As you may know, Robin has been on a doctor mandated 6 weeks off due to a broken tailbone, this past weekend was the end of the 5th week. Because of this, Chuck had to get a new partner, which would be me, who wishes to stay anonymous, so to protect the innocent, I will be known as Lula for this post.
So this is how the adventure starts, I meet Chuck at the same park and ride lot that he always meets Robin at. As I load my gear, he says, where are your bike shoes, and I of course answer, why they are in my van back at home 45 miles in the wrong direction. No worries though, check-in is at a bike shop and I need new mountain bike shoes anyway, I will just buy a pair. As we head onto the highway, Chuck says “you have your paddle, right” and I say, why no, it’s back at home with my bike shoes. Now Lula never forgets anything, but today she has forgotten two important items. It’s just a good thing that the paddle is optional, if you don’t have one, you can use one of the crappy canoe company ones, so that is what I would have to do. So I sat there for a while and mentally ran through my gear, luckily I had not forgotten any other gear.
So we make it to the Ozark MO, and to the OZ bike shop to check in. When we go into the store we find out that they had been robbed just a few days earlier and they only had two pair of size 10 men’s bike shoes. Time to go to plan B, I bought a pair of used platform pedals for 5 bucks and Chuck and I tried to put them on, but were unsuccessful because my current pedals were on too tight. We took the bike into the shop where the mechanic finally was able to loosen the pedals up and get them swapped. That was a load off my mind. So we got checked in and then drooled over the rack of Swiftwick socks, they must not have been out when the robbers were there, because it was one of the few things left in the store.
After some dinner, it was time for the pre-race meeting. Gary the race director was throwing out prizes into the crowd of racers, when all of the sudden a water bottle was flying right towards me, just as it was about to drop in my lap a guy across the aisle from me jumps over and grabs it. Man, it was just a water bottle, but I think someone saw what happened, and just after that I caught a flying rubber chicken. Well the rubber chicken is the best thing you can catch because you get to trade it for a really nice prize, so I got a Kuat water bottle lock, a very cool prize. Next the maps were handed out and we found out that we had to plot 29 points, that’s a lot of points. We also were told that we had a bike drop, but needed to keep our helmets with us. Chuck and I took that to mean, we would be caving, and guess what for once we were right, I mean Chuck was right, this was my first time racing with Chuck, so I never guessed about this stuff before. You will hear more about that later.
So bright and early Saturday, we dropped our bikes at the bike drop and headed for the start, where we parked in a muddy field, we were pretty sure we would be pushing the adventure van out of the mud at the end of the race. I was just hoping I would have enough energy to do that, otherwise, we were sleeping in the van. We grabbed our gear and headed to the starting line, stopping first at the Johnny on the Spot, while standing in line, Chuck says “oh, I have to run back to the van” and he takes off, when he gets back, I ask, “hey what did you forget” he says “nothing important, just the map”. I could just see us at the start, the gun goes off and we are standing there looking at each other, not knowing where to go.
The first few legs were trekking, they were pretty long, but the orienteering was simple, I think Gary planned it that way just to spread the teams out. The terrain was beautiful, there were so many places where we were trekking though giant rock formations, it’s too bad we couldn’t take our time and look around more.
We had no problem finding any of the checkpoints, as we headed to the first canoe CP, we came upon Team Orange Lederhosen, we passed them just before the water and from there on, I think it became a race between ROCK Racing and Orange Lederhosen. We went back and forth all day long, discussing the finer points of life, like how thick bacon should be, what kind of priorities a girl should have if she wants to have an adventure racing boyfriend, oh and if farting during a race will draw or disgust potential girlfriends. It was all very important stuff.
As I tried to get my wet hands into my canoe gloves, it wasn’t going well, Chuck just watched me, wondering just how many teams would pass us before I finally got those gloves on. Of Course Orange Lederhosen passed us, and Chuck finally took charge and pulled my gloves over my hands for me. So into the water we went and we stayed dry, but that didn’t last for long, at least not for me, every paddle stroke Chuck splashed me with water, I had to put up my hood, just to keep my head dry. It’s a good thing there was a rescue boot in the area, because we had so much water in our canoe, I thought we might sink.
We paddled our way to the next CP where we found out that we would be doing some caving, it was in the Bridal Cave, the name right there scared us, there was no way Lula would be marrying anyone in that cave. So with our helmets and head lamps on, we headed into the cave. It was about a quarter mile back in some really small areas and as we went, my headlamp kept getting dimmer and dimmer, I knew I should have changed those batteries. I was navigating with the light of Chuck in front of me and another team behind me. It’s a good thing I am short or I might have smacked my head on one of those stalactite rocks, like Chuck did, good thing he had a Hardnutz helmet on to save his head.
We made it back out of the cave, grabbed a honey stinger and ate it on the run back to the canoe. We then headed to CP 10, which was back near where we originally put the canoe in, as we rolled up to the floating dock, Chuck could see an orange jeep in the parking lot, he just knew it had to belong to Orange Lederhosen. Emma, who is either, the girlfriend, wife or groupie of one of the Orange Lederhosen guys was there taking photos, so Chuck yells is that your jeep. Chuck can’t help himself when it comes to Jeeps, he is one of those Jeep guys. It didn’t belong to Orange Lederhosen, but to another volunteer who was on the dock, so Chuck yells, “man that’s a nice jeep”. About 30 minutes later we made it to the canoe take-out and had to carry the canoe over a wall and up a hill, I think that was the hardest part of the entire race, but what made it worse was after huffing and puffing and almost killing ourselves to carry it up to the parking lot, one guy sitting in the parking lot, walks over, picks up the canoe, puts it over his head and carries it to the trailer and throws it on top, show off.
We head out to CP12 when we get to it, there is a note that says it’s at the top of the stairs, they were stairs that climbed up the side of a long rock face, there were 316 steps with some long walkways to get to the top. It’s a good thing I was Chuck’s teammate and not Robin, this would have killed her tailbone.
Soon we were at the bike drop, I was ready to go in no time since I had platform pedals and didn’t have to change shoes, Chuck was taking a little longer to get his shoes on, so while I waited, I ate a turkey sandwich, I was so hungry, it was like having king crab legs. We took off down the road, which was a good choice, we cut off the road and crossed a field, where we ran straight into the CP. Next we had to ride through some tough mushy terrain and then bike whack to the CP, we were passing teams that took another direction to get to the first bike point and of course we ran smack into Orange Lederhosen again, we just couldn’t shake them all day. Once we got back out onto the gravel roads Chuck stops right in front of us and jumps off his bike yelling something that we couldn’t make out, then he grabs a hubcap laying on the ground and says, this is the hubcap like the one missing on my van. Orange Lederhosen said they had duct tape and could tape it to his pack, but he declined saying we would drive back and get it after the race. So he throws it in the field and Derrick says “hey put it against the tree where you can see it” and Chuck says “no way, someone else might get it”. I’m pretty sure no one was going to drive by and take that hub cap. Then as we rode further I saw a Red Solo cup, oh and I bet you can guess what happened, that stupid Red Solo cup song was now stuck in my head.
We continued through the bike CP’s riding gravel and hills, it was almost all hills, We ran into a few dogs, they didn’t really chase us, just barked and ran in front of us mostly, except for the three dogs laying on the chewed up truck seat that was sitting in the front yard of what I would have thought was a condemned trailer, but someone was actually living there, it was just east of GOA WAY rd. The dogs barked, but I’m guessing they had chased enough adventure races that by the time we got there, they were too tired to chase us.
We also came across a few horses and one in particular did not like bikes or maybe he just didn’t like me and Chuck, but he was just jumping around making all kinds of noise, I’m glad he was in a fence, all the other animals we passed weren’t. By the time we hit CP29, both Chuck and I were ready to have our butts off those bike seats. We had figured that we would be given another O section and then a bike to the finish, but once again, wrong. The O section led us to the finish on foot. I have never been so glad to hear that I didn’t have to get back on the bike.
We quickly plotted the points and chatted for a minute with Orange Lederhosen, they had missed one CP on the bike, I guess they were riding too fast to see it. We headed out to the next O section and found ourselves trekking across some burned terrain, it was very rocky and black from fire, and it reminded me of the terrain that the tributes were competing in, in the book Catching Fire. If you haven’t read the Hunger Games series you should, so much of it will remind you of adventure racing. I’m glad I had on Swiftwick socks, if I hadn’t my socks would have been full of rock dust, but with these socks when I take them off my feet are as clean as when I put them on.
We picked up the first CP without a problem and headed to the next, it was a reentrant and there were about six teams all looking in the same place, it took about 10 minutes to find it, but we did. This was the only CP we had any problems with at all. It was starting to get dark as we headed to the next CP, so we pulled out our headlamps and I changed my batteries, since they had just about died while we were in the cave.
Another team was near us and we were all watching the time and contemplating if we could pick up both CP 34 and 36, and still make it to the finish line in time. Even with my newly bright headlamp I was having a hard time seeing, that usually happens when I get really tired. I had really been conscious of eating all day, I usually forget to do that enough and then end up bonking, but that wasn’t the case in this race, in fact, I had eaten two turkey sandwiches, HS waffle, HS Rocket Chocolate, Kind bar, two peach cups, and two V8 fruit juices. I probably ate more calories than I burned, but still I was body tired, but at least not bonking. We chose to go after CP 34 and then head in, the CP was out on a spur and we had to climb over a very large downed tree that was completely rotted out in the middle. After getting the CP and heading to the finish, I tried to get over the tree, but ended up just rolling over it on my belly. Chuck looked back, I can’t imagine what he was thinking, but he said, “what are you doing” I said “trying to get over this tree and I’m stuck” instead of pulling me over, he just says, “don’t fall into the rotted middle of that, you don’t know what could be living in there”. Shoot, here I am in the dark, I’m dog tired, stuck on a tree and he has to tell me something may be living right under me. Well, I did roll off that tree pretty fast after he said that. As we made our way down a jeep road headed for the finish a team came up behind us and Chuck asked them if they thought there was still BBQ left at the finish line. They said “We hope so, that’s why we are trying to pass you, we want to get to the food before you do”
The team passed us and finished and we were just a few yards behind them, then we turned in our passport and had our photos taken, we had finished! Oh and the food, Chuck and I both had some BBQ, but it was the bottom of the bucket and Orange Lederhosen got the rest, we barely made it in time for the food and it was totally worth it. Emma was looking for Orange Lederhosen and asked if we saw where they went, we said nope, they just got their food and were gone. Emma says “You give them whiskey and they just disappear”, we are still laughing about that.
We look pretty spiffy in our new Team Cyclery jerseys, I mean I (Lula), look pretty spiffy wearing Robin’s new Team Cyclery jersey. I know, I look incredibly like Robin, we might be related somehow. And we didn’t go get the hubcap, because Chuck is trading in his adventure van for an Adventure Jeep. Which is a whole ‘nother story……