Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Much More Than A Race

Ok, so I know that this is really a racing and training blog for the Trek Mountain Girl, you know, that’s me. I also know that the subject I’m going to write about is not a race or any kind of training, but I think that it’s important to write this post. If you really think about this event, you will see that if it weren’t for the people that we honored today, I most likely wouldn’t have the freedom or opportunity to race any time I want to.

So here goes, today I spent a few hours taking photos of the Edwardsville High School Cheerleaders, I know, if you know me, you know I’m always doing this because my daughter China is a cheerleader, but today was the final event of an ongoing project the cheerleaders have been spending their time on.

You see, the Cheerleaders spend at least 10 hours each per season, doing some kind of community service. Just this year they helped out with the Miles for Meso 5k, which donates all its proceeds to Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation. It was a great event, and the girls were a tremendous help. So that was just the start of their community service for this season, the next project was for the veterans. The idea was to make blankets for the veterans residing in the nursing homes in the area. Once the idea was born, the girls found a way to make the project a success.

To fund this project the girls held a chicken dinner at the local moose hall, they each sold tickets to the event, took donations and also prepared desserts to sell. The girls decorated the the hall, and themselves, in a patriotic manner.

They dished out chicken, mashed potatoes and veggies to the customers, and they sold so many fabulous desserts.

They had made so many desserts that they could not sell them all, so when the dinner was over they delivered the leftovers to the area fire and police stations. The Fireman and Police force were all very grateful.

Now, they had made a very large amount of money and with that money, they bought fleece material, enough to make 24 blankets. What better way to spend an evening after practice then to have a pizza and blanket making party. So the coach, who I know has to be crazy, had about 38 girls in her house eating pizza and making blankets. I was there and I lived the craziness, I’m not sure how that coach isn’t in the insane asylum right now.

That said, they are a pretty darn good group of girls and they got to work and made some blankets. That was after checking out the coaches house and getting in her shower, where I think they broke something.

So now here we are just 3 days until Christmas and the girls are delivering blankets to veterans at the area nursing homes. Some of the veterans were very alert and happy to see them, while others were not quite with us one hundred percent.

I have to say, these crazy girls really made me proud today, they treated everyone with respect and kindness, whether the veteran really understood what was going on or not, they all made the effort to say Thank You and Merry Christmas. Although, they are still teenagers and when the residents of one of the homes were playing bingo, they all wanted to go play bingo too. We told them, that any time they wanted to come back, I’m sure that the residents would love to have them play bingo with them. I guess the cheerleader’s next project will be bingo with the elderly.

To see all the project pictures click here

Monday, December 19, 2011

Favorite Things - Gear Review

By: Robin Rongey with Chuck's Comments in Red

Every year Oprah has a favorite things show, so I thought I am the Trek Mountain Girl, and half of ROCK Racing, so why shouldn’t Chuck and I have a favorite things Post. We lean somewhat towards gear when we talk about our favorite things, but we do stray a bit. So let’s just say this is a Favorite Things – Gear Review. We hope you find this interesting and that you may even want to try some or our Favorite Things out.

Trek Top Fuel

One of my favorite mountain bikes is the Trek Top Fuel, I know that it is the age of 29er, but there is still a place in my heart for the old school 26er. My TF rides smooth, shifts so well that I hardly even here a chain click, it is super maneuverable and the front shock lockout on the handlebar is a feature I can hardly live without. It’s kind of like upgrading in a car, once you have the extra’s you never want to live without them again. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not knocking my Superfly, it has its place in my heart, but my true love will always be my Top Fuel.

Trek Superfly

So Robin still likes 26” bikes. Not me. I’m sold all the way on 29ers. And the top of the line 29er is my Trek Superfly. It is light, fast, and maneuverable. It climbs any hill I point it at. It’s tough too. All that talk about carbon frames not handling crash damage is wrong. I’ve crashed it several times and the only damage so far has been a bent hanger and a crushed rear derailer. I can ride this bike for hours and hours, it is hard to believe it can be this comfortable on top of the speed and toughness. I have only made a few mods over the year I’ve owned it. A wheel and tire upgrade and a carbon handlebar, just improving on perfection.

Ice Breaker Everything

I can’t even begin to tell you which of my Ice Breaker gear I like best. I might say the base layer, the bike shorts, the running shorts or the socks, but then I would be lying because I can’t live without the running shirt, bike jersey, hat or gloves. Still I can’t say they are all my favorite, because I wear my IB casual v-neck t-shirt every time it is clean. The Marino Wool is so soft and doesn’t itch at all, and if I were to see this gear on the street, I would not even know it was wool. This is not your old school wool, but your new high tech wool, that is warm in the winter and cool in the summer, while wicking away sweat and never feeling wet and slimy. There is nothing I would rather workout and race in than my Ice Breaker gear.

She is right on about IB. My favorites are the 200 base layer and the bike shorts.

Honey Stinger

Waffles, Waffles, Waffles, that is all I have to say, I could eat them for breakfast, lunch and dinner, add a little ice cream in-between two waffles and you have dessert. I still love my Rocket Chocolate and everything else Honey Stinger, but Waffles are by far my go to food, anytime, anywhere.

The waffles are amazing. They came out with some new flavors this year. I wasn’t sure about the strawberry flavor when I first saw it, but after I tried it, I like it too. Not a fan of the vanilla though.

Ultimate Direction Water Bottle

When we decided to do a post on our favorite things, I started thinking about which gear I use the most. Socks, Shoes? Yeah I use those a lot, like everytime I run, but I switch off between road and trail shoes. My Ultimate Direction hand held water bottle goes with me everywhere. We are always told to buy new shoes every 400 miles or so. This bottle has outlasted multiple shoe trades. I can’t even begin to guess the mileage this bottle has on it. 2000m, 3000m, or more, and still going strong. The 20 oz BPA-free polyethylene molded bottle fits my hand perfect and the adjustable strap with the small pocket keeps it all secure. But the best part of the bottle is the leak proof Kicker valve. All this mileage and still no leaks.

Hardnutz Helmets

Unfortunately, a helmet is something you don’t always want to use, but you have to. I never ride without one, no matter how hot it is. Here’s the thing, I don’t mind wearing my Hardnutz Rock Hard helmet because it is so breathable and comfortable, and because of that I have to sometime reach up to make sure I have it on. Besides that, it is a really cool looking helmet, with a marbleized stone look to it, which makes it the perfect helmet for ROCK Racing.

Nike Cycling Jacket

This has to be the single most used item I have. I received this jacket as a Christmas gift about four years ago and let me tell you, I have used it to no end. It is great when it’s super cold outside, I wear a base layer and a jersey under it. When the temps fall between 30-40 degrees, I wear it with just a base layer under it. This jacket has been washed about a 1000 times and still looks as good as it did on day one out of the package. It is warm, yet breathable and although it is not advertised as wind proof, it sure does a great job blocking the wind. Unless I get too fat to fit in it, this jacket will be a staple in my winter wardrobe, at least until it falls apart.

XX2i Sunglasses

These glasses are not only cool looking and make the ROCK Racing girls look hot, (the guys are something other than hot) but they are also functional, comfortable and crystal clear. I love the styling of the USA frame, not as much for racing as for just wearing around, I wear mine everywhere. For workouts though, nothing can beat the France frame. What I like about the France frame is that it has an open bottom that lets air circulate and my glasses don’t fog. Another great feature of the XX2i is the ease of swapping lens, I can pop out the clear lens and put in the yellow lens, in just seconds and that is all the time I have while out on the trail. With adventure racing you are out day and night, you need to be able to have glasses that adapt easily to the changing light and these glasses do. As far as safety goes, let me tell you this, in my last race, I was smacked hard in the face by a thorn branch, my eyes had no injuries and my glasses didn’t even have a scratch, I feel good knowing that these glasses can hold up under all conditions and protect my eyes. Oh, and I have to say that the white pro athlete version of the glasses, not only make me look cool, but I swear when I have them on I race faster, I’m not sure if I’m faster because I think I look cool or if it’s the crystal clear lens paired with no fear of injury, but whatever it is.. Fast is always good.

Quik Trip (QT) Soda

I am a diehard Diet Coke aholic and have even had to make new years resolutions to force me into cutting back on my diet coke consumption in past years. I have a new twist to my diet coke issues now, it’s called QT build your own soda fountain. Not only can I have my diet coke, but I get it with my own twist. I have profected the mix. You need the perfect amount of ice, followed by the perfect amount of cherry and then topped off with the diet coke. Very few people know the formula, but lucky for you I am going to show you how to make the perfect cherry diet coke. I should probably patent this mix and sell it, but for ROCK Racing readers, I will give it to you for free.

Doris, ROCK Racing’s favorite lunch lady

Have you ever eaten somewhere and became attached to one of the employees, well Robin and Chuck have. Her name is Doris and she makes lunch very entertaining. First she has a personality that some people may not get, but we do. She seems a little gruff when you first meet her and if you ask her how the food is, she will say “shitty” and if you ask her how she is, she will say “shitty”. Oh, but she makes the best home cooked meal around, meatloaf to die for, and chicken fried steak, smothered in gravy. She even puts out some really good peach cobbler once in a while and if by chance you get her to take a liking to you, she will make sure you get some. So if you ever get to St Louis, head down Lindbergh, about 2 miles from the St Louis International airport and stop in at Mattingly’s for lunch, I know you will enjoy it.

Andy Gibbs, ROCK Racings favorite bike Wrench at our favorite Bike Shop

If you are ever in the Edwardsville, IL area, you have to head over to the Cyclery and check in with the #1 bike mechanic of all time. Not only is he a top rated mechanic, but he is also a certified coach and bike fit technician and to top it off, he is an expert mountain biker. Andy has setup the fit of our bikes to perfection and also fixed them every time we crash them. He always explains everything he does and shows us how to do repairs on the trails. As a bonus, he gives up great training tips. Don’t miss out, if you’re in the area, stop in and see Andy! Be sure to check out the Cyclery too, it’s our favorite bike shop and I know they will have anything you need on hand.

And if you are in need of a new bike, you won’t find a guy that knows more about the components that come spec’d out on all the models they carry. There are a ton of decisions to make on a new bike and you want the best to help make them. Plus you might score big time and get the chance to buy Andy’s ‘last year’ race bike with all the perfect upgrades like Lori did!

Friday, December 16, 2011

We Made Sleepmonsters

The ROCK Racing post for the Castlewood 8hr Adventure Race that was written by the Trek Mountain Girl, made Sleepmonster, an International Adventure Racing News Network. Click Here to see the full report

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Pere Marquette Trail Run 2011

Ahhhhh, December, we all know what that means, time for the Pere Marquette trail run. You could not be a slacker if you wanted to run the race this year, the race filled in just over 6 hours. Good thing for me I entered at 5 am and got in. The way things are going, next year, I will need to be at the computer at midnight when registration opens. Funny, you would think being the Vice President of the Metro Tri Club, I would have an automatic in, but not true, I have to give it my best shot and try to get in before it closes just like everyone else. If I didn’t get in, I guess I could threaten the president, Mike Wever, or something, but he is a tough cookie when it comes to this stuff, so threatening may not work. I think the next time I can get a photo of him looking really bad, I will just keep it as my ticket in, just in case I don’t make the cut one year.

So once I was in, I started some hard core hill training with my friend Jenny, she was kicking my butt and making me run hills when I really didn’t want to.

Jenny on the rock steps

My goal was to try and run not a PR, but something close to one. I really wanted to run a 1:24, I have run this course in 1:19 before, but I knew I wasn’t in good enough shape to pull that off this year. Along with the hill work we were doing once a week, I started running the PM course every couple weeks. My first training run was 1:33, then a few weeks later, another 1:33, then a 1:30 and my 4th time on the course a 1:27. I was feeling good and was pretty confident that I could make my goal of 1:24 if the conditions were right.

Well the best laid plans never seem to work out, the week after I ran the 1:27 I broke my tailbone by sliding down a muddy hill and hitting a rock. Yeah I know, it’s pretty frustrating to be on target for a goal and then get injured. Even though I had hopes of making it back injury free before the race, once again, I was wrong. I really hate to admit that I was wrong and some doctor who doesn’t even run was right, but in this case I have too.

So when PM came around I was still nursing the tailbone, but I didn’t want to miss the race for two reasons, first because I love the race and I just don’t want to miss it and second because to win the coveted Godzilla of the year award, I needed to finish PM. I didn’t have to finish fast, I just had to finish.

Race day came and I picked up Russ, a new Team Godzilla member and we headed out to PM. Russ was going to take picture during the race and checkout the course to see if he wanted to do it next year. (see all Russ’s picture here) I had to get to the lodge early because I was distributing vest before the race.

Robin and Krystal

Giving out vest is a great job because everyone gets one, so I got to see just about everyone I know, when they picked up their vest. It was really kind of fun, and of course I heard butt jokes from everyone. I’m actually the butt of all jokes now.

Mark S got me this shirt for Christmas

The gang handing out vest

It was time for the race to start, so I headed out to the starting line with Keith and Chuck, who were both working the vest distribution with me and racing also.

Keith in Motion

Chuck on the rock steps

Of course, they were in much earlier waves than I was in. I was in wave 13, I have never in my life been in a wave greater than 7. In fact, earlier in the week when I found out that I was in wave 13, my pride was hurt and my spirit was broken. I went as far as too yell at Mike Wever, who sets up the waves. I said “Mike, I know I have a broken tailbone and will be slow, but come on, WAVE 13”. He was very apologetic and said, he didn’t know how that happened, we figured it out, the previous year I ran with a friend who was injured and didn’t want to run alone so we just ran it for fun and the time was pretty darn slow, that brought my average down and that’s how I ended up in wave 13. Mike did offer to put me in wave 1, but I declined. I thought it would be better to be in wave 13 and be able to pass people then to be passed the entire run.

I still like Mike even after he put me in WAVE 13

The race started and before I knew it, Mike was calling for wave 13 and off I went, I was actually up front in my group and didn’t really get passed by very many people, I even passed some people in earlier waves. My tailbone was hurting pretty bad on the uphills, yeah I know, everything seems to be an uphill at PM, but I was not stopping, I just wanted to run the race and cross the finish line on my own two feet. I did walk a couple times, but mostly because the runners in front of me were walking and there was no way around them. Of course, that was not the issue on the rock steps, I walked those because if I didn’t I would have had a heart attack. And wouldn’t you know it, the rock stairs is where Russ and Patrick were standing with the cameras. I yelled no taking pictures of me walking, but you know that is just what they did.

Just before the end of the race, I saw Jim D on trail and he yelled “how’s your butt” I said it was going to finish the race and just then a girl behind me said “are you Robin”, I said yes, we had never met, but I had two registration transfers that I sold to her and now the reason she knew who I was, was because of my butt. See didn’t I tell you how funny the whole tailbone thing has become.

I soon crossed the finish line to the cheering of friends and strangers, it had been the perfect day and the best possible run for me. There is nothing I would have rather been doing than racing PM on this beautiful December day surrounded by such great friends.

After the race I stood around talking to friends. I saw Wendy D, she had a great race even with a bum ankle that she had injured badly just recently and she like me, was just happy to be out running.


Since Russ was at the finish line taking photos, it was like having my own personal photographer, he snapped photos of me and many of my friends, while we told race stories and No they aren’t like fish stories, I really did do that triple lindy and land on my feet then jump over a deer crossing the trail, while eating a Honey Stinger waffle and getting a drink from my Ultimate Direction water bottle.

The Gang Hanging out

Mike, Robin, Bill, Chuck

Robin and Kate G

Robin and Mike A

Robin and Mike H

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Castlewood 8hr 2011

By Robin Rongey, Chuck Vohsen comments in red

At the beginning of 2011, Chuck and I decided that we would skip the Castlewood race and instead be volunteers. Our thought was, we always race, time to give back to those that volunteer so we get to race. Our plans changed though. You see Gerry the race director at the Thunder Rolls Adventure race gave this really nice speech about getting more people into the sport that we all love, and how it is really hard to do your first race. That speech got us thinking, why not get a bunch of people who are always asking about adventure racing, but are afraid to try it, and just make as many teams as we can and stick together the entire race. This way, they have veteran racers guiding them and helping solve problems along the way. It was going to be an adventure race clinic held during a race. So as my friend Patrick calls it, the Castlewood Experience came to life.

I sent out emails to everyone who had ever asked us about adventure racing, and soon we had 10 racers committed and ready to go, including Chuck’s son Jacob and his wife Lori, it was kind of a family affair for him.

Before the race I tried to give out as much advice as I could, on what to bring and what to wear and what to eat. Chuck said, “they are going to be really good at this because we are giving them everything we had to learn by mistake”. You know what, they all did really well, with only a few mishaps, read on to hear about it in detail. Oh and Chuck and I decided that we all needed ROCK Racing shirts, so we had my brother Joel, make us a bunch for them for the team. Everyone on the ROCK Racing teams are also Metro Tri Club (aka Team Godzilla) members, so Green fit well with the Team Godzilla theme.

So let’s start at the beginning. Once we had commitments from everyone, we entered the teams and started planning our strategy. We had a 2 person male, Chuck and Jacob, 4 person co-ed, Robin, Keith, Gary and Patrick, and a 4 person female, Jenny, Lori, Judy, and Vanessa. Questions came and answers went out and before we knew it, it was the night before the race and we all met at the Alpine Shop to sign in. Sign in came off without a hitch and we saw a couple of our favorite teams there, Alpine Shop and Orange Lederhosen. We chatted about the race and everyone was excited for all the new racers. Have I ever told you what a great group of people adventure racers are, they sincerely want new racers in the sport and will do anything to help any team out.

All the maps we received at check-in were plotted, except for 3 points, so we all drove down to the McDonalds and plotted points, Chuck and I teaching the new racers how to plot. We finished quickly and headed home, those of us who were driving from home in the morning had a long drive so we needed to get to bed, although the best plans never work out, I don’t think I got to bed until almost 11 pm.

At 4:30 am I walked out of my garage thinking I had a few minutes, but found out that Jenny and Patrick were already waiting for me. So I quickly threw my pack in the van and we all hopped in and took off for the race. You see this is where things started to go wrong, but you have to think fast with adventure racing, so when we were about 5 miles from my house and I realized that the bag with my clothes was still at my house, I didn’t worry, I just stopped at Wal-Mart and bought some clothes. Really it wasn’t so awful, it was mostly just dry clothes to wear home, I had all the required gear on or in my pack. Plus the Wal-Mart stop gave us time to use the bathroom and Patrick bought some bananas.

Our next stop was the bike drop, it was packed with racers dropping off bikes, it only took us about 10 minutes to drop the bikes and another 15 to make it to the start. At the start we saw Laura and Jason, the original owners of Bonk Hard Racing, they were parking the cars, weird seeing them as volunteers and not running the show, but they were great volunteers and we were just happy to see them. We got a pretty good parking spot, it was still dark out, so all you really saw were head lamps bobbing all over. I walked right past Chuck and didn’t even see him. We all headed to race headquarters, picked up our passport and hit the bathroom for about the 10th time. And get this, there was such a mad rush to draw first blood, that the race had not even started and Judy was bleeding, don’t ask me how it happened, I just know there was blood.

Chuck: Jacob has a great name for this situation. You find yourself bleeding but not exactly sure how it happened: Anonymous Blood. Haha, would make a great adventure race team name.

It wasn’t long before we were singing the national anthem, and who knew, but Keith can sing, I mean I knew Gary could sing, but had no idea Keith could too. I tried to keep my voice low as to not draw any attention to how bad I sing. After that it was time to play ball. We all scooted to the starting line and the gun when off and there we were all three ROCK Racing teams, the Rebels, Renegades and Trail Rats, all racing for the 1st CP.

We made it through some tough hills and the first 4 trekking points without a problem, before we knew it we were at the bikes and ready to ride. There was a ton of riding in this race, more riding then we have ever had in a Castlewood adventure race. We were hoping this would work to our benefit with all the new racers. I was happy knowing that I had brought my Trek Top Fuel, it was perfectly suited for this type of ride where I could ride the single track and just hit the switch on my handlebar to lock out the shock when I hit any pavement.

The bike leg started on the Green Rock Trail in Greensfelder Park. These trails have some really long steep climbs and super rocky sections, but they are so fun to ride. Some of them are even marked with black diamonds. Well that is my opinion, I think Gary felt that way too, he was a little worried about the bike coming into the race, but my gosh he was flying through the trails like he knew what he was doing and feeling good, trying to think of how he could talk his son into doing a few of these adventure races with him.

Jenny was right there with Gary, I could tell she really liked the trails, I think I might be able to talk her into going back out and riding them with me sometime.

Keith was chomping at the bit to ride faster staying right on Chuck and Jacobs wheel and of course Patrick was doing all kinds of stunts, I was just waiting for him to crash, he crashes more than anyone I know because he is just crazy when he gets on a bike.

Judy was right there with them too, I’m sure she thought she might see the Patrick crash, come on we were all thinking it. I was just glad to know that when the crash happened I would be able to see it in high definition since I was wearing my super clear XX2i glasses and if by some reason I was taken down in the crash, at least I had my Hadnutz helmet on, so I would probably live to write about it. I’m not sure Vanessa felt the same way about the single track being so much fun.

Vanessa went down a couple times, but she got right back up and got back on the horse.

It reminded of me of my first mountain bike race, it was a six hour solo race and I crashed 38 times in 6 hours and finished covered in blood, but my gosh I paid for 6 hours I was racing six hours, so I know exactly how Vanessa was feeling and I knew the team would do everything possible to help her through.

Lori on the hand was not having too much trouble at all. We started to figure it out, Lori was riding Andy Gibb’s old bike, she had just bought it from him a few weeks earlier. Now, for those of you that don’t know Andy, he is somewhat of a local mountain bike hero. He is a super fast expert racer, who wins all the races. He had a great Giant Anthem mountain bike, but needed to sell it because he was going to be racing on a team that rode Treks. Lori, who just happened to ride the same size frame as Andy was in the market for a new mountain bike and was lucky enough to score Andy’s. Someone asked Lori if she got a new bike and she said, yes, this is Andy’s old bike, well the crowd went wild, the knowledge that Lori was riding Andy’s bike filtered back through the team and everyone was commenting on how Lori could just hang on and a bike like that would do all the work, and to that point it was. Lori said “like in the movie Toy Story, where Woody has Andy written on the bottom on his shoe, I’m going to write Andy on the bottom of my bike”.

Even with all the Luck of Andy’s bike, it’s kind of like the luck of the Irish, Lori managed a crash, and you know it’s not a good ride unless there is blood and mud, so she was really just keeping with tradition. I was behind her when she went down and I heard her knee hit a big rock, I was really worried about it and said stay down, but when she turned her head and looked at me, there was blood everywhere, her knee wasn’t even a thought.

The handlebars had reached out and struck her right on the chin and she had a gaping hole in her chin, it looked really bad and blood was everywhere. She had her Icebreaker base layer on and the blood was running down her shirt. Funny, the things that go through your head in a situation like this, but I thought, I guess we will see how well you can get blood out of Merino Wool. I need to ask her how it came out of the wash. So Vanessa being a good nurse pulled out the first aid kit and got it cleaned up with some iodine and put some butterfly bandages on it, she did a really good job, even the doctor that fixed Lori up after the race said that the field dressing on it was really great. So yep, Lori got up like a true ROCK Racer and finished the race, then went to urgent care, where her family members seem to be regulars and got her chin super glued back together.

As all this was happening, like all great teammates we were cracking jokes about her crash and how no one better tell Andy that she crashed his bike. And of course I let her know how she stole my thunder, I can’t even write about my broken tailbone now, it just seems trivial.

We all got back on our bikes and made it through the single track section and out to the road.

We picked up a few more CP’s after stopping at a gas station for some food. Well you see I may have forgotten my clothes, but Judy forgot her food, so we had to load up at the Quick stop. See I’m not the only goof on the team.

Soon we hit the CP right next to the train tracks and Keith with the help of Patrick, found 10 railroad spikes, then piled them up next to the CP and went back after the race to get them, so that we could all have a souvenir of the race. I still can’t figure this guy thing out, last race Chuck was picking up used mortar shells and this race Keith and Patrick were picking up old railroad spikes, I guess it really is a guy thing. Chuck and I are now trying to figure out how to paint or engrave the race name and date on them.

We made it to CP 15 where we were surprised by a Bike-O course, we plotted the points quickly and headed out for the points, they were actually pretty easy points, all on road, except for the last one, it was down a narrow trail. It didn’t take long and we were back to the TA and headed for the river. At this point Chuck stopped to check his map, Chuck is like a human Garmin, and we just follow him around blindly waiting for him to say “in 200 meters turn left”. Well as he was arranging the maps, I heard, not in a St Paul Chuck voice, but an Adventure Patrick voice, “Recalculating”, we just all busted out laughing, because it doesn’t get truer than that.

It took a while to get the canoes in the water, we had to first take the front wheels off our bikes and then load two bikes in each of the canoes and that was after carrying the canoes all the way down to the river.

We all quickly grabbed food while loading the canoes, I had a Honey Stinger Rocket Chocolate, but I saw sandwiches, nuts, HS gels and fruit cups out. Keith, who is not used to eating during a race, said, “I have never been so full during a race before”, it’s crazy how much food it takes to get through an Adventure Race.

Once we sucked down some food, we were loaded and ready to go, but no one was as ready as Jacob. You see Jacob has youth on his side, this may have been his first race, but when your 14 years old, it’s easy to be like the energizer bunny. At every CP, Jacob would be watching and as soon as the last team punched the CP, he would say “Ok, let’s go” and he was off. My gosh! he was up front next to Chuck almost the entire race. Plus he looked so cool in his XX2i glasses, I really think they made him faster.

On the water, things were going pretty well, except that at one point Judy and Vanessa were floating backwards down the river, then there was a little issue of T-boning Lori and Jenny at one of the CP’s, but hey, no one ended up in the water so all was well.

We were soon floating under a train trestle and there was a train on the tracks, I tried to get it to honk, but it just gave me a little beep, but get this when the 4 girls came under the train it blew the horn super loud. I’m kind of thinking that having Keith in my canoe was really cramping my style, how do you get the train engineer to give you a good toot with a guy in your canoe, it just doesn’t happen. In Keith’s defense, he was sort of doing all the work, paddling hard while I was busy taking pictures, so I guess having a guy in the canoe isn’t all bad.

We soon made it to the beach where we pulled our canoes out, put our wheels back on our bikes and also had a gear check. While in gear check everyone had to show their headlamp and Keith couldn’t find his, he poured his entire pack out and finally found it. You could just see him getting frustrated because he knew he had it. What is really funny is that Keith is the most organized guy you could possibly know, he is the guy that keeps it together for everyone else and to see him not find something was so crazy. I guess we all have those days, I just never thought Keith did.

So with gear check complete, we all passed, we started carrying the canoes up the hill. If I were going to whine about my tailbone this is where I would do it at, but since Lori trumped me with the whole chin incident, I guess I can’t whine. So we carried the canoes up the hill and lucky for me the boys felt sorry for my all but forgotten tailbone and grabbed my canoe and took it to the top of the hill. Thank you so much boys, that was really nice of you. The beach was really muddy, so there you go, you now know what a great day it was, because now we had mud and blood. But really, the mud was in all of our bike cleats and we had to stomp around and try to get it out so that we could clip in for the next bike section. It was kind of like a really bad rendition of River Dance.

So after all the dancing was done we were on the bike riding down the trail, we even passed the little train on the tracks with the conductor working on it.

Chuck: Stop right there! None of the men-folk were dancing, we stomped the mud out.

Patrick said he might want to throw his bike on the train and have that conductor take him to the finish. Oh, but we are not quitters so that never happened. I think Patrick was onto something though, he knew that the Alt Road hill lie ahead. I have ridden the Alt Road hill before and I knew it was bad, but I had kind of forgotten about it. You know like after having a baby, you say, I will never do that again, then, before you know it, the joy of the baby makes you forget the pain and you do it all over again. Well, it’s like that, the joy of finishing the Castlewood race of a few years back, took away the memory of how bad that hill was, but guess what, I along with my teammates got to live the glory of the Alt road hill again. I’m pretty sure I’m not going to forget how hard it was this time, well at least until the next time I do it. The good news is we all made it to the top without the use of an oxygen tank, Jacob staying right up front. Then we were afforded the glory of the ride down the other side of the hill, it was so great, I was rolling at over 30 mph. This was also the point where we found out the limits of youth, Jacob was finally wearing down, I think he said he was tired and he was riding further back in the pack. So it took 8 hours and 3 minutes, plus the Alt Road hill to put the hurt on Jacob. Next race, I think we should make Jacob ride Alt Road Hill right off the bat, maybe then we will have a little leverage.

It seemed like it took forever to ride to CP 22, but we finally made it and when we got there Jason, Laura and Carrie Sona were working the CP. We picked up a new trekking map, checked on time and joked around with Jason about not having enough reentrants on the course. If you had competed in the Berryman race, you would understand why this was a big joke, every single clue for the Berryman race was reentrant and reentrants are not always easy to find. We told Jason we knew he didn’t setup the course there wasn’t enough reentrants on it.

So we had 50 minutes to be through the finish line, so we headed out hoping to get 3 CP’s, but quickly found out that the team was dragging. As we headed into the woods, we saw Team SLU, who we happen to know as Andrew and Aimee coming out of the woods with all the CP’s, they wished us luck and headed to the finish line.

We trekked through the woods to the top of a very long steep hill and found the CP, Jacob, Jenny and I were the keepers of the passports all day, so we not so quickly punched the CP and decided to call it a day, better to get back with only one CP out of the bonus O-section then to miss the cutoff.

We all ran across the finish line with Jacob and Patrick sprinting it out to the end. What a motley crew we were.

So after some pizza and beer, it was cold diet coke courtesy of Mr Keith Timmins for me and Lori, the two Diet Coke Alcoholics on the team, we hung out and waited for awards, that is after I put on my brand new Wal-Mart clothes, yeah I was styling! Guess what, our girl’s team, ROCK Racing Rebels, won first place and picked up some great gear, including some cool Yurbuds.

I want to thank God for the great weather he gave us, the volunteers for spending their day working so we could race, Mr Timmins for the Diet Coke and Bonk Hard Racing for putting on such a great event.

One last thing, I think most of the team is hooked and will adventure race again, although one member said he would prefer to do it in the summer, because if we hadn’t been so lucky with the weather and had the cold and rain that came the next day, we may have lost him on the course.