November 21, 2011

Trek Mountain Co-op Ride 2011

As the end of 2011 neared, I wanted to hold another Trek Mountain Co-op Ride. My plan was to have a night ride on the GORC trails on the campus of Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. The problem was I was still recovering from a bad tailbone break and was really worried about crashing. I mean I can crash in the daylight, like I often do, but there is a much greater chance of me crashing in the dark. Because of that I decided that I should probably stick with a ride in the daylight.

I know that this time of the year is crazy for me and I’m sure it is for most other people too, so I decided that an early morning ride was best. Then we could stop for breakfast after the ride and everyone could still make it home with their whole day still in front of them.

At 7 am, we met at The Cyclery and Fitness, our favorite bike shop, and discussed how much air to put in our tires. Lucky for us, it was a really nice Saturday morning, and I mean nice, it was 50 degrees at the start of the ride and it was the 19th of November. Me and my gang of spandex adorned Mountain bikers headed out for some great single track riding. We had riders from all walks of life, all ages, singled, married, moms, dads, and of all abilities, expert to beginner. A few of the women were worried about being too slow and not skilled enough to ride with the gang. A few of them almost didn’t come, but I talked them into it. What is really funny is that they were all great, they tried everything and there were no crashes. In fact, I was a bit jealous, I wasn’t that good when I started mountain biking.

When we got to the trailhead, there were 4 more riders waiting for us, that made our group 14 riders in all.

We made a decision on route choice and sent the faster guys up front. We started riding through the single track that, by the way, was really in great shape, everyone riding at their own pace while grouping back up at trailheads.

The whole ride in 5 minutes, it’s almost like you’re there!

We had so much fun, we all challenged ourselves with the better riders giving advice to the newer riders on how to ride through the tougher technical areas. We all tried to ride over a large stack of logs, I know in the video the logs don’t look that big, but believe me they were much harder then they look.

About half way through the ride, Russ had a flat front tire. The thing is Russ recently cut his finger off and changing a tire with a pin sticking out the end of your finger is no small task, So Mark and Dan helped with changing the tire. What I found funny was if you notice in this photo, it was the GIANT that had the flat, not the TREK.

With the tire fixed we all headed back out to the hard trail so we could hit loops 5 and 6. When we got to the trial we waited for everyone to come off loop 4, as everyone rolled out of the single track, we noticed that Russ didn’t appear. We were quickly concerned, we didn’t want him crashing and messing up that finger, plus if he got hurt, his wife might kill me for talking him into this whole mountain bike thing. Mark rode back, and in just a few minutes rolled into sight again, Russ had a second flat on the back tire this time, his tire had been snake bit when crossing a creek bed with some concrete blocks in it. Where he flatted, he was on a part of the single track that was just a short bushwhack up a hill to a road. Russ decided that he was getting a sign from a greater power to get off the trails and he was not tempting fate anymore, so he pushed his bike to the road and had his son pick him up.

We felt bad for his luck, but not bad enough to go home with him, so we rode trial loops 2, 5 and 6 then headed back to town for some much needed breakfast. We lined up in Panera, and got frightened looks from the other patrons, it seemed as though they had never seen a spandex adorned mountain biker gang before. We had some great food and great conversation.

Russ even showed up, only not on a bike, but in his truck. He even pulled the splint off his finger and showed us the pin sticking out of his finger and all the stitches, it reminded me of Frankenstein. I almost felt bad whining about my tailbone hurting after seeing that. Well, not that bad, I still whined, in fact even today I’m still whining, go ahead call me wimpy.

Oh yeah and Mike W. told me that for a small fee, he will sign a release for me to use the likeness of him in my blog.

Thanks to everyone that came out to ride, it would not have been such a great ride without you. Thanks Trek for providing breakfast, we appreciate your support of the mountain biking community!

November 18, 2011

Icebreaker Clothing Review

Report by Robin Rongey, with Chuck comments in red:

Chuck and I have been lucky enough to have trained and raced in Icebreaker gear all year long and now we want to give the gear a real life review. If you haven’t heard of Icebreaker it is a company in New Zealand that make technical clothing using Merino wool. I know what you are thinking, I went there too at first, how on earth can they make tech clothing out of wool. I’m sure you may have this preconception that wool is itchy, hot and heavy. Everyone in my generation thinks that because we were all forced to wear those heavy wool coats and sweaters as kids and the entire time we had them on we whined about them being itchy. When I was a kid, I would say, when I have kids, I’m not going to make them wear this stuff. You know what’s really funny, my two girls try to sneak and wear my Icebreaker gear, so much for my kids not wearing wool.

I laughed when I read that. So true! My Mom used to make me wear this one blue sweater when I was a kid. I hated it!

As for athletes when we think of wool we think of bike racers back in the day wearing the wool jerseys. I always think about Bob Roll and Team 7-11 wearing the wool jerseys and riding the steel frame bikes. Even though Bob Roll is one of my hero’s and retro everything is cool, I wouldn’t want to wear the wool of his day.

Today though, we don’t have to wear the wool from back in the day, we have Icebreaker Marino wool, it is soft to the touch, does not itch, keeps you dry, no matter how sweaty you get, it’s cool in the summer and warm in the winter. It never feels clammy, I know that when I sweat in the dry-fit, poly tech materials, I may feel dry while working out, but if I stop for even 30 seconds, I’m cold and clammy, it kind of feels like slime. For instance, If I head out on a 10 mile run, then walk around for a few minutes after finishing, my shirt will feel like slime when I pull it off.

Now, when I wear my icebreaker gear and do the same run, I never feel cold or clammy after stop and when I pull the shirt off, it may be damp, but there is no sliminess to it. Oh and it doesn’t stink, I might be crazy, but oh my gosh, any of my dry-fit clothing smells awful after a workout and in fact it pretty much smells awful a lot. I have tried washing my gear in every kind of detergent imaginable and it always has this smell, I can’t seem to get rid of it. My friends have told me that same thing about their gear, I don’t know why it holds the stench, but it does. I have been wearing the Icebreaker gear all year, and I wear it every time its clean, and it still smells fresh, no stench attached.

So let me get specific. I first tried the socks, bike shorts and bike jersey. The socks are the best socks I have ever worn, we even wrote a review about the socks because they are so great, you can see the review here for full details. I was a little worried about the bike gear, thinking it would be too hot, but like I said earlier, it is so breathable, it’s not hot at all. As for fit, the shorts fit so well, it’s like they mold to my body, I almost feel like I’m riding in a second skin, it almost makes me feel like I’m being bad riding naked. Both Chuck and I have worn the bike shorts so much, it’s a wonder that we don’t have holes in the butt of them.

Funny thing about the shorts is they fit a little odd when you are standing up putting them on, or getting ready to ride. But as soon as you are on the bike, they are perfect. I bet they were designed on a hunched over body model.

The jersey fits great also, and mine has a really great design without being too girly for me. We were even stopped during a race once and someone asked if we were wearing Icebreaker jerseys.

We also spent a lot of time in the base layer and running shorts and shirt. I would say of all the Icebreaker gear I own, my favorite is the base layer, it feels so good, fits like a glove and there is no chaffing anywhere. I wear it riding, running and I even wear it to the gym as a shirt. The design of it is so cool, with red stitching that really stands out, I have gotten a few cool shirt comments at the gym. The base layer paired with the bike jersey is as good as it gets during the workout.

As for the running shirt and shorts, I love the shirt, and I have never once ended up with chaffed under arms after a long run, which is an almost always occurrence with cotton or tech fabric. The running shorts have never chaffed my legs, and let me tell you, I have huge quads and no matter what I wear, I have to bath in bodyglide before I run and I still end up with chaffing. I have never once used bodyglide with the Icebreaker running shorts and I have never once been chaffed after any run, even long 20 mile runs. Again I wear these shorts every time they are clean, at least 2 or 3 times a week and they still look like new.

All the Icebreaker gear I have, washes well, wears well and when you touch it, you know that it is great quality. Those must be some high class sheep they get this wool from. I know I can go online and get the information about where the wool came from, that was used in the item I’m wearing, but really, all I care about is how it fits, how it wears and how it smells. Chuck on the other hand is a true engineer and he loves all the technical stuff, he can tell everything about the wool, he read up on it.

It’s true. I’m just geeky enough that I really did enter the BAA code to see where my shirt came from. Kinda cool knowing that.

This would not be a good review unless I talked about the hat and gloves, oh… my gosh, I love them. The hat especially, it fits great and is just the right length to cover my ears without covering my eyes. And when it’s really cold, my head is warm and the outside of the hat is covered with frost, so you can see how it wicks the wetness away. I don’t know if you can see it in this little photo, but there is frost on my hat.

The gloves are great too, if I had any negative to say, it would be on the fit, mine don’t fit my hand well, they are kind of loose, but I might just have the wrong size, because chuck’s fit him great. Here is a shot of Chuck and his wife Lori at the finish of the Checkpoint Tracker National Championship race in Land Between the Lakes, Kentucky. I wish I were the one standing there with him in full Icebreaker gear, but if you had read my last few posts you would already know why I wasn’t. I broke my tailbone just days before the race and Lori graciously stood in for me. This is a really cool picture though and it shows just how reliant our team is in Icebreaker gear.

So one last thing, not only did we spend the entire year working out in Icebreaker gear, but we also did some just hanging out in it. I love V neck T-shirts and I was lucky enough to have a Black V neck Icebreaker shirt. It goes with everything, jeans, casual pants, dress pants even shorts. When my mom saw me wearing it, she said that is a really nice shirt, where did you get it. I said mom this is wool, she was so surprised, she couldn’t believe it was wool, she had to feel it and still wasn’t sure, I finally had to show her the tag and of course go online and show her how I could see where the wool came from by the ID number. Not much surprises my mom and not ever would she wear a shirt like mine, she thinks she is too old for what she calls kids fashion, but she said, I would wear a shirt like that. There you have it, Icebreaker got a thumbs up from my mom, now that is a true test of quality and style.

My overall rating for Icebreaker clothing is EXCELLENT, If I were to change anything it would be the fit of the glove. Don’t do anything else, this line of technical clothing is perfect, I’m not sure how it could get better.

The next thing on my agenda is to try an Icebreaker sports bra and running tights, I checked the website and they have them, if they are even half as great as the other gear, I will be in tech gear heaven.

November 9, 2011

Psycho 43 in 4 Minutes

If you want to see the race first hand, take a look, it's almost like you're there.

Psycho 43

Report by Robin Rongey, with Chuck comments in orange:

Dirty Kanza? HELL NO! Hahaha every race she swears off, ends up becoming her favorite.  Anyone got a cross-bike for sale?  Oh and I guess you want to know why I say this. Just fifteen days after a bad break to my tailbone, I along with my ROCK Racing Teammate, Chuck competed in the Psycho 43 in Milford Kansas. It’s a long story that starts like this.

Chuck and I registered for the Psycho Expedition Adventure race months ago, it was to be our last race of the 2011 Checkpoint Tracker series. The problem was when race day came, it was 15 days after I broke my tailbone and I was just barely starting to do very short workouts again and had not even attempted to sit on a bike. I had not been to the doctor since breaking it, but I did not want to miss the race and Chuck had no backup for me, so it was me or we both had to bow out. If you know me, you know I can’t walk away from any challenge. When I asked my manager at work for a vacation day, so I could go to the race, he said “I’m sure you are doing this AMA (against medical advice)”, I just smiled. It was better not to answer that. So I had a plan, I just had to get it past my doctor.

I saw the doctor on Thursday morning, where he told me I could start doing regular tasks as long as I could stand the pain, I took that to mean, I could do anything I wanted as long as I could deal with the pain. He was not real happy with me, but he said he knew I was going to race, so he told me what meds to take and when, and then he said “You are the toughest person I know”, but we all know, there is a very fine line between tough and stupid.
I bet the doctor was afraid to tell her no.  Can't you just imagine her on the edge of the exam table ready to pounce on the poor guy and start choking him?

I went home that night and finished packing for the race, that was because I was so sure I was going, I had already packed my bike and camping gear in Chuck’s van. On Friday morning I met Chuck and we headed for Kansas, flat Kansas, as we believed it to be. Ha Ha, it is so funny to say now. I just want to know, who started the rumor that Kansas is flat, because they should be slapped. We drove through the Flint Hills and the barren prairie, talking of how this race was going to be so easy and we were going to finish in no more than 16 hours, although we had 20 hours to complete it. What is really laughable is, the entire time as we were making plans to smoke this race, I was wiggling around in my seat to try and get my tailbone to stop hurting, like it would magically be fine when I started racing. We drove past the Ft Riley Military Base and into Milford, still completely clueless to what lay ahead.

We went to the campground, setup our tents and headed for race check-in, where we received our maps, all six of them and some notes on changes to the race course due to impending weather conditions. It was expected to be incredibly windy on race day, so two canoe points on the big lake were cancelled, which put the race course mileage to 85 miles.

We started plotting maps, which usually takes us 1 to 2 hours, but there were so many points and only two of the six maps were of good quality, so it took 3 hours to plot the points. I hate blurry photocopy cardstock maps!  Some of the points were hard to understand, so we conversed with Team Orange Lederhosen, who was also competing, they had similar questions, but we got it figured out.

We headed back to camp for a few hours sleep before the bike drop at 4:30 am.

I could not sleep, due to both nerves and one sore butt. I think I slept 15 minutes the entire night, plus it was freezing and I had not brought a warm enough sleeping bag. Apparently Chuck had the same issue, he was freezing all night and didn’t sleep well either. I’m now asking for a zero degree Big Agnes sleeping bag for Christmas this year. We made one last check of our packs and loaded the Supefly and Top Fuel  in the truck at the bike drop, then headed to the starting line where we got last minute instructions and we then scrambled into a bus for a 45 minute bus ride due North.  I couldn't stay awake at all for the bus ride, it just went on and on.  This is when we realized that this race might be a little harder than we originally thought.

The first trekking section wasn’t too bad, but the issue we were having was that all the clues for the race, were just random items, like tall tree or boundary marker, not terrain descriptions, like you find in most adventure races, so it was a bit of a different animal for us. One of the clues was boundary marker.  It ended up being this sign post.  That kind of clue doesn't do much to help a team navigate.  Give me a reentrant, creek bottom, or saddle any day.

One of the CP’s was on a cliff side overlooking the water and we could see the long bridge that we were going to have to cross in the coming hours, it looked very ominous with the wind howling, it almost made me shiver.

We finished the section and headed across the long bridge into 30 to 40 mph winds, it was wicked and we were running into it, we knew then that the wind was out of the southeast and we would have to head directly south and east to make it to the finish line.  We were about a 1/3 of the way across the bridge when two trucks came from opposite directions and crossed right by us.  Scary!

The next leg was the bike, I was not looking forward to it for two reasons, first I didn’t know how my tailbone was going to handle it and second we were told that this was the toughest single track section in the area with grueling rock gardens, that safety was first, so it might be a good idea to push the bike through some of the rocky sections. Once on the bikes we headed into the single track and quickly found that it was tough going, but we were doing alright and although my tailbone was hurting, it wasn’t awful. We picked up all the checkpoints and headed out to the road, my butt was thanking me for smooth pavement. Too bad we turned directly into the wind. It’s hard to explain just how hard the wind was blowing except to say, if we didn’t pedal on the downhill, we would have stood still, the wind was that strong, it may have even pushed us backwards up the hill.  I seen tumbleweeds blowing by, and dust clouds were getting all stirred up.  Good thing we remembered sunglasses.

The pavement didn’t last for long, soon we were riding on gravel and packed dirt roads for miles heading towards Ft Riley, picking up CP’s along the way. We rode mile after mile of heavy graveled road, not crushed limestone, but big rock that feels horrible on a broken tailbone. There were hills, one right after the next, the kind that are just far enough apart that you don’t get any momentum on the downhill to help with the next uphill. Chuck helped as much as possible by riding out front and letting me stay in his draft, but even with that, it was such an effort to get through the wind, that my tailbone was screaming and I was struggling to keep moving forward. I had no idea that this race would be more like an Epic Gravel Grinder rather than an adventure race, if I had, I may have used the old broken tailbone excuse and stayed home. By now it was after noon and we needed to eat, but we couldn’t stand out in the wind, so we found a nice storm drain to sit in and have lunch.  Adventure racing takes us to the most scenic places.

Although, the day started out with temperatures in the 30’s, it had warmed up nicely, but due to the strong winds, we needed to keep warm without getting overheated. Lucky for us we were both wearing our Icebreaker base layer which kept us warm in the wind and dry even though we were sweating from working so hard to ride into the wind gusts. I can’t say enough about how great Icebreaker stuff is, if you haven’t tried it, you really need to.

Finally we reached Ft Riley, we signed in and headed to the next CP, but we had to keep stopping because Chuck was picking up used artillery and putting it in his pocket.

I have no idea why he wanted the stuff, but I was secretly glad that every time he stopped to pick something up, I got to get off my bike seat for a few seconds. Cmon!  thats 50cal brass with machine gun clips, it don't get cooler than that! geez girls.  We even made a couple turns to the west, they were just short stretches of gravel road, but it gave us a little bit of a tailwind, unfortunately, it also gave us a strong cross wind, so there were a couple times for both of us where we were thrown sideways across the road by the wind. My only thought was, if I go down I hope I land on my shoulder and not my tailbone, better to have a broken collar bone then to land on my tailbone and make it any worse, plus I knew if I landed on my head, I would be fine, my Hardnutz helmet had already saved my noggin a couple times this year, so I was sure if I hit my head it would be fine. Some might say that it would be fine because there was nothing in it, but don’t believe that.

When we hit the checkpoint we were told that we missed the cutoff, so we would have to skip the next 3 points and head to CP46. That meant more miles of gravel, hills and wind. I was now on the verge of tears, but was trying to hold them in. My tailbone hurt so bad that I just wanted to scream, not that anyone would have heard me with the wind howling like it was. Heck, we couldn’t even hear cars coming up on us and one pulled up next to Chuck and scared him so bad, that I was a little worried he might crash, but he kept his wheels on the road. Besides seeing all the artillery on the road we also saw a giant snake, I’m just glad Chuck didn’t want to bring it back with him.

At CP46, we sat down and ate a Honey stinger waffle and hashed out our go-forward plan. Although my Trek Top Fuel was really grabbing the gravel, and the shocks were taking the brunt of the beating, my tailbone pain level was about past my limit and we both knew that I wasn’t going to make it anywhere fast, and if I didn’t get off that bike soon, Chuck may have been taking me to the emergency room for some really good pain meds. The plan:  We would ride the 7 or so miles back to race HQ and from there do the trek to the Xterra Challenge and the mystery event, then pick up all the trekking points that were left, excluding those that we would have to bike too.

The Xterra challenge was really cool, we had to use a rope to pull a Nissan Xterra SUV across a parking lot. It’s funny how much work your tailbone does, who knew almost everything you do uses your butt, I felt every step of that challenge. Oh of course since I was doing all the work pulling the SUV while chuck was playing movie producer, it was probably much harder than it should have been. And to top it off, the movie he made while pulling the car, didn’t even come out good enough to use in this blog.

Next we were off to the mystery challenge, and guess what it was, whatever you just guessed I’m sure it is wrong. It was Karaoke, this is not a challenge that Chuck or I wanted to take part in. We both bucked up, and sang “Sweet Home Alabama”, it was probably the worst rendition ever. There was certainly no applause for us.  Team Torti was up next and they knocked it out of the park with this awesome performance:

So after that crazy challenge we headed out on a trek for the last of the CP’s. Finally finishing at the Anchor Inn, where we had hot pizza and cookies.

We chatted with Team Torti for a while, hit the showers that were nice and hot and headed back to camp for some well-deserved rest, lucky for us, the night was a little warmer and we both dressed in every clean item of clothing we had with us, including our recovery socks, so sleep would be much warmer this time. The night continued to be windy, so windy that I thought I was in OZ, but come to find out, it was just the shock waves from a 5.7 Earthquake in Oklahoma.

I’m very glad I attempted the race, It wasn’t our best performance, but we did everything we could to make it work and we finished. Going into this race we both agreed that we would do whatever it took to finish and not worry about how fast. With that said, I guess we did exactly what we set out to do, like always, it was team work, I couldn’t have done it without Chuck.

Ok, I gotta add something else here.  The girl spent this whole race in the Pain Cave.  All of us endurance racers have been in there before at some time or other.  So we all know how tough it can be to keep focused and pushing forward.  I have to say I was absolutely impressed with her ability to keep going when I know that butt pain was BAD.  I heard her moan and gasp a few times, and seen some glassed over eyes but I never saw a tear.  I don't know if you call it perseverance, indomitable spirit, toughness, or just stubborn beyond belief.  Whatever it is, the girl has it, and I was taken to school.  

Now how do I get some more pain meds from the doctor without having to admit that he was right, my butt was not ready to race yet.

November 1, 2011

2011 Checkpoint Tracker Championship Race

Team ROCK racing was looking forward to this race all year.  We had adventure raced in LBL several times before and are somewhat familiar with this great wilderness area.  The race was being produced by Bonk Hard.  They are top-notch race directors, so we knew this was going to be the race of the year.  We signed up the first day registration was open.

About a month before the race the UPS guy showed up at my house with a box from Swiftwick.  It contained two pairs of socks, and two pairs of arm-warmers.  All registered racers got the gift box.  Very cool.
Unfortunately the best made plans go astray.  Robin was injured during the Warrior Dash only 4 days before the race start.  She begged, pleaded, and probably threatened the doctors, but bone breaks of that significance are not something to mess with.  She would not be able to compete.  Her injury story is here.

Luckily, my wife had spent most of the summer cycling and was in great shape for her first adventure race.  The original plan was for her to continue training the rest of the year and make the Castlewood-8hr her first race.  But, we made some last minute changes and Lori was on the team. (Lori added race comments throughout the report in red). We loaded up the adventure van and made the drive to KY with Robin following in her own car.  She decided that even if she couldn’t race, she wasn’t going to miss all the fun.  So she was going to be a race volunteer. You can read her Championship Non-Race report here.

We checked in at race HQ and then checked into the Lake Barkley State Park Lodge.  This place was perfect for a race HQ.  Nice rooms, a restaurant, workout rooms, racquetball, and Wi-Fi.  My kids would be able to keep themselves entertained and fed while the parents raced.   
p.s.  they are teenagers, it's not like we left toddlers running around, unattended to get into trouble... oh, yeah, they're teenagers, nevermind...
One of the women at check-in mentioned something about driving to the race start, so we delayed unloading bikes and gear.  Pre-race dinner was scheduled to begin at 5.  I’ve learned at other races to never be late for food.  So we got to the dining room right at 5 and checked out the awesome looking buffet as we found a place to sit.  I looked around the room some and seen lots of racers I recognized.  Then at the table next to us I saw Ian Adamson, the world famous adventure racer!  This was going to be a great event.  The food turned out to be fantastic.  Best pre-race food I ever had, and plenty of it!
Chuck forgot the most important part of the meal...dessert!  They had apple and cherry cobbler w/ icecream, yum... 

After eating way too much, we went to the pre-race meeting. Robin said it was ok to eat 2 desserts because I was racing tomorrow. It started at 8 and I got there early too.  I think this is the only time I’ve remembered to bring a paper and pencil with me.  So I made a few notes like: 
Red trails at Energy Lake are not correct.
We are allowed to portage at CP35.
The Trace highway is off-limits except to cross
Jason answered all of the racer questions and ran through the race rules and gave us some safety cautions.  Then he called for team captains to come up to the front and get maps and cluesheets.  We picked up two 1-24,000 maps and a cluesheet with 37 checkpoints.  As other racers were still picking up maps, I was checking mine out.  Whoa, this was going to be a long paddle.  Then I spotted a 10hr limit on the second orienteering leg.  That is the longest one I’ve ever seen.  At least it wasn’t all reentrants like last month’s Berryman.
Now I have been to some of the pre-race meetings before, but never as a participant.  Always tying to figure out where Chuck and Robin were going to be and try to get some good pictures of them.  That's what I know how to do, try to find them at one checkpoint or another and take pictures.  As I sat there looking at all the checkpoints, I was really wondering how I was going to survive?  I can do this.  He knows how slow I am going in, so no surprise there.  I just had to stay awake and on  my feet and just keep moving.  No problem, right?  I can do this... I was hoping that I would soon believe what I was telling myself.  It helped as other racers who knew what had happened and how I got there, would offer words of encouragement.  They said I would be fine... 
Jason told us we’d be getting more maps and checkpoints at the bike transition.  We were told to be ready on the start line at 6:45, with a race start at 7:00.  The race crew and volunteers would transport our bikes to the TA at CP37 for us after the race started.  We left the pre-race meeting and went back to the room to do last minute gear checks and plot maps.

I showed Lori the plotting method that works so well and we made quick work of plotting the points.  Then we busted out the highlighters and planned the route we would use to attack the individual points.  Once we started plotting the big second O-section it was obvious that we would not get all the points.  I plotted a route to about 14 of the 22 points, taking in the most concentrated areas and easiest to get.  The canoe points would be easy to find, but there was a lot of distance between them, not much route choice there.   Once all the maps were plotted and folded up in the map-case, we tried to get some sleep.
Both (haha yeah I know) alarms went off right as planned.  I hugged my kids and told them not to burn the place down or anything while we were gone, and drove down to the start line at the lake Barkley State Park Beach.
I was starting to get a little nervous, I mean I knew I would return because Chuck had to have a partner with him to finish.  I was fairly certain that he would not leave me in the woods.  I mean he would drag my body back across the finish line if he had to.  DNF really isn't in his vocabulary... 
We parked bikes and gear in the designated area and went over to the start area. 

Jason gathered us all up for the National Anthem and a prayer.  All of the Bonk Hard races start like this, very cool.  I’m not sure who did the prayer, but it was great and started like this:  “Dear God, thank you for bringing us all together to this beautiful lake that was created by you and the Army Corp of Engineers….”

Jason had us all line up under the start line, it was about to start.  The photographers came out to get some last minute pictures.  Then, the evil race directors pulled a last minute change on us.  “Everyone grab paddles and PFD’s, then line up again.”  Haha, only in adventure racing!  We grabbed the gear and re-lined up.  We were being sent out for a short fast paddle leg around the beach swim area, then run into the first O-section.
The race started and it was chaos, racers dodging all over to get in the boats and then frantic paddling to make the small loop and get back on the beach. O
Ok, all was going according to plan.  We had not capsized, still fairly dry and made it back to shore! Yeah!  Then it hit me.... I still had 30 hours of this fun to go!

I bet they got some great pictures.  We paddled past Ian Adamson in one of the course marker canoes and I swear he was sitting there laughing at the madness.
Once out of the water we trekked into the O-section and were rewarded by running directly into all three of the CP’s.

Lori was impressed.  Her old man really can find checkpoints.
I really do have to say that I was impressed with his navigational skills.  He led us straight to them as if he had been there before, this is kinda funny because he gets lost in the Mall!

We came out of the woods and found a good canoe.  A couple of them had broken handles, and a couple other had broken seat backs, so it was good to be choosy here.

Navigating on rivers is easy, you just follow the water.  It gets more difficult on lakes, especially big lakes.  From water level, islands can look like a shoreline, and a peninsula can look like an island.  But this was early in the morning with bright sun so we didn’t have any trouble, except for the wind.  10mph and straight on in our face for the whole 8K paddle leg into the LBL wilderness area.  We made good time and only got passed by one 2p male team.  When we were about 500m meters off the western shoreline we crashed into a sandbar.  It was a surprise and seemed totally out of place.
I had noticed another canoe heading south and thought "why are they going that way?"  Once we hit the sandbar that was only under water by about 6 inches it became clear.  I wasn't about to question the master...

We paddled around a little and found a way through the shallow areas without having to get out and push.  Then we crossed energy lake cove to the canoe takeout, we dragged the canoe out of the lake, stamped our CP, and trekked to the TA to begin the second O-section.

The TA for the second O-section was at the guest center for the Energy Lake campground.  They had a lighted building with water and tables and chairs.  Team Virtus was there volunteering, they punched our passport and gave us our time to be back. Those guys were really funny  This section had a 10 hr time limit, we would have to be back by 9:06 tonight or take some wicked penalties.  We headed out and found the first 2 CP’s right where we plotted them.

The attack plan for the third point was to follow a bearing across a wide low area with no contour in the land.  It was kind of risky following a bearing that long, but it was the only reasonable option.  The bearing led us through the thickest brush and thorns we seen the entire race.  After what seemed like forever we climbed up onto the road we were shooting for and turned East.  I was suddenly so hungry.  The kind of hungry you only get during long adventure races.  Lori took my picture when I found a perfect snack.

So right after my snack we another team heading West on the road.  They hadn’t found the CP yet and were convinced that we were too far East.  I had a different opinion, and after comparing maps we separated.  A few years ago this would have really messed with my navigation.  I guess I’ve gotten confident enough now to go my own way.  This time it paid off, we found the CP right where it was plotted about 5 minutes later.

We were close to the next CP when we ran into Bill from Mid Rivers Adventure.  He is a fantastic adventure racer and navigator.  He was racing solo this weekend because his teammate had a last minute injury. 
After gathering a couple more CP’s we started the long trek back toward the TA.  We stopped on the way and picked up CP 13 just after dark.

When we arrived at the TA there were a bunch of teams putting on rain gear, eating and filling water bladders.  We got through transition quickly and trekked down to the canoe put-in.
The canoe was amazing.  LBL is dark, no lights anywhere, the sky was clear, the moon wasn’t up yet, so we could see all 100 billion stars.  The paddle was straight forward, about 6 miles, with two CP’s before the take-out.  We got them both and even managed to stay dry during the short portage.
It was about midnight when we got off the water and started a 2.5 mile trek to the bike transition.  We had to carry our paddles for the next couple legs of the race.  I was a little worried about this part, because they are two-piece paddles.  I strapped them up in my Osprey Talon pack, and it was like they weren’t even there.  They carried perfect.

About halfway through the trek we heard several packs of coyotes howling across the hills to each other.  It was totally cool.  I tried to record them with my camera, but it didn’t come out.  It really made you feel surrounded by the ‘wild’ and helped make the adventure.
The bike TA volunteers were from team Orange Lederhosen.  They had a giant fire going and were keeping busy with all the racers coming through.  We armed up for a few minutes and got the bikes ready to go.  We rolled away from the TA at 1:30.
The long hours and miles were starting to put a hurting on Lori.  She had really toughed this race out so far.  She had been road riding all summer, but had not trained for a race of this length.  She is also pretty new to mtn biking and had never ridden in the dark.  We decided to cut the bike leg short and not risk injury or a DNF out on the LBL single-track.  We were back by the Orange Lederhosen fire by about 3:00am.  We ate some more, warmed up, and Lori got in a short nap.

By this time it was really cold, my bike computer said 37 degrees, and we were still wet from the canoe leg.  I pulled my Icebreaker gloves off to dry them by the fire a little and was surprised by how cold my hands were without them.  They had been keeping me warm even though they were wet from paddling.  Wool is amazing!  We were both wearing Icebreaker base layers too.  It worked so perfectly.  Over 65 degrees and sunny in the afternoon, wet and 37 degrees at night.  That’s a huge temperature difference to expect one baselayer to handle, but the Icebreaker does it excellently.  Lori was wearing an Icebreaker hat and baselayer.  I’m glad her hat was such a bright color, made it easy to keep track of her in the woods.

We rode out in the dark toward the canoe transition.  The paddles rode nicely in the pack again.  I wont be so worried about carrying them in the future.  When we got close to the ramp we could see the fog.  We got off the bikes and stacked then in the designated area.  They would be transported back to the finish by race staff.  We decided that it would not hurt our race results to wait out the fog and dark until the sun came up.  We waited by the fire for about a ½ hour, then there was some light getting into the sky.  We loaded up the canoe, checked the map, and headed out on an East bearing. 
This fog was so thick, we couldn’t even see the side s of the cove we were in.  I’d guess we had about 20ft visibility.  Staying on the East bearing was difficult, each time I checked the compass we were off.   We eventually caught a 2 person female team.  They were trying to find a way through the mid-lake sandbars.  We worked together with them and found a way through without getting out to push.  They were on the same heading as us so we kind of stayed together. 
A four-person team caught us.  They were paddling hard.  It was Bushwacker.  They are awesome racer, so I thought it would be best if we did this foggy lake crossing in a little group.  We paddled really hard to hang on to Bushwacker and the other 2p team.  Lori thought her arms were falling off.  When the sun came through in little patches I spotted the state park marina.  Finally!  After an hour of paddling I found our first landmark.  We lost Bushwhacker, but continued on into the finish line just fine on our own.

Robin was the first one there to get our picture with the foggy background and give a congratulations.  We had our picture taken by this pro photographer, and made out way over to the food.
Game faces
I was glad to see the Bonk Hard baked potatoes under the finish line canopy.  They always taste so good after a long race.  Then the volunteer scooped a couple of spoonfuls of chili in there and I threw a handful of cheese on top.  Man it was great.
After a short afternoon nap we met Robin and my kids for the post-race banquet and award ceremony.  It was top-notch, white table cloths, waiters, waitresses, bartender, and giant buffet.  The food was great.  There was some gear giveaways, that I wasn’t lucky enough to win, but they were great prizes.
Ian Adamson showed some race videos and answered questions.  I learned a few race tips from him that we will have to try out.  Then the CEO of Swiftwick came out and gave away some socks to everyone with a tattoo. This was a great weekend!  Lori completed her first adventure race, my kids didn't destroy the lodge, and ROCK Racing scored some points for the 2011 series.  I can't wait for next year!  They announced that the race will be in West Virginia and will include ropes and white water rafting.