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"

Friday, July 20, 2007

RTNX: Crawl If You Must...

Stage 2: Moresby Island

setting up for paddle to MoresbyDuring our scurrying around the Heritage Center getting all our gear squared away for the restart, we would periodically run into members of Gregg's Fat Tire Race Team, formerly known as MPGear.com who raced in PQ last year. They too were getting ready to head out. As we got our boats seaworthy, it seemed that we would finally have a chance to break out Paul's sail. We only had one set, so we had planned to tow if the sail was too efficient for the other boat to catch up (i.e., Phil and I). The wind was kickin and in the direction that we wanted to go, so I was really excited! After a group photo on the beach, we shoved off right before GFTRT...and wouldn't you know it, the wind shifted. Motherf...we launched the sail and it was pushing us in the wrong direction! Man, our luck, bad that is, was starting up again! Paul took the sail down and we just paddled on our perturbed way. About 1/3 of the way we get hit by a squall--I'm talking about 4ft whitecaps. Now, this is adventure racing! I was used to this crap already (ummm, Big Chill), so I didn't mind much. I just tried keeping us going in a forward direction. And as we were approaching the other side of the inlet, searching for a buffer against the wind, it suddenly all went away. I'm sure GFTRT timed this right as they kept on a B-line for CP12 while we were skirting islands left and right just trying to stay out of the wind. The only bright spot of this section was that it seemed that Jen had gotten a hold of the steering duties as their boat was keeping good pace with us now.

smile for the camerasWe slowly progressed along the coast in these inflatables and eventually came up upon CP12. Here we would transition into trekking gear (hey, it was like dejavu...well, hopefully not completely!) and head over and up to bag CP13, on top of Mt. Moresby. The support staff at the TA told us that we were lucky that the tide was up--some teams had to drag their boats several meters further up the beach because of low tide. Thankfully we were on the water during high tides throughout the race. We started our trek at a jog, but Paul suggested that we keep it at a brisk walk so as to conserve our energy for the monstrous climb to come. I agreed wholeheartedly! This part of the trek was pretty straightforward--this was one of the few times that we got to use a nice, clear logging road for most of the way. GFTRT was right behind us and I was sure they would pass us soon if they kept their jogging pace. We first passed the junction we were looking for that would lead us to the trail to Mt. Moresby, but eventually figured this out and backtracked. In the meanwhile, GFTRT made the turn and were ahead of us now. The smooth logging road was now disappearing, turning into the rough, overgrown paths we were used to back on Graham Island. It was obvious that streams were flexing their muscles here too as we had several crossings to negotiate to keep on the trail. Eventually, the path turned into singletrack and this is the point at which we started seeing teams heading back from the top. All were in good spirits and happy to give us pointers on our ascent. Gotta love adventure racers--always chock-full of information! One word kept coming out of their mouths: epic!

shovin offWe started our climb in earnest. The paths were muddy and well-trodden by the time we got there. As long as there was a true path to the top without any cliffhanging required I would deal with the mud...and thankfully there was. But that didn't mean the climb was a cakewalk--it still was a huffing and puffing ascent. Slowly we made our way up and once in a while would pass a team heading down. We even had a pair of fixed ropes to climb, but protection was not deemed necessary. If I set it up, I would have thought some kind of redundancy would be required since a slip would definitely ruin your day--ahh, to be an engineer. Anwyay, we got passed these ropes without incident and started getting into the snow. The only good part of being in the back of the pack was that most of the footholds were already kicked in for us, but as we made our way higher up the mountain we were forced to make our own routes. As we ascended into the treeless landscape, the snow was everywhere and we had to mind our steps as one false move and you could be unpurposely glissading off of a cliff. Jen started taking a cornucopia of photos at this point. I turned my head to see why and wow...the view was spectacular! I kept having to stop and look back in awe. The view was superb as we got to the peak--360 of the entire island! And the sun was setting, which pitched the sky in an awesome display of reds and oranges. This is exactly why I came here. We grabbed CP13, at 3900ft, briefly talking to GFTRT at the peak and then made our way back down--it was windy and cold, making a longer stay out of the question.

Mt. Moresby!My second glissading experience, except the slopes were steeper here! Jen made fun of me because I had my eyes closed, but it was because the snow was getting into my eyes...really! We had to pick our glissading routes carefully because there were some definite overhangs that would sail you into oblivion. I eventually got comfortable with this fast technique of decent, at one time almost knocking Paul over like a spare at a bowling alley as I screamed pass him--no, we didn't have ice axes to arrest ourselves. Of course, like all fun things, it had to end. We got back to the non-snow portion of our downclimb, which wasn't as exciting. Thankfully we completed most of the downclimbing right before the brief night engulfed us. As we were making our way down an ever-improving logging road, heading for CP14, we ran into SART. These guys were a hoot and their reputation definitely preceded them! The Singapore Adventure Racing Team was there to enjoy the outdoors as much as possible it seems, as we were told of their harrowing tale where they stayed up on the mountain ridge heading towards CP3 for two nights before they actually made it there. And although they were quite behind, they were in the best of spirits! We had warned them of the gnarly trail up the mountain and suggested that they wait out the night before ascending. We later found out they listened to our advice--I would not have liked going up that thing at night!

guh, yet another bikewhack!So I was hungry again and had "Booyah" on my mind--I was in full speedwalk mode. Jen even noticed my determined pace. We charged ahead and we eventually made it back to the main road that led to CP14, our mountain bike TA. Yes, another thing to look forward to--since we were short-coursed we hadn't had a chance to use our bikes yet. I was so looking forward to this leg! But first, Booyah! The support crew here had food, water, and, most of all, fire! As soon as we were sure all of our gear was there, we zoomed to the fire and gathered around while eating our Infernos. The support staff were really nice and very helpful, we almost didn't want to leave. Almost. We realized that we needed to head out fast or be here forever, so we started readying our gear for the bike leg. This is where I realized my bike computer was missing. Nice. Then, later in the course, I realized I left my compass at that TA. Man, even in Canada I'm losing stuff! Anyway, that just meant I couldn't help out with measuring the distance to the next attack points. We headed out just after GFTRT. This section was a bike rogaine...I was just soooo happy to be on my bike, finally! Well, you know this wasn't going to last long.

HQ's ride seemed to be everywhere...and sometimes inhabited by a snoring bear! :)We were cruising and eventually took a right on a side logging road. It was a bit muddy and lined with fallen tree limbs, but I was just happy to be rolling. Then the fun started again. The bridge was out! So much for my dry socks. We forded the river and started pedaling again, but there were many ditches eroding through the road, so we were frequently dismounting and remounting. We were looking for a road intersection and eventually we got there, not before we slipped and fell on the downed limbs--it was like riding Jack Brooks right after a rainy day: those limbs were deadly! We caught up to GFTRT here at CP18 and after a few minor adjustments to Jen's machine, we took a right and headed for CP17. Daylight was breaking and we were getting our groove on on the bike. We passed GFTRT as they were deciding which way to go. Hit an intersection and went left, eventually hitting a bridge where CP17 lay. We ran into a bunch of teams here, camped out seemingly. I was getting my first attack of the sleepmonters at this point, so I just wanted to keep moving as it seemed to get worse when we were stopped. We backtracked to get to CP19. The road was pretty rideable except for some sections of mud. We got to CP19 and since the road didn't look too bad, we decided to keep going on this road to get to CP16. This was a good decision, but it was, again, not the easiest route.

our main TA at Haida Gwaii was like a garage sale!A few k's down the road and the path took a turn for the worse. The road disappeared and it was nothing but old growth forest again. Not again. We knew this was the right way to go and it was too late to turn back, so guess what, off the bikes again and a nasty bikewhack was in order. We saw orange and white flagging along the way, so we followed this in the general direction we wanted to go and this led us back to the road, thankfully. But not before a long and arduous hump through the forest. As we hit the other side, we saw another team, oddly without their bikes, and missing one team member. Apparently they had been looking for CP19 for hours and had just decided to drop their bikes close to CP16 and then hike around to find it. We knew this was illegal, but we weren't the race police. In a hilarious move to enforce the rules, though, Lawrence had saw that their 3 bikes were lying there, so he confiscated them without their knowledge. So, basically, they had to make it back to the last TA, several miles away, with only one bike! Genius! I bet Rick would have loved that! Anyway, we made it out to the other side, mostly on our bikes and CP16 was right there, with Lawrence and an ATV productions camera man. We were so happy that we ended right where we wanted to be that we didn't curse once to Lawrence. After referencing the map again, we cruised down the side of the mountain to CP15, the last checkpoint of the rogaine.

as much as they loved hosting us, the Haida nation had to get back to work: logs that would later be turned into long boats replaced our gearAlong the way, we saw GFTRT climbing up the road we were roaring down--they must had decided to go around instead of risk it like us. I was happy again, on my bike. In fact, everyone for the most part were in good spirits. Then came actually trying to find the last CP of this leg. As we got close to the CP, we saw another team wandering around, befuddled. It looked like they took a road turn in too early, so we waited until they cleared the area to continue on. We went down the road a bit further then turned in. It was a bit spooky at first because it looked like we were riding through a genuine ghost town! Then, since nothing seems to be easy in this race, the road just ended at a river. The road had been replaced with a dam and we didn't see any evidence of the road picking up again on the other side. Regardless, we forded the river with our bikes to check it out. We were not alone as at least two other teams were scurrying around trying to find the right path to the CP. Phil thought he had found a path through the nasty forest, so we did our best to sneak out of there without the other teams noticing. But our plan had been foiled as the trail quickly disappeared and we were surrounded by fallen, moss-covered trees yet again. We pushed on, bikewhacking, and I reluctantly followed. I really didn't think we had enough time to bikewhack to the CP and make it back in time to make the cutoff. After scouting the area a bit, we decided to forget CP15 and just head back to the final CP of this stage as quickly as possible. My feet were beaten up by hiking around in my bike shoes, so they thanked us for this decision.

By this time, GFTRT had caught back up to us and were ready to leave this CP as well. They headed back before us and Paul, thinking it might be crucial for us to get back early since other teams may have missed one CP on the rogaine as well, ordered us into a paceline. We were cruising. We passed up GFTRT again and we were making good time. I think we passed two other teams on the way to CP21. We were getting close to the CP and Paul was determined to beat one team there, so he barked at me to pull as hard as I could. This was my element, so I didn't argue--I just hammered. We made quick work of that section and had arrived in Sandspit at around noon, I think. We tried to transition as quickly as possible into paddle gear for the final paddle back to the Haida Heritage Center. A bunch of other teams were there, some of them, like YukonWILD, finishing up the advanced course. Paul was deep in sleepmonster mode, so we decided to switch up the paddling order, with me and Paul and Phil and Jen. Plus, again, it looked like we would be able to use our sails to cruise us back home. Our boat had the sail, and we unfurled it shortly after we shoved off. We were getting a tailwind, but unfortunately it was only strong enough to fill the sail, and not enough to give us much more additional forward force. We struggled, but we made it back. They had a finish arch up and had a full welcome home crew set up for the finish of the Haida Gwaii stage. We hammered in, pulled our boats in off of the surf and ran under the banner to finish the stage. Even though it wasn't the final finish, it felt just as good crossing that line. Geoff was there to welcome us and he interviewed us in front of the tv cameras. I don't think I said much, except "Booyah!" maybe.

sweeet long canoes--if only we had time to test them out!As they say, there is no rest for the weary. It was a good idea for us to finish up as soon as possible, because we had a tight schedule to get back on the ferry for the final stage of the race at Prince Rupert. But first, the Haida nation was taking care of us again and had caught Salmon for the racers and had grilled them up nicely. It was the best salmon I have EVER tasted! And that's not just because we had been racing for about 3+ days already--it was so fresh! We devoured everything in sight, but the fish kept coming! I love these people! We stuffed our faces as much as possible and then had to convene for another meeting. We didn't have much time if we wanted to make it onto the ferry. We had to repack our gear boxes for the next stage and we wouldn't see them again until the stage had already started, so we had to be very careful here. Stress. I was extra unhappy because I had no more dry clothes--I even had to borrow a pair of tights from Paul! Packing the gear wasn't as stressful since we were just prepping for a 24+hr race now--we were planning to race light. One by one our gearboxes were closed for the last time until the final stage and next thing you know we were done. Jen and I walked back over to the ferry terminal while Paul and Phil rode their bikes ahead of us to pack them away on the ferry. I was looking forward to some real sleep--we would for sure need it for the final stage of our journey.

Finally, Stage 3: Prince Rupert...


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Awesome race reports Kenny. It was great meeting and racing with you guys. Cheers, Duncan.

12:18 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Awesome race reports Kenny! It was great to meet and 'race' with you guys. Cheers, Duncan

12:20 AM

Blogger K-SPoT said...

LOL. Yes, it was a definite pleasure to travel with you and your team--I was just happy to continue on with the race! Until the next one...

7:29 AM


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