17 December 2016

Team Commie Bar at the Two Rivers Adventure Race - Team #1 Two Person Coed Race Report

First from our coed team 5 hour team at the Rootstock Two Rivers Race...

Team Captain:  DJ Angelone.....

So do you want to run an adventure race in December?  Sounded like a solid plan back in March when I was making my list (and checking it twice). Rootstock racing had put some place holders on their website for their inaugural season.  The little bit I saw sounded pretty cool.  I had a long list of potential races and a 12-hour to top off the season sounded awesome.

Fast forward to November. Coming off my first Nationals (30 hours), I was riding high and feeling great psychologically.  But physically, my body was feeling the aftermath of the long race and the long season. I had anticipated racing with Mike Scott from the team, but ultimately decided to pass on the 12-hour version and opt for the 5-hour with Bonnie and Sarah (the newest member of the TCB women’s auxiliary).  Rootstock races had been awesome thus far and I really looked forward to supporting Brent/Abby in their endeavor.

With the semester in full swing, my training had been minimal, my focus miniscule, and the winter sinus congestion heating up.  Two days prior I taught Bonnie how to pace count (setting up a tape measure down the hallway) and began a regular regimen of night/day-quil.  The night before we started packing the gear and got a call that Sarah had a family emergency and had to bail.

After a good night sleep, we awoke, and headed out to the race (I do love an 11am start time!!).  We set up shop at Pachella Field just inside the famed Wissahickon.  It had been years since I road in the Wiss, and my memories from pre-racing days recalled deep exhaustion and dehydration on a mountain bike trip (I didn’t know enough to bring water, and actually had to beg a guy on the trail to drink from his camelback bladder!).

The RDs provided our maps and basic logistics.  We sat in the warm car and developed our plan of action.  The race was split into 3 segments.  After a brief prologue on foot, we would have the option of engaging any of the 3 segments in any order.  One was on foot and near Pachella encompassing more of the northern Wiss.  The other two were on bike, the first was more of the southern wiss, the second was outside of the park, on to the road and into the Laurel Hill Cemetery.  The unique element of this race was that you could trade in your bike passport or foot passport at any point and engage (or re-engage) any of the segments (for those unfamiliar with Adventure Races, you generally are required to “close out” a segment and cannot accumulate any additional CPs after you close out a segment). This twist added an interesting strategic decision point.

Nonetheless, we mapped out a plan to head out on our bikes first.  We would ride south, hit points in segment 2, and leave the park for the cemetery and segment 1.  The cemetery, while distant, seemed like an easy way to hit 16 points in a condensed area with zero bushwhacking.  We would then head back to the park and take a counterclockwise position heading back north to the TA.  We calculated about a 3-3.5 hour trek, and that would give us about 90+ minutes to get out on foot.  As such, we left our bladders, packed 50 ounces of water on our bikes and headed out.

The riding was pretty quick, not much in terms of climbs, with a fair share of rock gardens.  I took on the Nav and once we got our initial bearings for distance, began hitting CPs pretty quickly.  My one mistake was meeting up with a solo racer and allowing him to talk me into taking an alternative route to the next CP.  While the company was nice,
we chatted about racing while walking our bikes up some steep terrain.  Once at location, things feel apart.  We got a little turned around and the river I thought was on the map was north not south.  I couldn’t figure out what happened and how we crossed a canyon.  I think my hunger was starting to play a role, and after about 30 minutes, we finally figured out our error.  Back on the trail, we headed out to the road and into the cemetery.

The cemetery was pretty cool.  Lots of history and an unbelievable vista overlooking the Schuylkill river. Bonnie took over Nav and the “little” we perceived on the map turned out to be pretty freaking huge.  There wasn’t much marking and the basic map wasn’t too helpful.  Looking for a reentrant has become second nature, but looking for a Ms. Wendy Jones in a sea of gravestones wasn’t taught to me in AR 101.  The 30 minutes we anticipated probably turned into an hour.  But we fully engaged the opportunity to float around and I’m glad we had the chance to see it.  Clearing the segment also helped push us forward.

Back on the road, I took the Nav back and started to feel the pressure of the clock.  I was anticipating about an hour on foot now.  The wind and cold also started to pick up as well.  I pressed ahead at a modest speed and noticed Bonnie slowing down.  I just assumed the wind speeds were just putting more friction on her body then mine, but the pace was certainly slowing.  Back in the Wiss, we hit some more inclines. A lot more bike walking and multiple stops for Bonnie to catch up.  Tick tock.  At this point, I had run out of water and realized I hadn’t eaten anything all day.  I started re-fueling and noticed that we were averaging about 2-5 mph.  Not good.  Bonnie caught up again, and had clearly been experiencing the effects of a solid bonking (educational note…she ran out of sugar stores and “hit the wall”).  She literally couldn’t move any further.  We stopped and got her eating and drinking.  Tick tock.

Within minutes her body started to turn it around.  We moved forward.  Slowly but surely.  I estimated we could clear segment 2 and still had hope for hitting a few of the foot segments in segment 3. Tick Tock.  We picked up some speed and were hitting CPs pretty well.  Remember what I said about reentrants?  Yea, maybe the dehydration or starvation played a roll, but we wound up hitting the wrong side of a reentrant and got stuck on a hillside for a while.  At some point, quitting entered the mind, but I would be damned if this one CP held us back from clearing segments 1 and 2.  It was the only inspiration I had since it looked like we needed to skip segment 3 at this point.

Bonnie nailed it!  We jumped on our bikes, rode like demons, hit the last CP and found the trail back to Pachella.  Given our fatigue it looked like walking our bikes was going to be the move.  At one point, I noted that there were 3 or 4 teams, all on foot, making their way to Pachella as well.  A look at the clock underscored the need to speed up since the 5 hour mark was minutes away. I looked up and saw another coed 2 making there way past me.  I turned, motioned to Bonnie, got on my bike and pushed hard.

Bonnie got the signal and did the same.  There was hope that we could beat them by seconds assuming we had tied in points.  We checked in with 2 minutes to spare and 5 seconds ahead of the other coed 2.

When it was all tallied we nailed 3rd place in coed and 6th place overall.
The other Coed 2s beat us by 4 and 6 points respectively.  They too cleared segments 1 and 2, and picked up some points on the foot.  I’m confident that eating, drinking, and following my own instincts would have led to a stronger finish (although I’m sure the other 2 teams have their excuses as well).  At the end of the day, it was a solid race, solid effort, and solid close to the season.  Maybe next time I enter the Wiss, I’ll actually prepare appropriately for food and water.

Until next year…this commie is peace outing!

Stay tuned for the next report from our 2 person male at the 12 hour Rootstock Two Rivers Adventure Race

16 November 2016

Team Commie Bar fielding two teams at the Root Stock Two Rivers Adventure Race in Season Finale.....

Summit Adventure Racing/Team Commie Bar will field two teams at the season finale Two Rivers Adventure Race directed by Rootstock near Philadelphia, PA on 3 December 2016....
Credit Rootstock Racing

Captaining our 2 person coed team will  be DJ Angelone and he will be joined by his wife for the 5 hour course. 
 DJ is coming off a great race at the National Championships and will wind down the 2016 season at Two Rivers.

Captaining our 2 person male team will be Michael Scott.  Michael is in his 1st year with the Commie boys and completed the 24hour Shenandoah Epic earlier this year.  

In 2016, Summit AR/Team Commie Bar raced and competed in over 25 national and international adventure races and/or ultra endurance events....  
No team in the U.S. races more than Team Commie Bar.  
We train while you sleep and safety is our third priority.

Team Commie Bar is sponsored by Mountain Hardwear and Honey Stinger Nutrition.

11 November 2016

National Championship of Adventure Racing Race Report

National Championships Race Report by Bait and DJ

14-15 October - US Adventure Racing National Championship  Now That I’ve had some sleep, and little time to collect my thoughts, I realize that the only downside to a long race is the corresponding length of the race report!! Chris, DJ and I met at DJ’s house in NJ at midnight Wednesday. From there we drove through the night to Augusta, GA. Despite initial thoughts of sleeping on the ride, the excitement of our first nationals as a group had us chatting like school girls.  The one time Chris got some shut eye he sprung awake when I hit the brakes and uttered a four letter. Lots of coffee and cheap mini mart egg burritos fueled us to the destination.

Upon arrival, we had a million things to do—gear check (and last minute purchases), staging our bikes at a park 30 mins away, team meeting and recon on the finish line. We had a nice tour of Augusta sporting good stores and a sense of the heavy outdoor lifestyle.  We chatted up a few locals and went on a brief walk around the Savannah Rapids park area. It felt great to get a sense of the locale but each minute put us further and further from a nap.

After the team meeting, DJ and Chris opted to stay at the hotel while I met up with Roy for dinner at 2130 Thursday. We had a great meal at Cracker Barrel and I hit the hay around midnight. At this point we’d all been up close to 36 hours minus the short naps we got during the ride down.

We were up at 0500 for breakfast then we headed for the finish line where we received our maps. We had about an hour to plot 55 check points and come up with a strategy for the next 30 hours/100 miles of racing! With no time to lose, we boarded a school bus that would take us to the park where our bikes were stored. Once everyone arrived, the race began.

We started with a prologue on the International Disc Golf Association Championship Course. We connected with the coed Team Commie bar and hit the course together.  It took us 25 minutes to run three disc golf courses and collect 12 CP’s. Apparently Disc Golf is a little more laid-back than adventure racing… From there we headed to the first paddle section on a beautiful lake. As we left the dock a bald eagle soared overhead and everything was right with the world. We deliberately decided to skip the four paddle points that were farthest away in order to build a time cushion for the rest of the race.  This made sense after the RD discussion the night before suggested that only a few teams would clear the course. This cut about 12 miles off our paddle. We had no trouble hitting the other 4 paddle points and we headed back to do some mountain biking.

The trails in this area are pretty sweet—very little rocks, a few roots and lots of whoop de doos. The trails are well-maintained and we found evidence that they had been used in the National Mountain Bike championship earlier this summer. We blasted through the next mountain bike leg which took us to another park and then we were back on foot. The navigation was fairly easy, except for one point we mis-plotted on the map. Fortunately we recognized the mistake quickly and were able to grab it. Then it was back on the bikes and back to the first TA. DJ started having some knee pain and single leg peddled for a bit.  But in true team tradition,  we attempted to push him on straight aways to ease the energy expense.  We also noted that we were all much more tired than usual at the 8-10 hour mark.  Putting our heads together, we realized the decision to drive through the nigh and lose the sleep was a mistake.  Best to start a race fully fueled on sleep, not cheap burritos!

Once back to the TA, we headed out on foot again this time in the dark.  We donned our head lamps and began the traverse.  DJ had never raced in the dark, save a few practice sessions in the last few weeks.  While initially tentative, he grabbed the maps and took over. Our nav was solid all day and this was no different.  It felt real good to be eating up check points at a pretty good pace. The lake was really low and we were able to use the shoreline to move quickly through the area and hit a couple of CPs that seemed tricky. We did learn to avoid that Georgia clay mud! Almost lost my shoes!

After these points we were back to TA to load up all of our remaining gear so we could head out to the next TA on our bikes for the signature piece of the race: 18 miles of sweet singletrack at 0130! Its worth noting at this point that DJ and I had recently purchased new headlamps.  The specs looked good and the price was amazing (bright eyes.com), but always a little skeptical about this sort of combination   Well, the lights worked really well, super bright and long lasting.  But that’s not all…DJ noticed prior to the race that the light might not have been charging fully.  So a week out, he contacted their customer service, a guy named Don.  Lets just say that at the end of the day, DJ received replacement parts for his whole set up, and the company even overnighted some stuff to us at the hotel…Don if you’re out there, great work!!

Anyway, the Bartram trail flowed like a dream and it was over before we knew it. The trail was so amazing I was actually disappointed it was over. At the end we crossed the top of the Strom Thurman Dam into South Carolina (add another state to my list!). In SC there were 6 foot points that were all bushwhacks. At one point we were stopped in our tracks by a wall of briars that must have been 15 feet tall. We struggled a little in this area (we’d been up for 24 hours at this point) and we missed two of the CP’s.  There were no trails in this section just a whole bunch of reentrants, which also served as the primary clue.  At about 0500, I fell asleep standing while DJ and Chris checked the map.  I asked for a brief respite, hit the ground, and started snoring instantly.  Despite telling them 5 minutes, I think Chris and DJ felt bad so they woke me at the 8 minute mark.

“Fully rested” and ready to go, we noted the upcoming time cutoff to make for the next section.  Chris was getting a little salty,  which he later said was his “anxiety” (good thing DJ is a licensed psychologist!!), even calling out my “dime store compass” and yelling at DJ for putting on some tiger balm.  Once the sun popped, we decided to try and hit one more CP on our way out as we hustled to the final paddle section. After success, we got onto the water which was a really interesting leg of the race. We could hardly keep my eyes open we were so tired.  A few of us noted that passing out and falling into the water was not only a fear, but a welcomed experience   So we started chatting.  Chris began to pose some thoughtful questions and while I couldn’t tell you the answers now, they clearly worked.
Credit Rev3 Adventure Racing

We worked our way down the Savannah river and ended up in a sea of grass. Chris led us to a super tricky point on an island. The half swamp looked like it could be an alligator alley, but his solid nav made for a quick grab and go.  The only negative is the 8 teams that caught up with us and possibly rode our tails to find the CP with ease.  After that, is was smooth sailing to the final TA. As we pulled up to the boat launch, Roy was waiting for us. It was awesome to see him and he was really encouraging!

The final leg of the race was mountain biking the fabled Savannah canal towpath trail. After 26 hours of racing, we averaged 15 mph on the rail trail and crushed the final leg. As luck would have it, on the last check point we met up with the Co-Ed Team Commie Bar and all 6 of us finished together. At the finish line I met up with Roy again and eventually Hydro stopped by. It was the perfect ending to a long race!
Credit Rev3 Adventure Racing

After packing up our gear and heading out to the hotel for a quick nap, we made it to the banquet.  The beer tasted sweet and we had a chance to reminisce with familiar faces and meet some new ones.  It was only fitting that DJ won what seemed like a lifetime supply of Tiger Balm and a T-shirt, which he prominently displayed for Chris.  As we drove home the next day, we pondered our success: 12th out of 26 in open division.  Our team was solid, supportive, even fun.  We proposed some ideas for our 2017 race schedule, discussed a team fishing trip, and how DJ plans to secretly rub tiger balm on every ounce of Chris’ gear!!

03 October 2016

Team Commie Bar/Summit Adventure Racing Qualifies Two Teams for National Championships of Adventure Racing

Team Commie Bar will be sending two teams to the 2016 National Championships of Adventure Racing being held in Columbia County Georgia on October 14-15.  

The race format will be a 30 hour non-stop adventure race featuring mountain biking, trekking and paddling.  Teams are required to navigate a series of checkpoints using only a map and compass to guide them while transitioning between several disciplines such as: Trail Running/Trekking, Mountain Biking, Paddling and Orienteering.

In 2016, Team Commie Bar/Summit AR raced in over 20 national and international adventure racing and ultra endurance events. The team is based in Deep Creek Lake, MD and has a roster of 15 athletes from all over the country and in France.  Team Commie Bar races at more events and competitions than any other team in the U.S.  

Highlights of 2016 include:  
FLX's Florida's Sea to Sea

The Adventure Racing World Series Qualifier Rev 3 Cameco Cowboy Tough

The Swamp Fox Adventure Race by KanDo Adventures

The Rev3 Shenandoah Epic

The GOALS Cradle of Liberty 

And a host of other races and events across the U.S. and in Europe. 

The USARA Adventure Race National Championship is the "Heart & Soul" of Adventure Racing in the United States. Teams of 3 compete in USARA regional qualifying events across the U.S. for a chance to battle it out for the title of USARA Adventure Race National Champion.

Team Commie Bar/Summit Adventure Racing's two teams will consist of one 3 person all male team and one 3 person coed team.

Meet the racers!!

Team Commie Bar #1 - 3 person Coed 
Mark Bolyard - Team Captain

Val Hardin

Darren Steinbach

Team Commie Bar #2 - 3 person All Male
Left to Right - DJ Angelone, Dan "Bait" Schaefer, Chris Farrell

After the National Championships, Team Commie Bar will publish the 2017 race schedule.  

The team  has already committed to the 2017 edition of Primal Quest already and expects to race again in over 20+ events.

Team Commie Bar thanks its many partners including Mountain Hardwear, Montrail Shoes, Cycle Beam Lights and Honey Stinger Nutrition.

To learn more about Team Commie Bar and racing with us in 2017 send an email to Todd Copley at TCopley@theadventurespectrum.com.

You can follow us on Facebook at 
Facebook Team Commie Bar  

or on Twitter  
Twitter Team Commie Bar

Twitter the Adventure Spectrum

19 August 2016

Summit Adventure Racing/Team Commie at the Krista Griesacker 12hour Adventure Race

Race Report
Krista Griesacker 12hour Adventure Race
Team Captain:  Dan "Bait" Schaefer

Team Beast:  Chris Farrell

Team Mule:  DJ Angelone

Heat, Hydration and Humbling—these best describe the challenges of the Krista Griesacker Adventure Race. Leading up to the race we received several e-mails from the Rd that warned us that things will not go as planned and that we should expect the unexpected. We arrived at the Civil Air Patrol training site—which accommodated DJ’s awesome camper—and received a pre-race briefing that basically gave us no information. 

The race would begin 15 minutes after reveille was played in the morning, and we could expect to hear reveille sometime between 0400-0700. They provided no information on what to expect other than to be ready for anything. One of our biggest concerns was a note in an e-mail that said boats “may or may not” be available. Generally in adventure racing we run/trek, mountain bike and canoe/kayak/raft. Recently there’s been a trend to include swimming so we assumed that’s what we’d be dealing with in this race. 

We racked our brains trying to decide if we should buy rafts or inner tubes or what but ended up deciding to wing it and see how things played out. We packed our gear into our packs (food, headlamps, climbing harnesses, water filter) and filled the two 25ozwater bottles that we were allowed to carry. That’s right, hydration bladders (a staple in AR) were forbidden. Each of us was only allowed to carry a total of 50 oz. of water at any time. Made things interesting because there are no water stops on an AR course. 

After stopping at Wendy’s for our traditional baconator pre-race meal, we went to sleep in our race gear—the camper was comfortable and I was out like a light (especially after sleeping in a tent all week at scout camp!).  Dj and chris were not so lucky given that most of camp seemed to be awake at 230 and frequently shining flashlights into the camper waking them up.

At 0415 reveille sounded. We jumped out of bed, ate a quick breakfast and, headed out. The prologue divided the team into two elements. I would ride mountain bike time trial on a 5 mile road course while DJ and Chris had to find three foot check points. What they didn’t tell us was that once DJ and Chris found their points they would be ‘captured ‘and that after the bike I would have to find and ‘rescue’ them. I enjoyed the bike section and finished in about 16 mins. After that I went looking for DJ and Chris. I found Chris first and together we found DJ. Both footpoints required a bushwhack using an unremarkable map in the dark and it was a taste of fun to come….

After the prologue we finally received our race map and coordinates for the first checkpoint, it was the namesake of the town of Deer Lake, PA. Along the way we had to ride up and over Hawk Mountain—we neared 45 mph on the way down but the climb up was brutal. The ride was all on road and when we arrived at the CP we learned one teammate would have to swim to the middle of the lake, retrieve a coconut, open it and we had to drink the coconut milk and eat the meat. Chris and DJ did an even/odd thing to see who would swim across the duck pond while I refilled our water. Chris “won” and retrieved the coconut. 

It was a nice treat and after we completed the challenge, we received our next set of coordinates and headed towards the Port Clinton Gap. This is where the Schuykill River cuts a gap in the Blue Mountain and is about1500 feet on either side. Our next Paws at the bottom and once there we dropped the bikes and headed up to the top of the west side of the gap on foot. The mountain here is basically a pile of microwave size rocks covered in brambles and as Chris would say “sticka bushes”. We shed a lot of blood getting to the top and DJ was almost attacked by a black snake. The temperature and humidity were rising as we climbed up to the top but we found the next CP without a problem. Unfortunately, things would start going sideways after this one. 

The high temp for the day was 91 and the humidity was94%. We were only allowed to carry 50 ounces of water and there were no water sources on top of the mountain (there was beautiful river at the bottom but there was no way we were going back down just for water). Being slightly dehydrated at this point I started getting some bad cramps in my hamstrings. We all downed a couple salt-sticks and that helped for a while. Our next point was about a third of the way down the mountain but we had a lot of trouble finding it. After about 90 minutes we finally did but only after we climbed up and down and sideways and up and down and back to the top to start over. We were relieved to find the CP and found that it was the first of 2 rappelling sites. We rappelled down a 40 foot cliff under the expert supervision of the CAP search and rescue crew.  I love doing this stuff! Once down we headed downhill little further for a much higher rappel. 

Chris's form was apparently a little off as noted by the volunteer ("butt down") although between us, he may have trying his best "spider man" impression.  After that it was back to the river. We were overheated and thirsty—fortunately there was a diner on the other side of the river so we waded across with our bikes and got a cold drink. I think Chris drank 8 large Pepsi’s. DJ and I downed leftover cheeseburgers and some lemonade we found in a cooler outside. I think we may have downed close to 100oz in just a few minutes.  Feeling better we started up the other side of the Gap on our bikes. The climb was over three miles and we were pretty spent. The heat was oppressive and we felt like we were melting…. At the top we met with the RD and he gave us a couple beers. I was in heaven and started getting a little giddy. 

Unfortunately, the beer came with a downside and we found out that they were short coursing us.  We were told to skip a foot orienteering course and continue on the mountain bikes. There were trails all over the place, but none were marked on the map. This proved to be a challenge and my giddiness took us off course on along descent that was fun to ride, but we cursed as we pushed our bikes back up as it was the wrong trail. We fumbled around and eventually found the next point and thought we found a shortcut to the next one. OF course, this shortcut led us way past the CP and we were starting to fall apart. It was hot, we were frustrated by the nav errors and we contemplated just calling it a day. But that’s not the Commie Killer way and we kept trying to get to the next CP. Eventually, we ran into the RD who was cleaning and was stuffing the CP in his pack when we found him.  

We punched and then rode out of the woods. We were smoked and had hoped to find a shortcut back to the CAP base but in the end we had to ride up and over Hawk Mountain again. It was a great moment when all three of us pedaled to the top and then bombed down a 3 mile descent at over 40mph!  We arrived at the finish line after 14 hrs. 30 mins of racing….bloody, thirsty and exhausted. We figured we were in last place so we cracked a beer and tried to wrap our heads around what happened during the race. While we were doing so we were called up by the race organizers and found that we had placed 2nd in our division!! Through a technicality, we were only one of two teams to make it back to the CAP base without needing a ride! We certainly learned a lot about ourselves and our team dynamic that day and we’re all looking forward to Nationals!