25 October 2015

The 2016 Season: Summit Adventure Racing/Team Commie Bar

Team Commie Bar 2016......
Here we go......
We are fielding teams for the following races across the globe.  If you are interested in being a part of Summit Adventure Racing/Team Commie Bar send a note to me at TCOPESWORLD@GMAIL.COM.

3-6 March - Sea to Sea 72hours Across Florida
Jon Gamm captaining the team on this early season epic
Seeking 1 racer for the roster
2 April - Crooked Compass 8hr Race
Rootstock Racing near Philly.
Seeking 2-3 Racers for the roster

9 April - Big Bear 50 - 8 Hr Race
Todd Copley captaining the team on this great course near Deep Creek Lake.
Seeking 1-2 racers for the roster

2-9 April - Scott Mead of Team Commie Bar will be racing in GodZone8 day race in New Zealand
Team Complete

16-17 April - Rev3 Shenandoah Epic 24hrs
Shenandoah Mountains
Todd Copley to captain and looking to field a 3 person all male squad.  
Seeking 1-3 racers and possible co-ed team

29 April - Get Stoked Rogaine 6hr/12hr or 24hr Orienteering Race
Stokesville, VA
Seeking 3 racers for the roster

30 April - Yellow Creek Extreme 10hr Race
Penn Run, PA  
J.j Potasiewicz to captain this team.  Open to either co-ed or 3 man all male.
Seeking 1-2 Racers for the roster

1 May - GOALS Savage 6hr Adventure Race
Seeking 2-3 racers for the roster

4-8 June - Corsica Adventure 5 day Race
The Island of Corsica, France
Todd Copley to Captain and seeking international teammates.
Seeking 2-3 racers for the roster

4-5 June - GOALS Cradle of Liberty 20hr Adventure Race
Seeking 2-3 Teammates for the Roster

10-12 June:  Nomad 48Hour Race in Colorado
Jon Gamm to Captain and seeking to field a 3 man all male.
Seeking two teammates for the roster

11 June - Laurel Highlands 50K Ultra Run
Ohiopyle, PA
J.j Potasiewicz running as a Commie Bar.
Team Complete

25 June - Garrett County Gran Fondo Ultra Cycling Event
Deep Creek Lake, MD
Todd Copley training ride for Summit AR
Team Complete

1-3 July:  Happy Mutant 72hour Race
Lynchburg VA
Seeking 3 all male teammates for the roster

14-16 July:  Cowboy Tough 3day Stage Race
Jon Gamm to Captain Team Commie Bar in this classic event over 3 days......  you better like paddling!!

17-23 July:  TransAlp MTB Stage Race
7 day race in the Alps
Todd Copley to wear Team Commie Bar Colors
Seeking 1 teammate for the roster

6 August - GOALS Krista 12hour Adventure Race
Seeking 3 teammates for the roster

7 August - Xterra Appalachia Off Road Triathlon
Penn Run, PA
J.j Potasiewicz in Summit AR colors
Team Complete

13 August:  Leadville 100mile MTB
Submitting for lottery.  Tentative
Team Complete

22-28 August:  Raid in France
The epitome of adventure racing....  Guillaume Calais from Team Commie Bar to lead this World Series race.
Accepting applications for this World Series Race

3 September - The Grand Traverse MTB/Run from Crested Butte to Aspen, CO
Jon Gamm to lead Commie Bar
Team Complete

10-11 September:  Scotland Coast to Coast
Todd Copley to lead the epic race across Scotland
Team Complete
10-11 September:  Deep Creek 30hour Adventure Race
30hours of running around Garrett County, MD at Deep Creek Lake...
Seeking 3 teammates for the roster

16-18 September - 2016 NAARS Championship 30hr Race
Sierra Mountains, California
Seeking 3 teammates for the roster

7-9 October:  USARA National Championships of Adventure Racing
Deep in Georgia....
Accepting applications for entry for 3 person all male

21 October 2015

Summit Adventure Racing/Team Commie Bar 2015 Quick Recap

Hello from the epicenter of adventure sports: Deep Creek Lake, MD!!

This is just a quick recap of Summit Adventure Racing and Team Commie Bar for 2015.  We had an amazing year in 2015 as we took on our 1st expedition race and an Adventure Racing World Series Race: Raid in France. The prep for that race (and all the logistics were incredible). Wanted to extend an amazing thanks and congratulations to Guillaume Calais, Jon Gamm and Kim Owens for their accomplishment and also for their team support and friendship. It truly was an amazing experience.

If you haven't read the race report head to Raid in France Race Report or you can also see the video promo at Team Commie Bar at Raid in France Video

Some quick 2015 Highlights

18 April- Rev 3 Shenandoah Epic 24 hour -
Kim and Todd racing 2 person.  That was a practice race for Raid in France. Kim and Todd took 2nd place in 2 person coed.

 25 April - JJ Potasiewicz and Heidi Snyder represented the Commie Killers at the Yellow Creek Extreme 10 hour race and took 1st place in 2 person coed

22 May - Equinox Traverse 48hour - Todd/Jon/Kim and Scott Mead as another Raid in France practice race. This was our first foray into 4 person coed racing.

 6-7 June - High Sierra All Out 24hr Race - Jon and Scott wore Summit Colors in this race out west. They were forced to abandon because of the cut off times in a race that wasn't very well organized.

25 July - Todd completes MountainMan Trail Ultra 50K in the Alps of Switzerland.  MountainMan is ranked as on of the top 20 endurance events in the world.

1 August - Krista 12hour race - Dan/Bait, Chris Farrell and New commie bar teammate Pete Bond raced to a 2nd place finish in 3 person male. This qualified the team for USARA Nationals.

 16-20 Sept - Raid in FRance - Todd/Jon/Guillaume and Kim finish epic 4 night/4 day race in the pre alps of France. Read the race report.

18-19 September - NAARS Championship - Dan/Bait Schaefer races solo!!

 What a YEAR!!!!

11 October 2015

End of Season Deals on Extra Gear from Team Commie Bar. Most stuff BRAND NEW AND AT GREAT PRICES

clearing out the gear bins. I have the following for sale or best offers. 1. Two COMPLETE sets of Bright Eyes 1200 lumen bike bar or helmet lights. These things are BRIGHT!! They are also brand new and never used. $100 bucks for both sets or $50 bucks for one set. 2. One set of CycleBeam Graphene 700 bar or helmet lights. 700 lumen with external batteries. Brand new never used - $50. 3. Giro Savant bike helmet/used twice for $40. 4. Specialized Propero bike helmet - used for $20 bucks. 5. Camelbak Ultra 10 running ultra light backpack. 10 litres for long trail runs. Brand new/Never Used. Was a promo pack. Retails for $150 new. $125 or best offer 6. Petzl Shunt climbing device – brand new. $75 7. Petzl Figure 8 belay device - $15 8. Numerous spare tubes – Mostly 27.5inch x 1.75/2.5. 5 bucks each 9. Nitecore Intelli Lithium battery charger. Two sets. Brand new. $10 bucks each. All for pick up in Deep Creek, MD or I’ll consider mailing them for supplementary postage.

Send email to TCOPESWORLD@gmail.com for inquiries/bids.

01 October 2015

Team Commie Bar at the NAARS U.S. Championships

Race Report by Dan "Bait" Schaefer

18-19 September - North American Adventure Racing Championship, Raystown, PA bait
Being a member of Team Commie Bar has proven to be a real source of pride for me. When I showed up at the North American Adventure Racing Championship as a solo racer, the other racers (who are really, really good) asked me questions like, “Are you racing solo because your teammates (TCOPE and company) are racing in Europe?” I felt like I was the real deal. Imagine how I felt to be part of a team that was racing on two continents at the same time! Another racer whom I really like and respect told me that racing a 30 hour championship as a solo racer was “bold”. I appreciated her word choice and held onto that theme as the race progressed. Adventure racing in complicated. There are lots of pre-race e-mails and instructions. This race was no different—we had to drop our bikes at a bike shop in a town 30 miles from the start line on Thursday night by 6pm. From there the bikes would be transported to an unknown location that we would later find. After dropping our bikes off, we drove an hour to the race HQ and received our maps and passports/rules of travel. The two main maps were 1:24,000 USGS topos with UTM grid overlays. Each map covered 500km². In addition to the big maps, over the course of the race we would receive 5 additional maps. The checkpoints were pre-plotted (I was really thankful for that) but not all the points were on each map. For such a big race the rules were really simple: there were only 20 mandatory checkpoints (leaving 49 optional points), and you weren’t allowed to use any motorized transport or GPS. We rented a cabin near race HQ and Jill and I worked on route planning all night and got to bed around midnight. I was a little nervous to be doing this race alone, and that night I prayed and said. God, I’m putting all my trust in You.

I was up at 0400 and took a nice hot shower, ate my cheerios and greek yogurt like I do every morning, and headed to the start area. Another distinguishing trait of adventure racing is that races are unsupported. Usually you leave a gear bin at a central transition area and retrieve food, water and gear as you progress through the stages of the race. This race did not have a central TA so we were allowed to pack a gear bin and transport it in our canoe. At 0500 I loaded a ton of gear into a really big gear bin and boarded a tour bus for an 1 ½ hour bus ride to where we would start the race. Because the course was so large, the race directors decided to add two hours to the clock to give us enough time to make it back the finish line. Once we were off the bus, we all received the first bonus map of the Stone Creek Recreation Area and it was time to go.

This first section was a foot orienteering course in. A word about the terrain—this area is a very rugged part of the state and is part of the Appalachians. Lots of wilderness and lots of rugged, rocky mountains. My strategy at the start was to grab a couple points in the into get a good lead on the pack. I skipped 3 of the 5 points but blew my lead when I missed a CP—I lost an hour looking for a point that I should have never even bothered looking for in the first place. I was able to make up some time and ran about 7k to the bike drop. From there we rode hill logging and back country roads for 16k to a manned CP where we had to drop our bikes. It was getting really hot and the biking was harder than I anticipated. This next section was a mandatory foot orienteering course. I received another map and hit the trail. I nailed the first 3 points with ease and at the 4th point I was met by a race volunteer who told me to drop my pack and get my headlamp. I looked at her quizzically and she pointed to a big door in a cliff and said “you’re going into that cave!” Awesome!! I entered the cave and it was so cool and dark it felt great.

There were lights and it’s one of those tourist trap places but it was fun. I had to find a container of rubber salamanders and bring one to the volunteer. I checked out with her and made her take my picture on her phone. Not sure why but I think I was a little euphoric. So imagine my delight when the next CP was an even bigger cavern where I had to retrieve another rubber salamander and also a rubber worm and a rubber minnow! I was in heaven although the cave maps they gave us might as well have been in Chinese. I had to ask directions from a lady who worked at the cave because I was so disoriented in there. Anyway I made it out of the cave and was met by one of the race directors. He asked me what I thought of the cave surprise and I told him it was awesome. It was almost as good as having an ice cream cone aid station.

I hit the last couple CP’s on that course and went back to my bike. Jill was there and shared an apple cider slushy with me (the CP was at an apple orchard). From there it was a 20k bike to the canoe launch. That ride was great, mostly downhill through town. At the canoe launch the race staff loaded me into a sweet 15’ single person canoe. I took the front wheel off my bike and strapped the bike in the aft half of the boat while my giant gear bin was in the front. I was all loaded up and Jill was there to give me a smooch before I hit the lake. The race staff/directors were incredibly nice and really helped me out—being a solo is tough—you’re doing the work that 3 people usually do so the transitions are a lot slower than normal, so I appreciated all they did to help me keep moving. As I was pulling away from shore, the camera crew launched their drone and they followed me for a bit. They’re lucky I didn’t have my good shotgun with me! The paddling section was beautiful the lake we were on is the largest lake in PA and was created when the Army Corps of Engineers flooded a mountain valley. The water is clean and clear and the shoreline is very rugged. There were CP’s on several islands along the way. The best CP was on a cliff on an island. I couldn’t stand up at the shoreline because the water was 30 feet deep at the shore and I had to shimmy out of the boat onto a rock ledge and get the CP. After a couple hours of paddling I hit the TA and put my bike back together.

This section was a bike orienteering course on the famed Allegrippis mountain bike trails—these are the best mountain bike trails in PA—and I was totally stoked to ride them. I nailed a bunch of bike points and rode all three levels of trails (easy, moderate, difficult) and had a great ride. I finished up the ride at dusk and got back on the canoe for more paddling. I pulled into the next TA around 2130 and Jill was waiting there. We visited a minute and I headed out onto another section of the Allegrippis but this time on foot. I opted not to ride because I wanted to play it safe since I was alone and was worried that the trails would be too technical to ride at night. I later regretted this because the trails were easy and I could have gotten more points, but I did well and nailed everything so it all worked out. Back at the TA I took a minute to plan the rest of my night and eat a cold microwaveable soup. I consistently pack way too much food—I ate less than half of what I packed—and I am getting more into eating real food instead of gels and bars. I was regimented in taking on salt stick capsule per hour and had no cramping throughout the entire race (it was 87 degrees on sat). The next sections of the race would be difficult. I had to paddle across the lake and drop off my bike. Then I had to paddle another 12k and start a foot section. Along the way I picked up a couple boat points and around 0230 I hit the wall.

I was paddling through the fog and started dreaming. I realized that it would be better to take a nap than try to fight this for the next 12 hours, so I pulled over and took a 30 minute nap in the boat. I felt a lot better and on my way to the next TA I saw 4 shooting stars. At the TA I pulled my boat out of the water, put on dry clothes and was met by race volunteers. It was like 0400 and they were handing out walking tacos. Best race meal ever (google them if you don’t know what they are). This race staff was so dedicated, they actually added the contents to the taco for us (because there was nowhere to wash our hands). They really took good care of us and then sent us on our way. This next foot section was the most remote section of the race. I spooked a turkey vulture out of it’s roost and startled a porcupine. While bushwhacking through a blueberry and scrub oak patch I almost stepped in a ten pound pile of bear crap (acorns and blueberries are a bear’s favorite snack so I was happy to have a bear bell with my. Also sang a couple hymns for good measure). I worked my way to the spot where I dropped off my bike just as the sun was coming up. There’s something miraculous about racing all night and then watching the sun come up. It’s like getting a recharge from the sun. It’s hard to describe but it’s my favorite part of a long race. I feel totally rejuvenated and refreshed. And it’s easy to navigate again! I grabbed my bike at the TA and had to push it up a rocky fire road and then I hit the trail along the lake. This trail is on the opposite side of the really good trail and I must say, it was awful. Every rock was loose and there were tons of down trees. It took forever but I was able to hit a couple more CP’s along the way. I made my way back toward the canoe but had to do another foot orienteering course fist. This was a 5k course in a really beautiful gorge that had cool rock features. Everything was easy to find and it only took 45 minutes. I got on my canoe at 1130. I was 30 minutes ahead of schedule and had 3 ½ hours to paddle the final 12k.

Everything was going well until I entered the main body of the lake. It’s an unlimited horsepower lake on a beautiful Saturday and every A-hole with a speed boat was out. I really think some of them intentionally tried to swamp me. Little did they know that I fear no wave and am actually a pretty good big water paddler. It might have been the fact that I’d been awake and racing for 36 hours but I dared them to swamp me. I yelled at them over the roar of their small block Chevy inboards to come get me. I even had a fisherman try to tangle me in his trolling spread. 2 ½ hours of white knuckled shit talking paddling later I passed under a bridge and saw the finish line. I don’t think it was a runner’s high but I was pretty euphoric again and Jill was waiting on the shoreline for me. I carried all my gear to the finish line and all the elite teams were there, clapping and cheering me on (a lot of them gave me words of encouragement throughout the night). I set my stuff down and the organizer of the whole race series ran over and gave me my finisher’s award and took my picture. He’s a super cool guy and buddies with TCOPE.

After that I took a cat bath in the bathroom nearby and hung out in the race director’s cabin with all the volunteers drinking beer until the awards ceremony and post race dinner. I felt like a rockstar coming in second place in the solo division and got some cool swag from the gear table. But better than that I connected with some super cool people at the race and dinner. This race was a real moment for me. I was humbled by the respect the elite racers gave me—most said they could never do a solo race. My wife was awesome and kept me going when I would see her at TA’s. And I did put my trust in the Lord—there were two bear sightings by other teams in the that blueberry area. It was an amazing experience and I can’t wait to do another race like this in the future. This is something I never would have done if it weren’t for you guys and the KTC family. I mean that. -Bait

30 September 2015

Team Commie Bar at Raid in France Promo video

This is the promo video from Team Commie Bar at Raid in France 2015.....

Credits:  Music by the band Ceremony (Nothing In The Sun).  All the rights to this music belong to Ceremony and we hope they continue to let us use this in our video!

23 September 2015

Raid in France World Series of Adventure Racing Report September 2015

Raid in France Race Report

Well this was it…..  One year in the planning and training that would lead up to racing at the World Cup level in a foreign country with the very best of adventure racing teams…..
This goal was formulated back after the National Championships last year and Summit Adventure Racing/Team Commie Bar was able to put together a world class team that could commit to an endeavor of this magnitude.  Not only the physical training but the time and money commitment needed to get this done.  I could talk all day about the year of training and prep but let’s begin as we move enroute to France…..

The Team
Team Commie Bar team consists of numerous athletes from around the U.S..  The 2015 World Cup Team consisted of:

Todd Copley/Team Captain from Deep Creek Lake, MD

Todd Copley has been adventure racing for over 20 years and was a former U.S. Army Special Operations Commander.  Although he has completed numerous expedition races many years ago this will be a new challenge for 2015 as he turns 53 years old.  Todd is also the coach of the U.S. Collegiate Adventure Racing National Champions and helped host the U.S. National Championships in his home of Deep Creek 
Lake, MD.

Jon Gamm from Denver, CO
Jon Gamm is an ex-Army officer as well and has competed in adventure races up to 48 hours in length.  Jon is a Colorado ranked competitor in X-Terra and two time finisher of the Pike’s Peak Marathon and the Panama City Full Ironman.  Jon also has experience in ultra running while under the influence of alcohol.

Guillaume Calais - Lyon Rhone Alpes - St. Victor sur Rhins
Guillaume Callais probably brings the most expedition style racing experience to the team.  He’s finished Raid in France 4 times and competed at the World Championships.  We are counting on him to add great value to the team and his knowledge of France and the region.  Guillaume's English is pretty good but he can't understand Jon's jokes and Kim talks to fast for him!

Kimberly Owens from Grand Rapids Michigan is a remarkable endurance athlete and competes primarily in ultra running.  She’s completed numerous 50K plus trail running events and has a great background in adventure racing.  This year she completed the 70 mile Laurel Highlands trail run and also the Trans Rockies stage race covering over 120 miles.

The Race
The race itself would be a 4 day/4 night race beginning on Tuesday night September 15 at midnight and ending on Saturday, September 20 at 6:30pm. 
We had 94 hours to be on course…..

Past the 24hour racing point, this style of racing is called Expedition Racing.  We would have to carry EVERYTHING needed to survive for 4+ days in the most remote wilderness in the region of L’Ain and the pre-alp mountains.  The packlist consisted of individual gear including tents and sleeping bags and also mountain bike gear, climbing gear, kayaking gear, canyoning gear and all of our food and provisions.  We had budgeted around $2,000 in gear purchases for the race.  Ever heard of a kayak trolley?  We needed one.  How about a World Series approved bike box?  We needed 4.  Every time I turned around I was spending 200 bucks.  My wife thought I was a shareholder in Amazon.com….

The race would take place in a little known area of France called the Haut Bugey of the department of L’Ain.  Coincidently I knew this region fairly well after having lived for 9 years in the L’Ain near Lyon.  It is really wild and steep and savage.  Perfect for adventure racing. 

The race was a qualifier for the World Championships and part of the World Cup/Series of Adventure Racing. 

A teaser for the 2015 race is here:

Raid in France 2015 Teaser

The Logistics
The team flew into Lyon, France leaving the U.S. on Friday 11 September and arriving Saturday 12 September.  Guillaume, our French teammate, picked us up at the airport and we went to his house to begin the 4 day preparation for the race to include gear packing and layouts and inspections.  We rebuilt our bikes there and got all our gear together.  His house and family is in a beautiful area of the Lyonnais Mountains and we enjoyed the French family touch with his wife and 3 children. 

On Monday we packed up and moved about 3 hours by car to race headquarters.  On that day we stopped at the gear store and spent more money and also the grocery store to load up on food. 
For the trip I had packed my bike in a pro bike case weighing 70 pounds.  I also had two more bags with all my gear weighing 50 pounds each.  Plus carry on to the max.  Over 170 pounds on the airplane. 

On site we spent the afternoon going through mandatory gear checks and inspections.  We had to go through ropes certification and bike disassembly reviews. 

The next day on Tuesday we spent finalizing the gear and packing the gear bins.  We would have our individual bike boxes that could weigh 28 kilos, a team climbing bin, two team kayak bags, a team wetsuit bag and a huge barrel gear bin that could weigh 44 kilos.  We stuffed them with extra clothes, food and other stuff. 
There was an opening ceremony that night and race dinner but we were so stressed out getting the final preps one we barely made any of these.

After all that we headed back to the hotel and grabbed two hours of sleep and got up at 1100pm to head back for the midnight start. 

Right at midnight as we were lined up it started raining……….  It would not stop for 72 hours. 

The Race Sections and Transitions
Prologue:  3km
This ended up being much more than 3km and we spent 1.5 hours on it.

Section A:
Trekking:  30km/20 miles
This was a very long foot movement through the rugged terrain of L’Ain.  We hit every point except B6 and we spent approximately 4 hours looking for it knowing we needed it to be classified.  At the end we still didn’t find it like some other teams and we missed the cutoff for the Section B

Section B:  Stand Up Paddleboard:  2km
Team Commie Bar was shortcoursed around this and the Section C short trek to the 1st MTB Section

Section C:  Trek 2:  4km/2.5 miles

Section D:  MTB 1
After having missed the SUP and the short trek to the Transition area we saddled up and got on the bikes just about dusk on Wednesday/Night 2.
We would be on the bikes well into the next day.  The rain broke for a short period of time and we slept for 3 hours on the side of a mountain.  We had been up for over 40 hours.  As the rain recommenced we woke up and saddled up and hit the trail.  The trails at this point were turning to mud soup and very difficult to ride.
At the end of the section we needed to warm up as we were all suffering greatly.  Kim was extremely cold so we made our way to a small village to try and find a warm place to get some food and coffee. 
We found out that due to the weather the kayak portion had been cancelled at this point.  The team and other racers were then transported to the kayak take out point 40kilometers down river where we would begin MTB 2

Section E:  Kayak:  40km/25 miles
Cancelled due to weather

Section F:  MTB 2:  17km/12 miles
This was extremely hilly and muddy as we picked our way across the vineyards and fields fjording many streams along the way.  We had a massive climb up to the mouth of a very large canyon where the canyoning section was to be staged.  We got there and our climbing boxes were there with wetsuits but again the weather was dominating and the section was just too dangerous to be undertaken.  Section G Canyoning was cancelled and again we were left to remount our bikes.

Section G:  Canyoning:  2km
Cancelled due to weather

Section H:  MTB 3:  18km/12 miles
From the Canyoning section we had to pack our climbing gear in our packs as we moved to the next section.  In already heavy packs the load of additional climbing gear was really felt.  This movement was a disaster.  The trails were now obliterated and we could barely ride.  The last 5kilometers down to the river followed a steep draw that was basically a mud river.  See the videos posted to get a feel for how it was to push your bike through 3 feet of mud for 6 hours.
At the bottom we literally through our bikes in the river to try and get the mud and leaves off them.  We found drinking water in a small town and it was around 11pm as we then tried to find the trail to the transition area.  All the trails now were underwater as the river had overflowed its banks.  Staying dry was impossible and again the cold set in as the night temperatures dropped to 5 celsius/40 degrees Farenheit.  We finally limped into the transition area and were surprised to hear that the climbing section was still a go. 
We tore down our bikes and loaded them in the bike cases and put on our trekking gear and harnesses.  We left the TA at 1:30am on Thursday.  

Team Commie Bar in the mud on the descent to the river on Night 3

Section I:  Trek 3 and Ropes:  5km
The estimated distances were turning out to be extremely off.  The trek began with a murder climb that would not stop on 50 degree slopes of scree and rock.  We first crossed a major stream using our climbing gear and clicked into a safety rope that allowed us to cross using a log in the water.  That led through a cave and upwards we went.  For every 2 steps forward we slid one back on the mud and loose rock.  Kim was having a very rough go of it and we were all scared of falling and not being able to stop.  Finally after what seemed a lifetime we made it to a point where we had to cross across a waterfall area just below the falls.  The water was raging and there was supposed to be a guide there to help us.  There was no one!  We waited for close to 2 hours knowing that there was no way we could descend the treacherous climb we just came up.  Guillaume climbed further looking for a way out but the cliffs stopped him.  
We would have to cross the waterfall just to get out of here.  During this time while we waited on the guides we pulled out the emergency blankets and tried to keep warm.  Jon had some grappa in his pack and we all took a couple pulls on the bottle to try and stay warm.  Finally the guides arrived!!  We crossed the waterfall area by hooking into a fixed line and stepping in the raging water hoping your foot would catch on a rock and you would stay upright.  After the stream we had another very long climb upward climbing via ferratta style and hooking into a rope system that would prevent a disaster fall should we stumble.  Finally at the top we were given the proper climbing gear for a real via ferratta and we began our journey on the face of a wall high above the valley.  By this time it was 4am or so and I was not looking forward to this part of the race.  The via ferratta (see the video) was a steel cable system bolted into the sheer wall of rock that we would navigate using foot and hand pegs.  The one thing in our favor was it was pitch dark and you actually could not see how high you were dangling on nothing but a foot peg.  The entire traverse took about 1.5 hours and it was white knuckle all the way.  I was emotionally and physically drained.  So was the team.  On the last pitch/climb out we could not shimmy through the narrow rock slit and had to secure our packs into the wall and then hang on the sheer cliff as we pulled the packs out using a rope system.  Tensions ran high as we all wanted to be off the wall.  As we all resurfaced from the via ferratta we were spent.  From there we moved into another trekking movement and we were the walking dead.  As we neared the valley floor we had to strap Guillaume to Jon and give him some trekking poles as he was falling asleep with every step.  We nailed the final points and made our way back to the transition area  where we would be forced by the organization to go into a dark room and sleep for 3 hours before continuing.   

When we hit the Transition area it was 1000am on Thursday.  We had been up for 51 hours with 3 hours of sleep.

Team Commie Bar on the ropes and via ferratta at 0300 on Night 3

Main RACE Transition Area:
When we got here we first had to drop our gear.  Then we all grabbed some food out of our gear bins and were led to a room in a big gym.  Once entering the room we could not leave for 3 hours.  We all climbed into our sleeping bags and fell immediately to sleep.  After 3 hours we were awakened and moved back outside to build our bikes.  Coming into the transition area we had missed the cut off to continue on the regular course so leaving this transition we would begin on mountain bike for a modified Section N.  We missed sections J,K, L, and M.  One of these sections was an old fashioned boat on the river that I had been looking forward to.  So again on bikes.

Section N alternate:  MTB 5
From the sleep transition we hooked up with a French team that had been shortcoursed as well.  They were a nice group and we hit it off with them as we moved into the mtb section.  This was a beautiful section that took us across the ski areas of the Haut Bugey.  Section O/Kayak had again been cancelled so now we were trying to pick up points and complete the sections to remain classified in the race. 
When we hit this transition area they had a roaring fire going!!  We all huddled around the fire to make our plans for the final night of racing.  We desparately needed some sleep and knowing we would still be classified if we made the final cut off time at the finish by 6:30 on Saturday we decided to make use of the time we had to get some real sleep.  We laid out the tents and sleeping bags and crawled in.  We had planned on about 5 hours of sleep but did not count on the extreme cold.  I shivered all night in our little lightweight sleeping bags and miserable little tents.  Although we were down for 5 hours I know I had no more than 2 hours of sleep.  We awoke at 6am for the final push to the finish.  We had 12 hours to make it and although it looked that was certainly doable you never know in adventure racing. 

Team Commie Bar descends to the river through the mud and scree on Night 3 

Section O:  Kayak

Section P/MTB 6
We put together a plan that would take us over the Col de la Biche mountain pass and get a point there then down, down, down into the valley through a series of small towns.  As we took off on bikes it was cold and we were still shivering.  Kim was extremely cold and was finding it hard to maintain the pace.  We were still moving with the French team and we had to keep up.  Finally she got into the swing and at the bottom of the valley in a small town we found they were having what could only be termed a church bake sale!!!  They had hot pizzas and sugar cake and water and wine!!  We stopped and had pizza and a glass of rose! 
Spirits returned as we knew we had to climb the long Col de la Lebe.  It started raining again as well.
At the top of the climb we hit a point then began a long road movement towards the finish.  Just about 5k from the finish we diverted off on a trail climb to get a point on a ridgeline and then to a hike a bike section to a final point before descending to the finish.  The hike a bike was so hard they only allowed teams to be on it spaced by 5 minutes.  Believe me I wasn’t in a mood to go through more suffering knowing we were only 5k from the finish but…….
We made it up and over the mountain.

The Finish:
As we cruised down towards the town of Hauteville Lompnes it was great to reflect on the race.  A team of 4 people had completed a 4 day/4night expedition race in the heart of France.  I was happy and tired. 
The only mountain bike crash I had the entire race happened on the road about 1k from the finish when I hit a curb and went over the handlebars.  At the finish we were greeted by hundreds of the townspeople and volunteers and sprayed with champagne as we crossed the line. 
We had raced a total of 87 hours straight.  We had been up for over 108 hours with only 10 hours of sleep or so....

Team Commie Bar navigates the flooded trails


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