Adventure Race 16:15:00  34.32 mi (28:25 / mi) +651m 26:50 / mi
ahr:124 max:163 41c
Traverse City Edition w/ Cris C
I had a simple wish - to possibly get back the 3.5 minutes or so I lost to BCB and BNM at Silver Lake. Or put enough pressure on the Top Five to crack it.
Pre race bracket:
1. MRA. 70 miles of gravel w/ Tony, extensive experience, how can you argue against them?
2. Sparks & Jorden. Insane fitness, and Richard's been doing well navigation wise. Any bobbles will be compensated by SEVENTY MILES OF GRAVEL
3. Kiwis. I originally left them out of the Top Five, because they have unusual variation on their performance. And are as likely to stop at a backyard bbq along the way as hammer along.
4. BNM + Voit. Voit is a top notch navigator, I enjoyed my master class studying his technique at WT 2018. BNM has 210 mile gravel fitness, and this has 70 miles of it.
5. BCB & JB. BCB has the tools to navigate, any bobbles would be offset by SEVENTY MILES OF GRAVEL
I originally had us top five, but bumped out when I added Kiwis back in.
I was well prepared for this race. Not perfectly, but things conspired so the car was mostly packed on time, I had all of Friday off. That was nice.
The race started with a quick sprint to the bikes. I did fine, but took too long to get going. And everyone TOOK OFF. People were flying. We had to have been bottom 10% within five minutes. Also, my bike, which everyone insists is garbage but I insist is adequate, decided to be 1x6, so 16 mph @ 90 rpm top end. Oof. Hi, people passing us downhill. I would later discover this was not the bike's fault, but mine, because I am an idiot.
So there were a lot of bikes at the paddle put in, but we switched fast and had the best boat parking. There were nicely a lot of little out and backs sprinkled through the course which were not grating but rather gave one a chance to gage position. We saw a lot of strong teams ahead of us making good time. Gibbard and Steve smoked the paddle, and I feared that my thoughts of them dark horsing someone who screwed up at night were furthered.
My odometer was reading off, despite being within a percent or two on my last ride, so the bike nav was going to be unnecessarily tricky, but we made our way to the awesome single track (so smooth!) and got through it. One wrong move after six, but trusted compass and let another team do more single track
At the first trek, we elected to take a very conservative route. I modified my normal predominantly terrain-based daytime technique to have a lot more bearing and pace, and tried to tell Cris what were doing because that keeps me honest. We were really clean, banging them off. A funny bit: thought one was really steep, but that was in fact a road to it, sorry for unnecessary bushwhacking, Cris. 12 was the trickiest one, tried to read a soft spur at night far from anchor points, with bonus trails and headlights in random locations. I finally caught the valley that locked it in, boom. Saw Richard a hill west and may have given him a hint.
Surprisingly, we came out of the trek in second! Fastest split! MRA was ahead by 12 minutes (15 by the time we left).
So we expected to be 3rd or 4th at the next TA, given the Kiwis would run us down and Richard and Jorden cracked the sound barrier pace lining by, but MRA had taken a sandier route and we were still second!
14 and 15 went well, but for 16 I discounted what would be the correct two tracks as nothing significant, esp. as a another nearby road was so much stronger. But it was the wrong road. Trusted compass and stopped. Tried to bushwhack it straight, but misread bowls and it was thick. Bailed to correct trail and converged with Kiwis. Cris thinks 30 minutes lost, I think slightly less, more like 20? Well-saved I think.
We were with or yo young with the Kiwis for a long time, finally splitting up on the bike to Kalkaska. Mark billed it as a refreshing break, and it sounded boring beforehand, but it was welcome to not be in sand!
A couple hours later we made it to the third trek. I thought I took a conservative choice, but was a little sketchy to our first, struggling to read very soft spurs. Plus we moved slowly, so despite a short 400 m, it felt like forever and I thought I would end up in the lakes. But we pressed on, and nailed it. It was a good reminder to be precise on bearing and pace to make those feature corrections easier. We were super tidy for the rest of them, loving the one between marshes.
Despite Cris's best wishes, I persisted with my idea that we would skip the two track maze north of 33, but instead park, wade the Boardman, and hike the 400 m each way to the point. The Boardman was only waist deep, and quite refreshing, so it worked well.
I was now all out of bike power. I longed for Cris to have a tow. We slowly made out way, fearful that BNM or BCB were about to reel us in. We stopped at the wrong oil rig until realizing it should be around a bend. By the time we got to the last trek, I was in rough shape. We suspect I was overheated a bit, having not much shade on the last bike. The good news was that even in my degrading state, I was still good on the map, mumbling a lot but with accurate guidance and bad jokes as Cris towed me around the course.
We ended up...again! with the Kiwis at the final foot point. They ran to the paddle put in and got out ahead. I wanted to chase them to the hard one. They arrive first but didn't see it. We had lost the instructions at this point, and couldn't remember the clue. We scampered up and down the bank. Where?? I spotted it, waved a thumbs up to Cris, and then lost it! Argh! Finally I spotted it again and gave Tim a whistle as that seemed fair. We got into the boat first and had a tiny margin.
En route to our second to last point, some single bladers came roaring up. OH NO! BCB and Joe caught us! I was heartbroken. Cris called for us to keep up, but how do you keep up with super paddlers when you are spent? Thankfully, after our last point, we realized they still needed the other one...and the trek. Phew!
We sprinted for the finish for third, having oddly managed to hold off the Kiwis, perhaps because of trying to stay with BCB/JB. Woo hoo! And totally MRA'd it, showered and presentable by the cut off.
Satisfied, although still apprehensive about WT because my strength here was not in stamina.
1. Sparks & Jorden (2)
2. MRA (1)
3. CC & JC (6)
4. Kiwis (3)
5. We Will Survive (5)