Once a source of "Not all you want to know about Texas Adventure Racing," but now just some "leisure" adventure through the eyes of "The K-SPoT"

Monday, January 30, 2006

Racing Through The Hillcountry

dem r sum nice racin shoes, Melissa!Alright, this is actually my second attempt at this blog--for some reason both Firefox and Internet Explorer just kicked me out and I lost everything that I was writing. It was really good stuff! WTF. Oh well, I will try to recreate it, but I apologize if its subpar the second time around.

Where was I...okay, so the past week was supposed to be pretty chill. I was just planning to head over to Austin with Jaunda and Nick to scout out Jester and then head over to Boerne with Jaunda to recon the mountain bike course for the race this upcoming weekend. But then I got the call from the Godfather, Rick. An offer I couldn't refuse. As you may know, Jamie broke his arm after the training camp and so that left Rick with Melissa and Tom, my usual RunBikePaddle teammate, thus needing a 4th for the Big Chill. He calls me up and asks if I will race with them. He assures me that we will not go fast and that I would have a "vacation" from navigating since Tom would do it this time for some practice. I believed him--I'm soooo gullible!

I agreed and now had to break the news to Nick, which is always a lovely experience. He NEVER throws a guil trip your way...okay, yes, that was sarcasm. But I still agreed to head up to Boerne with Jaunda on Sunday, after the race. It seemed to be a great idea at the time since I wasn't doing the 24hr, JUST the 12hr. Now that it was a race week for me, I tapered down a bit more on the training. On Monday I coached practice, Tuesday I did the brick workout around the Fruit Loop, but I didn't do the last run because I had pushed it a bit for the first run. I just stretched instead--I was starting to feel the tingling of the IT band, so I thought I should probably stop running for the day. Mon, Tue, and Thurs I swam, and the Thursday session was my first lesson with Patrick at Trivantage. He is my Zen Swim Sensei...just like Karate Kid, I had to learn "wax on, wax off" before I could "swim." So to start out, he told me not to "swim" anymore and just do the balance drills he would teach me during our sessions together. We started off with a back balance drill. They have those "endless pools" in their studio, so that took some getting used to. I would always eventually swim towards the flume and hit it, then lose concentration and have to stop the drill. I'm hoping this will become better as I get used to the endless pool and I get used to the actual drills. So he taught me what to do for about 30mins and then I spent the last 30mins working on the balancing drills.

Friday we headed over to Bastrop to set up TA and spend the night. I ended up sharing a room with Melissa and Michael Mey. They both had significant others to worry about, so for some reason I got to sleep in the same bed with Melissa...wow, I still must be the "no threat" guy. We had dinner at Mama Mia, which was "swamped" according to them...they were not expecting the deluge of adventure racers to head their way on a Friday night, I suppose. So Deb actually became our waitress and took our orders and dropped them off to the chef. She did a great job--we tipped our waitress well. It was hilarious. Many thing were said that were off-color...Rick and Mey were there, what would you expect?! The best was when Eric was talking on the phone, there was a comment on how Eric has an attractive wife. Of course, Mey followed with a comment directed at Ross. Ouch. Please push that dagger deeper. Good times.

paparazzi following us!We went straight to bed after dinner and got up at about 5am for breakfast. We were out of the Days Inn by about 6am and had to go drop the boats off at Lake Bastrop, a few miles from the park. The weather was actually not that bad...definitely not as bad as it was last year!! We gathered for the prerace meeting at about 730 and got our maps right afterward. For the 12hr, by inspecting the map, we knew we wouldn't be heading to Rocky Hill, which is what we suspected. That would mean no technical riding, which was probably good for our team. It started off with a little rogaine up front, 5 points. Tom navigated all these points. The first 3 pts had numbers we had to write down to get the coordinates for the 4th point. They required a little rearranging to get the right UTM coords, but we eventually got them. We just took a leisurely pace and walked the uphills and even some of the flats and downhills--it was a 12hr so we didn't want to blow ourselves up, especially with my knee. So far so good--no pains down there for me. Next was navigation to the tyrolean traverse and the boat drop. The traverse was pretty fun--I just took a running start and leaped off. Rick had so much momentum going on his turn that he made it over half way on the traverse before he had to start pulling himself to the other side! Then Melissa had the opposite experience--I think she ran into a tree on the way and had to pull herself all the way to the other side almost immediately!

Next we headed to a checkpoint on a hill. No problem. Tom was doing fine. Next was a "caving" checkpoint right off of HWY 21. Tom shot a direct bearing and we were there in no time. But it was a little confusing of where we had to do the "caving" since no one was there to direct us. There was a little culvert that was barely visible where we were standing, but we figured this is where we had to go. It was tight and Tom is claustrophobic, so we had a slight problem. For everyone who couldn't make it, we would suffer a 15min penalty. But Tom was sincerely troubled by it, so we just told him to meet us on the other side. It was a little stressful because Ross was not being helpful at all, saying that we were in the way, etc. So Rick, Melissa, and I made it through to the other side, punching the cp along the way. Then Robyn tells us that they did not plan for us to enter from that side, so Tom actually can still avoid the penalty if he goes in from this side and gets his wristband punched. The tunnel was wider on this side, so it was a bit easier for him and he did it. Nice, no penalty. We continued on to the boat drop.

who da man
We were just behind Ross' team (HART/Hammer Nutrition w/ Deb, Raymund, and Eric) once we got on the water and Tom had handed me the map right before, so I started navigating. The boats we had were quite different and Rick and I were in my Esperanto and Tom and Melissa were in a shorter Perception (I think it was a sundance or something like that). So we obviously would go a bit faster. One thing I forgot to mention is that when we checked in from the previous leg, we were handed the 24hr sheet of coordinates instead of the 12hr ones. We noticed this and asked if this was just a misprint and all the points were the same for the 12hr and they said "yes." They were wrong. Thankfully, Art had caught up to us on the ropes and corrected our maps. This still cost us some time because we wasted that time to plot those points and reorganize our plan of attack, so Art gave us a 5min credit (which we eventually didn't use since it didn't matter). That could have been disasterous if Art hadn't found us in time! Anyway, so I had not oriented myself to the corrected map and was actually steering our team into one of the 24hr cps. This must have confused Ross or something because they stopped for a while and looked at their maps in the middle of water while Rick and I continued paddling along. I caught this mistake and changed our strategy and went for the closest point first, while Ross et al. continued to the farthest point.

esperanto preppingI double and triple checked the terrain features to make sure I was heading the right way and there was slight confusion as we ran into a spit of land on our way to the cp--but we realized that this was on the map and we would have to portage a short distance around it to continue on to the cp. No prob--we found it. Along the way we kept seeing Team Subaru, the pro team who made fun of the Austin area's "speedbumps," not hills. They seemed to be behind after the first leg, but started to make up time on the other 24hr teams. They were pretty cordial and would flash us a smile and good tiding everytime. On the way to the 2nd and last cp on the boat, we ran into Jason Maloney and his team, who were oddly not racing under the HoustonFitAR banner. Of course there was banter between him and Rick for most of the time until we hit the next cp. Then we saw Ross and them there too--obviously they had some difficulty getting to this point. So now we were thinking that Bobby's team (HART/TexasDare.com w/ Jackie, Frank, and Mike the bike cop) was way ahead of us because we didn't see them at all (but we found out later that they made a huge plotting error). But in truth we were now in front.

The paddle back was pretty nice--the winds calmed down. Actually, when it was windy and rainy on our way out onto the lake, it still wasn't as bad as it was last year! We walked a lot on the way back to TA from the boats. We found out we were the leaders when we got back to TA--we were certainly surprised. The next leg was a bike leg with a couple trek cps. I was sooo happy! Since I had not run barely at all that day, I was super fresh on the bike and felt I could climb anything. I was strong enough to help others on the team up the hills by pushing them from behind. The first 4 cps on the bike were along a powerline easement. No problems here--pretty straightforward. On the last cp here, I tried using the powerline easement to head east, but that started to cross onto private property (indicated by the locked fence), so we had to backtrack to the main road between Bastrop and Buescher parks. We headed east and the next cp was at an intersection. Got it. Going north, we hopped into a paceline and stopped at a cemetery. Got it. Continued west on Gotier Trace for one more cp before we headed back to TA and it was under a bridge. Done. In no time we were heading back to TA for the final leg.

slim lead on final legThe last leg would be an orienteering leg--we just had to copy the cps from a master map onto an orienteering map of Bastrop they had given us at the beginning of the race. It looked easy enough, but I had no idea how much time we had on the other teams. As soon as we got our shoes on, we headed back out the way we came and we saw Moxie Pucks/Run Amok along the way. Now, I was worried about them for sure--I knew they were really good runners and really good navigators, so I really wanted to run/jog the rest of the way. But we had to walk to keep our team from blowing up. The last 5 cps were straightforward and we pretty much hit all of them dead on. It was dark by the time we were heading to the last cp, so we had slowed down a bit--that's when we saw Hammer Nutrition. They didn't look like they were in a hurry, so I figured they weren't close to being done yet, thankfully. We hit the last cp on the powerline easement and headed back to TA. We still didn't know how MP/RA and TexasDare.com were doing, so we jogged a bit on our way back. We headed in and it was official--RunBikePaddle.com won the 12hr! Yeehaw! It was probably the cleanest race I have ever done, which is so crazy since I wasn't planning to race at all that weekend.

we won!Melissa was excited because she kept saying that she never was even close to contending for a top spot in a race, so I was really happy for her. I really had fun this race. It was a good group. Rick was his old self, but was very supportive and made sure our team stayed strong throughout. TexasDare.com came in right behind us and Hammer Nutrition ended up slipping to 4th behind Moxie-Amok. Half of us stayed overnight to see the rest of the teams come in, including the 24hr teams. Helena and the doctors got in sometime around 2am I think and were gone by the time we woke up around 5 or 6am. By then MOAT had already won the 24hr race, with Subaru behind them in 30mins. Vignette came in just as I woke up for 3rd. Dead Reckoning came in just under the cutoff time of 8:03 am and secured 5th while HoustonAdventureRacing.com (Will, Cynthia, Monty, and Mey) got 6th. Tommy's team (Black HART w/ Erin, Jill, and Warship Weihan) ended up somewhere after that (prelim results only went 5-deep). The 24hr sounded pretty rough, as expected. I think only the top 3 teams got all the cps.

So we stayed longer for the awards, etc. and then packed up. But our weekend wasn't over yet--Jaunda and I still had to head to Boerne to scout the course. So after picking up some miscellaneous stuff and having breakfast in Boerne (Maxine's), we headed over to Tapatio Springs. It was a fun trip--Jaunda introduced me to Round Rock Doughnuts (apparently much better bought fresh and hot in Round Rock) and we HAD to stop at Hastings in San Marcos to get me a Bob Marley CD. No Woman, No Cry. I said stop crying, b*&#@! JK. Anyway, somehow we sped through New Braunsfels, missing our turn onto HWY 46 and ended up in San Antonio...I guess I had turned off my navigation settings right after the race. So we took the scenic route and turned onto I-10 back to Boerne. There we exited at Johns Road, following the directions on the Tapatio Springs website. But apparently the road was closed for construction and we were supposed to take a detour...then we thought that those road blocks couldn't be for us. We ended up just going around them, which is a dicey affair considering I was in Audi. But we were able to make it all the way through and we stopped at the Hotel Lobby where they confirmed that we were supposed to come in from the HWY 46 entrance. Oh well.

The temperature was now very warm and all those cold weather clothes were of no use to us and were just taking up space in the car. The weather was perfect--clear, sunny skies! There were a lot of people out there...I couldn't believe it. We saw Tammy Killibrew there and she gave us pointers about the course and she was the one who told us that the "Supergrind", which is what the race is named after, would not be in the race. The Supergrind was a long, steep paved road that was very insane. There were people riding up it when we arrived and they did NOT look happy at all. We thought about riding it anyway for some hill training, but we ended up running out of time. We suited up and headed out of the trail. It reminded me a lot of the first section of the Lake Georgetown course and some of Reimer's Ranch--a lot of big rocks that you can smash into. Then, right away after the double track, there was a set of switchbacks that were quite hairy. I tried to clear it a few times, but it was just too much for me--either I was over-thinking it or I was just tired from the race the day before and couldn't control my bike. Anyway, everything else seemed to be alright. We took it easy and got done in about an hr and a half...the course was about 8 miles long. Its a really technical course, so it should be interesting to see how everyone does.

HARTsetAnd, finally, that was it. We packed up our stuff back into little Audi and headed back to Houston. We got back at around 7 or so. I was toast. As soon as I hit the bed I was out! The next day I did not go to training...I was at least going to swim as recovery, but I had forgotten my contacts so I couldn't go during lunch. No biggie--I need the rest. Planning on going to practice tuesday tonight, but that will basically be it since the mtb race is this weekend.

On another note, we got our itinerary for the Grand Canyon confirmed! We are having a planning meeting tonight for plane tix--I'm so stoked! We have a really good group going, so it should be a lot of fun. Plus, the first night in the canyon will be in a "primitive" zone, so we will be doing some minor navigation to our campsite--sweeet!

Alright, gotta go....gotta find a place that sells helmet camcorders..."crash cam"!


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