Race map with really rough route marked in
Actual race report with pics and everything
First race back from the ankle with Heather (scallywagz) and Tyler Sgro. Course layout and rules were simple. Any points, any order, any mode. One bonus point was available for anyone that got a paddle point due to the burly portage required. Bikes and boats must finish at TA (Which was different than S/F). That was it. Crusty old purists will scoff, but it made for a nice beginner friendly setup, and still provided some route selection challenge for the more experienced racers.
We opted to hit the boats first to get 13, 14, 15, and 21-24. That would be 8 points right out of the gate thanks to the burly portage CP. The portage was indeed burly but I stuck Tyler (25 and fit) in crappy front/downhill position of carrying the boat over our heads. Heather carried all the paddling gear and looked like one of those crazy people on a shopping game shows from the 80’s and 90’s.
Paddle was simple for 21-24, Tyler was being a goof (kind of his thing) and poor Heather was a champ sitting in the bottom of the boat while trying to paddle. Shortest person on the floor in the fattest part of the boat. Might not have been good strategy there. After clearing the paddle points we beached the boat at E end of lake. Grabbed 14 then 13. On the way east to 15 I got a little twitchy and climbed up too soon but realized it before we even reached the ridge. Kept moving past a couple other mildly perplexed teams to 15. Tried to go direct back to the boats on the long spur N of 14 but got cliffed. Should have known better on that one. I may have let the adrenaline take over a bit on this section. Heather thought my surgery scar was just a tattoo and Tyler realized he wouldn’t have as much time to be comic relief.
Quick paddle back to the boat put-in where Tyler and I hucked the boat up to the TA while Heather resumed her crazy shopper imitation with all the paddling gear. This definitely sucked, but wasn’t as bad as I had feared. Tyler made the mistake of checking our progress less than half way up. That made him sad. He shouldn’t have done that.
Next was to the bikes and it was a series of three points (16, 17, 18) where we rode close, dropped bikes, snagged the CP, then back to the bikes. Then we rode around to the trail head for the jeep road and trekked to 19. Spot on for this one, but drifted a little south on the way to 20. Knew it pretty much right away though and didn’t lose time. Heard cows or dinosaurs near here. Not clear which. I was “rabbitting” the last few meters to each control on this section to kind of test out the legs and ankle. Legs were great, ankle was pretty good.
Tyler was on a park map with all the points transposed to it. This was awesome and we were both on/in the maps really well to this point.
Biking the jeep road started good, then went bad for a bit causing brief concern, then back to good real quick. Hit the gravel then the pavement for a fast ride to CP3. A dreaded “answer the question where the answer is on one of these 300 gravestones” CP was thankfully a piece of cake, they used a grave stone right at the front of the cemetery. (Thanks for that RDs!) Quick food and electrolyte break then we were on our way to the single track.
The multi-use trail started a bit dodgy but transitioned to decent quickly. CP2 was super clean and quick. Opted to trek up to CP1 rather than mess around with the biking. Might have been a wash as the trails weren’t super bad, nor was the climb. Headed up the big spur on bikes to CP4. Jumped the gun way early on CP4 but realized it quickly and corrected. Dropped the bikes near the hill and trekked to 5. An early micro-hill with pond had me baffled but Tyler was spot on and we kept moving to 5. Uncooperative veg on they way to 6 and this is where I tweaked the ankle a bit and planted my face. No permanent damage though. Trailish path on the spur up from 6 so got back to the bike quick.
Stil not sure that trekking from 5 to 6 was the best, but it was nice to get on the bikes and haul all the way to 7 not having to worry about 6. Took a little time with CP7 due to all kinds of parallel error potential but nailed it. Tyler was a big help yet again with the park map.
The ride down to 8 was the most technical trails by far. Loose and rocky. That pretty much made up our minds to drop bikes near 8 and trek to 9 then 10. (Conversation after the race with teams that rode the loop confirmed this choice.) CP9 was relatively clean, just headed south too soon from the main ridge and had to traverse around on the correct spur. CP10 was frustrating in that we almost walked right to it. If we had looked to our right at the correct time we would have seen it. Unfortunately we headed up the ridge first (my call), realized the mistake and headed back down. We stopped about 15 meters from the control so Tyler and I could discuss the strategic elements of how to find the control. Heather chose to point and say “there it is”. Heather’s approach was best.
From there it was a quick trek back to the bikes and then a ride over to what we called the “cyclocross” portion. The red trails were “no part of the bike can touch the trails” trails. It was “only” 300 meters of “easy” trail, or so I said. Turned out that we had to go down a crazy steep ladder/stair thing, then through a rock arch, then make a wrong turn down a stream bed and small cliff for 10 meters (this part was optional and my doing), then through some narrow rocks to more normal trail. By far the most painful part of the race as our bikes repeatedly tried to beat us senseless.
Back at the boat put in it was a quick ride up to the TA to drop the bikes, grab some of the absolute BESTEST watermelon ever, then jog back to the finish with 20 minutes to spare. Cleared the course and managed a first place finish. Better than I had hoped for in the first race back, especially with the heat. Overall we functioned great as a team. Everyone was on the same page and worked really really well together. Had a total blast!