Sunday, November 29, 2009

Checked Off the Bucket List

I've always wanted to do an Adventure Race. How cool to find your way with a map and compass. So, when Dennis asked if I wanted to do one my answer was a HUGE yes!

Sprint distance, 2 loops around a lake in a kayak (yikes but I know I could manage), 6 miles on a mountain bike (mostly single track) and orienteer your way thru 3.5 miles and 9 check points. UGH, I couldn't wait.

Got to the race site at 7:11 sharp. 7:30 the orienteering meeting would start and I couldn't miss it. Dennis arrived shortly after me. He brought me his old mountain bike since I no longer have brakes or gears on my because it's 20 years old and has never had a tune up.

Made adjustments to the bike, took it for a quick spin around the parking lot. Was asked if I planned on wearing my uggs for the ride by another racer, just laughed and said no. I was starting to think I was definitely a fish out of water here but it was really cold at 7:25 and I knew I had a long day ahead of me, I wasn't about the get cold now.

Orienteering meeting went well. Next, we prepared our gear. Helmet's, check. Compass, check, 1st aid kit, check, uggs off/trail shoes on, check. We were off to the pre-race meeting. Listened to the directions - There were 38 teams, 18 kayaks, the first 18 teams back from finding the 1st check point would kayak, the rest would mountain bike 1st. Then the RD said some more stuff about check point cards and punches but I really wasn't listening. I kept thinking I wanted to be one of the 1st 18 back.

It was time. Very casual start - I think it was a blow horn. We were off. Ran some single track and then found ourselves running through brush and thicket. It was a mad dash and I think we managed our way rather well. So well in fact that we got to the check point and back, we were the 13th team to do so. Oh yeah! We were rock'n it.

Ok, I should have checked my ego at the picnic table right then.

We hopped on our mountain bikes and had to ride a mile up Archer to get to the lake we would paddle on. Speed limit was 55 mph which made me really nervous, the nerves made me ride quicker than I normally do. We actually passed 2 teams on the bike. Got to the lake, dropped the bikes and all our stuff off and found some life jackets. Then a kayak. Crap those things are heavy. Had to carry it probably 500 yards to the lake. Did I tell you how heavy a kayak is?

Feet got wet, really wet getting in. Off we went. We were passed almost immediately after getting in the water by the 2 teams that we passed on the bike. Was feeling no pain our 1st 750 yrds in the water and then .... we started feeling it. We were passed by 2 older gentleman. When I say old, I'm guessing late 50's maybe. Ok, maybe they weren't that much older.

Dennis was in the back, mostly steering. I did the best I could paddling. Honestly, for never kayaking before I think we were handling things just fine. The 3 fisherman at the end of the first loop would not agree with me. 2 of them were screaming at us, which I learned up in Madison in 07, don't scream from the shoreline at people in a boat. You look like an idiot doing it and nothing is ever accomplished.

We switched position for the 2nd loop, I got in the back, Dennis in the front. Managed to get just about every part of me soaking wet. I had a fear of falling in the lake which really wouldn't have mattered because I was soaking wet. I think we got thru the 2nd loop and finished the entire task in under and hour. There was still one more team behind us which made me happy. We weren't in last! Got out of the kayak and prepared to carry it back 500 yrds and the RD asked us for our 1st aid kit. Crap, it's with our bikes. Penalty. We didn't know what it meant we got one and off we went.

I was freezing but managed to get the kayak back to were it belonged. Life jacket back to were it belonged and back on to my bike without turning into a Popsicle. Told Dennis I had to change when we got back to the car.

Competitiveness took over and skipped changing when we got back to the car, just took off my really wet gloves. Got our instructions for the mountain bike portion and off we went. Still had a chance to check my ego but didn't. Shoulda, woulda, coulda. This would be a breeze. 6 miles. No problem. I've been biking a lot lately. I've mountained biked before. I know what to expect. Wee, off we go.

I'm going to keep the next 6 miles as simple as I can, so here it is.

Ride, fall, get up, ride, fall, get up ride. fall get up, walk, get on the bike ride, fall, get up, adjust the seat, ah that's better, ride, fall, get up, ride, fall, get up, walk, ride, fall, hit head, freak out a little cause I heard my neck crack, ooo, wait that actually felt good, ride, the front brake snaps loose, no brake, going down hill, screaming like a little girl. stop myself on a tree. get off bike, no falling this time, Dennis fixes the brake, walk ride ..... you get the picture. Finally reach a parking lot and even surface and pretty much ride the last mile and a half in.

Completely humiliated and deflated we check in 2 hours and some odd minutes after we started our 6 mile journey. (I can share this with you, today, we ran the bike course and did it in an hour 5 - no that's not a typo - 1 hour, 5 minutes or 65 minutes which ever sounds quicker)

Why did I want to do this? What was I doing out here?

We were about to learn what our penalty was for not having our first aid kit. Before starting the orienteering we had to go back to the very 1st checkpoint we found at the start of the race and punch the number 10 on our card.

Unfortunately all that falling didn't deflate my ego and I didn't leave it on the picnic table this time either.

Off we went. No problem.

Um, problem. My legs were killing me from all the falling. I knew I had huge bruises, I could feeling them. Well, I was adding thicket burns while running thru all the brush. Lots of red throbbing thicket burn. Little prickly stickey's were stuck to my spandex, trying to catch a ride on my leg back to the suburbs. We got lost finding the CP and lost trying to find our way back. We evenutally made our way back to the start point after 40 minutes! We had 1 hour 17 minutes to find as many check points as we could. The man handing out the map and directions told us in so many words to keep our searching simple. I could almost hear him thinking that he did want to go out looking for us, he wanted to be home by 4 p.m.

We did. We kept it as simple as possible. We did get lost at first and I was rather surprised to see lots of pages from girlie magazines, beer bottles and a picnic table in the middle of a very wooded area. Really, come on, whatever happened to hiding them under the mattress.

We took our time and found our way and managed to find our 1st check point in about 30 minutes. I was jumping up and down like a little kids on Christmas. It was so cool. Found the next one in about 20 minutes. Again, more jumping up and down. In all honesty, Dennis led the way. In just a short amount of time he got really good at reading the map and figuring out where we were. We had just about 25 minutes to go about a mile and change to get to the next CP. We decided to go for it. I'm so glad we did. We found it and got back with about 9 minutes to spare.

Now the object of this adventure race was of course to find all 9 check points but if you didn't have all of them you had to be back by 2 p.m. If you weren't a check point would be deducted for every minute you were late. So we finished the race with 3 CP's and on penalty.

Pretty good for first timers. I highly recommend this race, the Fat Otter Fall Sprint to anyone wanting to try an Adventure race. It's well supported, close to home and just a lot of fun. And did I mention they have great food after the race?

You have know that I'm hell bent on getting on that mountain bike and riding whenever I can. I believe we would have rocked this race if my mountain biking wasn't so bad. Oh, I've also emailed my friend Sheila who is a great kayaker and got some tips on improving the kayaking as well. Can't wait to try it again. And yes, Dennis actually said he would another one with me. :)

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