15 June 2017

Team Commie Bar at the Nomad and other Race Updates......

Hard keeping up with this team!!  We race more than any adventure racing team in the U.S.

Some quick updates:
 *  Honorary Commie Killer Roy Harris knocked off the Georgia Death Race.  Dan Bait Schaeffer also gave it his all but was unable to finish.
*  DJ Angelone and Amber Clites (prior to her accident) finished in 2nd place coed at the Brake The Habit.  Great job for these guys.

*  We published earlier the finish for the boys at the 4 day Breakdown.  Jon Gamm, Scott Mead and Ken Batten knocked this off and finished in 1st place for 3 person all male.

*  DJ Angelone and Bruce Koa (also from GOALS but racing as a Commie boy) finished the Shenandoah Epic 24hr.  Amber Clites was scheduled to race this but was recovering from her accident.

*  Our very own French Commie destructor in France Guillaume Callais finished Raid in France for something like the 98th time (just kidding).

*  Val Hardin and Mark Bolyard cranked out the Blue Ridge
Adventure Race and finished in 2nd place Coed and 9th overall.  Murder it....

P.S.  With Primal Quest being deferred to next year Team Commie Bar has a slot at the World Championships and we are seeking a male or female for the race.....  Send a note to tcopley@theadventurespectrum.com for more info!!!!

P.S.S.  Summit Adventure Racing and Team Commie Bar is also the sponsor of Time Station 47 for Race Across Amerca (RAAM), the toughest bicycle race in the world.  If you're in the area and in the epicenter of adventure sports, Deep Creek Lake, MD, over the next couple weeks come see us at the time station across the street from High Mountain Sports......

Thanks to all our athletes and all the great race directors making this sport happen.....  By the way I'm living in Amsterdam now and looking to get some races going over here in Europe.....

Also a big thanks for the partnerships and sponsorships with the great companies out there supporting the racing world.

And here's the race report from the Nomad 48hr race in Colorado Springs CO.  Jon Gamm and Chris Fenlon McDonald ripped it up and finished 8th out of 15 teams....  Race report below.

NOMAD 48 hour AR in Colorado Spring, CO.  Commie Bar Team Jon Gamm and Chris Fenlon-MacDonald. Overall finish 8th out of 15 teams.

Looking at the website for this event it seemed pretty mild - start with some guided white-water rafting, a medium long bike, medium trek, and a short bike to the finish.  In fact, the total mileage for this race was around 150, the total climbing not sure but the word 'lots' comes to mind, and the suck factor -- well that was right up there with the best of them.

It all started quite entertainingly with a prologue the night before the race start at Cave of the Winds - a tourist destination with guided cave tours and amusements.  Teams were given two challenges and an optional 'excursion' to determine the rafting teams for the next day.  Challenge one was a rope obstacle course (suspended over a 200 foot drop-off). Challenge two a scavenger hunt in the caves (Chris was 'the man' on this - crawling and slicing up his hand in the process of finding one of the points).  The optional excursion, though, was the real sphincter puckerer.  It was a 'ride' that placed the two of us on an open seat with shoulder straps to hold us in.  It started by pulling away the platform underneath and then turning the chair face-down to stare into a 600 foot canyon below -- dangling there just long enough to make you start wondering if the teenager who belted you in gets enough training and pay to really care -- then drops you bungee-cord like into the canyon where you swing back and forth until the ride reels you back up.  Folks, I was a Jump Master in the Army - I've hung outside aircraft doors at over 1000 ft - but this 'ride' made me squeal.

Next morning we did indeed start with a guided white water raft section on the Arkansas River - about 40 miles of Class III and IV rafting that ended with a hellacious trip through Royal Gorge -- one of the roughest (and funnest) sections of white-water in Colorado.  We got HAMMERED several times, had three folks get knocked out of the boats, but never flipped and generally made it through unscathed.  It was actually a lot more physically demanding than I thought, though, as we paddled hard during the flat sections and the Class IV paddling was all out exertion.  The the whole trip was timed for the race and Commie Bar came out 4th at that point after a mystery event at the end that involved panning for gold (thankfully they had some locals there who showed us how to do this ... it is not easy!).  After the raft we ditched the wet clothes and headed to the TA for the first bike section in Canon City.

We blew through the first TA and got started on the bike by heading to a local MTB park to get a few points which we grabbed easily and then headed north of Canon City to another MTB park.  This one was a bit tougher with far more challenging single-track and climbing, but we still made good time and got all the points.  On the way out of the park we encountered a local with a bit of an attitude issue after Chris almost ran over him -- a Prairie rattlesnake right in the middle of the trail!  Normally you toss a couple rocks at them and they slither away, but this one stayed put and never took its eye off of us.  Unfortunately the terrain was such that we really had no choice but to sneak past it -- so after a few more rock tosses and lot of cussing we put the bikes between us and it and made off.  In Colorado this is not a terribly uncommon thing to happen, but Chris had never seen one before -- he won't forget it!

Now the ride was just another 20 miles up a paved and dirt road to Cripple Creek - no sweat except the climb was about 4000 feet!  Cripple Creek sits at 9400 feet and man we felt every bit of that elevation as we got closer.  The last 5 miles the road gets really steep and we spent more time pushing than pedaling.  The speaker and tunes helped out as we finally saw the lights of this old Western town come into view.  In town there were a few 'cultural' points to get like an old Jail, a defunct (damn!) brothel, and a real casino where we had to play a dollar on a slot machine to get the point (we both came up nothing but Bars - but I heard a few teams made a little money - probably just as well because if we had hit the jackpot we were NOT going to finish that race!).  Another TA followed where we lingered a bit longer to rest and eat some 'real' food - then into the night on the bike for another 12 miles to the trek transition.  The bike continued to go up hill another 1000 feet - man oh man - before dropping the same distance to the drop-off point in Pikes Peak National Forest.

So we dropped our bikes and continued on foot for the last 'long'section of the race.  We had plotted a route to get to 3 of the more out-of-the way points that dead-ended in a steep boulder-strewn re-entrant that we decided was not worth the effort, so we found a new route and then decided to grab a bit of sleep before tackling it.  It was almost morning by then and temperatures had dropped to near freezing so we pulled out the bivvy's and slept about an hour before continuing on in the morning sun.  The new route was fast and straight-forward, and we got the first two points before heading for the third, which was on top of a 12,000 foot mountain.  Just as we started plodding up, black clouds rolled in and covered the area, making us think twice about continuing up to an exposed peak.  We decided to forego the point for safety reasons, and likely that was a good choice as we got hail during the descent.  Better safe than sorry when it comes to the high elevations - but still sucked as up to that point we were on track to clear the course.

Continuing on the trek we observed an interesting thing -- the area we passed through had somehow been chosen as an impromptu shooting range.  We must have passed a half dozen people firing rifles, shotguns and pistols into the trees from just off the dirt road we traveled.  From the amount of ammo brass and broken skeets we saw this was a common practice.  Just another little bit of spice for the journey to keep us on our toes.  I guess we were in no danger of ISIS anyway (although one guy did have a beard ...).

So we kept picking up points and up to about 5 pm Day Two we had every one except the 12k peak.  Most of these were off or close to trails -- but the last two were a different story.  The only way to get those and the next TA was a bushwack across a Rocky Mountain ridgeline - about 3km straight-line --  and then another 8 km on an overgrown jeep trail.  We were teamed up at this point with another 3-man group as we started what we knew would be a tough trek - but we were all thinking that we had timed it well to get there and be done before darkness.  Wishful thinking for sure.  The ridgeline was overgrown with thickets of dense scrub oak, cactus and small pines, and was knife-edged with loose rocks, scree and steep cliffs in many of the places we needed to travel.  The race organizers warned us to avoid the ridgeline after dark -- and told us to 'be careful' about the exposures.  They were right.

After some tough and foot-mashing side-hilling we made it to the last portion of the bushwack.  It was about 7pm and we were facing a very steep, very over-grown and very narrow ridge that we needed to get past to make the descent into a saddle where the next point was located.  Everyone was smoked and low or out of water.  We decided to try and contour around the peak to get to the spur on the other side that was our 'chute' to the saddle.  It seemed the path of least resistance and the fasted way to get around it before dark.  In fact it was the worst possible choice.  The side of the peak was even steeper, even more over grown, and though we fought and clawed our way a good distance, we kept getting 'cliffed out' and forced to retry at other elevations.  Finally we were stumped and it seemed the only choice we had was to climb hand over fist to the very top and try and make it out that way down to the spur/saddle.  We had been at it for over 6 hours and it started to get a little dicey again with dehydration, pitch darkness, dense thickets, loose rocks and a LOT of sheer drop-offs ahead of us.  I called the race director to verify that our new plan now had a chance of success, and they confirmed it - wishing us 'good luck' and thanking us for 'staying calm'.  Calm yes we were, but everyone was a little nervous about the situation.  This was the real 'adventure' of the race.

Chris was amazing throughout this -- he had been the chief bushwacking trail finder throughout and he continued in that vein all the way to the top, which we finally reached.  The five of us perched on a cluster of boulders at the highest point, sharing what little water the team still had left and using my new Lupine headlamp (awesome investment!) to light up as much of the low ground in front of us as possible to get an idea of our next portion of the trek.  We spotted the spur we had been looking for and began the journey downward slowly.  We got to a point where it made sense to start looking for the washed-out jeep trail and after about an hour of pushing through the thickest vegetation we had encountered yet (think of a Christmas tree farm where all of the trees were planted right on top of each other) we stumbled on the road, got the point on the saddle, then headed out for the last 8 km to the TA.  That portion went relatively smoothly compared to what we had been through - and Chris even got to experience his first few AR hallucinations along the way!  That 'Bobcat' he saw was actually a little bird on a rock -- but it was fun looking for it anyway!

We pulled into the TA at about 5am.  It took almost 12 hours to travel 11 km!  Gratefully we got some water, took a team photo, and passed around the grappa (this was my only disappointment about Chris on the whole trip - although he took the grappa his expression immediately afterward went something to the tune of 'that tasted like shite (sic)!' - che peccato).  We had until 8:30 to get back to the start and we both were excited to think we had a chance of getting the remaining 7 points that were located in another MTB park along the way.  We raced along and got the first two quickly, but the next two were harder than they looked with a lot of single-track climbing.  Still with about 40 minute to go we mulled over getting the last three which were easier, but out-of-the-way.  Being late meant losing a point for every 10 minutes though, so we booked it on in to the finish 47 hours and 30 minutes after starting.

Great race, great team mate, and a real adventure!

That's it for now.
Remember when it's 0200 somewhere on a mountain as your bushwacking you're way out the mess there's only one thing you can do:
"Take a shot and shut the fuck up"!!

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