June 26, 2012

Indian Camp Creek MTB Race

So what if its 95 degrees and it hasn’t rained in so long that there is 4 inches of dust on the ground, how would you spend your day?  Let’s see, you could stay in the house and watch TV, hang out in an air conditioned movie theater, go to a nice cool mall, or even spend it in a restaurant eating pasta and drinking wine, but is that what you really want to do on a hot summer day. 

Well, if you are me or Chuck, you would want to spend the day with a few of your closest friends, even if they smell like a rotting dead animal, rub chamois cream on their private areas right in front of you, have no problem stopping in the middle of a conversation to blow a snot rocket, don’t think twice about sticking their dirt covered hand in your chip bag, sit their stinking body in your chair, or even beg for a bite of your sandwich. You know where I’m going with this, don’t you, yes Chuck and I spent our Saturday racing mountain bikes at one of the most awesome venues in the Missouri/Illinois area, Indian Camp Creek. What’s more fun than 12 hours on a mountain bike when its 95 degrees and the ground had turned to dust. I know… right… nothing.
So that is just what we did, we spent the day as a 2 person co-ed team racing around an 8 mile loop of single track trails at Indian Camp Creek. I’m not sure on the number of riders, but I bet there were well over a hundred, and that included our friends SuperKate, Daryl, Judy and JP, they all hung out with us at our base camp. There were tons of other friends there also, too many to list, but it was a really fantastic group. I have to say, mountain bikers and adventure races are some of the friendliest and most encouraging people I have ever met. It doesn’t matter if they are faster or slower than you, when they see you on the course they always give you encouragement to keep going and they make every event fun. Let me give you an example, one of the riders, stopped during the race to help someone change a tire, then got back on his bike and finished the race for the win. Now, I’m not putting down road bikers, but I will tell you, this would never happen in a road bike race.  You know how in Sunday school they always taught you, that to have more you have to give more. Is this an example of what we were taught, he stops and helps someone and he wins the race, maybe he was just super fast and a nice guy or maybe… I’m just saying.

If you’re not familiar with this race format here’s how it works, Chuck and I ride for 12 hours, covering an 8 mile loop of single track, trading off each lap.  Chuck took the first lap so he had to ride and extra mile or so at the start. 

We both estimated how long it would take us to ride a lap based on our previous training rides at ICC.  Chuck thought he would be in the low 50’s and I thought I would be closer to an hour. Well I guess Ironman training is getting us in better condition than we thought because we both rode all our laps faster than estimated. Chuck’s averaged 50 minutes, I averaged 52 minutes. Although, I was happy that my lap times were fairly close to Chuck’s I was unhappy that Chuck was getting a couple extra minutes rest more than I was. I know you are thinking, 2 minutes big deal, but in my mind I thought that the 2 minutes would give me the strength to blast out of transition rather than chug off like a steam engine. In reality it would not have made a difference, when you’re hot and tired your mind can make you believe just about anything though. 

As I got ready for my first lap, I grabbed my Trek Superfly, only to find out that something was wrong, the back wheel was locked up.  I ran the bike over to the mechanics tent, but it wasn’t a quick fix. Chuck was going to arrive for the hand off any minute and I wasn’t on a bike.  Lucky for me I had brought two bikes, it’s a long story why I had two bikes, but it's just a good thing I did.  I quickly grabbed my Trek Top Fuel and rode over to transition, as I was standing there, I realized my number was still on my Superfly, so I ran back to the mechanics tent and got the number. Just as I was tying the number on my Top Fuel, Chuck rolls in.

So Chuck finished the first lap and I took off, since the 12, 6, and 3 hour races all started together the trails were pretty congested for the first 3 hours of the race, then by the 6th hour the trails got pretty quiet since the 12 hour racers were pretty spread out. My first lap, I was riding with a bit of caution not knowing the route or what was in store for me.  I still finished the lap in 53 minutes, but I got passed by 8 guys. 

I like to think it was because they were 3 hour racers and could expend more energy because they were riding fewer miles than we were.  Really they were just faster than me.  The good thing was they all gave me time and space to move over before they sped around me. 

Chuck went out for his next lap and while he was gone I used the time to wash the dirt off my legs and my face, clean the mud off my water bottle, refill it, and eat something, oh and I made sure to take some enduralytes, I think the enduralytes kept me going all day without any leg cramps. I would also pull off my wet and slimy bike jersey and put on a dry t-shirt after each lap.  I know most people think, “what a waste of time”, but I felt so much better in a dry shirt and by the time I put the jersey back on for the next lap, it was dry.  I really hate sitting around with a wet shirt clinging to me.  I work hard enough to keep my fat rolls out of sight from others, I don’t need a wet shirt showing them off for everyone to see.  

I went over to the mechanics tent to check on my Superfly, he had fixed it, but he had to drain some brake fluid and move the pads, I have no idea how the pads seized up, I mean, I was riding it around before the race started and had no problems.  At least it was fixed.  I have to say thanks to the bike mechanic, I don’t know his name, but I’m grateful.

I think it is much more fun being on a team, because when you are on an off lap, you get to cheer all your friends on as they come around, and chat with them about the course and how they are feeling when they stop for water. I was there to cheer Daryl on during the 6 hour race and Kate all day long since she was riding 12 hour solo.  I even had a chance to talk to Judy and John after they finished the 3 hour race.  

As I was standing waiting for Chuck to finish the lap, Wendy Davis walked up, I asked if she was racing and she said no and patted me on the head saying “you aren’t either unless you get a helmet on”, haha. I was just standing there thinking wow, it feels cooler than earlier, well sure it did, I didn’t have that hot helmet on.  I quickly ran and got my helmet thinking what a dork, I’m glad she caught me before anyone else did. Thanks Wendy! I went out for my second lap, this time I was riding my Superfly, and really enjoying it, keeping the pace up and just having a great time. The first 4 miles of the course are smoking fast, between miles 4 and 6, there is a lot of uphill, not horrible uphills, but enough to make you work just a little harder. As the day went on those uphills seemed to grow longer and steeper though.  I would fly through the first 4 miles, then really work the next two and cruise the last two miles. That was my strategy for the day and it seemed to work well.  So I finished my second lap two minutes faster than my first.  I love my Superfly and it just rolls though everything, but I have to work harder to push it up the hills, so I decided since I would be getting slower from fatigue as the laps progressed, I would ride my Top Fuel for the rest of the day.  I don’t know if that was the right decision or not, but I was still a little worried about the brake problem popping up again, so the Top Fuel it was. And it kept Chuck confused, with me changing bikes and that’s always a plus for me. 

Daryl finished sometime just before six hours and hung out for a while and then headed home, John and Judy headed home too, so our base camp got a little quieter as the day went on. 

The 12 hour race was still in progress, lap 3, then lap 4 then lap 5, then lap 6. Now we originally said we wanted to finish 12 laps total, but after I finished lap 6, we still had plenty of time, so Chuck headed out for lap 7. While he was out we got the news that if he came in after the 11 hour mark, I did not have to go out again, but if he finished before the 11 hour mark, it was mandatory I go out. Lori, Chuck’s wife looked at the standings and it wouldn’t matter if I went again or not, we had 3rd place tied up and would not be able to make second and the 4th place team would not be able to catch us. Although I hate it when Chuck does more than I do, I was pretty sure I didn’t want to do another lap.

Now with this rule cropping up, Lori and I should have thought about stopping Kate before the finish line, but it didn’t pop into our heads until we saw her come around the corner, and then it was too late, she came through the finish line in just under the 11 hour mark and was told that she would have to go out for another lap.  She really didn’t want to go, but they said if she did she had 2nd place tied up because the second place girl stopped riding already, and even though she had more laps she was considered DNF because she stopped before the 11 hour mark. 

Kate was all banged up from an earlier crash and she was tired, hot and covered in dirt, but she went out again. 

Chuck came in at around 11 hours and 15 minutes, so instead of me going back out, we got on our bikes and took the road around then hopped on the trail in the opposite direction and rode it until we found Kate.  We noticed that she was all dirty, I mean dirtier then when she left and her elbow was giant and ugly, she had crashed in the dark.  We rode with her until she hit the big hill, then left her to finish and took the road back to wait for her at the finish line. 

The results were posted, when we arrived at the finish line and we wondered how they could be posted since Kate had not finished.  We noticed that she was 3rd, so we questioned the official. There were conflicting rules being voiced between the race director and race official and once it was cleared up, we found out that Kate did not have to go back out and there was no way even if she did do a last lap that she would move into second place.  Chuck, Lori and I felt so bad for her, at that point there wasn’t much we could do.  The race director went to look for her in his car and hoped to catch her at one of the road crossings to bring her in. Another rider, Karen, volunteered to ride the course backwards to find her and ride her in, but it was too late on both accounts she was already on the last section and showed up at the finish 10 minutes later.  She was tired and upset and on the verge of tears, but Super Kate is a tough girl and she held on through the weariness and frustration.  The race director was very apologetic and he did all he could to make it right, she came away with a cool 3rd place trophy and some really great schwag.  I think all is good and I bet if you asked her now, she is happy she stuck it out for that last lap, because she always pushes herself to take that last leap of faith and do what she didn’t think she could do. This is the short story on the Super Kate debacle, but you will have to read her blog to get all the details  

As for Chuck and I, it was a 3rd place finish, and even better, we both rode faster times on all our laps than we thought we could do. Chuck and I had a great time and so much fun, I know we will do this race again.

The Cyclery Race Team (aka: ROCK Racing) had a good day, and not just me and Chuck, some of our other teammates too, Daryl, Andy and Ross. Ross placed in the 12 hour race, but now I don’t remember what category it was in, I think he got 1st. Congrats to all!

As for Lori, well she is AWESOME! Not only did she spend her entire day with us crewing and taking photos, but while we were out riding with Kate, she broke down camp and loaded all our gear in the adventure jeep and the adventure van.  It would be hard to find a support crew better than her and we owe her big time!  Yes Chuck… I know she’s your wife, but you owe her too. 

Thanks to the Race Director, Volunteers, GORC and St Charles County Parks for putting on such a great event.

June 18, 2012

Goomna Adventure Race 2012

It seems like I just wrote the Goomna race report for 2011 and here I am again.  Time really flies when you get old.  I guess it has been an entire year, you would think in a year I would be in better shape, but life doesn’t always work out the way we want it to.  So coming into this year’s race, Chuck and I were struggling and weary due to Ironman training.  We both hoped that all the long workouts we had been doing would give us an advantage this year.  Well, we were foiled again this year for a couple reasons, but neither was because we were overtraining or bonking during the race, in fact we raced strong all day, but more on that later.

So this year our teammate Patrick opted to do a kayak race, but his plans were also foiled by a change in the race format, so he ended up doing a Mississippi paddle with an island camp and oh believe me, it was killing Chuck not to be there with him, but Chuck had committed to Goomna so he was with us.  We had to pick up a replacement for Patrick, and Jenny was willing to try it out, she did the Castlewood 8 hr with us this past December and was ready to try a summer race. Here’s the thing, Jenny is smoking fast, so Chuck and I would have to work to keep up with her.  She is an awesome teammate, plus since she is the rookie she had to do all the stuff we didn’t want to.  Like the initial run at the start of the race, of course she rocked it.

While Jenny grabbed her gear at our most excellent headquarters, Chuck and I looked over the information she brought back from the initial run. 

We were on our bikes and out on the road very quickly, only to find out that we would be fighting the wind for most of the day. We chose to ride the bike trail along the road rather than the road like most other teams were doing. This gave us some advantage, because we were able to pass teams without having to maneuver around them. The first stop was a food drop, we had to bring a non-perishable food item for the food pantry, but Jenny and I thought we would be dropping it and check-in and we had big items.  Jenny had crackers and I had a very large can of soup.  It’s a good thing we have Chuck, he figured it out and brought some small cans and mac n cheese, so we carried the small stuff to the checkpoint.
When we dropped the food we were given the map for the next CP, this was at a public pool, we were thinking we would be swimming, but instead we had to run down a hill and memorize a list of 15 items which happened to be president’s names, then run up the hill and list them in order on a sheet of paper.  We split them up, I took the first 5, Chuck the second 5 and Jenny the third 5, It didn’t take long for us to complete the task and get back on the road. 

The next stop was a long haul to a campground, we were covering some of the Highland Biathlon course to get to it.  We came to a corner where all the teams were turning, but opted to take a different route, which worked out, we passed a lot of teams and arrived at the lake in good position. Good thing we have Chuck, the Mater Orienteering guy on our team. At this CP, we put on life vest, swam across the lake, each picked up a wood timber and ran it back around the lake, barefoot, through the rocks. I’m no Indian maiden and am not good at the barefoot thing, but we made it.

Here is the funny part, Chuck and I both swim like rocks and we were right next to each other the entire way across the lake, but just as we hit the middle of the lake, I look up and see Jenny already on the bank waiting for us.  Chuck and I just look at each other, we were both thinking the same thing, “we are such losers when it comes to swimming”. Ha Ha, and we are both doing an Ironman in September, hopefully, we will make it out of the swim alive.

We picked up the next map and got back onto the bikes, still in good position.

This would soon change and let me tell you why, this is where I get frustrated, about this race. This race is pretty much an urban adventure, but the rules state, you must have a mountain bike with knobby tires, and every year people show on with hybrid bikes, with road tires and this year was even worse, I can’t tell you how many people were on hybrid, cyclocross, and road bikes. This gives them such an unfair advantage because all of these bikes will just walk away from a mountain bike on the roads, especially in the wind.  This puts Mark the race director in a bad position because he has to decide what to do, but he really wants to just have a fun event and not disqualify anyone. We like Mark and as a race director myself, I know what it feels like to be in his shoes, so even though I may have gotten a little pissy a few times when it was really affecting me, I kept it to myself, well maybe not myself, I voiced my opinion to my teammates, but they were pretty frustrated about it too. 

When we left the lake we were in a really good position, and we were really on our game, keeping up a really nice pace, actually a fantastic pace for being on mountain bikes and fighting the wind, but we still got dropped by 3 teams, all on bikes other than mountain bikes. 
Going into the next CP, we hoped that we could make up time on the run and canoe, but since we had no idea what was in store, we didn’t know. This CP was at a gym, A somewhat non conventional gym.  Once inside we found out we would be doing a number of tasks of strength, and let me tell you strength is not my strong point.  The first task was to swing from tie-down straps and land on balance balls, it was harder than it looked, but really fun.  I do well with balancing so liked this and we all three were synchronizing our jumps, so we made it though very quickly.

Then we climbed fireman pools 3 times each, since we were so sweaty and the pole was too, we kept sliding back down, so we instead climbed into a teammates hands then onto their shoulder and did a final push to the rafters, we actually did this very well and very fast.

Next we rolled a giant tractor tire for two laps, that was not hard, but took strength and my arms were getting tired. 

Oh then we hit the hardest task of all.  We had to do 50 pushups, not your standard pushups, not that I could do 50 of those either.  This is how it worked, Chuck was in the standard pushup position, then I had my feet on Chucks back, hands on the ground at a 90 degree angle, Jen had her feet on my back, hands on the ground at a 90 degree angle, then we had to complete 50 pushups like that.  Well, we couldn’t do it, we did 31 and couldn’t do another. There was an alternate course of action, we could instead stay in the same structure and hold a plank for 3 minutes instead, but since we had already done 31 pushups, we only had to hold it for 90 seconds, it still took us 3 tries to do it. All of our arms were shaking when we were done. I wish I had a photo of that one. 

The last task was really frustrating, not because of how hard it was, but because of the confusion on the line of people waiting to do it.  When we got in line we were the next team, but then we found out we had to move to the opposite end, then when we walked down a team moved in front of us, we were then sent back down to the other end, to find another team in front of us, so we ended up waiting more than 15 minutes just to do the task. The task itself was hard, but doable.  In fact a took a couple photos of another team doing it and Chris a Metro Tri Club teammate was on the team that was completing the task. I noticed he had the cushy job of laying on the sled.

This is how it worked, we had to pull a male member of the team, and since we only had one male that was Chuck, on a weighted sled down the length of the building, the trick was we had to go under 3 lasers that were about 3 foot off the ground, without setting them off.  If a laser was set off, a 45 pound weight was added to the sled. We had a nice system and Jenny is really good with counting out the beats as we go, so we would count for 1,2,3,4 beats while pulling then rest, then pull again for 4 beats and we finished really fast without setting off any lasers. By then my legs and my arms were shaking. 

Once outside and back on the bikes we decided that worrying about the time setback in the gym and the inconsistencies on the bike was only going to take the fun out of the race.  So there and then we decided it was all about the fun and not about trying to win. 

Back at transition we were told to run to silver lake, where Chuck and Jen got in a canoe and I took a mountain bike on the single track around the lake to the CP.

The single track was awesome with tons of roots and cool yet sketchy bridge crossings, I made it to the CP about a minute ahead of the canoe.  Jen then took the bike down the trail to the next CP and Chuck and I canoed. I told Jenny to be careful, there were some hairy spots on the trail and she didn’t have a helmet on, I didn’t want to lose a teammate out there.  It was really lucky that Jenny and I ride the same size bike frame, it made for a perfect bike swap. Chuck was upset that he didn’t get to bike, but the bike would have been way too small for him. He would have really loved those trails, I didn’t want to say too much and look like I was having too much fun riding the single track while he was busy paddling our butts around the lake.

At the next CP Jen and I switched again and I got to ride some more awesome single track, I even passed 4 people on this section, did I ever tell you how much I love riding single track.  The bike I was on was great, it was a Specialized 29er, I don’t know where it came from, I guess borrowed from someone for the race, but it was a great bike, made me want to be on my Superfly flying through the trials.  After passing 4 people on this bike section I got to the CP and there was a backup of canoes waiting for their teammates, so I stepped out into the water to get to my canoe, the water was cool and felt so good on my feet.  It had really heated up, I was hoping for another water event, so I could cool off, but there were no more to come for the rest of the race.  Chuck and I finished the paddle and Jenny was waiting to help pull the canoe out of the water. 

I need to digress for a minute and talk about my xx2i sunglasses, the entire race had been brilliantly sunny, but my sight was fine because I was wearing my sunglasses and due to the forecast for bight sun I had chose to pop in a darker lens at the start of the race. I was concerned when I headed for the woods with the serious shade and thick humidity, I thought I might have to take the glasses off while riding the single track. In the Midwest the humidity just hangs like pea soup in the shade of the trails and sunglasses end up steamy like a mirror in a hot shower house. To make it even worse I was going from the shade and thick humidity on the bike to the bright hot sun in the canoe and even though I was sweating buckets, my glasses never once steamed up. I have to chalk one up for xx2i, my Oakley’s never worked that well.
We got the next map and ran to the next CP, where we were greeted with ice cold energy drinks and a round of Frisbee golf.  Jen was a pro at it, we took her throw every time, I really sucked at it. After golf, we headed to the next  CP which was back at headquarters.

We ran most of the way back to headquarters which was at the Korte Rec Center, there we had to do a word find, we worked together and quickly completed it, it also gave us a few minutes to cool off in the shade of our tent. Now we were off to the dock on a little pound where we found that our next CP was based on a bearing and a distance, we found it on the edge of a cemetery. We got another bearing and distance, we could have gotten to the next CP so fast if it was legal to run through a corn field, but since it wasn’t we had to take the long way around.

We arrived at the Korte Construction Company where there was an obstacle course setup.  First we had to run through some rip rap rock and under some construction tape.  I’m a little closer to the ground then Chuck and Jenny, so that was pretty easy for me. Then Jenny got in a wheel barrel and we pushed her through an S shaped course.  We then had to knock a can off some tires by throwing a rock at it, it reminded me of a carnival game, Chuck got the win and hit the can first. Now we were back to rolling a tractor tire end over end again, but this time it was outside, hot and the tire was dirty.  We all had black hands after that, good thing I had black shorts so I could wipe my hands on them. Then two teammates had to climb over semi truck containers, so Chuck lifted Jen and I lifted Chuck, then I ran around to spot them jumping down, it went pretty fast.  The next section we had to duck under saw horses after the third sawhorse, I started getting cramps in my abs, I think I was about dehydrated by then, and my muscles were tired from all the crazy gym stuff. When I got through, Jen told me to lift my arms over my head and that really helped. It’s nice to have a physical therapist on the team. The last task in the obstacle course was to build a bat house, Chuck was all about this.  He loved every minute of it. In fact it was his favorite part of the entire race, well it might be second to us pulling him on the sled.  I have to say, it was a really cool bat house. 


After getting some cold water from the volunteers we headed back to the finish line with our bat house in tow.  We were told that the bat houses would be put up in a nearby park. I thought that Chuck might fight them to keep the bat house, but he was too hot and tired to put up a fight.

We finished with smiles on our faces and a great sense of accomplishment.


Looking back, my favorite event was the single track mountain biking, I know Chuck’s was the bat house, I’m not sure what Jenny’s was, but I would guess the swim, of course we all enjoyed the swim, it was a great way cool off and gets some of the dried salt off our face and out of our eyes. I do know what our least favorite event was… the pushups, we will all attest to that. 

A BIG THANKS goes to Mark Rosen our fearless race director, he put on another fantastic race and even warded off the thunderstorms this year. 


I need to thank all the volunteers too, it was a long hot day and they all did a great job, of course they did once again, get the most cool shirt.  How can I convince Mark to give the competitors the same shirts, I love the volunteer shirts, I have way too many tech shirts, I need a really cool t-shirt like the one they get.  I guess I just have to volunteer next year, rather than compete, but with my luck, they won’t get the cool shirts next year.

June 6, 2012

Yurbuds Review

I have been a runner for over 30 years, a triathlete for 12 years and an adventure racer for 5 years. To be good at any of these events you need determination, perseverance, a work ethic like no other, time, lots of time, and most of all, focus. Long workouts are taxing on my physical being, they beat down my body and eat away at my mental capacity. I many times need help focusing on the finish line. Training groups and other like minded friends help, but because of time limitations I am frequently alone, on my own, to struggle though the mental turmoil of training solo.


Music is my drug of choice for those long lonely workouts, but I always struggled with the technology available to allow me to pipe that music through my head. I tried earbuds of every type, but was never able to find a pair that would stay in my ears. If I found a pair that would partially stay in, I would have to turn the volume up so loud to drown out the wind that I felt like my head was pounding by the end of the workout. I once found a pair that would stay in my ears, but my sweat shorted them out. I even sometimes ended up with chaffed ears from constantly pushing the earbuds back in or the cord rubbing against my ear. I had all but given up, when at last I found something that worked and worked well, Yurbuds I had heard a lot about them at the Cyclery, my local bike shop, and also on the adventure race circuit. Apparently the inventor of Yurbuds is an adventure racer and has graciously donated product to adventure race groups for prizes. Unfortunately for me, when my teammate Chuck and I would place in the money at a race, by the time we had a chance to choose our prize the Yurbuds had all been taken. I had done research on the product and was just waiting for the right time to buy, when a friend gifted me with a pair of Inspire Yurbuds, (Thanks to the Darbon Clan)


So after testing these Yurbuds extensively, meaning I’m in the middle of Ironman training and spending many hours running, and cycling alone, so I have had them in my ears more often than not, I have come to my own conclusions about this product.


They haven’t shorted out even with the very large amounts of sweat the rolls off my head and right into my ears. The twist lock system works well once you figure it out. I am somewhat challenged when it comes to following instructions, so for people like me, it might take a couple attempts to get it right. Because of the design the cords are held away from your ear and don’t rub your earlobe raw. The sound quality is good and I don’t need to turn them up to a level that would burst my eardrums to hear the music. Most of all, when I’m at the point that my body is screaming “NO” , the music flowing through my head helps me to focus and push on just a little bit further.


Like I said I’m a little challenged when it comes to reading and following instructions. I had to actually go to the Yurbuds website and watch the video, to figure out how to lock them in place.



They don’t come in my signature green color, I mean come on, I need ROCK Racing green or Godzilla Green in all my workout gear.


Buy these if you need to focus and don’t have the patience to continually fight to keep your earbuds in your ears, I know you will love them. I think they are a bit pricey, but I think it’s worth it, especially when my training plan continues getting longer as the Ironman nears. I will continue to use these for workouts even after the Ironman because I have come to count on them. Oh, and of course they come in handy when mowing the lawn too.