April 23, 2010

LBL Adventure 2010

This was ROCK Racings second attempt at the LBL 12 hr adventure race. The 2009 race report can be found on this site and is mostly a list of mistakes and lessons learned. We were looking forward to the 2010 race as a test to see how much we learned in the past year of racing. LBL is one of my favorite races. The Land Between the Lakes has no privately owned property. It is all wilderness, with very few paved roads. The only highway (The Trace) is off-limits for racing.

We signed up for the usual two-person coed division and found out a few weeks before the race that Robin was being sent to a mountain bike expo to represent Trek, so a substitute teammate was needed. We did a group email posting and I was lucky enough to get a response from Chris Heupel. We met and had several emails to coordinate plans prior to the race day.

At the pre-race meeting Chris and I found out that this would be a pretty straight-forward race plan. 21 checkpoints to plot and a 7am mass start. Bike transition would be race headquarters at Pisgah Bay on Lake Barkley.

The race started under the inflatable Bonk Hard start/finish line with the national anthem. The first four trekking points could be done in any order; we had planned to do them as 4-3-2-1. Turned out this was a good call, we went through them pretty quickly, only losing a little time on CP1 because I had us follow a trail too long before we turned north. Hindsight says I should have shot a compass bearing off of CP2 and avoided the trail all together.

Race headquarters was CP5 and the transition to the bike; we rode out on dirt roads to some great singletrack. The trails were in primo condition with only a few muddy spots. We got CP6 and CP7 right away, and then had a small piece of paved road to ride to a boat ramp for CP8 completing the first 15 mile bike leg.

CP8 was transition to the canoe. We had decided not to bring our team paddles because they would have to be carried through the rest of the race. We lucked out…Kayak paddles were provided by Bonk Hard. We had the same type plastic canoes we used at Thunder Rolls. These are nice and fast, but somewhat unstable. We never dumped the canoe, but there were a couple close calls. They were Salomon’s and had some great flip-up back rests that I really liked.

The canoe was simple orienteering, 7 miles long and included an 80 meter portage about halfway through it. We learned a lesson while on this leg. It is better for canoe control to put the heaviest person in the back of the canoe. We would have saved some time and frustration in the cross-winds if we had loaded correctly.

We had another trekking leg after the canoe; it was more difficult than the first. About 5 miles and all bushwhacking, there was only one spot where we could take advantage of a road. The long zip-off pants while trekking paid off in gold. I wasn’t scratched up too bad at all, but Chris (in shorts) looked liked a butcher shop. We had a good trek and hit all the checkpoints, only one small detour down a reentrant adjacent to the one we should have been in.

When we came out of the woods to the boat ramp/bike drop we saw lots of bikes on the ground. This was a good sign meaning lots of racers were still out in the woods. I rearranged the maps and zipped off my pant legs while Chris treated some lake water with iodine tablets. We were pedaling again in no time with only two checkpoints to go. While climbing away from the boat ramp, Chris’s bike spit out the chain in two pieces. We lost some time putting it back together, but as luck would have it, no one passed us. We got CP20 and were on another climb to CP21 when his chain broke a second time. This time we did a more permanent repair by removing a couple of bent chain links. Still no one passed us, we must have had quite a time cushion built up.

We caught another team between CP21 and the finish when they took a wrong turn, and rode in to a 6th place finish with all the CP’s and a time of 10:15. There was a party going on at the finish line with those great Bonk Hard baked potatoes and beer provided by Kuat Racks. I spent some time with the rack guy checking out their different models. They are so nice, I want one bad.

Thanks Bonk Hard for another great race!

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