|Our team, "Finding Ourselves Lost" after 23.5 hours on the go.|
Awesome trails greeted us as the sun came up - lots of dips and turns through the forest - some narrow bridges with (sometimes a bit sketchy) drops into drainages on either side. A beautiful river gorge. It was over all too quick though, with only two CP's in the park. Logan and Erik passes us on the way in as we were headed out, as did a couple of other teams that must have gotten lost on the pedal through duluth.
After this we headed (still without refilling water) about 15 or so miles through duluth and up what seemed like an endless climb through a residential neighborhood to the next mt. bike section. Logan and Erik finally caught us as we rolled into the parking lot - having set the fastest time on the previous technical section, despite it being Logan's first ever time on single track, and his riding a suspension-less dinosaur of a bike.
They were tired as a result and we decided to team up. rather than ride all the very windy expert trails to two more CP's, we opted to take an old snow-mobile trail that was on the map, despite being advised that it was 'very wet'. We thought it was a bluff, and were partially right. although it took a bit of time to orient ourselves amongst a bunch of ski trails that were NOT on our map, we finally found what we were looking for and made short work of the section, only finding about 200 feet of muddy mess and otherwise straightforward and very END-AResque riding. We still had to ride down about a mile of a rocky 'expert' trail which was pretty fun for some of us and less so for others. We also learned that many teams had opted to skip this section - something we weren't aware that we could do..... (i'll comment more on this at the end.)
Although we still had more than 30 miles of biking and at least one checkpoint on the orienteering section to get, we felt like we were on the home stretch and, besides feeling (very) saddle sore, were confident we were going to make it to the finish. That's when Erik's bike broke.
|Look Ma! No crank! Erik's bike with 30+ miles to go.|
Off we went - struggling up the hills - walking the steeper ones (where tammy struggled with the one legged pedaling) but always making what in AR is the key to success - (relentless) forward progress. After about 10 miles of this Tammy and pat, who were always falling a bit behind, were grumbling. They were all about helping another team - but this 'joining forces' was jeopardizing our chances to complete the race. This was Jim, Pat, and Tammy's first 24 hour race and they really wanted to finish.... sure they felt sorry for Erik and Logan's bad luck and wanted to help, but wasn't there another way to do it? When i learned of this I apologized for making the executive decision for the team and we changed plans - we'd put Pat's tow rig on logan's bike (they hadn't brought their own tow rig, both being equally strong riders) and wish them the best, then get the hell out of there and chase down the finish line.
|Me at the finish|
Afterword: The biggest disappointment of the race was the misunderstanding that we had about the 'race rules' as it pertained to which CP's were mandatory. During the pre-race meeting it was stated that all the CP's other than the O-course had to be gotten in order. Apparently, however, they were also all optional. In other words, many teams skipped straight from 19 to 23, not doing the second (and harder) of the two mountain bike sections. Other teams couldn't find CP 9 and just skipped it, without penalty. When we learned that 'skipping' CP's was an option, 16 hours into the course, it didn't make much sense. there were 20 points in the O-course, and although navigationally challenging, certainly less physically so (on an 'energy expenditure per point basis) than many of the other points. We would have fared much better as a team had we skipped many of the CP's early in the course and gotten lots of CP's in the O course. I don't think that the race was really set up to accommodate this though - the 'optional' nature of the CP's might have been intended to allow teams that were behind to still make the finish. But to me it seemed not a great way to do things - as there didn't seem to be any 'minimum' course that all teams had to complete, and so no sense that teams that were ranked ahead of ours had to at least go through what we went through. I'll be sure to have a very clear sense of the requirements next time.
I wasn't sure how Tammy and I would do racing together, but it turned out to be pretty great. She did get pretty tired and grumpy for a while, but to her credit, never got sour or quit but just put her head down and kept right on going. From about half way through (after the paddle) she became fond of telling all the volunteers that this was her first and last 24 hour race - a promise on which she had reneged by the time she had finished her first cup of good coffee the next morning.
|The marriage survived.|