While counting, Eric pulled out his trail mix, which I guess was some Turkey Bites mixed with gummy bears, and groaned when he realized the meat had caused the gummies to melt into everything else. It sounded and looked pretty gross, and in transition he ended up throwing the whole mess away, which was a good portion of the food he had packed... Uh oh.
|Where's the Checkkpoint?|
The muddy descent down to the river gave us time to stare at our next ascent up to Steamboat mountain. The three miles of paved road up to the top of the mesa was super steep...we all geared down to our granny gear and pedaled for almost an hour. Looking out from a rest break, we could see the next checkpoint would make us climb up another steep mesa, and the one after that, climb back up on Gooseberry Mesa. I like suffering as much as any other adventure racer, but I like a little adventure with my racing. I could see that with the trails too muddy to ride, our adventures for the day would be limited to suffering up a lot of steep hills.
|The guys with a flask and beer at the finish!|
Post-Race Note: It's Monday morning (40 hours later) and my teammates have just finished. I found them at the finish line to see how the rest of the race went. After we parted ways, they climbed back up to Gooseberry Mesa as the shortest way to get to the next TA. On top, they found the mud so deep that they alternated riding, carrying, and cleaning their bikes off with snow to get the wheels to keep turning. Evidently another team in the same area had decided it was faster to walk to the checkpoints and left their bikes. After coming back to their bikes 4 hours later, they found the mud completely frozen and were unable to change gears anymore!
My team then passed a cold night in transition, trying to get a bit of sleep. But outdoors without sleeping mats or warm bags, they said they shivered by the fire for a while before continuing on. Eric was getting a few blisters too by now.
I'm paraphrasing here a bit as I don't know all the details. The route took them to lower elevations, where the mud changed to deep sand atop Sand Mountain. Several checkpoints on a night trekking section seemed to be MIA, with one team searching for 4 hours before giving up. Whether the flags where there or not, the locations were not on "handrails", meaning next to a trail, junction, fence or other geographical feature which can be used to navigate to it. Without a GPS, finding a point on a random tree in a forest, or a random rock on a cliff, is quite challenging and not terribly fun either.
More biking sections brought them back down to the Over the Edge bike shop in Hurricane, where they were really happy to have a hot cup of coffee. They also stood atop Molly's Nipple, a prominent landmark on the cliffs above the town. On Jeff's Birthday, no less! He called his wife from the top of the apply named landmark, but I'm not sure if he said where he really was....!
After a third cold night spent outside, the team skipped the final trek and biked to the finish about 8 am. They were happy to see hot breakfast and I'm sure by now they have enjoyed a hot shower and will be asleep for the rest of the day. They were pleased they had continued to the finish, and said they had seen some great scenery, but mentioned the deep sand in some of the trekking sections had been tough on their feet...not to mention the mud.
I had a great time racing with the guys and wish it could have been in a better run race...they were upbeat, smart with the navigation, and easy to get along with. Jon, Jeff and Eric, I hope to see you again somewhere!
|Turkey Bites and Gummy Bears do not store well together!|
|Sunrise on Day 2|
|At the Start|