13 May 2016

Team Commie Bar/Summit AR to the Blue Ridge 24 Hour Adventure Race 21 May

Team Commie Bar tackles the next in the 2016 series of ultra endurance and adventure racing circuits at the 24 hour Blue Ridge Adventure Race in Blue Ridge Georgia on 21 May.  Heading up the team will be Mark Bolyard and Val Hardin
Mark Bolyard....  destroyer...
Val Hardin
Both racers recently completed the Shenandoah Epic 26 hour race in April.

Check out the website for the race here:  Blue Ridge 24 hour Adventure Race

You can check out a trailer video for the race here:

04 May 2016



80 degrees and sunny.  That was the weather report a week before.  But as we got closer to race day, the temperature (and rain forecast) seemed to suggest otherwise.  When I checked the GOALS website the night before to confirm our gear, they reminded me why this is called adventure racing and not a “tough” mudder.  Of course the race was still on, “just wear long pants and long shirt,” they recommended.  No sweat, we did the NYARA Shag a few years ago during a hurricane after all, so this seemed relatively easy.

When I joined TCB, I had two goals: 1) take my skills to the next level and 2) race a 24-hour event. After racing with Bait in the inaugural Crooked Compass, he helped me with goal 1 by introducing me to “pace counting” that I immediately practiced back home.  My neighbors must have thought me odder than normal when I busted out a tape measure in my front lawn and proceeded to walk/run multiple times back and forth while diligently taking notes.

This was easily our 6th Savage, so we knew what to expect.  But Hibernia?  How can you roll 20 miles in that park.  Team meeting, 1030.  Mark and Becca, the race directors, explained how.  This, of course, in 40 something degree heavy drizzle as all teams huddled together for warmth under the pavilion.

Basically, we would be split into 2 groups after the opening event.  Group 1 would do the paddle portion then the foot section. Group 2 would do the foot then the paddle.  All teams would then get on their bikes and decide which CPs to hit in the park and/or out of Hibernia and into another park.  As we perused the maps, I took the notes from my front lawn tape-measuring episode and translated the ground distance to my pace.

As luck would have it, we nabbed paddle first.  A quick jog.  Ahemm, unnecessary bushwack, led us to the canoe put in.  While I have been serving as team captain since we started this adventure racing endeavor, I was feeling some pressure to keep up with all the success that TCB has had in the last 2 months.  So a boundary line looked a little like a marked trail.  I also hoped that the President and founding member of the “Ladies Auxiliary TCB “ would be up to task given this was her first race for the season and coming off a broken back this winter.

Im not sure why, but paddle has always been one of our more consistent legs.  We purchased kayak paddles immediately after fumbling with the canoe oars during our first race 7 years ago.  Our speed, direction, and general consistency have never been better.  Bonnie navigated and we blasted past a few all male teams and kayakers.  Felt good and reaffirmed our strength on the water.  After hitting 1.5 miles, we returned to put in and received a second paddle map.  Back on the lake for another 1.5.  This time, they added a few checkpoints to hit on foot.  Bonnie took both while I drank some water and watched the drizzle.  All Paddle CPs nailed and well within our time budget.

We returned to TA, this time on trail. Next up, Foot.  We changed our wet gear as much as we could.  Jumped on our plan and hit the trail.  I remember running with Bait when he gleefully noted how accurate his pace appeared.  I recall thinking that was cool, but it didn’t actually hit me until it was my turn.  248…249…250…turn north and bushwack…wait a second, there’s the CP.  Holy crap, Pace counting rocks!!! (THANKS BAIT).

So we allocated about 2 hours for foot and hit all but 2 CPs.  Not very typical for us given that this is probably our least favorite event.  We often get it last and are exhausted by that time.  But we did well.  Navigation was solid and felt strong blowing through the course.

Back to TA.  Time for the bikes.  This would be my inaugural race with my new 29r.  Editors note, if you have not experienced the joys of a 29r, then you are missing out on life my friends.  But I digress.  Bike course was muddy.  Did I say muddy?  I mean sloppy.  Sort of like quick sand in places.  We started out on an area with wooden bridges directly on the mud.  I was trying to speed a head and read the map (note to self, get a new map holder for my bike).  The wood was extremely slippery and I took a hard fall about mid way through.  Bonnie was also huffing a bit, so I decided to walk-a-bike until we got out of the muck.

When things cleared up, the course looked completely doable on the Hibernia end of things.  There was an option to leave the park and hit some additional bike and foot CPs.  Despite overhearing that these would be “easy,” the distance to get to them didn’t seem worth the time. Instead we decided to hit everything in the park and just skip the “outside the park.”  Plan successful and returned to TA at about the 5hour 47minute mark.  Another successful finish of a 6-hour adventure race!

After changing our wet clothes, we headed to the scoring area and saw that we logged a 2nd place finish for coed 2.  My second 2nd for the season.  Steady navigation, stellar team work, the only negative is that Bonnie forgot to pack the beer!

Epilogue: Goal 2 continues to be elusive as many of the 24 hours have been reduced or omitted this year.  I’m looking forward to the Cradle next month and the Krista in August and learning some more tools and tricks on the course.  If you know of anyone looking for a 3rd or 4th on a 24, lemme know…