|Photo credit: No Sleep|
Prologue (lakeside trail to bike drop) -- 1ish mile?:
While most of the field dashed off, we settled into a fast hike in the company of Team Wickaway and 361 Adventures, enjoying the chance to talk AR and especially the return of the LBL Challenge with the guys who are bringing it back. That race has a special place in my heart because it was my first 24 hour race and, more importantly, my first race as a Team Virtus member, so I'm happy it's fallen into such good hands. The 361 guys took over another of my favorite races, The Fig, and kept it just as awesome as before, so I know LBL will be on my schedule for 2017.
|Cool light antlers on the prologue |
Bike to TA1/Redbud Campground (CPs 1-3 in order) -- 22 miles
Our first bike leg was largely uneventful. Chuck did a great job with the nav as we started on pavement and quickly transitioned to gravel. We ticked off CP1 (bridge) with no problem and then headed towards the next one. The roads became less gravel and more chunky rock and dirt as we neared the location of CP2 (crevice - failed spillway). We initially overshot it before locating the right general area and then, peering into a deep crack in the ground, spotting the reflective glow of the marker.
|It's deeper than it looks; or maybe, if you're a gigantic chicken like me, it just looked deeper in person than it looks in the picture. (1:43 a.m.)|
It is a definite strength of our team to not share the same fears. I can look into Kate's "Chasm of Death" and know that it would suck to fall in there. But at the same time I'll be thinking, "This looks like an awesome playground!".
I'm not sure Chuck has any fears, which leaves plenty of room for all of mine.
I'm not entirely sure why I love adventure racing so much when most of the things that make it an adventure terrify me. If it was up to me I'd be doing "slightly out of my comfort zone racing" instead, but that would make for a lame story, and as I told one of my (non-AR) friends this week, "it's so much fun once you've survived!"
|Our intended route from CPs 2-3 highlighted in orange.|
When we are plotting courses the night before a race we call these decision points "game day decisions". After getting a real-life look at the area we generally make good calls that work out for the best.
Our final CP of this bike leg was in a cave. Riding uphill and watching for the correct left turn, I spotted a street sign reflecting in the distance. "Wouldn't it be great if that sign said something helpful like 'Cave Road'?" I mused to Chuck.
|Wish granted. (2:20 a.m.)|
And they continued to deliver non-stop! No Sleep did an outstanding job showcasing how beautiful and rugged the Shawnee National Forest is. We got an 'insiders' tour of the area that no casual visit would ever reveal.
I finally took the time to replace my headlamp batteries while at the cave, so our remaining miles to TA1 were well lit and happy. I've always used my hardtail for AR, but between the fact that Shawnee singletrack is far from the groomed trails we take for granted here and (more importantly) that I haven't yet exorcised the Thunder Rolls demons from that bike, I'd gone with full suspension. It was still early in the race, but I was delighted this first bike leg hadn't been marred by the horrible discomfort I felt at Thunder Rolls and that I hadn't yet had reason to regret bringing my full suspension SuperFly.
This first bike leg was perfect: long enough that we were ready for a change, but not so long that we were dying for one. Though we didn't know it at the time, that was the last time we would enjoy that sensation. Blissfully ignorant, we rolled into TA1 around 3:21, changed into trekking shoes, and headed out within a few minutes,
(To be continued...)