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, July 31, 2006

Paddle It Like You Stole It

mmm, bagel!So, finally, an adventure race weekend! I bet you guys have been thinking, "is this guy really an adventure racer?!?" The last race I've done was Somer Breeze and that was a LONG time ago. Fact is that I wasn't even planning to do Lake Whitney, but Tom asked me if I was doing it...translation: you wanna do the race with me? So, with no real good excuse, I decided to go for it. I figured it would be a good telltale for how my getting back into shape campaign was going.

team Texas DareMonty and I drove up Friday night and met up with Michael and Patti...they were all on the same team, so I was pretty much a spy to them. They proceeded to nod and wink and whisper...its alright, Tom and I were prepared. Or were we?! I get a call later that night, at about 8-9pm, and its Tom saying he's JUST leaving the Houston area! Nice. I guess he figured getting some sleep deprivation training would be good too. Oh well, take it as it goes. We went to El Matador for dinner--the line waiting to be seated looked formidable, but apparently they were just two big families, so we were seated within seconds. Mexican not really optimal for me prerace, but good enough I guess...can't expect too much selection in Hillsboro...but you CAN expect a Starbucks!

Leiza the race directorMorning came and it was time to get up and pound on the doors of Starbucks at 6am. Of course, all other adventure racers in the vicinity had the same idea--it looked like HART was having a pre-race meeting at this location. After filling up, we headed towards Lake Whitney. Apparently the navigation test was starting early this morning--just trying to make it the park was an adventure with the highway twisting and turning through the small towns in between. I had a few issues, and was hoping I was just getting my mis-navigation out of the way before the race. Almost...but not all of it...

ready for battleBy the time we got there, the park was already filled with racers who had claimed all the shelters. No problem--I was sooo glad I decided to bring the ez-up now! I set up close to TA check-in. The atmosphere was loose and happy--possibly because nothing really was at stake and this was possibly one of the last Rattlesnake races in its history. Tom finally rolled in a little after 7 and was frantically trying to set up his gear. Thankfully, the race was well attended by about 30 teams and this was lengthening the time to race start, giving Tom the precious time he needed. At around 8am we got the prerace briefing--pretty straight forward. Then we were given a few minutes to finish up preps then show up at the start line with one of our teammates blindfolded. Nice.

yah, mule!At the start line we were given a hoola hoop. We had already decided Tom would be the blindfolded one, so I was hoping, praying that this in now way required me to hoola hoop! I'm, what's the word....horrible! Anyway, we were given instructions, and to my relief all we had to do is put the blindfolded racer inside the hoop while the other racer(s) directed the blindfolded one around a paved loop about half a mile long. The other caveat was that both hands of the non-blindfolded one had to be on the hoop at all times and the blindfolded one had to have their hands up on their heads at all times. With hardly any warning we started and not wanting to hurt ourselves we went at a less than blistering pace. It kept as about about 3rd position, which was fine with us--the race would not be won on this leg! We made the loop almost flawlessly, turned in our hoop and headed to check in to get our instructions and coordinates.

turning the cornerThe first leg was a bike leg, outside of the park. We plotted our bike leg points and decided to head out and plot the rest later. We were cruising, the 2nd team out on the course. We caught up to the 1st place team at the 1st cp and would follow this sequence of being left behind and catching up at the cps for the next 5 cps. We were now right behind them after CP 6, which was probably a bad thing as they slightly influenced my decision-making at this point, at the point which was really critical since we were warned in the prerace meeting that CP 7 would be difficult. Most of the difficulty stemmed from the fact that the dirt roads did not match what was on the map in this area and the lake level was a bit lower than what is shown in the map. Regardless, we backtracked about 500m to a dirt road intersection, disregarding a hint to take a certain sandy road. Disregarded because we failed to read it off of the cluesheet. Oh well. We trudged on the very bumpy, unimproved jeep roads and started to notice that we weren't going in the right direction. I finally pulled my compass out (too late) to confirm my feelings and I was right. But it was now too late really to turn back. We went a bit further and the road started to turn the right direction, so we kept on. It was all wrong--nothing was matching. Finally we reached the outer edge of the lake, and I had a feeling we had overshot east and needed to go back west. As I was saying this we saw a whole herd of teams heading our way from the west. Crap...and as Tom noticed, they were barreling our way not in "search mode." They had found CP 7 for sure. Passing by Monty's team and quickly asking confirmed this. We disengaged from the 4 person team which I had in bad judgement latched on to and headed back west. The undergrowth was thick, making it hard to follow any remnants of road that was there. It was getting bad and I was starting to lose hope when finally Tom had spotted it. We had to go and repair the damage, so we busted hump back to TA. We had probably lost 10-20mins on that mal-navigation.

damn puzzleA stiff wind from the south slowed our progress back to TA, where we found 3-4 teams ahead of us, already working on the next special test. It was the children's puzzle, the test I was dreading. Neither Tom and I claimed to be mental giants when it came to putting puzzles together...I just don't have the practice! So we frantically tried to put the border together and match colors, at the same time Linda and Tom's kids were shaking their heads, obviously thinking they could have been done by now. While we had lost some time, we did make up time on team Monty/Michael/Patti. We quickly put the puzzle behind us and started plotting the remaining points.

diggin inThere would be points in the water on this trekking/coasteering leg, so we were required to bring our pfd's. The first two points were coasteering points, pretty simple and straightforward. The next point was in a camp site, again pretty quick to find. Next was a cp in draw, which we got to by following the landing strip. The next cp was in a draw too. We first were in the wrong draw, but we quickly hopped into the right one and found it. We were back to the coast for CP 13, on the eastern side of the park. We then followed the coast for the final 3 cps, two of which were on buoys in the lake. We put on our pfds and swam to the first cp in the water. An amazing thing was happening--the usually worse swimmer of the bunch (me) was cruising by the pack! What?!? A huge turnaround in Kenny's swim training?!? No. Kenny wisely packed training fins with him. While it merely kept me on pace with the rest of the teams close to us, it made sure we didn't fall too far behind. Sooo glad I brought those! After picking up the swim points it was back to TA for the final paddle leg.

1st place!There were already 2 teams in the water to our amazement. We had to make up serious ground on this leg. Thankfully, the wind was up, which meant a distinct advantage to us who had kayaks instead of canoes. We had about a 30sec lead on Monty's and Kip's teams, but we squandered that quick when we failed to remember that we were supposed to pick up cps in order unless otherwise noted--we were heading for 18 before 17. Thankfully Leiza sprinted down the shore to stop us and turn us around. We were now about a minute or so behind the aforementioned teams. I was pissed at myself--we had definitely not followed the instruction sheet closely enough! So it was now full bore to make up the lost time. I could tell we were catching up to Kip's 4 person team, which was in one big canoe. But Monty's team on the other hand seemed to be gapping us in Tom's aluminum canoe...that would have been nice, being beat by his own canoe. We were heading to cp 17, which was the same as cp 13. The wind was tossing wave after wave at us and it seemed to be slowing down Monty's team bit by bit. We had passed Kip's team and were about a dead heat leaving cp 17. It was a long paddle to cp 18, which was on the other side of the park. This was to our advantage as the wind was tossing the canoes around--those who had racing canoes had the worst time of it. One team with Priscilla Reese on it had to pretty much keep their racing canoe stable with the ones in the kayak holding on to it, seriously slowing them down enough for us to catch and gap them. We then noticed that Monty's team was having trouble with water filling the canoe up, as they had to stop over in the shore to dump it out...that's where we passed them. We turned the corner to the boat ramp and started to feel the heat beat down on us as we rode the tailwind in. On the way there, we crossed the 1st place team...if we had one more cp to go, we for sure would had caught them too. We got cp 18 and headed back to TA with Monty on our tail. They weren't giving up and were digging pretty hard, Tom warned me. So we didn't turn it off quite yet. But as we made the turn back to TA, with the wind broadsiding us, we pulled away as their canoe was having problems again. We were in just a minute or so behind the 1st place team...and we were the 1st place 2-male team!

nice basket, tinaIt was a really good, fast race. I thoroughly enjoyed it, except for the puzzle and checkpoint 7. I really hope Rattlesnake continues on in some capacity.


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