Thursday, August 22, 2013

Grafton Zip Line Adventure

Getting ready for an Adventure

About a year ago, the Aeries Winery in Grafton Illinois added a Zip line to it’s activity options.  I thought about going a few times, because you know we adventure racers are always up for something new.  I had zip lined in various places, from the Wymann center in Missouri to the jungles of Mexico.  Of course Mexico was the largest, coolest and most dangerous of all the zip lines. 

For instance, in Mexico, we were not given helmets and the brake we used was a V shaped stick that we had to find in the woods.  The towers to get on the zip lines looked to be built out of scrap wood, they were very shaky and felt as though they might fall at any minute.  At the end of the landing platforms were old mattresses and there was no mechanism to slow down a rider if he/she was coming in too fast.  The day we went, it was raining and the lines were fast and the stick brake did not slow you down no matter how hard you pulled down on it.  The ride was a scary rush of excitement, but we found it to be very dangerous and no one knew that better than my mom.  She flew in on a line of about 2000 feet from I don’t know how high, it seemed like 4 stories, her stick brake did not slow her down, so she hit the mattress hard, flipped backwards and hit her head on the platform, creating a big gash in her head with lots of blood and I’m sure a concussion.  We had to take her to a hospital on the resort we stayed at and have her head stitched up.  

The other zip lines I have been on were at climbing camps and during adventure races, they were much safer with all the correct safety equipment. 

So when I heard about these new zip lines, I wondered how safe they were, how big they could possibly be and how much it cost to try it.  When I found out the price, I thought it was really steep compared to other lines I had been on, plus I wasn’t sure the hills were big enough for them to be very long or very high.  I really didn’t think I would try it, but then my some of my family started working there and a friend also went and said it was great, which made me want to try it.

So last week, my girls Jade and China and I made a trip to Grafton, it was a nice cool overcast day just perfect for an adventure.  We met the girls Aunt and Uncle there and their Uncle Donny even went with us, using China as his training person because he was in training to start working the tours.  Not to say that China was a little worried when he hooked her up, but the regular tour guide, Tatter, double checked Uncle Donny’s work. 

We had a great time, I took along my adventure camera and got some good shots during the Zip Tour.  Our guides were great, they knew what they were doing, they were funny and kept us moving and having fun.  I think there were about 12 people in our group and it took about 1:45 to get through all 9 lines.  It was exciting, the lines were very fast, the equipment was top notch, the tour guides, Kyle and Tatter were great and we had a really good time.  So although I’m cheap and thought the price was steep, I would do it again, it was well worth the cost they charge to do it. 

Oh and the entire time I was out there, I could see paths below us and my thoughts were “this would be a great place for a trail race or adventure race”, maybe we can talk the owner into putting on a race, I’m sure it would sell out just like the Pere Marquette Trail Run does. 

So if you get a chance take a ride up the River Road and check out the Grafton Zip Lines and stop by Aeries Winery after for a taste of the good stuff.  I guarantee you won’t regret it. 

Ready for the Ride
Tatter has it under control
Fun with Uncle Donny
Jade's flying
Slow down Jade, you're gonna crash
Come on China, you can make it
Uncle Donny in action
Big jump China be aerodynamic, its a long ride
You're almost there Jade
Tatter shows us how you do it right
Kyle on a super fast line
China was the only one that couldn't make it across, she needs some meat on those bones

Wood River Triathlon 2013

Boy, I don’t even know where to start with this blog, except to say, it was so much fun.  I think I had the most fun I have ever had at the Wood River Tri.  So why was this so much fun as compared to other years, I mean, it was the same course, the same distance, the same time of year, so what made it so much fun. 

After thinking about it, I feel that there are three reasons why this year was so much fun.

1. I am really out of shape and just trying to get my fitness level back, so I had no intentions of chasing down other competitors and needing to get first place.  Well except for beating Terry Eldridge, that is a given goal that I have every year.  So I just went out and had fun.  My swim was mediocre like always, no surprises there. I latched onto Eric during the bike and we just traded places for 6 laps, it was like being on an animal ride. My run was the slowest I have ever done, but I wasn’t dying and I had fun cheering for my fellow teammates while I was running.

2.  This year seemed to have the most Metro Tri Club members ever, and since we all started at the front of the line, the entire race I was either cheering for someone as I passed or being cheer for as they would pass.  All the encouragement makes for a great time.

Metro Tri Club by Tom Atwood
Click to see all WRT photos by Tom Atwood 

3.  My daughter China did her first Sprint Tri this year.  She had done some kids tri’s in the past, but it had been many years since she competed in those.  Watching her as I was getting out of the pool and cheering for her while on the bike and run and then running her last lap with her was really a great experience.  She really had fun too, as you will seen in photos, she is laughing and waving at everyone. Even though near the end of the second run lap she said. “this decision to compete in this tri may have been a bad one” I know she was very proud of herself and glad she did it.

Even though this is probably the shorted post I have ever written, I’m going to stop writing and let the photos speak for themselves.  They say a picture is worth a thousand words. 

Metro Tri Club Family
My Nemesis and his family
Gary Out of Swim
Gary Bike
Gary Run
Jenny out of swim
China out of swim
Speedy Mike
Scott Bike
Jim Bike
Jenny Bike
China Bike
Jenny Run
Russ Bike
That Darn Terry on the run
Doug Run
Jim Run
Chris Run
Scott Run

Russ Run
Mike Run
China finishing
Fit to be Tri'ed members
Doug's Fast Bike
China and Keith
Terry and I and yes he beat me
Robin Bike
Jade, Robin, China relaxing after the race