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Monday, October 29, 2012

The Monster ride

What better month than October to join in a Monster ride on the Katy Trail? No, not the "things that go bump in the night" kind of monsters (sorry, Pensive Pumpkin!), but the kind that's titanium and oh, so pretty.  A few months ago, Monster Bicycle Co's Jim Smith posted about doing a long, self-supported endurance ride on Missouri's Katy Trail, and before he knew what had happened it turned into a Mrs. Cross-supported social ride. A party on wheels, if you will.

Since the party ride was going west from Jefferson City (well, Jim was actually starting 40 miles sooner in Columbia, but I didn't want any part of that craziness) towards St. Charles (which isn't all that far from where I live), transportation was a bit of an issue for me.  I did have a few options:
  • Beg my husband to drive me the 2.5 hours to Jeff City (not gonna happen)
  • Drive myself to Jeff City, bike the 100 miles to St. Charles, catch a ride back to  Jeff City, and then turn around and drive the 2.5 hours home (not remotely appealing)
  • Bike alone from St. Charles to where the group was camping in Hermann (what, and miss all the fun?)
  • Take the train.
I opted for (d) take the train, and despite some serious anxiety about the whole thing (I really need a grown-up to travel with me and deal with all the details, a nice personal-assistant type person. Anyone interested in the job? It doesn't pay well at all.) it went pretty smoothly.  My worries about my gigantic bag not fitting the carry-on measurements (something I maybe should have looked into before I had left home for the weekend) and where my bike would be were completely unfounded. I mentioned being concerned about my bag size to the station volunteer, and she replied, "Honey, this isn't the airlines."  Still, I didn't feel completely relaxed about it until I was on the train...with my bike right next to me.

Plenty of leg room. #Amtrak #bike #KatyTrail
Riding in style...
It was a great way to travel.  I had my row to myself, plenty of leg room, a plug right next to my seat so I could charge my phone, and someone else to drive so that I could work on a project for my class play on my phone for the whole trip.  All this for $29 (my ticket was $19, plus an extra $10 for my bike)...less than the gas for the drive would have cost me!  There was one slight hiccup when, despite the fact that Christina warned me about the Homecoming parade that night, Bob got caught by the parade when he came to get me.  No big deal...I pulled out Robyn Benincasa's book and read til he found a way through...and we got to drive in the parade on the way out.  (I'm sure everyone we passed thought, Lamest. float. ever.)

I hadn't eaten dinner and Bob still had to put his bike together for the weekend ride, so we did the smart thing and put off both of those things to hit up a gathering at Aaron's --a pre-party party, if you will -- with some of the other guys and their wives/girlfriends.
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Adam's new ride
A few hours, many laughs, and several drinks later we headed back to Bob's, where he and Cara were kind enough to let me stay for the night.  Even though Bob didn't start dealing with his bike til the next morning and I had a major headache when I woke up, we weren't super late to meet the rest of the crew and might have been close to on time if I hadn't needed a diet Pepsi on the way there.

We met up with Aaron and Jim at the Jefferson City trailhead.  Luke wasn't able to be there in person because his daughter had a big concert that he couldn't miss.  I felt for him, having had my own experience with missing out on things you really want to do because they conflict with things you can't miss when Bob scheduled the inaugural Cedar Cross the same day as my baby's First Communion.  Feeling for him didn't mean that I didn't totally enjoy rubbing it in, though, and Luke was very much there in spirit with us, keeping me entertained most of the day with all the fun he was having without us.

I bet you don't have Catwoman on your stupid ride, do you? CATWOMAN!! (please note Luke's lines are written in green, the color of jealousy)
No, but I do have a splitting headache, so there.
Good. I hope you all puke.

Nobody puked, but even before we started Aaron noticed that his front tire seemed to be going flat and my rear wheel had a significant wobble. Rather than deal with either issue, we just put them off: "Meh...it's only five hours." That was our guess, anyway, for how long the 40 miles to our campsite in Hermann would take us.  I'd been worried about being able to keep up with the guys since I know they're all waaaay stronger bikers than me -- and let's face it, my natural bike pace is basically the cycling version of a stroll -- but Jim's additional 40 miles, Bob's repeated flats, and Aaron's towing his 4 year old daughter in a trailer helped even things out a bit.

And we have a giant pumpkin! Booyah!

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Dog shows!!!!!
Governor's mansion and capitol!!!
Free turkey hats!!! BOOM!

We rode in changing configurations depending on the conversational flow, and Jim and I hit Tebbetts together ahead of Aaron and Bob.  There was a nice group of people stopped there at the trailhead, two couples probably 5-10 years older than me. They weren't bikers but had decided a few months ago that a multi-day ride on the Katy Trail would be a fun adventure.  I think they were enjoying themselves, and hopefully they found a new love for biking while they were out there.

 It'll come as no surprise to you that we've already lost Bob and Aaron.
I am shocked.  Check the bars.

When Bob and Aaron caught up after having to stop for a flat tire, we all checked out the Katy  Trail Shelter, where travelers can stay the night for $5.  It's no-frills, but it's dry and air-conditioned.  Neat little place.


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 First floor                                                             Second floor

Rappelling off tall buildings, bitches!! Take that!!!


The weather this fall has been a little crazy, swinging rapidly from 80's to 40's.  We'd been enjoying some warmer temperatures again, but the weekend was even nicer than we could have hoped.  By the time we started, it was pretty much perfect cycling weather.  Lunch was at the little country store in Mokane; I'm not the biggest fan of lunchmeat, but my two bags of potato chips sweetened the deal.  Meanwhile, the guys discovered the wonder powers of Starbucks mocha drinks, the clerk bought Aaron's daughter a toy out of the coin machine, and Bob got to change his flat tire.  All in all, a good stop.

Fried PB&J and fried Twinkies. Meat on a stick and funnel cake. Homemade root beer.  POW!

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Bob has his arm around Invisi-Luke
On our way into Mokane we'd seen signs of horses on the trail, and we left town not far behind a group of 15 or so horses.  Most of the bike people I know aren't big fans of horse riders; first, because we tend to have differing views about the grossness of horse poop on trails (a conflict which can be distilled into two sentences: "It's just chewed up grass!" "...that came out of your horse's ass!") and second, because mountain bike trail groups spend a lot of time building trails and advocating good stewardship (i.e., don't mountain bike when the trails are wet) only to have some horse riders do this to the trails.

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Riders ahead
Despite some fresh hard feelings brought on by the leaf-covered stealth horse poop being flung at us by other bike tires, trail etiquette dictates that bikes yield to everyone else, so when we got close enough for the people in back to hear us, we asked where would be a good spot to pass.  They were very cool about almost immediately moving over to the side and calling ahead to the people in front of them to move over for the bikes.

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Big rock and fall colors
Fall colors #katytrail
Fall colors near Portland
Brazilian dancing! Kaboom!!!

Despite having almost no long bike rides since June, I felt surprisingly good.  My butt was a little sore, but not too uncomfortable.  I'm not a good group rider if I'm in the front, though; because my balance is a little iffy, I have trouble turning around to check behind me.  I'm not good at keeping a consistent pace, either.

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Nothin' but blue skies...
Bob and I got separated from Aaron and Jim, so we picked up some really good Angry Orchard hard ciders in Rhineland and hung out watching for the other guys.  From Rhineland it was only a few miles to Hermann, our stop from the night, and as much as I was enjoying the ride I was also looking forward to being off my bike.

#katytrail #bike #monsterride
Bob and Jim
We stopped on a bridge right before the turnoff to Hermann to check out the huge carp. Well, the guys checkout out the carp and tried to point them out to Aaron's daughter and me.  I'm pretty sure the four year old saw them long before I did.  Maybe I need bifocals to go with my Depends.

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Bob discovered yet another flat
Bob tried airing up his flat to make do until we got into town, but that didn't last long.  He and Jim stayed on the road to fix it, and Aaron and I rode into town to get his daughter off the road as soon as possible. The ride into Hermann was made me a little nervous because we were riding along the highway...a highway being driven by people coming to Octoberfest which, far from being the gentle fall festival suggested in the website link, looked more like an out of control frat party attended by people way old enough to know better.

Luckily, we had a great, roomy campsite in Hermann's City Park (where I'd camped during my first Katy Trail ride) to ourselves, and once we met up with all the cars joining us (Jim's wife, Aaron's wife and baby boy, and Bob's fiancee) and changed, dinner was the next order of business.

 So, what did I miss?
Um, tons of drunk people, sitting waiting for food at Wings a Blazin. Sweet camping spot.  You're now caught up.

You're a wordsmith. It's like I'm there.

We had a great meal at Wings-a-Blazin', grabbed some hot chocolate on the way back, set up tents, and had a great time hanging out around the campfire.  It had definitely cooled off, so the fire felt great, and since I hadn't been able to convince my husband to come keep me warm I was really thankful for the extra blanket I'd borrowed from Bob and Cara.

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Home sweet home for the night
Sunday morning we packed up, ate some all you can eat breakfast back in Rhineland, said goodbye to Bob and Cara, and met up with Adam near the trailhead.  With 40 miles towing a 4-yr old and 60 miles ahead of us, Aaron had opted not to pull a trailer this time. That was a pretty good decision because Sunday was much breezier than Saturday; I have to think it would've been like towing a parachute.  Just after getting onto the trail we passed the couples we'd met the day before. They'd stayed at a B&B in Portland the night before.

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Could it be more beautiful?
This day's ride wasn't quite as relaxed as Saturday, but we weren't killing ourselves, either.

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Aaron and Jim
We stopped here and there to eat, use the bathroom, or just get off the bike seat (me) for a few minutes.

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Adam
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Cool old building in Treloar
I always hear about the famous Treloar cheeseburgers, but the restaurant was either not open because it was Sunday or not open because it was too early.  As far as I'm concerned, it's never too early to eat, but lunch did give me something to look forward to.  Our tentative plan was to ride to Augusta, which was more or less the halfway point, and eat some of the delicious food at the Augusta Brewery, but we were sidetracked in Dutzow and ended up eating there (and watching part of Sweet Home Alabama...I love that movie).

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Love this shirt on the motorcycle rider. 
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I have no idea where this picture was taken, but I love the bridge.
When we reached Augusta, we were pretty happy with our decision to eat early. It was pretty packed. Somebody had to use the bathroom or refill water and there was a bit of a line, so I laid down on the grass to rest. I could have stayed there all day...all too soon it was time to head down the trail. I did take the opportunity to change shirts, though. It was over 80 and HOT, and because of my pack I couldn't use my jersey pockets anyway. The tank was much cooler...and how often can you go sleeveless in mid-October?

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We stopped briefly to check out the bluffs along the trail near Augusta. Apparently there used to be rock climbing allowed there, which would have been cool (and terrifying).

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Some serious erosion going on
We stopped in Defiance for water and ice cream, and while we were hanging out enjoying our treats we saw a Jim Davis's Team Seagal kit ride by. Of course I had to yell for him to come join us and show off the new gold bike he'd picked up at a flea market.

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Trail monster sighting!
We hung out for a while, then he rode with us til it was time for him to turn towards home. 

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Boys club :)
...but not before getting a parting shot of our group.

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Kate, Jim, Aaron, Adam
Don't let the smile fool you...for whatever reason I'd thought we were turning off at the Busch Greenway, so I was pretty disappointed when Jim rode away and we headed further East on the Katy Trail.  Not unhappy, but that feeling you have when the happy surprise you were expecting doesn't materialize.

Despite Jim's extra 40 miles the previous day and Aaron's 40 miles towing a toddler, they seemed like they only got stronger.  Me, on the other hand, I was definitely dragging the last 10 miles or so.  The wind would start to blow again, and I'd think Really? Come on... I did have a nice distraction not too far from Greens Bottom when I inched towards the crossroad before riding into it and a woman swerved into the gravel (to use it as a right turn lane? to park?) and almost hit me before swerving around me.  Heart beating a little faster, I rode on ahead.

I was pretty delighted to reach the turn to Jim's inlaws' neighborhood, and though I'd been inwardly dreading the hills Jim had warned about, they turned out to be fairly gentle..and at the end of the line was a beautiful deck, cold drinks, and a great supper that Janie and her dad had prepared for us.  It was a fantastic end to a great weekend.  And to be honest, I'd spent Friday toying with the idea of staying home.  It had been a LONG week at work -- three 11 hour days -- and busy/stressful at home.  All I wanted was to go home and sleep until the alarm went off Monday morning.  Luckily, my FOMO (fear of missing out) kicked in and I realized I'd regret it if I skipped out on the ride.  I knew I'd have fun once we got started, and I was right.  It couldn't have been a much better weekend. Big thanks to Jim for planning it, to Bob and Cara for hosting me Friday night, and to Jessica and Janie for schlepping stuff around for us. 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Death by CX

When my last post left off, I was driving home from a fantastic ten-hour orienteering meet.  My little car was ridiculously full, stuffed with my race pack, clothes bag, sleeping mat, (soaked) sleeping bag, (drenched) tent, cooler...and my bike.  I hadn't needed it for orienteering, but knowing there was a race on my way home, I'd brought my bike just in case an opportunity presented itself.

When we had to be back in Jefferson City early for Bob to get to work, I was actually a little excited at the thought of racing, but a full night's rain put a damper on my race spirits.  All that rain meant that the course was sure to be soaked, and I was leery of riding in the mud.  "If it rained in St. Louis anything like it did here," Bob pointed out, "that course is going to be a muddy mess..."

"I know..." I groaned, thinking that was a good reason to go straight home, but then Bob continued, "...and you'll regret missing that."

I was unconvinced, but I couldn't let go of the idea of racing.  In the end, despite some good reasons not to enter (I raced 10 hours the day before, I suck at cyclocross), the deciding factor was this: I wasn't too tired or sore to race; I was scared of the mud.  That's a wimpy reason to go home, so I let the car carry me to Queeny Park.

Susan was one of the first people I saw, and she told me that Kristen was already out pre-riding the course.  Having some familiar faces around made me feel better, and I registered before I could change my mind. I was afraid if I waited til after riding the course I'd chicken out, but the preride itself wasn't bad.  Yes, the course had some seriously muddy areas, but I got through them ok.  In fact, despite the one steep run-up hill, I felt much better after my practice lap than I had the week before at Gordon Moore.  I wouldn't say I felt confident, but the pre-race nausea subsided.  I had a good time hanging out and talking before the race, and it was great to see Kelly, who I haven't seen since last November's mountain bike weekend.

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Start line
Lining up at the start with all the other women with my stinky race jersey and the messy braids I'd raced and slept in, I was much less nervous than during my CX debut. That didn't mean that the race went any better than last week, though.  As in every bike race I've ever done, I started terribly.  Seemed like it took me forever to get clipped in, and before we'd gone 30 feet I was off the back.

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This stretch is just past the above picture.  And by the time I was here, everyone else was entering the wooded area.
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Turning to the muddy section
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It was muddier than it looks here.  Also, the course was somewhat less sloppy the longer the day went on.
 I was able to pass one or two women in the mud as my mountain bike seemed to handle it better than the cross bikes, but it wasn't long before I was dropped again.

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More mud
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The course comes from the right in the picture, towards the camera.

Bubba queeny Kelly Patty
I think this was the second or third lap, but I'm sure I looked that bad on the first, too. (Photo credit: Kelly Patty)
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Going towards the orange...through more mud...
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And then up a gentle uphill and across the field,
I was fairly close to Kristen, whose asthma was flaring up, and passed her when we went through the "lake", a flooded section of trail with room for one bike to get through on either side of the water.  She took right and got caught up in the mud; I went left where it ended up being more solid.  "Stay left next time," I told her, "this side's a lot better." 

For me, this was the sketchiest section of the course. (Photo credit: Mike Dawson)
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Riders come from the top of the picture...
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...around this turn to the right..
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Back out towards the pavement...

That was pretty much the end of the mud for that lap.  The trail curved around past the lake (a real lake) and then up a paved walkway.

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Coming out of the wooded area (on the left) and towards the pavement
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 I was passed on this hill a few times, and it's a little disheartening how easy everybody else makes it look.  

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One more muddy section

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It's a little hard to tell from this picture, but you come in near the top middle then curve around before riding down where the two closest riders are...from there sweeping towards the parking lot.

Once up the hill, there were a couple field switchbacks and then a gentle downhill that curved into the parking lot...

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Turn coming into the parking lot.


Bubba queeny stephanie nadeau
I love this picture, which was taken about where the two riders in the above picture are.  I look much more focused than terrified. :D (Photo credit:  Steph Nadeau)

...where I got a nasty surprise...

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Hill x 2

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Up on the right, down in the middle, and back up on the left.  Not cool.
On my practice ride, I'd had to dismount and run up one short-ish steep hill.  Between my ride and the race start, they'd added another run-up hill.  It was a little spirit-killing to see it there, and to know it was coming on each subsequent lap.  My second "run-up" was much more of a walk-up with each lap.  From there we had a swoopy, gentler uphill, a flat paved section, back through the grass and past the start to our next lap.


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The lady with the dog was hilarious.  I'm sure she had no voice left by the end of the day.  Here they're giving beer handups.
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The course curves back and forth up the incline, then down pavement and more or less back to the start.
Each lap was around 1.5 miles, but I think cyclocross must take place in some other dimension where time and distance expand like the world inside the Narnia wardrobe; otherwise it would be impossible to pack that much suffering into 45 minutes.  Forget my wishful "that was easier than Gordon Moore" thinking from the practice lap.  It was hard, you guys.  But around every turn were friendly faces: Susan, riding around the course to cheer (and give constructive criticism on my remounting technique); Kristen's husband, Maddie's mom, Steph, people I met on a bike ride last winter, and the really loud lady cheering and giving beer handups at the top of the first hill, the guy whose little boy got a dose of profanity when I slid in the mud and almost fell (sorry about that), pretty much every woman who lapped me...in addition to all the encouragement that's a natural part of being the last-place struggler.

And yeah...last place.  13th out of 13.  I'd like to tell you I'd have done better on fresh legs, but I don't think that's true.  It was a skill and ability deficit rather than tired legs.  I got a crappy start, I was slow on hills and getting on and off my bike, and I haven't yet found that spot where I'm comfortable really pushing myself on the bike.  Too much la-di-da endurance-pace riding (well, not enough of that, either) rather than any kind of intervals or hill work.

None of this is to say that I'm upset about coming in last.  I'd like to be the kind of person who can jump into any kind of race and kick ass, but the fact is that I'm not.  And that's ok. For now it's enough to be the kind of person who will jump into a race and see what happens (and what'll happen at the next one :D).

Monday, October 15, 2012

O School

A large gap between big races is usually grounds for the onset of post-race depression, but Bonkhard Racing was kind enough to give me a little AR fix between the Berryman Adventure and Castlewood 8-Hour races. While the Perfect 10 Rogaine wasn't strictly an adventure race, ten hours of orienteering in Lake of the Ozarks State Park was good medicine for this girl. In fact, it was the perfect combination of race, low-pressure learning experience, and fun hanging out with friends.

Luke, Bob, and I were the only Team Virtus members who could make it, and Chuck and Lori registered as well. Unfortunately, Lori ended up opting to stay home to take pictures when their son's high school had the nerve to schedule Homecoming on race day. Also MIA were the Hoosier Daddies, who must not have wanted to miss their ballet lessons.

I left straight from work to meet the guys, and then we headed to Lake of the Ozarks. After grabbing supper and pitching our tents/hammocks in the dark, we hung out around the fire for a bit and then crashed. Big thanks to Luke for talking me into putting the rain fly on my tent; it definitely came in handy when my assertion that "it's not going to rain" was proved wrong.

We got to the race HQ in plenty of time to get checked in and get our maps right on time. The maps were pre-plotted, but checkpoints had differing values (ranging from 10-100 points), so strategy was key. As the guys started talking over route choices, I wandered around filling water bladders, getting numerous things I'd forgotten from the car, and putting on lipstick. Yeah, I know it's stupid, but it makes me feel better about pictures.  Overall, it was pretty typical pre-race behavior for me.

Ostensibly, we were all competing as solo racers, but I had every intention of sticking with one of the guys. I definitely need to practice my navigation, but my last solo outing wasn't confidence inspiring. For this race, I was excited to have my own copy of the map (in AR, the team has only one map or set of maps; in a rogaine, each team member gets a map).  I have a lot of trouble visualizing what the map is showing me, and I have a hard time connecting what I'm seeing in front of me with what's on the map.  I was hoping a day of comparing the map to our progress would help.

Bob wanted to get in some solo nav practice, so we planned to attack the first few points together and then split up afterwards.  Gary gave his last-minute instructions (which I missed because I was running some stuff back to the van), then everybody sang the National Anthem (which I also missed because I was running back to the van to grab the map I'd left there), and then the race started.  Everybody ran underneath the start/finish arch and headed off for their first point.  We began with a half-hearted jog that didn't last long.



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Pretty much in last place already...
***Ok, this was a great race, but before I got halfway into my report I was kind of boring myself.  Here's the Cliff Notes version, and then you can look at the pictures unless you're interested in the details, which I 'm going to write down because I'll probably want them in the future.***

1. We'd talked about running but didn't much.

2. Our navigation (by "our" I mean Luke's and Bob's) was pretty spot on except for one hiccup where we missed a turn.

3.  Bob found a skeletal deer head with antlers attached and carried "Buck" strapped to his pack the rest of the day.

4.  Towards the end, when we were going to have to push to get back in time and all of our feet were hating us, we did a run/walk combo that's hopefully going to become more a part of our general race strategy as Bob and I get into better shape (because Luke's a marathoner, you know).

5.  I got some great learning experience following along on the map and asking questions as we went along.  I'm really lucky to have teammates who are such good, patient teachers.

6. The weather was pretty awesome. Even the rain later in the day felt good.

7.  We covered 18+ miles on foot in just under 10 hours.  That may not sound like much, but remember we're frequently bushwhacking and checking the map and looking for needles in haystacks. We made it back to the finish line with 10 minutes to spare.

8.  I came in 2nd (out of 2 in my division) to a girl who registered pretty much as late as possible.  This solved a moral dilemma for me, because while I was racing "solo" officially, in reality Luke and Bob basically led me through the woods, and I wouldn't have felt right winning a prize as a "solo racer" when I was anything but.

9. We ate ourselves silly on some delicious food.

10. Bonkhard puts on a fantastic race, and if you weren't there this year you missed out.  Don't make the same mistake next year.

***Extended cut***
Our navigation was spot on for the first few points, and after one of them Bob made an awesome discovery.

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He carried Buck with him for the rest of the race.

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It made me nervous to walk behind him; every time I leaned forward on a hill I envisioned being gored in the eye.
Even with my attempts to track our progress on the map, I had a hard time matching up where we were on the trails like the guys could.  Trail intersections I get, but Luke and Bob are a lot better at watching the direction of the trails to make sure we're going the way we think we're going.  After getting Buck secured on Bob's pack, we came out of the woods onto a trail.  "You know, this would be a good spot to run for a little," I suggested.

Running a little was a great reminder of how much more work it is to run with a pack, which then makes me think how much easier it would probably be to run if I lost about 20-30 pounds.  The running idea didn't last long, and when we stopped, Bob spoke up: "I'm wondering why we're going north?"

Looking at the map, we realized that the trail we needed to pick up was marked with the dotted lines Gary had told us weren't very accurate.  Taking a moment to orient ourselves, we then headed off into the woods.  Nice catch, Bob!  Luke had explained to me and showed me on the map what we were doing, but I only understood it in the same way I understood high school physics...enough to sort of get it, but not enough to do it on my own.  Either way, we found checkpoint 18 right on the trail and then shortly turned onto a gravel road.
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Cool!
We initially overshot checkpoint 29 but quickly figured out the problem and then hiked down the road to checkpoint 19, which was under a cool swinging bridge.  Knowing that I'm afraid of heights the guys tried to freak me out about being on the bridge, but I just ignored them and kept going til I was back on solid
ground.

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We ran into Chuck on the road and spent a few minutes visiting while Chuck admired Bob's rack, then parted ways.

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Luke, Chuck, and Bob
We found checkpoint 39 easily and then split up in search of #6, our first 100-point CP.  Luke and I were attacking from the road, while Bob wanted to aim off of some private property down the road.

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"The last time we saw Bob..."
After Bob walked off, Luke turned to me.  "Well, what do you think?"  The point was located at the junction of a few reentrants.  Looking at the map, I stumbled around..."Um...head down?"  That's basically what we did, and we miraculously walked straight to the CP and visited with Team Roadkill (one of the many times we ran into them during the race) while we snacked and waited for Bob.

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Thinking ahead
Next up was CP5. We had to pass through a cool, burned-out area and then through some thick brush.  Luke paused for a moment for a map check, and Bob spotted the flag about 15 feet to our right.

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Part of the burned area we walked through.
Since that was the last CP in this section of the map, we had to backtrack on our original route to get to some new CPs.  Easy...just retrace your steps, right?


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Crossing a creek..in order to avoid crossing a creek...that's how we roll.

Not so easy, actually, as we made our only real misstep of the day by missing a turn...typical mistake for me since I tend to pay less attention on roads or trails.  Unfortunately, during our trek to get back on track, Bob fell on a sideslope and hurt his knee. :(

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Cool area to walk through.  Hey, how can you tell that's a low overhang?
When we finally got back to where we meant to be, we decided to split up to get to the next point.  Luke and I planned to take the trail (well marked, fairly smooth going, more predictable terrain than a bushwhack) while Bob wanted to try skirting the airport fence (more direct, possibly clear, maybe not). We all ended up in the same place at about the same time.  Unfortunately, "the same place" was a thorn-infested nightmare.

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Looks like a fun path, huh?  Just as I was thinking it, Luke turned and said it reminded him of a section of the Deuce.
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Cool old car in the middle of nowhere.
Once we found CP4, we had some strategizing to do.  We had originally intended to loop back to the hash house/race HQ for lunch but were rethinking this plan.  While the promised chili and mac & cheese sounded pretty glorious, we only had about 4 hours left to race. Between the time to trek back (collecting points along the way) and then to eat, we wouldn't have much race left.  All of us were a little bummed by how quickly the race seemed to be passing by.

A check of our packs and a little math reassured us that we had plenty of calories for the next four hours.  Since we were all low on water, that made our next move pretty clear: head to CP17, which was also a water stop.  Again we took separate routes, and this time Bob arrived at the very cool quarry CP quite a bit ahead of us.
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Lots of neat things to see in this race.
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Luke was really thirsty.
In fact, he was just leaving when we arrived.  Lucky for him, he stopped, because he'd been headed in the wrong direction (which I'm sure he'd have quickly realized). Once again we got to visit with the Roadkill guys, and they left before us.  I think their plan had been to head back towards HQ and collect the CPs along the way.

We had some discussion about our best plan of attack.  There was one more 100-pointer within reach, and it was mostly road travel to get there. My suggestion, which we eventually used, was to go after that one and then collect anything possible on our way back.  Since CP 23 was between us and the road we needed, we hit that one, too.

This picture doesn't even come close to showing how bright the trees were.
This only barely shows how pretty these trees were, and we walked through a big stand of them.
Perfect 10 rogaine
Punching CP23
It was a little ambitious, especially with the thought of getting any more CPs, because it was going to be a pretty long trek back.  It wasn't the most enjoyable hike, either, because much of it was along a pretty busy highway.  It did, however, give us the opportunity to see a dead turkey vulture on the way out and a dead raccoon with its head stuck in a jar on the way back.  Chances are our team would be significantly faster if we didn't spend so much time collecting and taking pictures of dead things, but we were all in learning/practice mode rather than race mode (not that that really would make a difference).

Luke led us straight to CP2, which included a long bushwhack from the road.  All of our entry points from roads and trails showed me how much more I have to learn.  Looking at the map I could see that we needed to take the road until such and such a feature and then cut off into the woods from there, but actually recognizing that feature from the road is another thing altogether.

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Pretty scenery, but I was over the road.
CP2 found, we had to hustle to get back to the finish line.  Just over 5 miles of road in 1:20 doesn't sound so bad to the runner in me, but it's a whole different thing coming after 8 hours of thorns and hills.  We were all pretty sore; I know me feet and always achy left knee were really unhappy with me, especially because of the sideways slope of the road...just enough to make it hurt.  Worried about making it back to the finish on time, we started alternating jogging and walking.  It pretty much sucked, but it didn't really feel worse than walking and ate up a lot of road.  That lasted until we got to 2 miles to go in 50 minutes, and then we went back to our walk.

Finished!

We crossed the finish line with 10 minutes to spare.  18+ hours of hiking/trekking/running in 9:50.  It was a really fun race to do, but as much as the biking and paddling portions of an adventure race can stress me out, they definitely give your feet a much-needed break.  10 hours on foot is no joke.

Mmmm food...

Supper was delicious, and while I didn't catch any of the cool stuff Ellen threw out Bonkhard did give everyone a UTM tool, so now I have one to add to my gear tub.  We clapped for Chuck, who won 2nd in his division, talked to Gary and Ellen for a while, and headed back to our campsite (which we never actually saw in daylight).  We had just enough time to clean up at the showerhouse before it started pouring, ending our campfire plans and sending us all to (much needed) bed. 

I guess Luke slept pretty well, but Bob's hammock was leaking like crazy, and my tent was flooding from the bottom.  I'd tucked the excess tarp underneath the tent when I set it up, but I guess the tucked-under section blew out while we were gone.  It basically funneled the rain right under my tent, where it had nowhere to go but up through the floor.

The sleeping pad I was on kept me partly out of the water, but my sleeping bag hung over the sides and got progressively wetter as the night went on.  Instead of snuggling inside it, I covered up with a flannel sheet and spent the night squeezing myself into the ever-shrinking dry section of my bed.  I don't know how many times I woke up, checked the time, and sighed at the thought of 6 more hours of this...5 more hours of this...I was definitely happy when it was finally time to get up!

Thanks to our early start, we were back in Jefferson City in plenty of time for Bob to get to work, Luke to unload the car before his kids were up, and me to make it on time to the Queeny Park Bubba CX race, for which I'd left my bike in the car...just in case.  I felt surprisingly good, but I was definitely tired and the race was sure to be muddy.  I hate riding in the mud.  I headed east not sure what I was going to do.