ago that Forum Dental AR began with the 2008 Berryman Adventure. In that first ever race we finished in 14 hrs but cleared the course(the last team to do so). It is pretty funny to think back on the stuff we did on that first race. It all started when I had just heard of a thing called adventure racing and navigated to Bonk Hard Racing, showed it to Judd who grabbed onto it like a pit bull. We signed up and toed the line knowing only a few scraps of info about AR that one digs out of blogs like this and were off. We all probably had enough food in our packs to feed every team there for 48 hrs, we carried sandals and big heavy dry bags so we could cross the stream without getting our socks wet. I ate beef stew and a can of tuna while we were paddling (mind you it was only a 12 hr race not Primal Quest).

Like an idiot had told everyone "oh yeah I can find these CPs, I'm an engineer for the Forest Service so I look at topo maps all the time." We were off and I had no idea what I was doing, mostly followed the herd but every once in a while I would realize I knew where we were and would drop to the ground whip out the map and calculate a bearing. Meanwhile the herd kept running in the obvious direction of the CP. We figured it out as we went and by some miracle found them all, albeit very slowly with lots of going in the wrong direction. We had to cross the river to get to the canoes, so we went through the process of stripping down to our skivvies, donning our sandles, putting our crud in a dry bag, crossing the river and then put back on all our gear (at least a half hour process). For the float trip (not paddling leg) we meandered down the Current River coming in just before the canoe cutoff where the beef stew and tuna caught up to me so I dropped trou in some tall grass while Dave fulfilled his main roll on the team by attracting all the Chiggers away from me to him (to this day it his main roll). We hopped on the bikes and got into a pack of racers who then all started following me of all people, I guess I had them fooled. Then Judd, after not having removed himself from his couch for a good month or so nearly died. Metaphorically speaking, the Berryman ass kicked him right in the jewels and he bonked hard (the ass is the official mascot of the Berryman Adventure). He kept going although I never knew that a bike could go so slow and still remain upright. We coasted across the finish and were hooked for good.

Fast forward two years and we are preparing for both USARA and Checkpoint Tracker national championship races and sign up for Berryman 12hr for some practice. Chris couldn't make it down from Idaho and Kari had to stay back in WV with our kids, so we recruited Steve to run with us who had never run an adventure race before, but is an accomplished endurance athelete. Our goal was win, not our division, not all the 4-person teams, we wanted the overall win. We knew that it would be tough, the Berryman always draws a large pool of racers from far and wide so the competition would be good. We noticed Bushwacker had a team in the 12hr. Cyclewerx is a solid team, some teams with people from St.L Orienteering Club and a few others that we recognized. We knew the overall win was possible, but we were going to have to have a very clean race.

Dave and I attended the pre-race meeting where Dave gave an absolutely thrilling 2 minute speech about the Mark Twain National Forest and National Public Lands Day and.....OK that is where I stopped paying attention, but he had the crowd for a good 5 seconds at least. He would have to settle for catering to his true fans, the ticks and chiggers, during the race. We went back to Rolla, which was a first for everyone going back to their houses (except me of course) and plotted the course....Hmmmm...The overall win was not looking so attainable. The course was designed so that we ended on the paddle, which is our weakest discipline, and it was pretty apparent that it was going to be a track meet the whole way. The trekking section had plenty of CP's but they were pretty close together, many on trails and the nav wasn't going to be hard. My delusions of us running through the nav section like crap through a goose while everyone else wandered around in the woods, hours behind us, wasn't looking all that probable. Our strategy was to put as much time on the field as possible and try not to lose it in the paddle. I did my usually tossing and turning for hours in bed before a race until at 2 am I resorted to my last option and reached for my scriptures..zzzz...the next thing I know Dave is rousting me at 4 am to get up, two hours sleep, oh well good practice for the 24hr nationals.

In the morning Jason started the race and we ran up a big hill on the road and the track meet began. We got to an intersection and took a left, straight into the woods which took Steve by surprise. Come to find out that he thought it would be just trail running and stuff so he didn't bother to bring long pants or gaiters or anything to protect his legs. Luckily there was not a whole lot of thorns in this race, in fact none that I can remember, but then again I had on pants. There was a heap of poison ivy that I think had him a bit freaked out. He did a couple of funny things like follow Dave right up to the flag to watch him punch and stopped to get some debris out of his shoe when we were like 150 meters from the TA where we were all going to stop and change into bike shoes, but nothing compared to our first race. As planned, we did blast through the nav section and emerged in 1st but Bushwacker, Out2Play, and Lost but Found were only minutes back. We hopped on the bikes for plenty of gravel and single track fun and kept going back and forth with Lost But Found. Then Betis Construction came out of nowhere and caught up to us near the end of the bike. On the way to CP 22 Betis Const. and us took the paved road out of Berryman campground down to highway 8 and over to the trail intersection. The volunteers were perplexed and thought we should have taken the trail down. I remember the night before checking three times whether the clue sheet told us we needed to take the trail but there were no route restrictions. Frankly I had a pretty strong feeling that Jason intended everyone to take the trail and we thought it looked like way more fun but singletrack is never faster than pavement unless it is a LOT shorter. From reports from other teams the singletrack was a lot of fun, but when you are in a battle you're always going to go for the most sure, fastest route. We got to the canoes tied for the lead with Betis Const. We graciously offered to accept their surrender so we wouldn't have to humiliate them on the paddling leg but they weren't buying it. We mounted the canoes and they got a bit in front right from the get go. Then all of the sudden this 7 ft dude comes running up stream full bore, crashing through the shallows. Deranged, he batted a few river drunks out of the way, capsized one of those huge rafts loaded down with coolers, then reached down and bit the head off a snapping turtle. We recognized him as one of Betis Const team members and I think to myself, "no wonder they were so fast on the bike, this guy was on meth the whole race and now he is tweaking and has gone into a rage." We were as good as dead, he was going to kill us all for sure. At least Kari didn't race this one so she can care for the kids in my absence....Then we passed by his team mate in their canoe and find out they left the passport back at the TA. Wow! well after that display of raw power and determination we knew it probably wouldn't be long before we were seeing the back of them. We gave it all we had, but they caught us quickly and came in 10 min in front of us for the win. The rest of the canoe we spent feeling like sitting ducks, looking over our shoulders paddling away. No other teams were in sight for the remainder of the paddle, which was a lot of fun except for the feeling like sitting ducks part. I guess Dave was looking a bit worse for wear after gutting out the bike section with rubbing break pads because some river drunks threw him a jello shot. Turns out that psycho-7 ft-I workout running upstream in the Mississippi-guy qualified for the Ironman 70.5 world championships the week prior. So if your going to be beat, might as well be by someone good.

We are happy with second, especially since this race didn't really play to our strengths much. We are just not a powerful sprinting team and this race was a track meet. After the race I mentioned to Jason that the race was a little short, to which he gave me an annoyed glance which I took to mean "you know Scott, I do offer a longer race this weekend. I think it is time that you guys start racing with the big boys now." Which he would be totally right and we would have loved to do the 36 hr, but I had to be back in WV by Monday morning and I just didn't see that happening after finishing a 36hr race Sunday. I have to say though that all in all it was a terrific race, we got some great prizes (Bonk Hard Races are the best), and we kicked a little butt as well. It doesn't get much better than that....unless you take home the Kuat Rack, which the top team always takes and we have been salivating over for the past two years.

There were something like 10 or 11 teams from Rolla there this year and to my knowledge all of them cleared the course except one team that had bike problems. It has turned out to be a pretty big hotspot for adventure racing for such a small town. Nice job everyone.

Friday, July 2, 2010

I know, I know, I need to update the blog. We have heard from our fan... and so coming soon are our harrowing tales from the Mission 18hr, XTERRA Eureka Springs, Dave's dominance of the Volkslauf 10K and our first overall win at Planet Adventure 24hr. In the meantime enjoy the belated report of the LBL Challenge

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

LBL Challenge Map and Report

View Larger Map

Pics with comments are HERE

The LBL Challenge last year was one of Forum Dental’s favorite races last year, so we were all chomping at the bit for the race to come again this spring. Bonk Hard Racing just does an exceptional job at all their races, but in our opinion the LBL and the Berryman are the best. One of the best things about the LBL is the racing venue, the Land Between the Lakes is a HUGE Forest Service recreation area that is sandwiched between two lakes which is nearly all forested and with no private land. This means there are no out of bounds areas for the race director to work around and loads of logging roads, trails and lakes to work with. Jason (of Bonk Hard Racing) is not kidding when he says it is an adventure racer’s paradice. Also there are miles and miles of some of the most fun single track mtb trail that I have ever been on. Now on to the race report.
Thursday we got all of our crud loaded up and headed out. I think that there is some kind of strange and magical phenomenon that occurs with gear. It seams to just grow and expand and accumulate the longer you do races. Last year we took a Nissan Xterra to the race and didn’t have problems, this year we took Judd’s full sized Suburban and it was still packed full. At the race site we saw a team that had kind of Mercedes mini-bus pulling a trailer loaded with gear. At our current rate of gear accumulation we will need one of those setups before the end of the year.
One of our goals for this race was to get some sleep pre-race. For the majority of the races that we have done, Judd is the only one that gets any sleep. Dave, Chris, and I are usually up messing around with the map, analyzing the course on, and fiddling around with packs and gear till well after midnight only to wake up at 4:30. We hoped to take the advice of Jason Bourne and use “sleep as a weapon” Well it wasn’t meant to be, I was still up past midnight and when I laid down and tried to sleep I found once again that I was so jazzed up that I could literally hear my own pulse, so who knows what time I actually got to sleep. Come 4:00 a.m. my mind decided “enough sleeping for you, it is time to start thinking again about the race” and I woke up and that was it. Of course nature was calling, so I tried to sneak to the restroom but the beds were so creaky that starting up a chainsaw might have been a bit more quiet, and so Dave was bright eyed and bushy tailed a couple of minutes later. Oh well, sleep is one weapon that we would just have to leave in the holster today. We geared up and towed the starting line, the 12 and 24hr races started at the same time, so there was a huge crowd. Looking around it is intimidating to see all of these people all geared up and looking fierce, but our race strategy is to not worry about other teams, just do what we do, go as hard as we can, have fun and we will end up were we end up. It started with a four CP nav section through some really stickery brushy woods, and I was just not really on my game with the navigation. I didn’t really blow any points, but it wasn’t a super clean trek. As we headed back to the bikes at race HQ we passed a guy that had made the mistake of wearing shorts who looked like his legs had been sprayed with catnip and locked in a room with 100 addicted strays. At HQ we were told that we were in third place and both were four person teams so we headed out for a long bike section with a mix of single track, logging roads and a little pavement. We went back and forth with a couple of teams until CP 7 where everybody was stopped looking for the punch. It was plotted at a road/trail junction so it was pretty obvious we were in the right spot and we started to get a little nervous that maybe it had been stolen. After a minute or so Dave spotted it on a tree about 50m back up the trail, he punch and we told the other teams were it was as we mounted up and headed out. We fired up the after burners for the long stretch of road biking and didn’t see those teams again. It is funny because Kari hasn’t been biking long and claims that she is not good at it, but I bet if you asked those two 4 person all male teams who ate our dust after that CP they might give her a different answer.
We got to the Canoe put in and were still in third overall with two 4 person teams ahead of us. As we paddled to CP 9 we saw one 2 person team in pursuit after punching in a cove and coming out we saw that it was Team Brewer Science who are also from Rolla. We were excited for them because there were no other teams around so we thought that they had a great chance at winning the 2 person division. We could see the two teams quite a distance in front of up in a neck and neck battle for first. As we got out of the canoe the volunteer informed us that we were about 22 minutes back. 22 minutes is a substantial lead, but there was a lot of race to go and anything can happen. As we headed out on the second and longer trek section our legs were stiff and sore so we settled into the survival shuffle pace till we got to the woods. Then we got our nav groove on and just swept through the orienteering points about as clean as possible. I was seeing the terrain well and just we just flew through the course, Well we went through the woods as fast as our tired legs would go. Getting back to the bikes, Jason told us that the 2nd place team had just left. Unsure of how many minutes that entailed we transitioned and headed out for the bike back to the finish. Most of the bike to the finish was gravel road and just a bit of single track. Our legs were tired but we pushed hard. At cp 20 we crossed a creek and realized that the punch was on the other side. Let’s just say Dave was real excited to wade another creek. We cranked on and on, I felt like I was working pretty hard when I heard Judd and Kari behind me just chatting away about the value of vegetables and Dave turns to me and joking says, “You know, I don’t think that they are working hard enough if they can just be chatting away like that” I then tried to turn up the pace which had absolutely no effect on the chatter so I must not have turned it up much. I must say I was feeling the burn on every hill. As we headed down a last single track section with about a mile to go we caught sight of a team in front of us. Dave and I smelled blood in the water and went barreling down the hill after them and just about caught up to the girl at the back of the team and realized that the rest of our team was not with us, oops. We took a couple of breaths and told Judd and Kari that there was a team just up ahead. The team was Iowa Wolfpack so we came out of the single track and poured it on with about a ¾ miles to go. The Wolfpack saw us coming and cranked it up as well. There were two small hills to the finish and we were gaining. We dug in, with our legs on fire, our muscles swimming in lactic acid and seeing red but we ran out of road. They crossed the finish line 15 seconds in front of us. Imagine racing 7.5 hours and the finish comes down to 15 seconds! After we crossed we shook hands with the bewildered Wolfpack team members who wondered where we had come from. They had been battling team Follow No One the whole race who came in just three minutes in front of us and couldn’t have been more surprised to find us breathing down their necks in the end. We were actually pretty surprised to have caught up so much ground as well. So we finished in third place just three minutes separating the top three teams. Incredible! We were ecstatic with our performance and of course will be counting the many places where we could have made up three more minutes for weeks to come.
After reliving the race with the Wolfpack and Follow No One for an hour or so we went back to the hotel and got cleaned up for the awards ceremony. When we came back we found out that the other teams from Rolla all did extremely well. Team Brewer Science who had some nav errors after being only three minutes back from us off the canoe and came in 3rd. Teams Won’t Win and That’s Going to Leave a Mark from Rolla came in well under 12hrs although I don’t know how they placed in their division. Chris from That’s going to Leave a Mark decided that he was going to be sure to live up to the name and made the mistake of wearing running shorts through the trekking, yeeee ouch! At the awards ceremony Iowa Wolfpack left early so we got to pick from the prizes second and let me just say that NO ONE gives out better prizes than Bonk Hard Racing. I am talking a $250 Kuat rack, $100 North Face windproof fleece, $90 North Face Sleeping Bags, and bunch of gear from Alpine Shop. Bonk Hard puts on an amazing race and you can’t find a nicer race director that knows adventure racing than Jason and Laura. You don’t want to miss the awards ceremony, that is unless you finish before Forum Dental.