14 October 2012

More National Championships - Race Recap

2012 National Championships

I drove back from Boston on the Wednesday night.  I was pretty much packed but looked at the weather forecast and said “oh no!!!”.  It was supposed to be no higher than 28 degrees over night.  That would be cold.  I added some gear and Thursday morning took off for Kerhonkson NY.

I pulled into Hudson Valley River Resort (HQ) about 1130.  I checked out the area and the hotel.  Race registration wasn’t until 1330 but I did learn that the bikes needed to be packed and turned in early.

I went and had some lunch then checked into the motel.  I worked on getting the bike loaded with lights/food/spare parts/ect…  I then got the gear bag packed and did a partial load of the paddle equipment.  I went to registration and met up with Chris and we checked in together.  Stephen was running late and didn’t get there till about 1730.  Chris and I continued on packing in the parking lot.  Two things had happened that were typical of Carpe Vitam team good luck.  ON the way over Chris’s truck began acting up and he had to drop it off at a garage in New Paltz and I went to pick him up.  Secondly Stephen was running late and even thirdly Chris left his gear bin in the parking lot and we went to get gas and when we got back it was GONE!!!  We were crushed.  Everything he owned was in there.  We went to the race briefing and informed the organizers.  They put out the bulletin but to no luck.  We attended the briefing and afterwards started driving to the hotel to make a list of things we needed when the phone rang.  Someone (another racer) had snagged the bin thinking it was part of their teams.  We got it back and were overjoyed.  I ended up packing my pack two times that night scared about the temperatures.  I finally thought I got it right but that pack was heavy.  Also no gear bins meant carry all your food.  Yikes…

The next morning broke very cold.  
Stephen and Chris dispute a map segment....

 We hit the hotel for a bite of breakfast then it was a bus start.  We got the maps and had two hours in the bus to plan the first segment which was a paddle.  When we got there it had started raining.  It was upper 30s and cold.  They briefed the segment and said the race teams could split up to get  points.  We planned several new attacks based on this.  Stephen and I dropped off Chris at an OP and went to get another in canoe.  By now the winds had picked  up and the lake was like Hawaii 05 with 3 foot waves.  It was like a white water rafting trip in a canoe.  We picked up Chris again and redid this leapfrog attack for several points before heading into the transition area.  We were all soaked and freezing.  I mean really freezing.  We all changed clothes out of the paddle bag and then started off on bikes.  

 I had forgotten to check out so had to go back about a ¼ mile to check out.  We started the King of the Mountain portion of the bike ride.  It climbed up Middle mountain.  My feet were like blocks of ice and my hands not far off.  We climbed and climbed.  With even the exercise I was still cold.  ON the way up it started snowing.  Fantastic.   
Stephen nails a point...

At the top we had a long down hill on the road that further speeded the hypothermia!  After the climb up Middle mountain it was a 20 mile slog to CP 3 where we could hit the optional points.  We started picking off about 3 points and thought about going further but knew we should keep moving.  We planned to hit the CP4 before dark so we didn’t have to rig lights on the bike just yet.  Our plan went well.  Except coming down one of the last descents I took a nasty header over the handlebars and crashed my head into a rock.  Thank god for helmets.  I was a bit dazed but saddled back up and continued.

We hit the Checkpoint at dark and there was a fire there albeit very small.  Not very good.  This segment was optional points on foot.  We grabbed the map and headed out to find two points.  The first was easy and the second we spent way too much time on.  I was FREEZING and pulled on EVERYTHING I had in my pack to keep me warm.  Finally we nailed it and made out way back to the CP.  Stephen was sick now and very slow in the transition.  Every racer goes thru ups and downs throughout the race and this was definitely a low for him.  We resaddled up the bikes and headed off. 

Supposedly on this segment there was a store/restaurant but it was now midnight and little hope it would be open. 

We kept cruising and came thru the small village.  My goodness there were lights on the building and about 30 bikes parked outside!!! 

We went in and I drank a Gatorade and a hot cup of coffee.  I had a BLT sandwich and a bag of chips.  Then a basket of French fries and contemplated ice cream. 
More importantly we got warm again for the first time since the start of the race. 
I changed some clothes and we headed out.
Chris feeling the effects of the cold....

At the next transition Stephen still wasn’t feeling well.  I had been navigating since the start of the race and was burned out and Stephen was going to take over but he was feeling really bad and couldn’t concentrate.  I took the map back.  Right now it was 0430 and we had ridden all night.  We had about 9 miles to go on the trekking portion and then about a 2 mile ride to another transition area where we had to make a cut off by 1000 hrs in the morning.  I was a bit concerned on the time.  Out of the transition area I pushed the pace.  Stephen felt like shit and I forged a bit ahead to get a move on the checkpoint in case we had problems finding it.  We got down to this area and had to do a major stream crossing.  

 I found an old tree that had fallen across and we started to cross.  About half way across a branch broke I was leaning on and I nearly fell 5 feet into a pool of water.  With the temperatures below freezing that might have been the end of the race for me.  Thank goodness I balanced and stayed on the tree. 

We nailed the point and then moved off for another point that I thought would be very difficult.  We had NO TIME TO WASTE!  We started jogging with full packs for about 3 miles.  We got to the area and climbed a very significant mountain to finally hit the point.  We then bushwacked our way right down the southside and made the way to the transition are with about a half hour to spare.

They had some hot dogs on the grill there and I ate a couple.  My food and nutrition were going well based on the diner the night before and today at this CP! 
We saddled bike and I navigated a simple segment into the start of the trek.
When I looked at the map for the trek I was horrified.  It would be over 4 miles of climbing and over 2000 feet of elevation gain. 
Again thoughts of the time concerned me.  We started humping and for the first time I started feeling the length and duration of the race.  It was 0940 in the morning and I had been racing for 25+ hours.  We slowly climbed and climbed.  Chris was drinking water out of mud puddles on the way up and I was laughing my ass off.  Now the time cut off for the rappelling section loomed.  We had to get there by noon or so to get the rappel in and then ride the remaining 4 miles back to the finish and get there by 2pm.
Ready to saddle up...

Up top of the mountain we did nail two easy points.  I was still concerned by time and we hastedly made a mad dash down the mountain for the rappel station.  There were still a lot of teams out on the course doing the same thing.

When we got to the rappel section there was a bottleneck.  We had another option to skip the rappel and accept a 15 minute time penalty.  It was going to be REAL TIGHT.  I decided I’d rather control my destiny and accepted the 15 minute time penalty and headed for the bottom of the mountain and the bikes.  If not we would have had to stand in line and then try and make the cut off at 2pm. 

We basically crawled off the waterfall ledge and made our way down to punch in below the rappel.  I missed doing the rappel because it was beautiful going over an amazing waterfall.

We headed down and got on the bikes at 1pm.  We had 45 minutes to go 4 miles.  It totally depended on the elevation and the trail whether we could make it.  Thank goodness the segment started with a huge 2.5 mile descent off the mountain where we averaged over 25 miles per hour.  At this speed we could walk in the final 1.5 miles and still make it. 
We got into the resort at just about 1:30 and cruised across the finish line with time to spare….

Overall I felt pretty good the entire race except the fall on the bike and the power shortfall climbing up the final mountain on foot.  Our team finished in 6th place in the nation and I was glad to have participated.

United States Adventure Racing National Championship.....

Two quick videos from the mountain bike riding.....  Both day and night.