mntn bike 7:30:00 
My favourite WT bike course yet (maybe any course) because it was pretty much all fun with no $h!tty parts. Fast course under fast conditions. Racing with Will again this year but this time (despite recently turning 17) he was not the rookie. The rest of the team was Mike P (experienced, solid racer) and John N (determined rookie and all 'round nice guy).
I suspect John had the most expensive bike on the course (new Elsworth uber something... frame made of Unobtanium and chain made with Mike Tyson's melted down fillings) and he gave it a good working over. He took a small spill early in the crowded start as a result of being too polite ... a fault I lack while racing :-) ... no harm done and we hung with the mid pack through the 13 km ish nav bobble and out to the power lines, where we started to pass some teams. John took a flat (running tubeless @ 28PSI?) and we lost about 30 minutes trying to figure out how to get the back wheel off. It was SOOO hard to pull the skewer out that we thought we must be doing something wrong.. eventually we pried it out of frustration and managed to get it moving. Back on track and hit CP 1 right in mid-pack.
About 10 km out from CP2, while travelling on one of several marked roads that did not match the map!? :-) , Johns cramps got the best of him as his Vastus Medialis went into major spasm. A bit of rest and Dan from Adrenelin Rush gave him some calcium and after while he was moving again.... until about 5 km from CP2 when he ripped his derailer off and snapped his chain as a result of the combination of chain suck on a climb and immeasurable quad strength.
Adrian loaned us an extra derailer, but fortunately we were able to use the original after replacing the drop out. The chain was badly twisted and after re-linking it we needed to use pliers to 'straighten' a couple of links to the point of making it rideable. Twice now we used John's leatherman.. a tool that I would not have brought on my own!
We limped the rest of the bike in constant fear that his chain would break if we pedaled too hard. Tried some towing until the tow got ripped off the back of my bike from the strain... actually, come to think of it.. this bike really sucked! Just kidding, it was a great course and we were only racing to complete the full course, so there was none of the typical stress associated with mechanicals... as can be attested to by our hour long transitions!! :-)
TA1... about an hour, ice cream, stag chilli, pita's, coke, etc ...even lay down for about 10 mins :-)
trekking 9:43:00 
Left CP3 and quickly went for a swim... REFRESHING!!!
I don't trust the terminal ends of 'roads' on old maps.... they are often either now fully paved and go all the way through to something else, OR non-existent. We were on the easy-pace conservative race plan so I opted to stay left (east) of our targeted road for a while and then fade west into it. Also, if it didn't exist I would have better catch features to re-locate. Turns out the first road was gone or never existed and we moved WAY faster through this bush than I expected... it was really sweet bush-whacking. We weren't planning on any running but I did have roads built into the plan, because when someone is cramping it's much easier to walk a road than to be constantly stepping over or climbing things. We caught the road below what would have been the first intersection and followed it to Gordon lake & CP 4 - manned by the Yip's and his new-found friends who gave us some beer!!
4-5 was uneventlful. We did use another road on the map that, not unexpectantly, fizzled out early. The tracker shows a little 'bobble' for us at that point? Not sure I understand that.. I'll have to look at the topo to figure out exactly what that was... I think it was a conservative correction to avoid a swamp when our road disappeared? I still maintain that while CP 5 was at the correct campsite that either the CP location on the map or the lake shoreline on the map were incorrect by about 1-200meters. .. just enough to give 1-2 minutes of self doubt when you hit the shoreline and look down the lake for the CP. (awesome cheese and crackers served up by 'Bent and the gang at CP5)
5-6 also straight forward. It was getting dark, so true to our conservative plan we decided not to shorewalk to Little Wilson from Horseshoe. The contours looked like we may get cliffed out so we popped up and over with a plan to stay high until Wilson Lake and then swim across. We saw a fire on the shore and came down a bit early. The shore looked pretty easy for walking but the far shore looked like a good spot to gain high land again so we took a 15-20 rest for everyone to refuel and recoup before our swim (temp was starting to drop pretty good) and then crossed about midway between Little Wilson and Wilson.
We already knew that the terminal ends of these roads were sketchy at best so we made sure to stay east of the road for 1-2 km again before drifting back west to intercept it.. which worked out perfectly.. and we walked the road/trail all the way to CP6 from about mid-way down Wilson Lake.
paddling 8:26:00 
CP6/TA2 - CP7
We got dry and warm and then took our time getting out of the TA again... maybe less than an hour this time :-) John struggled a bit as he got colder and more tired but he totally pushed through it... awesome experience gained in his first overnighter! Will nodded once and almost tipped their boat... Mike put the fear of a paddle whacking into him and that didn't happen again. We caught up to Hafke on one of the portages and with John and I following up the rear we followed Hafke up the wrong channel in the fog/mist, before the last portage into Wallace Lake.. that sucked bad and cost us about 45-60 minutes. Other than that it was just as planned. We portaged the long way around from the south end of Wallace to Marsh and passed two teams while giving our sleepy guys a chance to wake/warm up and then we proceeded on to the TA.
Thanks for the TEA at CP7!!
trekking 1:23:00 
TA3 -- record setting for us ... maybe 5 mins.. Hafke was coming and we decided to race the last 10 km of the race?!?!?! :-)
We did the AR shuffle pretty much to the highway and never saw Hafke... then when we got on the bridge we saw them running out of the bush.. Doah!! So we jogged it in the last 2 km to hold lucky 13th spot.
.. and our late 'burst of energy' had us crossing about 15 minutes before Suzi arrived!!! :-( too bad we couldn't have been a little slower, it's always nice to have your family at the finish and even better when it's a surprise!!!
Huge thanks to all the volunteers and staff.. awesome race! Best yet! Perhaps even life-changing for John! Feedback on the race coverage/reporting has all been super positive as well!!
My team was great. John learned a lot and pushed through a couple of low points like a trooper. Will was great and had no problems at all this year (except a bike that lost a number of low gears early on) and Mike.. what can you say about a guy that comes on board with 2-3 weeks notice, is totally solid, 100% positive influence and everyone can't wait to see him again soon.
Huge Dinner followed by beers on the dock back at GHL were the perfect cap off to an excellent weekend! (while Will took the Popik Boyz fishing)
TA and stop times are all included in there somewhere(s)