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!!