22 April 2015

Rev 3 27 hour Adventure Race

Rev 3 Shenandoah Epic 26 hour race

I drove the fairly short 3 hours down to Front Royal VA on Friday morning and got into town.  The afternoon I worked on getting my bike together and also checked into the hotel and got a nap.
At 16hrs I went to the race check in and where we would stage the bikes.  The race would start the next morning in another location.  I got my bike set up and into the staging area and then at 17hrs they allowed us to register and get our maps and race book.  Kim (my teammate for the race) hadn’t gotten there yet so I started plotting the UTM points and reading the race book.

When she showed up she got her bike set up and dropped and then worked with me on plotting UTMs.
The course looked fairly straight forward:  Foot O-course, Paddle, Foot O course, Bike, Trekking O course, Long Bike Section, Trekking Section then Bike to the finish. 

We went and grabbed a pizza and beer and back to the hotel to finish packing the packs and getting the food and gear ready.

The next morning dawned clear and a bit chilly.  Had some concerns about the water temperature for the paddle.  Good thing I left a change of clothes on the bike.
We made our way to the start point and got all set for the gun to sound.  The race started with a foot orienteering course.  We had to get at least 2 points before returning to the canoes.  The decision had to be made about getting all the points versus leaving some with the hopes of getting them on the return leg to the finish in the morning.  We compromised and got 4 of the 6 points before coming back to the boats.  We ran the whole thing which was around 5 miles.

The boat section was around 30k/18miles and was broken up by several Check Points we had to get along the way.  The water was moving fast and we made good time at about 3hours.  At the take out point we were given a map of the town of Front Royal that had about 5 optional points in it.  We got them all and had a fun time running around the town.  Again we ran the whole time and that was another 4 miles or so.  At one point we had to dress up like Civil War soldiers as part of a time challenge!

After the town portion we made our way to the bikes where we had left them yesterday.  We saddled up for the 25k/14mile bike over to the State Park.  It was all on the road and had a couple of mandatory check points on it.  I got on the bike and immediately felt like I was bonking….  The paddle had been very hot with the sun burning down on me.  Up to this point we had already run about 10 miles with a very full pack so I had to take that into consideration.  Kim was cycling strong and dropping me quickly.  The ol’ legs just weren’t firing.  I wasn’t too worried because this normally happens once or twice in every race when you run out of gas.  All you can do is slow down and keep moving.  Watch your nutrition and water intake.  For the 2015 season we have a great deal and partnership with Honey Stinger and I was sucking down organic waffles and gel to get my energy back.  I limped into the transition area and we got ready for a massive trekking section.

All the points on the trek were optional except CP 17 on top of Buzzards Overlook.  We grabbed optional point 18 up a small reentrant on the way to the trail to CP 17.  On the trail to 17 we missed the turn off that led up to 17 and were in a pretty large drainage.  I noticed that this drainage led up to another point and Kim and I decided to pursue that route rather than try and get the points from the top down.  The trek up the drainage was brutal.  Kim admitted to getting concerned about how deep we were getting into the canyon and how we would get out.  We scrambled up and up and up.  Finally we got the point in the stream and sat down to contemplate how we would get out of there.  I shot an azimuth to point 19 that led STRAIGHT UP.  The mountain was covered with boulders and we hopped and clawed our way up to an amazing ridge and outcropping that held point 19.  The views were incredible but man that was a tough climb.  It wasn’t over.

We continued to climb up through the rocks to an old trail that we followed another 2 miles or so down to the mandatory CP 17.  We punched in and then began the long trek down the trail back to the road.  It would be dark soon and definitely before we got back to the bikes.  The entire trekking section was probably less than 8 miles but very tough and brutal.

On the way down we found water at a campground before we got to the bikes.  That was nice and the water was cold and felt great.  We got back to the bikes and saddled up and got the lights working.  For this race I was testing the new lights from CycleBeam.  I had been pleased with the lumens and the fact that the 930Z unit didn't have a huge battery pack.  Anybody looking to race at night should definitely take a look at these lights.

We started a fairly straight forward bike leg that led up a fire road over the mountain to another State Park.  The riding was nice although we kept climbing gradually and gaining elevation the whole way.  My legs had come back (like they always do) and I was peddling strong.  Kim is a work horse and never slowed up. 

I love cycling at night.  It’s so tranquil and calm.  CP 23 was right in the middle of a campground and when we pulled in I rode up to a camp site where there was a fire going and a lady sitting around the fire in pajamas.  Initially I thought that was the checkpoint and the lady was one of the race volunteers.  I’m not sure she appreciated some crazed filthy lunatic on a bike coming right up to her campfire!

During the ride we had linked up with a guy named Wes who was racing solo.  I always admire those folks that do this all alone.  It is very lonely out there all night.  He cycled over with us to the Check point and we all sat down and looked at the maps to decide the next move.  Kim and I decided to ride up the ridge line and get an optional point 24.  The cycling was pretty mild on a fire road and although we were gaining elevation the night air made it start to feel cold.  I stopped and put a long sleeve shirt on and Kim bundled up in her shell jacket.  We got to the trail at 24 and dropped the bikes and trekked up about a mile to get 24.  On the way down we made the decision to continue out the ridge line to get 25 as well.  The cycling got steeper as we went and finally after another 2 miles or so we dropped bikes again and trekked another mile up to get CP 25.  With that done we had about a 6 mile descent back into the campground.  We flew down the fire road and made it back in very good time.  I’m glad we went out to get 25.  From here the bike trail became single track and we knew we had a good bike push up to the massive ridge line that dominates the George Washington National Forest.  In retrospect we didn’t know what was in store for us…..

Down the road I quickly located a trail that would take us up to the ridgeline.  I estimated the push at around 2 kilometers and gaining probably 800 feet of elevation.  Two other racers (both girls) were there and started the slog up with us.  What I was anticipating was a brutal hike a bike up to the ridge line and then fairly flat to rolling terrain into CP 27.  Well, the push up was brutal.  And then once on the ridgeline the trail just would NOT LET UP with more climbing, sharp downhills and the one thing that we just could not anticipate:  EAST COAST ROCKS……  I am not a technical rider and neither is Kim.  What was going to be a 10 mile ridge ride turned into a 10 mile push,crawl, drag your bike segment.  The night air was still and you could see the lights of Front Royal.  Quietly and with neither one of us talking we began the push…..  We began at midnight and at 0538 we finished.  It took us 5 hours and 38 minutes to go 10 miles.  We were tore up and tired.

At the end we hit a road and for about 45 minutes were a bit lost as we searched for CP 28.  CP 28 was a fire tower and we could NOT find it!!  I still think the point was mis-plotted but finally a group of racers came in and we split up and they went up the road and located a trail that did take us finally to the tower.  We all climbed up the tower in the dark and punched in at the top. 

From there we had a nice downhill ride into CP 27.  It was a manned point and there was a fire and some cookies!  People had been telling us to make sure we planned enough time to get back by the race finish and we were pretty daggone tired after our bike push.  We made the decision to forego any trekking optional points from here and began the bike ride back.  I estimated a 20 mile bike that would take us to the finish line in time.  There was a section called the Veachy Gap trail that had me a bit worried looking at the map.  Again I should have been frightened……

The first 5 miles of the bike were on fire roads but we soon entered a trail system that would bisect the mountain range on the way back to Bentonville and the finish.  This section soon gave way to another epic hike a bike leg that had everyone pushing the bikes up an enormous climb to the top of the gap.  Again silence settled in as we undertook the challenge.  Finally at the top we got on the bikes and rolled down and up to the bridge and the finish line.  But……  we were not done.  We decided to take the bikes and go out to the park to get the final two points we had left yesterday morning.  The only map we had was a park map and the distances were crazy hard to calculate.  What looked like an easy bike ride turned into about another 10 mile ride.  We had climbed and pushed again to the entrance of the park and then like beat pups realized we still had WAY TOO far to go to get the points and still make it back in time.  It was also at this time that I took a violent bike crash on the road that totally ripped up my hand.  Enough…..  We picked up a trail alongside the river and hunkered down for the ride.  Kim called this our 10 mile cool down…..  I think she was joking but…………..  It sucked to ride an additional 10 miles with no points to show for it….

We got back and officially finished.  We packed gear in the cars and Kim decided to hit the road.  I crawled in the 4 runner for a nap and buried deep in my Mountain HardWear sleeping bag and slept thru the awards ceremony!!
We finished 2nd in our coed division and qualified for the National Championships.

I was happy.  The drive home was filled with stops for short naps and McDonald milk shakes…….:)

15 April 2015

Summit AR/Team Commie Bar to the Rev3 26 hour adventure race in Bentonville, VA
Shenandoah Epic