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"

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

2006 MS 150: HART Riders Sweep Through the Texas Countryside

Saturday, April 22, 2006


Alarm goes off (assumed)

I wake up suddenly, as if someone yelled into my ear, "get up, fool!" I look over at the clock and have to do a double-take. I can't believe I slept through my alarm! This only happens when I'm REALLY tired, and I guess I was. In a rush, Mo and I get up and get dressed--it must have taken us only 20mins to get showered, dressed, packed, and into the car. We had agreed to be at the starting point (Clay and Hwy6) at around 6am, so there was no way I was gonna make that now! I took off on I-10 and weaved through like I was on "The World's Deadliest Chases". So a 40min drive was cut in half and I was there at about 630. The Warship and The Sly Fuchs were there, but thankfully Team Stress wasn't. So I had time to relax and get everything ready before they arrived. Life was good again.

Team Stress arrives and has their bikes offloaded and we all gear up ready to go. After a few team photos, we were set to go!

We're off! Rolling down Clay road westward, we joined in on the huge pack that had already left onroute to Austin. Sly, Warship, and I took it easy, slowly making our way through the packs. We came across Team Stress again and said our hellos...I knew this would not last for long and we would be off on some crazy clip. Wouldn't you know, as soon as we said "hello" to Danny and Randy, there goes a paceline, buzzing us at about 30mph. I look at them, then I look at Warship...he already knew what was going to come out of my mouth..."what do you think?" He replies, "why not?"...so we go on a sprint to catch up to them and that's when we realized they were going at an unsustainable speed...only the front guy in the line was in race-shaped, I noticed. So with a very short discussion, we agreed to peel off and go at our own speed, which was about 22mph.

We turn right on Fry road and then left onto FM529. This is a friggin long, flat, straight road that doesn't seem to ever end. Wow, talk about boring. Finally, a right. We go for a few miles and then, out of nowhere, a blue streak! Was it Lance?! Danielson?! It wasn't them, but it was someone in a full Discovery Channel time trial kit, aero helmet and everything! I look back at the Warship with a puzzled look, trying to digest what I just had seen for a second or two, and he simply blurts out, "that's the guy." Then it all made sense--Weihan had seen this guy at one or two other Chevron training rides. Needless to say, he is fast! The funniest part was that the Warship told him that he should race and he replied by saying he wasn't fast enough. Great. Thanks, man. Anyway, we let him go...as if we had a choice. Another left and a several miles on, the Sly Fuchs says he needs to stop and call Vera, so we stop at break point 3. We were close to lunch, so we didn't stay too long here, plus we wanted to make lunch a shorter stop than it was last year--it had to be over an hour long.


We arrive in Bellville for Lunch. We quickly get into line, which isn't long yet. We meet up with Sue and Dave P there and pull up some bleachers and eat our pb&j, turkey sandwich, potatoes, pasta, yogurt, and/or ice cream. Okay, 35mins pass and we try to finish up to get out ASAP. We're back on our horses and riding towards La Grange. Nothing really exciting happened on this leg, except for when we rode through Fayetteville and there was a sign saying, "you look great, and we mean you!"...according to Nick, they were talking about him. The hills started about then too. The Sly Fuchs, true to his name, starts to attack! Sneaky, sneaky. He FINALLY pulls and I figure this is a good section for some hill training, so I try to get out of the saddle as much as possible on the hills to practice my form. I think the Warship pulled for too long because he started feeling a little tingling towards the end of the first day. We also passed by Elwood, Roger, and Laurrie again and Roger started trash talking...until we pulled away. LOL.

On the final stretch into La Grange, we saw Mo and Vera on the side, cheering us on--yeehaw! We were here. What a good feeling. With a right turn, we were riding under the welcome banner, into the fairgrounds. The announcer was yelling out team names, but for SOME reason, didn't call out ours. Nice....well, we would get concessions later on...we proceeded to the Chevron tent to check in and get out of the sun, which was starting to beating down about then. Had first dinner. Got a call from Vera, telling us where to meet them, but I had no desire to walk to wherever they were--we had bike shoes on and all I really wanted was a beer, a shower, a massage, and a nice chair to sit in. Nevertheless, we walked over to the highway to meet them and then we continued over to the other side where they had parked. Apparently Vera had had enough of the MS 150 officials who were quite rude and bossy...I'm so thankful she stuck with it for us.

Finally in our flip flops, we headed back to the tent with our gear, overdue for our showers...yes, you could tell by the smell. We went over to the shower trucks, but the lines were too long, so we decided to take our chances with the buses to the local high school. Last year, we had a long line at the school, but that was because we got to La Grange a bit later. This time, there were no lines and I got a shower almost immediately. I saw Roger in there and we later chatted outside as we waited for Laurrie. It was a nice day, but the temps were starting to soar...thankfully, not above 90. Laurrie was back and we loaded up on the next bus back to the fairgrounds. Quickly after, we headed back to the Chevron tent and I got my 2nd dinner on. More HART people started to show and we eventually had about 20 or so people chatting up a storm about the day's ride. After sitting and chatting for a while, we decided to walk around and I wanted to visit the Stress tent to check on how things were going...and to get that massage!

Massage was a bit painful, but it definitely made me feel better. After chatting for a bit longer, some about Elizabeth and here Ironman Arizona experience (sweeeet!), we headed back to the Chevron tent and chilled there for the rest of the day.

Mo and I decide to nap, but it turns into straight up turning in for the night as I never did wake up after that, which was good...considering I would wake up several times to the sawing of wood by some unknown assailant on the other side of the tent. I forgot to get the earplugs from Weihan! Crap! Also, PS, sleeping on an air mattress with one other person is not the most comfortable experience...talk about waterbed effect!

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Alarm goes off. I hit the snooze. It goes off five minutes later and I finally get up and get dressed. Ate some breakfast and we headed out the tent to line up. We weren't in a hurry so we decided to wait for Will and Cynthia in front of the tent. The line had already reached our tent so we just set up chairs in line and shot the breeze while we waited to head out. I'm so glad that we sat down because we waited in that line for about an hour and a half! It was so fun--we just joked around the whole time...one of my more enjoyable moments during the weekend.

The first waves of riders head out and we slowly creep to the front. We were probably in the 3rd wave. As we stopped at one of the staging points, the event announcer asked us about HART...then one other person, after we told her what HART stood for, asked, "where are you from?" Wow...talk about in one ear and out the other...one of us then annunciated "HOUSTON" for the poor woman. LOL. Well, it did turn out to be a good thing since the announcer then proceeded to give us props on the loud speakers. Woohoo! OK, so we were now the Houston Adventure Racing GROUP..."putting the adventure in adventure racing", but at least he mentioned us. We were shortly off and rolling. We decided to try to stay together: Warship, Sly, Nicknamer, Cynthia, Iron Will, and Dave P...but then we also said that we would regroup at lunch if we so happened to split up. Well, as soon as the hills started to appear, we started to break apart. Warship, Sly, and I decided to keep going and meet them at lunch, but then the Warship lost one of his bottles at a railroad crossing at the first break point. I actually had no idea what happened--I looked back and neither of them were there. So I stopped and the others whizzed by me, saying that Warship and Sly were back behind them. That's when I found out about the water bottle. Once they passed I had to merge back into the flow and rush back up to them. No prob.

We kept churning and then we decided to stop at the break point right inside the park. We knew the rest of the crew would pass us because they planned only to stop at lunch and maybe one other time at a convenience store that day. We relieved ourselves and started the fun! This was my favorite part of the ride--nonstop hills! I definitely felt stronger climbing this year, so I wanted to see how much improvement over last year I had made. I kept the intensity moderately high, passing riders in swaths. Then we caught up to Eric and Caroline...then Iron Will, Nicknamer, and Surgeon. I started pushing myself, making it sort of a training session. Sly fell off the back, but Weihan was still there--he has definitely improved his endurance! He stayed with me for most of the park, until the hill that climbed to a plateu and then rose again. There I put in an acceleration to see if I could recover after that. Thankfully, after reaching the top, I could feel my body coming back to normal quickly, so I shifted up again and kept mashing. I think that's where Weihan fell back, but he was not far behind. On the final climb out of the park, I got caught behind a line of slower riders and tried to ride to their left and got forced to the gravel. I tried to accelerate fast past them, but that's when I lost my rear wheel. Damn wheel! Thankfully I was able to track stand long enough to unclip. I reseated the wheel and had to walk up the rest of the way. Oh well, almost a perfect ride through the park. Still, I felt good--no one passed me while I was riding through those hills.

Right outside of the park, as we merged back onto 71, a guy looked to have a "failure to clip out" accident and fell over. He was stuck in his clips while lying there, so, knowing how that feels, I rode over to him and tried to help him get out. It was a huge group waiting to merge, so I'm sure he was embarrassed...at least I would have been. I helped him up and tried to make a path for him. We got onto 71 and that's when Warship rejoined me with, "I'm back." We cruised into Bastrop and into the lunch stop. We racked our bikes, admired this one lady's tri-bike and talked to Sue and Frank...but still no one had showed. I was starting to worry. Then I saw that Eric and Caroline got to lunch before the others, so I thought something was wrong. Thankfully, shortly after that, the rest of the crew showed as Warship and I dined on our Subway sandwiches. Apparently Sly had a flat and Nicknamer stayed back to help him out...so they say...

We tried to minimize our time at lunch, but it still took us about 45min or so. We rounded up the posse and headed out. We now agreed to meet somewhere right before the finish so we could all roll into the finish as a team. Like the beginning of the day, we stayed together for a short while then Warship, Sly and I started to do our own thing. The funny thing I noticed each day is that as Warship and I (and sometimes Sly) did our pulls in a line, I would notice a batch of people behind us, making a paceline. I just laughed because they never once offered to pull. I didn't mind--the only thing that pisses me off is when someone sucks wheel like that and then sprints to beat us to the finish line without thanking us. Hell no...okay, so I do that during races, but not during these friendlies. Oh, the other funny thing on this leg was the lady who was waiting in her car while we passed who yelled out, "God really wants us to get to church on time, please!". Oh my. Anyway, we kept churning and then stopped at the very last break point before the finish. I knew the rest of the crew would pass us. So we got some snacks and headed back out, and shortly afterwards, we saw them on the side stopped. So we regrouped again. This time we tried to stay together for the whole way back.


We did split up a bit, doing some sprints up the hills, playing and messing around, knowing the ride was almost done. We regrouped one last time at the turn into UT. We primped, fixed our hair, and checked our makeup and rolled into the finish line on Capitol and 18th. It was awesome to come in like a team like that! I had to ride close to the fence and give high fives! It was a nice feeling to have accomplished that, with minimal pain. Even though I didn't do hardly any of the training rides this year, I think my new hill training regimen actually improved my conditioning.

We made our appearance at the Chevron and Stress tents and then headed back to Houston shortly thereafter. Of course, we made the mandatory DQ stop in Sealy. And that was it. We were done and I was feeling fine! Another great MS 150! Great job to all those who participated!

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

2006 MS-150 Bike Ride From Houston to Austin: DONE and DONE!

So, here is the summary:

  1. We had a good tailwind
  2. The temperatures stayed below 90degF
  3. Humidity decreased as the day went on
  4. Accidents were at a minimum—only two from Stress and none from HART
  5. Food and cold beverages were abundant!
  6. We all finished!!

In other words, we had a great time and it was a success yet again! Even with 13,500 registered participants, the MS Society did a great job of making sure everything flowed well and there were no major hang-ups. Feel free to email me with questions on how it went.

Thanks again for all of your support! If you have not pledged a donation yet, you can still donate by mail:

5737 Kansas St.

Houston, TX 77007

Please make the check out to the National MS Society and write my full name in the “memo” portion of the check.

or online:


If you have already pledged and haven’t turned in money, I will be visiting you in the next few weeks.

All donation info (including donation pie charts on the mainpage), journals (in the works), and photos summarized above are available at My MS-150 Website, so feel free to check it out!!

Take care and happy pedaling!!



Tuesday, April 18, 2006



Thursday, April 13, 2006

Climbing Coldspring with Comedians

So an unexpected personal issue came up the week before Red Bud, so I had to tell Nick and the Warship the bad news--I wasn't going. I was devastated as I'm sure the guys were as well. I told them I wouldn't feel bad at all if they decided to go anyways, but I knew they wouldn't. I felt so bad, but I had to do what I had to do...as Nick said, "this [racing] is just a hobby," which is right. We won't be racing for too much longer, but at the same time, there are things that will not come around again and must be attended to right now. As you probably can tell by now, I am not about to tell you what exactly that pressing matter was that was able to take me away from racing, but that's alright--this is an (adventure) racing blog so that's what I'll be talking about.

So, my weekend actually started to clear up towards Saturday night, so I decided to do a race which was closer to town: the Coldspring RR. This was extra special because the course was the same one we trained on about a month ago, so I knew the terrain already. I was pretty excited to see how my training was doing and to test it against the field of most-likely hill climbers. Mo accompanied me for general support as well as to hand up a bottle to me in the feed zone. We got to the high school, signed in, dropped off my spare wheels for the support car, and Mo was off to drive to the feed zone. I warmed up for about 20mins and we started lining up for the controlled start. The centerline rule was in effect, which turned out to be a factor for me later on...but its there for a purpose--the traffic was not at all kind and people where just whizzing by riders like they weren't there. Asses. Anyway, after a few moments of waiting for our support car, we were off at a little after 11.

The start was controlled up to when we got to the 156/224 intersection and it was on. One guy asked, "have we started racing yet?" and with a quick acceleration at the front of the pack, he got his answer. Actually, throughout the race, people were making wisecracks and jokes--it was quite enjoyable...it kept the atmosphere relaxed and the riders, when relaxed, were very predictable. I really didn't know how I was going to attack this race--I had planned for Nick and Weihan to be there and had planned for us to talk strategy right before. As the pack sped down 156, I was a bit worried because I felt a bit winded when I should have been leading the pack. But this is how I always start--it takes a while for me to warm up. By the time we made the first turn onto 224, I started getting my legs under me. Accelerations came and I was able to respond. The hills were next and I was feeling springy....but I took it easy. The long climb to the finish line (on the next lap) was next and I just slowly churnedm working my way through the pack to the right side so that I can get to my water bottle. Mo actually didn't see me so I had to let out a hoot, which startled her, but her reflex shot the bottle out towards me and I grabbed it. She clapped with joy--it was funny. Then the final hill came on that first loop and I thought the pack was going too slow, so I followed UH and UT guys up the hill...weird how the colleges were dictating the pace. Anyway, it wasn't a tough climb and we weren't going balls out, but some how we had gapped the pack. That's when a light went off in my head...this could be our break!

We started to speed down back to the start line and take a right back onto 156 and we still had a good lead on the pack and one other guy bridged to us and was yelling to keep the pressure on. I had no idea if the pack responded or not, so I kept with it doing my pull, but when I was done, I looked back and both UT and UH riders disappeared back into the peleton which was now just a few bike lengths behind us. Our attack failed. It was like that all day long--someone would attack and the pack would respond eventually. I guess they were either ill-timed or no one was strong enough. I started to put in more work to make sure none of the attacks lost contact for too long...that's where I should have dialed it back. But our attack just excited me too much I think. I stayed to the front of the pack now, waiting for the final burst.

We were turning back onto 224 and now I was worried about positioning. I stayed towards the outside, next to the dreaded centerline, so that I wouldn't be boxed in. The last downhill came, right before the last, long climb and we were hammering. Then the climb started and I was stuck behind a slowmo and had no room on either side--the centerline had me boxed in!! People started passing me on the other side of the centerline, so I was now furious--I finally followed suit, figuring about half the field would have to be DQ-ed if they called us on crossing the line. It was too late though...the guys had too much of a gap on me and I was losing steam. I was able to catch one guy, by a tenth of a second, for 10th. I was really happy for that result. I should have done better, but the earlier gamble for a breakaway and pulling at the front may have tired me too much. Still, I love 10th!

A funny piece of coincidence was that my race numbers for both Coldspring and Waco had the same digits, 538 and 358, respectively. Okay, not really mindblowing, but odd. Mo picked me up and we were back in town in no time. Nice, quick, simple race. No frills.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

What's in the Waco Water?!

pam mashinAnother race weekend. This time on the sweet singletrack at Waco. It was a good weekend to be on the bike--the weather turned out to be great despite threatening forecasts of rain. It ended up being the core mtb'ers again: Shaley, Nickoli, and I with the wonderful addition of Mo, support extraordinaire. The wacky adventure started on Friday when Mo and I decided to let the traffic die down before heading out there. We had the carbo load dinner at Candelaris. It was very good...then Mo got a call from her old workmates saying that they were meeting up at Jax Grill. I kinda wanted to hit the road right after dinner, but figured we had enough time, so I agreed...heck, the end of my day was going great at work so I was in a relatively good mood. We head over there and it is hoppin...luckily somehad pulled out of a parking spot as we got there...front row! The good luck was continuing! Then it went started to go sour. Her friends were nowhere to be found and then we find out they decided to go to Los Cucos, where we were just a minute ago picking up Starbucks on the way. So I finally agreed and we backtracked to Memorial. Wouldn't you know it but we were the first ones there. WTF. Thankfully they started to slowly trickle in. We talked for a short while and Mo sensed my mental tugging at her shirt tail and said her goodbyes...we were finally on the move in earnest.

Things were now back to plan and I even had the forethought of using the HOV lane heading out of town. We headed west on Memorial and took Post Oak to the HOV lane entrance. For some reason the signs said the HOV was to the right, but I KNEW it was to the left, so I went left. No prob--on the HOV lane. Despite some slo-mos, we were making good headway, especially since it was Friday evening heading out of town. Katy, Brookshire, Sealy....WTF, Sealy?!?! Yes, I was on the I-10 HOV!! Nice navigating. Thankfully I had caught it early enough and we just backtracked to Sealy and took 36 north to 156 (?) to Hempstead which turned into 6, which is what we wanted in the first place. No problems...so far. I was cruising...about 90mph, trying to get to the hotel by midnight. I was passing people on the 1 lane highway and Mo was not happy about that at all. Then came Calvert on 6...I was tracking the speed of the truck in front of me going into town and then he suddenly hit his brakes...that could only mean a cop. I slow down at a moderate pace, not slamming the brakes like he did. The cop pulls out. Not good. I figured he would go for the truck...what was I thinking?!?! Black man in an Audi. Anyway, party lights go on and he is right on my bumper. This was going to be my first ticket ever. Somehow I get away with a warning to slow down when coming into Calvert. Mo thought I was a bastard.

Then Jaunda decides to call me to check on me. BTW, I hate talking on the phone when driving because it distracts me and I hate it when I see people on their phone because they are most of the time driving erratically. Anyway, as Jaunda is telling me that we had to get to the hotel at a certain time before being charged a fee, I blow past another cop going about 70 in a 45. Unbelievable. I really thought I was getting pulled over again. But for some reason this one didn't bite,thankfully. No more talking on the phone while driving for me.

We get to the hotel just before midnight and go straight to bed. We meet up with the Payne's at about 830 and go to the CRACKER Barrel for breakfast. Tasty. Of course, we stop by the Starbucks that is right next door before heading back to the hotel to suit up for preride. We get back, suit up, and head to the race course. Jaunda swears she knows where's she's going, but we end up at a dead end....okay, okay, I'm no one to talk. Regardless, I take the helm and bring us to the right place. We get there early enough to where not that many people are there to preride. We see Forrest, a guy I used to always see 2 years ago when he was racing at beginner level...he was obviously too good for that cat...he is now an Expert. It was disconcerting to me to hear from him that this was the worse course he has seen ever--so many hills! I was scared. I still decided to go on. We 3 saddle up while Mo takes the car to tour good ol Waco...she was back before we were done.

my mentorThe trail starts with a tough collection of switchbacks, leading to the first tough climb...which leads to another tough climb which ends at a rocky pinnacle. Then there are rocky decents, sharp switchbacks going downhill, then back to climbing. More climbing, and then more climbing. WTF...they obviously used up every hillside in the area! Then theres this nasty neverending climb up an empty creekbed....followed by a very very fast decent down a creekbed that ended with a very sharp turn back upwards for one of the hardest sustained climbs of the course. Nick warned me of a section that he had to use trees to push him up because it was tough--this was it. Thankfully, the awesome VORTEX was next! It literally felt like a roller coaster! I wanted to do it again! Unfortunately, there was another long climb right after the vortex. A few more miles of ups and downs, it was finally over. This would be a painful race.

After having my ass served to me on a cold platter by Cameron Park, we cleaned up and headed back into the bustling metropolis of Waco for lunch. We went to this small asian spot and had sushi. It was good....but the water was interesting. Jaunda did not like it at all and complained profusely. I ignored it. Turns out its the well water. Oh well. We then headed to the local bike shop so I could buy some tubes, then it was back to the hotel where we just vegged until dinner. We did our final carbo-load at the Olive Garden. Our waiter, Kenny, seemed to be very new at this gig. It showed through as he forgot an order or two and nicely deposited all of our water onto Mo's lap and blouse. Nice. The manager came over and comped our dessert to make amends. Way to take it for the team, Mo...what a support crew!

mommy!Well, then it was race day. I tried to stay relaxed and just take the bumps in stride. We did the usual roll call and slowly rolled towards the start line. My arch nemesis, Joe Love, was there...okay, not a real nemesis, just the only guy I remember from the 2004 race season. In no time we were off! Blazing around the pavement loop, one guy SOMEHOW drifted all the way to the outside and actually loss control and ejected off of the course. One guy laughed--not cool. Oh well. All was well getting into the singletrack--I was midpack somewhere. Again, it was a big turnout, 27 in our div. For some reason I was back to my old self and I couldn't negotiate the switchbacks cleanly...it must have been all of the adrenaline shooting through my system. I was getting pissed off at myself...I was that guy slowing down the pack. I didn't have a very good warmup, so again everything was hurting on the first climbs. Finally, I started to get my shit together and passed other racers. I even caught up to some S1's. The first lap was not that good for me. Back to the pavement loop and Mo was there to hand me a bottle. This was the funniest part of my race: when I came riding through the feed station, Mo was holding out a bottle for me and another racer mistook it as her handing it to him and tried to take it--thankfully, she pulled it away at the last second with a shriek—I was running out of my electrolyte drink! I laughed my way out of the feed zone.

The second lap was much better. I was passing a bunch of people now. I felt strong throughout. Then came the 2nd to last hard, long climb. I heard "Go HART!". It was Shaun Bain of MOAT. I didn't know he was racing in my cat. He let me pass on the climb then it was off to the VORTEX. With him right on my tail, I figured we would just zoom through it, which we did--I kinda got over my head and started to lose control as we exited. Then I rode too close to the trail edge where it dropped off a bit....and I bit it. Shaun stopped for me and actually waited for me to get up. He was now definitely on my super cool list. Then it was up the final long climb...that's where I lost contact with him after he spouted some kind words. Very cool. I was still feeling pretty good so I figured to go for a strong finish. I was bombing down the trail and then, thinking, "just don't crash." So, guess what, a nasty downhill switchback that I somehow forgot about comes up and I slide out. Normally, not bad, but somehow my rear wheel gets unseated and jammed. I try frantically to fix it, but it won't budge! I'm now thinking, "not this way!!" Two guys pass me, but thankfully they were in other cats...I finally undo my rear brake and am able to reseat the wheel. I'm now in emergency mode, trying to repair the damage, if any. I bust through the final singletrack straightaway and get spat out to the pavement. Except this time the pavement loop is rerouted onto the grass because they are now starting the Expert riders. I was not at all happy about this--the grass sapped all remaining fire and energy that I had. I looked back to see if anyone was chasing, but saw noone and I wasn't going to catch anyone on this crap. I turned off all jets. Some lady was barking at me to keep going, but it was over. Toast. Thankfully, I didn't lose any spots and the nearest guy ahead of me was about 2-3mins away. 9th, not bad.

what happened to the sandbags?So we waited a short while to check on Nick and Jaunda, but Mo had to meet with friends in town, so we left a bit early. Of course, Nick later calls and tells us that Jaunda won her class! Awesome! Now she owned a piece of Waco in the form of a brick (that was the trophy). Sweet. And that was Waco. Good times as usual. Next is the Red Bud report...or the lack of one...

Thursday, April 06, 2006

One Big Team

SES #1!!
Well, today we have our Open House at Stress for our new Lab Expansion. It should be fun. Mo is coming to check it out...plus we have to wear these jerseys to portray that all 3 companies are working as "one big team." Wow, what a good allusion to adventure racing. Nice.

race instructions
Well, much has happened since my last real blog. So here it goes. Two weekends ago was Somerville. I had done some scouting of the area and we had a decent team, so I figure we should do pretty well for the 12hr despite doing it just for fun. To add to the "fun" both Will and Lisa were coming off some kind of sickness from earlier in the week, which didn't make me too confident--Will was coughing up a lung the whole time and Lisa just felt like crap. The morning started off pretty nicely--most of us stayed at Cynthia's mom's place right outside of Birch Creek park, which was a really nice location. It was really fun because everyone was there, but Mo seemed to have trouble getting acquainted with the place. She broke a candle that was sitting on a shelf hanging on the wall...and broke another one that replaced the one she broke earlier in the day! It was hilarious...I couldn't stop laughing the second time around. I'm sure she didn't think it was too funny. We forgave her only because she brought yummy homemade cookies and brownies! To boot, Cynthia's Mom took care of both dinner and breakfast (spaghetti and breakfast burritos, respectively)! So, again, the morning started off nicely.

damn scooters
Mo helped us set up TA and we set up our boats at the launch point. The cool part was that Tom was able to borrow Dave Boyd's Ruahine kayak...22.5ft long and about 50lbs! Wow...Will and I would have trouble keeping up with them. Pre race meeting was typical and we met up about 15mins later and recieved our race instructions. "Go!" We opened them up and it was a scooter relay. I hate scooters. Tom took off on our scooter and I had to chase him down to make sure he knew to pick up a poker chip about halfway through the lap. I was next. Did I say I hate scooters? I in no way kept our place and proceeded to get passed by 2 or 3 guys. I didn't worry too much figuring that we had a ton more race to go. So I passed it on to Lisa as I grunted and cursed. I hate scooters.

short portage
As Will finished up, we brought our chips to the checkout table and got our first set of cps and the map. We plotted all the points for the leg, which would be a paddle/trek. In no time we were off. We were probably the 2nd team out, right behind Tina's 24hr team. We caught up to them as we hit the first cp on an island. Next we were off to a boat drop at Nails Creek. We were the first to drop and we were off. Mike and Deb had caught up quick in their race canoe...I need one of those! We jogged almost the whole time. First point on the trek was in a camping area spot. No prob. 2nd was out in a field near a tree stump. Done. 3rd was on an oxbow of a creek. Got it. Next was at an intersection of two trails, similar to last year's race. Roger. Next was at another trail intersection. Right on. Next was at an overlook, similar to last year, but more visible. Even so, I still walked right past it while Lisa was yelling, "Kenny! Right there!" Amazing. This would set the precedent for the day as I seemed to make the same mistakes as last year...Last point on this leg was near TA from last year's race. Check. We were back to the boats, in 1st place with no one in sight. In fact we were 27mins in front of the next 12hr team, Texas Dare.

plotting magnificently
Next leg was a long bike/trek. This is where we lost the race. We all felt alright...and I felt really strong, happy to be on the bike. We cruised out of the park heading for the first park, when, not even a mile out of the park, Will gets a flat. Ugh. We eventually get it fixed, but we still didn't see anyone. We kept on and got to the 1st point on this leg at a sharp curve on a dirt road. Simple. Now, we continued on the dirt roads, heading towards Yegua creek. Guess what....another flat, this time it was Lisa's bike. Grrrr. Stil, no one in sight. So we continued on and I wanted to dump in near a fenceline and bushwhack towards the point with our bikes, but there were signs that indicated that the land was private. We finally agree that we cannot cross these fences and continued all the way to the creek, which would mean a longer bushwhack. Later I found out that other teams went the way I originally wanted to go. Oh well. So we got there and the clue said "south side" of the creek, so I automatically think we should travel on the south side of the creek. Bad move. It was so thick, we couldn't bring our bikes, so we left them. Additionally, even on foot, it was a fight. We started to think this was not the way they intended to travel, but it was too late to turn back now.

its on
We finally got to the cp, but not before we saw Texas Dare and Hammer Nutrition leaving the point, with their bikes! I knew we were in a lot of trouble now. We had to seriously hammer now, because we still had to go back and get our bikes. I had made an error in judgement and had lost the race. We got the point and went to the north side of the creek, where we noticed that there was an actual trail to use. We ran the whole way back and quickly got back on our bikes. Figuring there was no reason to go back in with our bikes, we just rode back around on the dirt roads because it looked like there were roads we could take that would drop us right in at the next point. But they all turned out to be private roads. We no longer would be able to make up time--I was now hoping, praying that they haven't gone for the point on the dirt road yet. As we dumped into the trailway, we saw Hammer Nutrition but not Texas Dare. Insult to injury: Tom's chain breaks. Wonderful. We got the point and struggled to get back to TA as fast as possible. As we got back, our worst fears were realized. Deb and Drost had just left for the next leg and Texas Dare was a good 40-50mins in front of us, which would be impossible to make up this late in the race. Still, we tried to keep our spirits up, since it was a nice day to be out.

we find our way back
Next was a coasteering leg then a trek leg. No real problems here other than it took too much time. We made it back to TA and our gaps were pretty much the same, except we made time on Hammer Nutrition and we were only 5mins behind now. We quickly transitioned into the last leg, a paddle. The first of 2 points was on an island, similar to last year. As we approached it, we saw Hammer Nutrition just coming up on it--they must have went the wrong way. We punched the cp at the same time and were neck and neck heading to the last point, which was a bad thing since they had the faster boat. On the way we saw Texas Dare on their way back from the last point, on their way to a win. So, this must have made me slack in my concentration as we went on to overshoot the last point by a couple of miles, which was torturous because all our backs were now in pain. Hammer Nutrition made the same mistake and caught it eventually. We backtracked and eventually got to the point, but it was miserable. Oh well. Guess what--we had overshot and hit Big Creek Park...again! Same as last year! WTF?!? Amazing. And last year we made a critical route choice that had us come in dead last on the first paddle, similar to the choice on the bike/trek this year. Unbelievable. I need to learn from my mistakes somehow.

Anyway, we slowly piddled our way back to TA...Tom even had time to answer his cell phone. We finished 2nd 4-coed, 3rd overall. Okay, but we should have done a lot better. It shows that dead on navigation (see Big Chill) with smart planning (see Eco Lonestar) can overcome pure speed and stupidity (see this race).

Gander Mtn
Well, that's all I have for now. I was planning to write about Waco, but its probably better that I leave that for another blog. Until then.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

By The Way

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