Tuesday, October 5, 2010


After successfully completing the Leadville trail 100 in August I thought I would be content to sit on the couch and eat my way into hibernation for the winter. Once again I was wrong. I found myself searching for an outlet for all the fitness I had gained over the summer. Of course, I had thrown myself into the world of mud and cowbells but as fun as that was it wasn't really making use of the huge diesel engine that I had built on the bike. Right about then, my mentor Jason suggested we team up for a one day adventure race. Sign me up! Crap, what the heck have I done, I haven't been running, I have no idea how to orienteer, unless they let me use my iPhone, and from what I have heard Jason is notorious for getting lost on the navigational sections. At least I had done some kayak training, well maybe not training, but I had been in a kayak in May. Muscle memory don't fail me now. If nothing else, we would rock the mountain bike sections because after all I had become a mountain biker this year. I knew that section wouldn't cause me any problems. Friday night before the race we packed up the car with 5 bikes, 2 dogs, 3 people and a plethora of gear to make the trek up island to the race venue. Luckily, our kayak would be delivered to the lake for us, we obviously had no room for it.

On our way to adventures

Our journey up island was quite scenic, well from the right hand side of the car, I couldn't see out the left. We got to Cumberland and checked in for our race. Before I go any further in my story telling I need to let everyone know that Jason is usually a contender for overall win at this race. He won't admit it but he is a big deal in these parts, little did they know that he had not imported a ringer but rather an anchor from California. Prior to the start though, no one knew this so I could pretend in my head that I was something too!

Race morning dawned bright and early. We got ourselves to the start. Got the dogs situated and got our gear in the appropriate places. One hour prior to the start we got a map that showed the order of events and a rough idea of where we would be going. The race was to go like this, kayak, mountain bike, run/trek section, mountain bike, urban trek, orienteering. We were to carry all of our gear, fluid, and nutrition with us. Jason carried our mandatory gear, hey, that space blanket might have really slowed me down! Our team was ready to go!

Two people who have never been in Cliff Clavens kitchen

We got about 5 minutes to warm up in the kayak and then we were on the start line. We lined up right at the front because according to my team captain, we wanted open water and no chance of someone t-boning us off the line when they weren't able to steer their boat. We rocked off the start and were paddling like we had paddled together forever. After a super clean and fast start we decided to use brain over brawn and we got ourselves up to a boat that was going straight on the correct line and sat in the draft. Of course a few times we got a little too close, those boys didn't like getting rammed from behind at all! Seems they didn't find my sense of humour very amusing either. Or, it could be that they were annoyed that I kept talking and they were working very hard while I sat in their draft. Maybe, they should get a bigger engine in the back of their boat next time! The paddle was over 10km in distance and we were the first coed team out of the water. If the Canadian National team is looking for paddlers, they can contact me through this blog. That one training session back in May seemed to do the trick, although my arms and upper back felt that the muscle memory was slightly weak!

Once out of the boats we were on to the mountain bikes. Fantastic, this is the one area where I knew I would do well and be just fine. I had ridden all summer, my skills were mad and I was a mountain biker. My amazing biking skills shined for all of 5 minutes. Then I hit the mud, literally. Going through a puddle following Jason's fast wheel I somehow picked up a stick into my front spokes and instantly braked myself. There were some load noises and a cracking sound. I now know that the cracking was the stick but at the time, I wondered if it was my bike or body. Of course, this crash had to be witnessed by all the teams behind us, damn, I wish we had paddled slower! I got up and bloodied and muddied remounted my bike. I told myself that was just a freak incident that could have caught anyone, I was still an amazing mountain biker, I had finished Leadville after all.

We got to the end of that mountain biking stage without any more incidents. I had ridden over roots, mud and managed to get through the windy, twisted narrow BC single track. On the trek stage we set off and made our way up and down steep hillsides and across creeks and freshly logged cuts to all the checkpoints. Jason did a fantastic job planning our route and we made up some time we had lost with my super violent crash earlier. (hey, I'm not embellishing at all, the guy behind me called it violent!)

The trek ended pretty uneventfully after 1 hour and 31 minutes. Not that I am counting the minutes but did I mention that I hadn't run over 1 hour 10 minutes since May 2nd? Not to mention that this running involved steep up and downs, man am I a rock star or what! This next mountain bike stage is going to be great, we are totally going to win our category. How can we not, now that we are back into the stuff I am prepared for? The first climb back onto the bikes I was right into a groove and passed a guys team. Woohoo, we are in it to win it! Lets go after it Jason. For some reason the sticks in Canada have an intense desire to humble me. Just when I thought I was going to really get my groove on a stick jumped out of the bushes and rammed itself into my left knee. Intense pain and instant swelling but only a small puncture wound. After a few minutes of ragged breathing on the side of the trail, I did not cry, we decided to see if I could keep riding. Luckily, we came to a gravel road section but the only thing that was fast about this section was the knee swelling. Jason nursed me along and we got to the next checkpoint where they informed us that we were going to be riding some of the best trails EVER now. I couldn't withdraw now, I wanted to experience this great riding! Onward and upward. (These trails deserve a post of their own so I will skip now to the rest of the race).

The urban trek was eliminated due to the course taking much longer than anticipated (that is a slight hint on my next post) so we headed directly to the orienteering section. Now, because my team mate has a reputation for sometimes losing his way navigating, I was prepared and provided him with extra incentive for staying on course. Even though I eat vegan, I have one exception to that, for pure survival reasons I will stray from my plant based diet. I did reassure Jason that I would not kill to eat flesh but if it was dead, I would eat it. Since, I have much more body fat than he does, I was pretty sure which of us would last longer! This seemed to work,  not only did we not get lost we managed to find all the checkpoints quickly and efficiently and make our way to the finish line. Woohoo, Two people who have never been in Cliff Clavens kitchen have finished MOMAR, despite a harrowing encounter with a beaver!

Adventure is worthwhile in itself- Amelia Earhart

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