April 25, 2012

Carnage at the Creek

Carnage at the Creek (CAC) was the 3rd edition of the Team Virtus non-race.  The non-race affectionately known as the CAC was promised to be long and hard.  I watched the race updates from the sidelines for a few weeks, but finally all the trash talk and side bets on Facebook got the best of me.  I wanted to be there.  Robin had previously committed to a race with her daughter , so I could go solo or find another teammate.  I checked the Virtus blog and seen that Kate (aka SuperKate, maw-maw, Kage) was entered and racing solo.  We had talked about racing together before so I sent her a message and we were quickly a team.  We have trained and raced (individually or separate teams) before so I knew we would work great together as a team.  
This was also the inaugural race for the Adventure Jeep.  I finally retired the old van and got the ultimate adventure vehicle.  I’m planning a separate post about the Adventure Jeep, so for now I’ll just say It was jammed full of race gear for me and camping gear for a family of four.  We got it all in but it was kind of tight.  I think a roof rack is a necessity.

So gear was all loaded and I took a final look at Facebook for last minute updates.  The Pine Ridge campsite planned for pre-race camping had been overrun by some survivalist/woodsmanship convention and was completely filled.  I imagine this was all a little stressful for Virtus, but they came through shining in true Adventure Racer fashion.  Assessed the problem, came up with an alternate plan, and made it work.  They found an alternate campground called Dry Fork a few miles away and posted directions.  They staked out the last campsite available for us all to share.  This campground was almost filled by horse people (equestrian just sounds too formal).
Kate was still setting up her tent when we arrived, so the Vohsen tent went up right next to hers.  I didn’t count the tents on our little site, but I bet there were 8 or 10, and about 15 people.  Some people ate on the way down, some were still cooking, but eventually everyone was settled and comfortable around the campfire.

The campfire stories were rolling out one after the other, bets were made, then new bigger bets were made, then new and even bigger stories were told.  I laughed my ass off with all the jokes going around the fire.   Or did I?  Some of the subjects explored were donuts, male hairdressers, spoiled meat, eggnog, farting, plastic gun twirling, hot grease sandwiches, broom hockey, and flaming meatloaf.  But I’m just gonna say:  “You had to be there.  Stories told by the fire, stay by the fire”.  But… Damn… Did Bob really……?
So it was late to bed, I bet close to midnight.  The generator at the horse-people campsite droned on past sun-up, it was only occasionally beat out by the coyotes and snoring.  Everyone was up about the same time prepping and eating different breakfasts.  I went for the quick one, toasting a few pop tarts on the grate over the fire.  It was still pretty cold when I brushed my teeth.  It’s nice that only in a group of adventure racers can I wear a hat like this and not catch a bunch of crap for it.

But once the sun was up it started warming up quick and it was time to get to the race start.  We drove back to the original campground with about 15 minutes to spare and picked up the map, passport, and listened to a quick pre-race meeting.  We lined up and took off on a short (50m) run to the bikes. 

The bike course was a 3? mile marked loop leading us back to start/transition.  We spread out pretty quickly going through a grassy field marked by lengths of PVC pipe driven into the ground.  Somehow the group got derailed and rode down into a creek valley.  Bob did an amazing run to catch the group and re-route us back onto the original bike course.   We were making our way through a rocky section of single-track when my front tire sidewall was cut open. 

I pulled over and could tell right away that cut wasn’t going to seal with the Stan’s sealant I have in them.  I got a tube put in and used a Gu pack from Kate to boot the tire with.  Then started pumping away at it with my mini-pump.  Adventure racers are great people.  I think every team that went by asked if we needed anything.  When Team Wahoo went by they asked if I needed a C02, I was already tired of pumping and gladly accepted it.  

Tire fixed we rode back into transition. 

We changed shoes and swapped the map around, and ran out of the TA on hwy Y, turning off the hwy to pick up the trail I wanted to use as a handrail to CP1.  We ended up meeting up with Travis Hammond from Offroad Medics during this section.    

We ran most of the trail until we turned off onto an easy to follow ridgeline and found Kelly Sumner from Offroad Fixation as he was leaving it.  

When we were crossing a big field on the way to CP2 we met up with Kelly again, he was heading back towards CP1 looking for a lost compass.   Somewhere near this big field Steve Willi came up and introduced himself to us as a new adventure racer in need of some navigation help.  We gladly accepted him into our group and tried to show him some map details and nav tips as we went along.  He was totally cool, thanking us multiple times.  He is going to make an excellent adventure racer.

We found CP2 shortly after scattering a herd of cows, and getting a big ole stink eye from this guy:

Travis spotted a good way out of the reentrant and saved us some time on the way to CP3.  This one was plotted just north of a small pond.  We clambered around in the thick brush for a few minutes and finally found the CP hidden up against a cool looking cliff/waterfall.   
We climbed the next ridge and found CP4 on a great boulder overlook.  We were pretty high up here and needed to get down to the valley below.  I spotted a risky descent that would save us a ton of time vs winding around and down safely.  Kate was all up for the risky descent.  So I went first then got video of her and Steve coming down.

We wound our way through some thick thorns and came out onto a jeep/gravel trail just perfect to follow back to the TA.  We met up with two different guys and got a little talk about private property.  One was totally cool, one a little less so.  But we stayed respectful and explained there were no property markers while making our apologies. 
Kate and I picked up the pace here and ran most of the way back in, only slowing up to walk the big hills.  Travis stopped to fix a shoelace, and Steve dropped off somewhere, but they both caught up at transition.  We were really surprised when Bob told us “You guys are doing great, only the second team to come through!”

We made a pretty quick transition, eating and re-filling camelbaks while we had the opportunity.  I downed an 8oz bottle of Ensure.  Man it works great for my energy levels, but totally gives me gas a few hours later (about the same time we happened to be in the rowboat).
We rode out on the singletrack heading north toward the homestead.   

The trail started out pretty smooth and stayed easy until sometime after CP4.5, it started getting a lot less maintained and more torn up by horse hooves.

The trail dropped into a creek valley, when we were just about to climb away from the creek and out of the valley, I spotted a natural stone waterfall with a nice slope and covering of slippery green slime.  I told Kate and Travis, “That looks like a great place to waterslide.”  And I got an instant answer from Kate:  “I’ll do it!”  haha, awesome.  Then of course I had to do it too.

We put a lot of time in this bike leg, seemed like we were getting off bikes to climb over something, or to cross some horse shredded section of trail.  I kept an occasional eye on the ground watching the single trail of bikes tires of someone riding ahead of us (Todd).

At CP6 we got some great superman-bike photos:

After CP6 we came to a difficult nav point where several trails intersected.  We needed to make a decision.  1-24,000 scale maps rarely give enough trail detail for spots like this, so between me and Travis we decided to stay on the trail following the ridge line.  This turned out to be the right one.
At CP7 we found two teens obviously prepping for some private time.  Haha, they never expected an adventure race to be moving through.  The CP was hanging out on a really cool boulder overlooking a big valley.  Nice spot.  We later learned that Todd (from Hoosier Daddies) surprised them as well and asked them if they had seen any other racers, and what they looked like. (you know, trying to keeps tabs on last night’s campfire bets)  They replied “Yeah, some racers came by.  They looked like a family team, two parents and a kid.”  Funny, they must have thought I was much younger than Kate and Travis.

It wasn’t long after these guys that I was riding down a rocky descent (hindsight says I should have walked it) and bounced off some rocks right into a cedar tree.  A branch jabbed my ear and I got this cool race wound.  Awesome.

After CP7 we dropped down to cross Smith Creek.  I hadn’t been seeing any more of the bike tracks I was seeing earlier, but thought maybe the ground was hard, or I was missing them, but when we got a long muddy spot at the creek, it was definite, there were no bike tracks anymore.  I was questioning my nav up to that point and couldn’t think of anywhere we could have gone wrong, so we continued pressing on.
We left the singletrack shortly after and rode out onto some gravel roads.  Virtus had put an interesting handwritten note on our map of this section.  

Well they weren’t kidding.  This guy had a big billboard in front of his crappy trailer that said “Property owner will SHOOT TO KILL any man, woman, or child that enters this property…”  There was plenty more on the sign, but that was enough to keep us moving along.  I wanted a picture of that sign for the report, but seriously, I was afraid to take one.
We rode up to the final CP7.5 on our map expecting a water event at the winery, only to be handed another map by Emma Gossett, everyone's favorite volunteer and Orange Lederhosen team manager.  She told us we were the first team to get to her checkpoint.  Awesome!  We were in first place.  We figured Todd must have gotten on the wrong trail between 6 and 7, because I hadn’t seen any tracks at the creek.  We know he is a fast rider, so we had to make the most of our advantage.  The new map was further north, off the end of the MyTopo map.  It was the Little Dixie Lake ConservationArea.  We pushed pretty hard to the lake at CP8.  We got lots of cheers riding in and were told we were still in first place.  They pointed us down to the boat dock where there was only one creaky, leaky, dilapidated, old WWII barge rowboat tied up.

This lake would normally have ten or so boats, but since this turned out to be the best weather in weeks, they were all taken up by other visitors.  Travis had hung with us all through the race so we quickly decided to do the rowing together too.  This turned out to be a great decision.  BECAUSE ROWING SUCKS!  We took turns at it, I went first, then Travis, then Kate.  The boat was difficult to control but we slowly got the hang of it – NOT!

And like I mentioned before the Ensure I drank before the bike was working overtime on me, MAN, apologies to my teammates in the boat.
There were 3 CP’s on the water, one mandatory, two optional.  Since we were holding first place we wanted them all to protect our lead.  Kate was jumping out at each CP recording the symbols.  At the last CP she ran up, got the symbol, and climbed back in the barge at the same time Todd came gliding up in Bob’s kayak.
We rowed away from the bank hard, but we knew we had just lost our lead.  No way would we keep up with a kayak.  Luckily for us Todd is an outstanding sportsman, he hung back and we all paddled into the finish together and turned our passports in for a 3-way first place tie.

The finish line food and beer was great, baked potatoes with fixin’s, cheese dip and chips, burgers, and cookies.

Jello shots were shared

A post-race volleyball game broke out

Swag was plentiful

And all too soon, we had to leave.  I would have loved to camp another night, but new baby nephews must be baptized.
Team Virtus put on what is now one of my favorite races.  I can’t imagine how much blood and sweat went into setting it all up.  They did an outstanding job on race day and with all of the prep work they did!  And when the unexpected things popped up, they conquered them with Strength and Honor, just like their jerseys say.  (haha Bob really ran his ass off to get the first bike loop back together)

Ps.   I predict the non-race will double in size and become the event of the year for Midwest adventure racers.


  1. Great report! I totally forgot about those kids thinking we were a family. I think maybe they thought you and Travis were together and I was your daughter...after all, I have the most hair of all of us! :)

    Thanks for being my teammate. I had a blast racing with you. What a great time...I'm so glad you couldn't resist all the comments and that the baptism worked with the race schedule. Hopefully by next year I can navigate, because I can't see Robin missing out again. :)

  2. Thanks for non-racing with us, Chuck! It was really great to finally get to know you and your family a bit better. We've been at many of the same races, but we never actually got to hang out.

    You guys rocked that course, and I appreciate that you helped out Steven with some Nav tips. That's what non-racing is all about.

    See you next year!

  3. Sounds like such a great time, I really wish I could have made it. Next year. I'm just glad Kate stood in for me. Chuck don't even think about trading me in for the younger, faster, Kate model. I love you Kate, but Chucks my man! I mean I do have to share with Lori.