12 June 2016

Cradle of Liberty 14hour Adventure Race Report - Team Commie Bar

Team Commie Bar/Summit Adventure Racing
Race Report
Cradle of Liberty 12hour Adventure Race
Author:  Dan Bait/SWAT Schaefer.....

4 June Cradle of Liberty 14 hr Adventure Race 
bait (Sorry for the delay--been a busy week and every time I want to use the computer, someone was doing homework...)

Here Goes: Coming off a runner's high from the Dirty German 50K, I focused on getting in a few MTB rides before the Cradle of Liberty and it certainly paid off. This race was shrouded in mystery. We registered over a month ago but they didn't tell us the start location until about a week before we needed to be there. The roster for Team Commie Bar was me, DJ and Chris. The instructions were simple: Show up at 0500 with all the gear you'll need to run, mountain bike and canoe for 12 hours. 

At 0600 we boarded a school bus and headed out--still with no idea of where we were going! The RD told us that we would receive maps and instructions once the clock started. I really enjoyed the lack of info--that meant every team would start the race in the dark and would not have time to plan routes (generally we get our maps the night before so we have time to plan). An hour later we got off the bus in a park along the Lehigh River in Northampton, PA. The rules and maps were spread randomly on a baseball field and when the RD yelled GO! we had to find our and the race began. The first leg of the race was a prologue--we had to plot three points on the map using UTM coordinates. Usually this is simple but the grid for the first point was cut off and we made plotting this point a little tricky. We figured it out and next thing I know I'm swimming across the river. It was surprisingly deep, and cold, and swimming while wearing shoes really sucks...I got the first point and swam back to the team. 

Next DJ ran to a point that was downstream, but on land. Finally all three of us met at the final prologue point which was the beginning of the Canoe section. We appreciated the current and made fast work of the first 5 miles, grabbing two checkpoints along the way. Although parts of the Lehigh are designated as 'scenic' this section is decidedly not. We passed sewer plants, steel mills and old factories in Allentown. There must have been a hundred rusted out shopping carts along the entire section. We made good time on the paddle and worked well as a team--sometimes paddle sections can be really miserable but this time it was great. After 10 miles or so we hit the transition area and picked up our bikes.

 We dropped all of our paddle gear but were required to bring our PFD's. We rode through a section of town and then paralleled some railroad tracks. There was a little dispute among us and other teams about when and where we could cross the tracks--the rules were a little vague so we made the best call we could. After crossing the tracks we did a MTB section on some pretty decent trails. It was very humid so some of the rocks were super slippery so we rode conservatively. We worked our way up the side of the mountain to the very top and then bombed straight down to the next TA. One thing that was awesome about this race is that we all took turns navigating and everyone did well. At the bottom of the mountain we put the PFD's to use during the Swim section. In the middle of the river were a series of islands with checkpoints on them. We swam from one to the next and really had fun with this part. The water felt great and it's not often we swim this much in a race. At this point we'd hit nearly every point offered, expect for a couple we intentionally skipped as part of our strategy. We made our way back to the TA and spoke to the RD. He gave us a couple suggestions about upcoming points and sent us on our way. 

Back on the bikes sans PFD's was nice and we headed into town. First stop was 7-11 where we grabbed some water and a coke and a pretzel and some peanuts and I think someone even had ice cream--that's the fun of self-supported racing!! Too bad they don't sell single cans of beer in PA!! 

We headed out through town and even rode through a drainage tunnel under an interstate highway. At this point we'd been racing for about 6 hours and we were heading to another wildcard--the Hide and Seek section. In adventure racing usually all the checkpoints are on the map and you use your map and compass skills to collect them. Checkpoints are usually orange and white kite like flags that have a hole punch attached to them that you use to mark your passport. Well, the Hide and Seek section turned all that on its head! 

The first point was marked but from there on each point was just a compass heading and distance to the next. Amazingly we were only one of three teams to nail every point of this section!!! The points weren't far apart but the terrain was challenging--lots of rock piles and old mining holes and a couple of small cliffs. Really cool area. Next up was the final bike section. After a road ride through town we hit the trails. This part of the course was tough to plan because of the placement of the mandatory points. They were all in a corner and once we got there there was nothing close. We ended up dismounting from the bikes and running up the side of the mountain to grab our final point. We ran down, got on the bikes and headed back through town to get to the finish line. We finished with 10 minutes to spare!!! We were soaked and muddy but had a great race. This was definitely the most urban adventure race I've ever done and it was a blast! We came out in first place in the three man division and secured a spot for USARA Nationals! Lookout Roy--The Commies are coming to town!!! 

Blue Ridge Adventure Race - The challenges of Adventure Racing

Quick link to Val Hardin's recap of the Blue Ridge Adventure Race
Photos courtesy of Blue Ridge Adventure Racing and Florida Extreme.

From Val Hardin/Team Commie Bar
The day started out great, good weather, about 30 teams, and we were bused about 45 min to an unknown location.  Mark and I were racing as a C2.  We started out with a 15 mile run/trek up a mountain and then across a ridgeline where we ran over several peaks, then back down to cross a waist high river to a TA.  

We were with 4-5 other leading teams.  Next leg was mountain biking on mostly double track, up and around the mountains.  Again, staying with lead teams until the first of many challenges presented themselves.  About 8-9 hours in to race, Mark got a flat, his tire had a huge hole in it.  After that was fixed, his bike map carry case on the bike broke.  This could not be fixed.  We had to give up some CP's on this section.  We made our way to the next TA, where we got on the river....now a bit behind all leading teams.  It was about 7:30 pm when we started the paddle.  The river was very rocky and challenging in some spots.  We ran head on in to several large rocks, had to back paddle furiously to keep from going over a fall, navigate more white-water at night,  and ultimately lost a paddle which got sucked in whitewater.  Luckily, we only had about another 1/2 mile on river.

  We were happy to get off at about10:00.  Off on a trekking section, we did really well, and got to the next TA for more mountain biking.  Another challenge when Mark had a fall that seemed harmless, but it knocked his seat out of alignment.  When trying to knock it back in place, he knocked it right off the post.  He fixed it using those plastic tie downs.  Mark was definitely having a rough race, but kept positive and we just kept moving on.  The last section was a flat water paddle to an O-Course.  We were able to get a few more CP's then had to head back on a 7 mi bike to finish in time.  We ended up 7th out of 30 teams.  We thought we would place top 3, but were happy with our result after dealing with all our mishaps.  Mark did a great job navigating, and we were one of very few teams that did not get dunked in the river.

13 May 2016

Team Commie Bar/Summit AR to the Blue Ridge 24 Hour Adventure Race 21 May

Team Commie Bar tackles the next in the 2016 series of ultra endurance and adventure racing circuits at the 24 hour Blue Ridge Adventure Race in Blue Ridge Georgia on 21 May.  Heading up the team will be Mark Bolyard and Val Hardin
Mark Bolyard....  destroyer...
Val Hardin
Both racers recently completed the Shenandoah Epic 26 hour race in April.

Check out the website for the race here:  Blue Ridge 24 hour Adventure Race

You can check out a trailer video for the race here:

04 May 2016



80 degrees and sunny.  That was the weather report a week before.  But as we got closer to race day, the temperature (and rain forecast) seemed to suggest otherwise.  When I checked the GOALS website the night before to confirm our gear, they reminded me why this is called adventure racing and not a “tough” mudder.  Of course the race was still on, “just wear long pants and long shirt,” they recommended.  No sweat, we did the NYARA Shag a few years ago during a hurricane after all, so this seemed relatively easy.

When I joined TCB, I had two goals: 1) take my skills to the next level and 2) race a 24-hour event. After racing with Bait in the inaugural Crooked Compass, he helped me with goal 1 by introducing me to “pace counting” that I immediately practiced back home.  My neighbors must have thought me odder than normal when I busted out a tape measure in my front lawn and proceeded to walk/run multiple times back and forth while diligently taking notes.

This was easily our 6th Savage, so we knew what to expect.  But Hibernia?  How can you roll 20 miles in that park.  Team meeting, 1030.  Mark and Becca, the race directors, explained how.  This, of course, in 40 something degree heavy drizzle as all teams huddled together for warmth under the pavilion.

Basically, we would be split into 2 groups after the opening event.  Group 1 would do the paddle portion then the foot section. Group 2 would do the foot then the paddle.  All teams would then get on their bikes and decide which CPs to hit in the park and/or out of Hibernia and into another park.  As we perused the maps, I took the notes from my front lawn tape-measuring episode and translated the ground distance to my pace.

As luck would have it, we nabbed paddle first.  A quick jog.  Ahemm, unnecessary bushwack, led us to the canoe put in.  While I have been serving as team captain since we started this adventure racing endeavor, I was feeling some pressure to keep up with all the success that TCB has had in the last 2 months.  So a boundary line looked a little like a marked trail.  I also hoped that the President and founding member of the “Ladies Auxiliary TCB “ would be up to task given this was her first race for the season and coming off a broken back this winter.

Im not sure why, but paddle has always been one of our more consistent legs.  We purchased kayak paddles immediately after fumbling with the canoe oars during our first race 7 years ago.  Our speed, direction, and general consistency have never been better.  Bonnie navigated and we blasted past a few all male teams and kayakers.  Felt good and reaffirmed our strength on the water.  After hitting 1.5 miles, we returned to put in and received a second paddle map.  Back on the lake for another 1.5.  This time, they added a few checkpoints to hit on foot.  Bonnie took both while I drank some water and watched the drizzle.  All Paddle CPs nailed and well within our time budget.

We returned to TA, this time on trail. Next up, Foot.  We changed our wet gear as much as we could.  Jumped on our plan and hit the trail.  I remember running with Bait when he gleefully noted how accurate his pace appeared.  I recall thinking that was cool, but it didn’t actually hit me until it was my turn.  248…249…250…turn north and bushwack…wait a second, there’s the CP.  Holy crap, Pace counting rocks!!! (THANKS BAIT).

So we allocated about 2 hours for foot and hit all but 2 CPs.  Not very typical for us given that this is probably our least favorite event.  We often get it last and are exhausted by that time.  But we did well.  Navigation was solid and felt strong blowing through the course.

Back to TA.  Time for the bikes.  This would be my inaugural race with my new 29r.  Editors note, if you have not experienced the joys of a 29r, then you are missing out on life my friends.  But I digress.  Bike course was muddy.  Did I say muddy?  I mean sloppy.  Sort of like quick sand in places.  We started out on an area with wooden bridges directly on the mud.  I was trying to speed a head and read the map (note to self, get a new map holder for my bike).  The wood was extremely slippery and I took a hard fall about mid way through.  Bonnie was also huffing a bit, so I decided to walk-a-bike until we got out of the muck.

When things cleared up, the course looked completely doable on the Hibernia end of things.  There was an option to leave the park and hit some additional bike and foot CPs.  Despite overhearing that these would be “easy,” the distance to get to them didn’t seem worth the time. Instead we decided to hit everything in the park and just skip the “outside the park.”  Plan successful and returned to TA at about the 5hour 47minute mark.  Another successful finish of a 6-hour adventure race!

After changing our wet clothes, we headed to the scoring area and saw that we logged a 2nd place finish for coed 2.  My second 2nd for the season.  Steady navigation, stellar team work, the only negative is that Bonnie forgot to pack the beer!

Epilogue: Goal 2 continues to be elusive as many of the 24 hours have been reduced or omitted this year.  I’m looking forward to the Cradle next month and the Krista in August and learning some more tools and tricks on the course.  If you know of anyone looking for a 3rd or 4th on a 24, lemme know…

19 April 2016

Team Commie Bar at the Rev3 Shenandoah Epic 26 hour Race

Rev 3 Shenandoah Epic 26 hour Race
Bentonville VA

Coming off of last weeks frozen snow laden race in Deep Creek, the team got ready for a hot race in the Shenandoah Mountains of Virginia.  For this race we decided to field two teams.  Team Commie Bar #1 would be a two person all male and Team Commie Bar #2 would be a two person coed….

The Team:
Todd Copley and Michael Scott – Two Person Male
Val Hardin and Mark Bolyard – Two Person Coed
For this race we also decided to race side by side/together.

The Race
I drove down to VA late on Friday and met the team down there for registration.  We had rented a little chalet that was perfect for race prep.  We got the maps and all the briefings by 2100hrs on Friday which allowed us to get in bed by midnight or so after having plotted the points and decided on our strategy and route plan.  Had beef brisket, coleslaw and beer for dinner!

The next morning we had a fairly leisurely start to the morning.  We drove over to race HQ and had some time for last minute prep.  The race started at 0900.  Here’s the flow.

Prologue:  This was pretty straightforward.  One person from each team was required to run about a mile circuit down to this shed and get an item to bring back.  Okay…. Done.

After the prologue teams were free to pursue the course however they wanted.  In the park there were about 20 or so checkpoints.  You could stay and do all of those or you could do nothing and move on to the paddling section.  Although the points were optional it was obviously you would need all of them to be in contention.  It was apparent most teams wanted to get on the river paddling and save the park for the last as they returned towards the finish.  We decided the same strategy except we did elect to get two points up on the hill by the finish before heading to the paddle.

We got on the canoes probably about an hour into the race after having done the prologue and got the two points up high in the park.  Now we were going to start picking up points along the river.  I forget how many but they were pretty easy and we would paddle a section then pull off to get a point and repeat.  About 5 miles into the paddle we decided to attack back into the park and get a couple of points at the far end of the park that would make it much easier to clear the other points in the park when we returned at the finish.

From there it was another long pull for an hour and a half to the take out point.  When we arrived there we had to unload all the gear out of the boats and one person had to then paddle down stream about 100 meters and drop the boats on the opposite shore then hike back up the opposite shore then swim across the river.  About 100 meter swim and the water was COLD!!  Felt pretty good though.
From there it was on to the trek.  The first 5 miles or so were mostly on roads till we hit a trailhead that would take us up onto the ridge in the George Washington National Park.  The hump up the mountain wasn’t too bad and the trail was pretty good till we started getting way up.  The day was hot and the water from the hydration bladders was going down very quickly.  Our destination was a very pointed ridge for the ropes section and a 100 foot rappel.  We hit the rappel late afternoon and it was a very high rappel but very fun.  After the drop we had to make our way back up on a trail where we collected our packs and continued on.  We had a decision to make.

CP7 was an optional point and was pretty much only accessible via a long butt busting bushwack straight down the Cliffside.  We made sure we cleared the pure cliffs and Mark and I picked a point to begin the descent.  We made our way down a significant drainage staying to the right and slipped and slid down the mountain for about a kilometer till we bottomed out on the bottom next to the river.  From there we followed the river to nail CP 7 and then had to continue bushwacking till we could cross the river south of the Bike Transition area and CP 8.

Going into CP 8 and the switch to bike, Mike was started to feel a bit bad.  He had been without water for a while and Mark and I had been letting him take swigs off our bladders.  We took a while in the transition and started off with Mike still not feeling very good.  After several kilometers we turned off and hit the trail for the climb to the top of another ridge.  Initially the trail was a forest road but soon turned to rough singletrack.  Mike took a real bad fall and was really struggling at that point as we had to push the bikes for several kilometers up a drainage into a camp site.  From there the trail turned back to fire road and we descended.  We had a decision to make.

At the bottom of the ridge was where we could start a circuit to get all of the bike optionals.  Or we could head back on the main course to the top of the ridge line.  Mike wasn’t feeling good but we felt the optionals would be pretty straight forward and the elevation was going to be fairly doable.
Mike made the decision with the team to go for the optionals.  I’m glad we did because the circuit did turn out to be pretty easy and we picked up 4 more points before turning back to head up the Veachy trail which was hike a bike to the top and CP 14 then to CP 15.

When we got back up the Veachy on the ridge to CP 15 there was an O course down the ridge and into the steep sections of the mountains.  3 of the points were straightforward out the ridgeline.  The only decision we had to make was do we take the bikes? And after these 3 do we venture into the steeps.

We decided to take bikes and it was a good one.  Although portions were difficult to ride we made good time out getting CPs 16, 17 and 18.  At 18 we thought long and hard about going after 19 and maybe others but we also had to consider how the team was feeling and the time.  We figured it would take us about another 3 hours to clear the park when we got back and it was now about 3 in the morning.  Time was on our side but ultimately we made the decision to return on bikes back up the ridge to the trail taking us back to the river and the park/finish.

It was a screaming downhill from CP 25 to the river and as we descended the air got colder.  We had gotten our feet soaked coming off the bike optionals when we had to cross a deep stream and on the mountain the feet got cold but now they were turning into ice blocks.  We got back to the park and had the option to go by the vehicles.  I restocked some water, lightened my pack a bit but forgot to change socks.  It was really cold in the valley and we started off into the park wishing I had new socks….

The park was a maze of amazing mountain biking trails and we started plucking off point after point.  There were 11 left that we needed to get and we made good time.  At the beginning it was still dark and we got probably around 4 points before the sun began to peak over the horizon.  My favorite time in adventure racing when after a long dark, cold night the sun reappears….  Love it.

We finally nailed all the points and turned towards the finish.  After a long and fantastic descent we cruised into the finish of the Rev 3 Shenandoah Epic.  After 24 hours of non stop paddling, mountain biking, trekking and rappelling Team Commie Bar teams #1 and #2 crossed the finish.

The effort would earn a 3rd place in the two person coed and a 7th place in probably the strongest two person male category I’ve ever seen.

We race all night….  Go ahead.....  take a shot
Team Commie Bar

11 April 2016

Team Commie Bar to the Shenandoah 26hour Adventure Race this weekend 16-17 April

Summit Adventure Racing/Team Commie Bar will regroup in northern Virginia this weekend for the 26 Hour Rev3 Shenandoah Epic Race.  Last year Team Commie Bar finished 2nd in two person coed.  This year Team Commie Bar will have 3 teams in the hunt....  

Val Hardin will race in Female Solo going for a win....

Mark Bolyard will race in Men's Solo.  Coming off Florida Sea to Sea and the 12 hour Swamp Fox where he captained the team to a 2nd place finish in 3person Coed....

Team Commie Bar #3 will be Todd Copley and Mike Scott racing in 2 person all male....

Summit Adventure Racing......
We train while you sleep.
We race all night.....

09 April 2016

Team Commie Bar at the Big Bear 50 Eight Hour Race

Race Report

Well the whole week I was in NYC and got back  home on Friday.  It was only an 8 hour race the next day so I threw some clothes in the truck and went to eat pizza and drink beer.

Then I saw the weather forecast.........  Calling for 8-10 inches of snow!!!
Now the race was happening at Big Bear Lake which I venture to say is some of the most technical mountain biking in the east.....  It was always going to be a hump a bike race but with 10 inches of snow???  This could be quite sadistic....

I was racing with new Commie killer Kathy Meagher.  She's from Deep Creek and in killer shape.  We met up around 0700 and the overnight snow was really negligible.  A dusting....  Shouldn't be a problem....  We drove to the race HQ and got registered.  Snow wasn't bad but it was really, really cold.  24 degrees and felt like 8 with the wind.  I bundled up like crazy but was concerned about my feet.  We'll see.

The race started and after about 45 minutes in the biggest snow blizzard i've seen this year starting howling....  It was snowing sideways and sticking on the trails and covering all tracks.  On one hand it was beautiful but on the other hand trying to navigate and ride some of the toughest trails in the East was pretty difficult.

Our navigation was on and we nailed the first 8 points no problem....  However it was taking us almost twice as long because riding the bikes was basically not possible.  I had planned on around 4 hours or so to clear the bike course....  At 4 hours in we still had more than 8 points to go....  Decision.....

Ultimately we knew we could clear the bike course but probably not have a lot of time on the foot/trekking section.  If we decided to stay out and clear the bike course we were pretty sure nobody else would do that.  On the other hand if the trekking portion had a bunch of easy points we could be foolish for staying out on the bikes and not nailing a lot of foot points.....

So......  We decided to stay on bike.  It took us around 7:15hours on the bike to clear all the points and get back to the transition area.  That left us with 45 minutes on trekking.  Thankfully the trekking points were NOT easy or even close by meaning our efforts on the bike were worth it....  We were able to get one check point on foot meaning we cleared the bike course with 16 points and got 1 point on the trek.  Would it be enough for the win???

Yes!!!  Nearest competitor only got 8 points on the bike...!  Remember it was 8-10 inches of snow.  My bike shoes would not get into the SPD pedals because of the ice.  Our waterbottles froze at 3 hours in leaving us with no water for 4 hours....

So cool to be doing this stuff!!
Team Commie Bar leads the way....

Team Commie Bar 2nd at Crooked Compass 8hour Adventure Race


2 April - Crooked Compass 8hr Adventure Race
Dan "Bait" Schaeffer
DJ Angelone

We here at Team Commie Bar take our racing seriously. Very seriously. After being on overnight shift all week, I woke up at 2PM Friday, packed my gear and headed a couple hours north to the booming metropolis of Frackville, PA where I met DJ, the newest member of TCB. We spent the night at a fleabag motel and stayed up till midnight eating junk food and drinking Hop Nosh Beer...Found out my water bladder was missing a key part, thankfully DJ brought a spare!

Woke up at 0515, ate my traditional yogurt and cheerios and loaded up the car. It was in the 30's and raining on the way to the race start. The forecast was iffy and they are supposed to get 3 inches of snow tonight! Anyway, we registered, got our gear squared away and hung out till 8 for the race to start. The concept behind this race was to take a 24 hr adventure race and break it into 3 8-hr segments.

This first race was 8 hrs on foot only. (The 8 hr canoe and 8 hr MTB races will be later in the year). There were 9 mandatory CP's and 36 optionals. The race started at the bottom of the mountain, aptly named "Big Mountain" Luckily the first two CP's led us to the top and we pretty much stayed on top of the ridge for most of the race. Now, I bet you're thinking "The whole race was just on the ridge?

My grandmother could do that in a hoveround! !" Well this being PA Coal Country the entire top of the ridge was old strip mines. If you look at a topo map of that area, its all red dots indicating mine tailings. Well mine tailings can be pretty significant features, and that's where all the CP's were: hundred foot high boulder and shale piles, mine pits, ditches, and abandoned equipment (even a giant coal bucket that we could fit in!) all sorts of stuff and none of it was mapped. But something amazing happened--we hit every point up there. We did a lot of bushwhacking going point-to-point but everything lined up nicely. And we made it look easy. DJ navigated the first half and I navigated the second half.

We tore through the CP's and decided that time be damned, we were going to clear every single one of them on the course. Along with the strip mine features, there was a network of trails on the ridge.

It took a little bit to realize that every one of those trail was blazed Red. Staying on the Red trail
became our running joke--but also a good reminder not to slack off on navigation. After we cleared everything on the ridge, we ran down the mountain and the rest of the course followed the Roaring Creek and a series of lakes that were made from damming it. This section started out easy but turned into a long bushwhack along the creek. We had solid pace counts to keep us on course and we nailed the CP's along the creek. The water was waist deep when I had to cross a couple times to get a CP but it felt good--my legs were pretty shredded from all the bushwhacking. After we hit the last CP, we bushwhacked to a rail-trail that would take us 2K to the finish. We had 25 minutes left so we did a run/walk and covered that distance in 15 minutes. I was walking on air when we hit the finish line, in time and having cleared the entire course! 20 miles and 45 checkpoints down landed us 2nd place in the Male division. I can't think of a better way to start the 2016 season!!

31 March 2016

Team Commie Bar at the SwampFox 

Team Commie Bar at the SwampFox Adventure Race in Georgia took 3rd place in 3-4 person Coed division on 19 March 2016.  Previously in March Jon Gamm and Charlie Raffay finished the grueling 75 hour race in Florida called Sea to Sea....

Race Report from team member Michael Scott:

"Not sure if any news has gotten back to you yet, but we seemed to have a pretty amazing race from all that I could tell. We came in third among elite teams (they combined 3 person coed with 4 person coed to make the elite team group) and we came in second in the 3 person coed group. Our time was 11hrs 15 minutes and we collected 18 of the 22 CPs. the first 4 points were only given after the race actually started and had to be triangulated off of each other. We chose to plot them prior to getting into the canoes, and they were to be collected by stopping mid way on the canoe leg. Unfortunately, we missed the turn in for the canoe pull off completely (though most teams also missed the turn in).

We were able to find every other CP along the way from there.
There were 4 or so that required some extra activity like crossing a stream on a slack line, climbing a rope ladder, and a swim across a little lake to an island, and a finishing task with a climbing wall. Mark volunteered to do the climbing each time and I did the swim.

Otherwise it was mostly a bike course. I think we covered like 58 miles on the bikes. Mark did the majority of the navigating and carried the maps the whole way, Val tracked distances and shared in the navigation, and I was on a mission to learn from them along the way. Mark and Val were incredibly motivational and positive and I know I couldn't have put forth the effort I did without them patiently pushing me throughout the race.

It was clear that my fitness wasn't quite as strong as theirs, and I had a pretty rough couple of hours at about the 8-10 hour point with cramps in my legs and such. I worked through that with endurolytes and found some energy to finish out the race with some strength. It was a crowning moment in the last 6 miles of so, Mark put on an all out assault and pulled Val and I to the finish along the road back to the start. We passed 4 or 5 teams who all hopped onto the line and the finish was really fast. It was an absolutely fantastic first race for me, and we all seemed to agree that the team dynamic worked well and enjoyed racing with each other.

We're all looking forward to the racing together again and adding you to the mix. Hope that gives you some insight into the day. I am sure Mark and Val could add more to round out the details, but I thought I'd offer a bit of a summary.
thanks again Mark and Val for the race and thanks Todd for getting us all connected.
Got some work to do before April, that's for sure, but looking forward to it all.

11 March 2016

Team Commie Bar Finishes Florida 72hour Sea to Sea...

Commie Bar successfully completed another multi-day event with a battered and bruised but strong finish at Cocoa Beach, Florida on Sunday March 7th at 2:30pm.  Team members Jon Gamm and first-time Commie racer Charlie Raffay completed a 75 hour, 350 mile course that started with a beach run near Clearwater, then traveled northeast of Orlando, and then down to the finish at Cocoa Beach - on 3 hours of sleep total.  All told the team put in 270 miles on the bike, 55 on foot, and 25 paddling.  The team completed all sections but one - the final trek into the swamps at night which got the majority of teams (17 out of 29) placed into the 'Relay' category as a result.  Not sure why they chose 'Relay' - it was nothing of the sort - but the end result was a strong showing for a team that is still learning how to manage multi-day events. Some highlights:

- Charlie Raffay's first ever multi-day event and first AR in over 3 years and get this, he did the whole thing with NO shoes!  Really, no shoes.  Flip flops and water shoes only - amazing.  Should of seen the look on other team's faces when we passed them.

- Mid-night paddle on the alligator-infested Hillsborough River.  Alligator's eyes shine green in headlamp light in case you were wondering.

- Many miles of bike riding on 55 MPH roads with no shoulder and constant traffic.  This was the most dangerous part of the race -- waiting to get clipped by a side mirror (didn't happen thankfully).

- 93 mile night bike through Green Swamp Preserve.  My ass will never be the same.

- Eating at McDonalds after a 50 mile (hilly!!! Florida has hills!!!) bike ride to a Publix parking lot
transition area.

- Midnight 40 degree water crossing during a trek.  Charlie stripping buck naked for the crossing and parading across the water with nothing but a smile on his face.

- A stunningly beautiful paddle on the Wekiva River - unfortunately immediately followed by a miserable paddle on the St Johns waterway fighting large power boat wakes the whole way.

- Going for a bonus CP on a bike ride and then hammering it to the TA at 20-25mph alternating drafting to make the cut-off just in time.

- The final trek from Hell -- 50 people up on a ridge at night searching for a CP that we finally found after an hour's search, and then getting into a group that led us off track and hopelessly far from the next TA.  This led to a ride to the TA in a U-Haul trailer with 20 others.  Lesson learned -- beware group think.  Trust your own instincts.  This is what got us put into Relay category.  Charlie had us on the map -- we needed to break out but didn't.

- The final stretch:  after 90 min sleep get up at 6am and take it into the finish.  Just a 35 mile bike, 7 mile paddle and a 2 mile beach run to go.  Bike ride went fine, then came the paddle ...

- The paddle from HELL: Start from a causeway on the Banana River (Florida Inner Coastal Waterway -- more like the Ocean than a River).  We are in canoes - NOT kayaks.  It is windy but we go anyway.  The wind is at our backs to the first CP which we find quickly.  The second is buried in a maze of mangroves and after a fruitless search we decide to push on to the TA.  Now, however, it is REALLY windy with 1-2 foot waves and we have to get around a built up land mass about a KM away to get to the TA.  We plan to angle our path 45 degrees into the waves and aim to get around the corner of the land mass so the wind can take us in and around.  Good plans sometime fail to live up to reality, however, and the reality was that the wind and waves were just too much for us to push past and we came up short about 100m from the target and crashed/flipped into an 8 foot sea wall.  While Charlie corralled the boat and gear I scrambled along the wall and found an old dock that I could reach and pull myself up unto the shore (actually some guy's backyard) and then pull gear, boat, and Charlie up afterwards.  Bloodied from barnacles and battered by the experience, we pulled the boat into the front yard, bandaged up our cuts and with pack on back started walking to the TA.

 Along the way we found another team that had met the same fate,and learned that the paddle had been called off shortly after we departed.  We made it into the finish, and celebrated with a big buffet and Sierra Nevada beer.