October 1, 2013

Berryman Adventure Race 2013

Two Thumbs Up

This was my first time competing in the Berryman Adventure Race in 4 years, so I was excited that it fell on a weekend that I had free and could join in on all the fun.  Usually Chuck and I do adventure races as a 2 person coed team, but this race we did as a 4 person coed team because Chuck’s son Jacob wanted to do it and our friend Keith also wanted to try a longer race. 
Chuck (Master Orienteerer)
Jacob (Unruly Teenaged Boy)
Keith (Fast Grandpa)

Robin (Slow Girl)
Just a few weeks before the race Keith was hospitalized for a health issue and wasn’t sure he was going to be able to race, but luck was on his side and he was well enough on race day to make it. 

Chuck’s wife Lori came along and was our personal photographer, we would be seeing her a lot throughout the race, which I love because she takes great photos. 

We also had a group of friends, Jenny, Jim, Travis, and Trent, otherwise known as Team Jenny’s Angels, who were doing this as their first Adventure race. This was their first adventure race and first time as a team, so this was going to be interesting.  I just told them to take their time with the navigation and have fun.  

Jenny and her Angels at the start of the race
We hit the pre-race meeting then both teams gathered in Chuck’s room to plot the checkpoints and do some preliminary route planning.  Our plotting went well, and we helped the other team with plotting to make sure they were going to start off on the right foot. We were in bed by 10:30 with plans of leaving for the race start by 5:15 am the next morning. 

Plotting the night before the race
The next morning seemed to come fast, but I slept well.  Jenny and I shared a hotel room so we made sure we were awake on time and ready to go.  We met our teams in the lobby, grabbed some breakfast and were out the door.  It was a 30 minute drive to the start and it was way out in the deep woods. 

Team ROCK Racing
We parked, filled our drop bags with food, staged our bikes and got ready to start, the gun went off and we headed out.  We had decided to take a different path than most teams, there were only about 3 teams who took this line. 

Which way should we go
I think it was the right decision because we did not have to wait in line to punch our passport when we got to the CP.  As usual Chuck was our map guy and I had the passport and clue sheet.  This is how we always work as a team, so we kept it this way even with a 4 person team instead of a 2 person team, like we usually race. 

Jacobs got this
As we headed for CP2, we ran into Team JA, they were also looking for CP2, so we found it together.  We headed off South for our last CP before the bike, while they headed North for their two remaining points. 
Team Jenny's Angels
As we ran into the HQ / TA to get our bikes Lori was standing there taking photos and giving us an update and what teams had already been through.  We talked to some guys from Arkansas while there and ate deer sausage that Keith brought along.  We also took off our adventure pants, since we would be on bikes and we were so covered in beggar lice that they were weighing us down. Keith had shorts on in the woods, so the hair on his legs were covered with beggar lice, at least we could just take our pants off, he worked all day to get those lice off his legs. 

Beggars Lice

TA 1

Getting ready for the first bike leg
We started out on the first bike leg and it was mostly all single track.  It was really tough, with lots of sand, gravel, roots and boulders.  We weren’t too far into the bike and I turned a corner and came to a dead stop in the deep sand and crashed into a downed tree.  I was so tangled in the tree that it took a while to get out and I had to pull tree limbs out of my spokes and my brakes.  I finally got back on my bike and rode up to where my teammates were waiting, wondering what happened to me. 

We were back on track and soon arrived at a cave where a CP was inside.  We ran in to stamp the passport, but none of us had a head lamp on so we were just trying to guess if we were checking the right box or not.  We headed out thinking there was a trail around the cave, only to find out that we had to go though the cave, at least this time we had our bike lights to get us through.

The Boys coming out of the cave
We were back out for more single track and then we came out to ride hill after hill of loose gravel.  We did hit some pavement for a while and it was one of the few places that we had some really good downhill.  In fact we hit 41 mph on the downhill in this section.  I was just hoping that we didn’t have to ride back up it. 

Jacob and Chuck
I kept getting dropped off the back, every uphill I would fall behind and the guys would stop to wait, but as soon as I got close they took off again, so they were getting a minute to recover while I never had any recovery time, so I kept falling further and further back.  They couldn’t just take off and leave me because I had the passport they needed me, but I got to the point where I felt like I was the 4th wheel and the only reason I was there was because I was the girl and they needed one to be a coed team.  As the day went on Chuck fell back closer to me and Jacob and Keith were off the front, usually waiting at the top of each hill, taking it easy catching a breath, so that they could stomp my ego again when I caught up.

Taking a nap while waiting for me to catch up
We made it to the canoe put-in and thankfully we had the light canoes, there was a lot of canoe carrying to get in and out of the water.  

The hardest part of the race
Lori was there taking photos, and it was nice to see someone who wasn’t in race mode and wasn’t thinking what a slug I was, and constantly stopping and waiting for me. 

Lori taking our photos
We got in the canoes and headed out.  
Jacob and Chuck

Robin and Keith
This race had a little bit of an interesting twist, there were optional points thrown in that could be picked up by any transportation mode as long as they were picked up before a designated CP.  On the map it looked like there was a rock road that we could use to get close to the points. So we picked up a couple canoe CP’s than beached, unloaded bikes and headed out for points, 41 and 42.  Oh and these points were worth 2 points each. 
Jacob and Chuck
Robin and Chuck
The section of road we had to cover to get to these points started out uphill in deep gravel, oh and that was after you got out of the sand.  It was tough but we made it.  At the first CP we had a gear check and after some digging in our packs we came up with all the needed gear, so we stamped our passport and headed out. We picked up the next point quickly, and we were really surprised to see how many people had chosen to trek to the points. It would have taken us at least an extra hour to trek it instead of bike it.  We headed back to the river and we were looking forward to some downhill to get back, but the downhill was in deep gravel which made it very scary, at least for me.  At one point I was flying down a hill, fish tailing in the gravel, I couldn’t brake or I would have gone down, and to top it off, bikes were coming toward me, all I could do was yell, “look out”.  I am so glad everyone scrambled out of my way.  I mean I wanted us to do well, but taking out the other teams with my bike just didn’t seem right. 

Just before the river on the downhill I saw a giant copperhead snake and it had it’s head up striking, I went as far as I could to the tail end of it to get around, I was really scared I kept checking to make sure it hadn’t jumped on my bike. I would have a photo, but there is no stinking way I would have gotten anywhere near that snake to take one.  Back at the canoe everyone was talking about the snake, at least I wasn’t the only one that it scared. So we put our bikes back in the canoes and took off again. 

Loaded down with bikes
As we paddled down the river, we came upon a team that had their canoe stuck under a log, they were taking bikes out to try and dislodge it, we asked to help, but they said they had it under control, but a paddle and helmet was floating down the river.  We started paddling harder to try and catch them, we grabbed the paddle first it was lodged in some trees, then we went after the helmet.  Once we had both we stuck them on a sand bar where the racers could see them and we paddled on.  

It didn’t take long to get to the TA after the gear rescue, we pulled our canoes out of the water and carried them up the hill and of course Lori was waiting and took some more photos of us.  It’s really nice having an “in” with the photographer.  

We ran up to the CP and picked up the next map. Chuck and I sat down and started plotting the maps while we ate and Keith and Jacob talked to Lori to get the scoop on all the teams while they ate.  

Plotting the second map
Chuck Plotting
We headed out to for the next CP’s planning on only picking up the CP’s that were close to the road and on the way to the canoe put-in because we only had 2.5 hours before the cutoff time at the canoe.  
As we headed out we were running the down hills and flats and walking the up hills.  I started to fall off the back again, which was just normal for me for the day, and Jacob let me grab the loop on his pack and he started towing me, when he got too fast, I grabbed on to Keith’s pack and he started towing me. For a while I kept up only because of the tow.  

What I looked at most of the day
We quickly realized that we would be trekking through some really tough hills and that we would also have to ride some of those same hills on the next leg. It was so frustrating to know that we were going to have to ride up those awful hills.  In fact as we started the second canoe leg I was so disheartened by the fact that we were going to have to ride up that giant hill, that I started thinking to myself, “this hill will not beat me”, and you know what, it didn’t.  And then if worrying about the hill was not enough, it started raining.

The rain just kept coming and it got really foggy out, then Keith started singing the oldies, which Jacob knew none of, and I started feeling old, because I knew all of them.  I was starting to feel a little beat and then we saw a rope swing in the distance, it was like we were just out on a float trip.  I said we should jump off the rope and Jacob said, “I will do it” so Chuck paddled up to the rope and Jacob grabbed it then jumped off the log onto the rope and into the water.  It was exactly what we needed to pull us out of a tired funk and the rest of the paddle went pretty well. 
Jacob jumping off log
Fun on the rope swing
We reached the TA, and saw Team JA there, they were having a rough time, but seemed to be in good spirits even though they had been doing a bit of swimming during the canoe leg.

Travis and Trent
We were back in the TA, doing more plotting, this time in the rain, we checked our time and made a plan on what CP’s we should shoot for to make sure we finished before the cutoff.  

Plotting under a campers tarp, he was very nice to let us use it
Loading up for the next biking leg
We headed out for CP 25, it was dark by then and I had to tell the boys that in the dark they couldn’t ride with me off the back because I might miss a turn, they said no problem we would all stay close, ha….ha, that didn’t work out to well.  We had a little issue of Keith and Jacob getting ahead and me and Chuck at the turn for CP25.  We figured sooner or later they had to look back and see we were not behind them. 

We got back together and punched CP25, but as Chuck got to the bottom of a hill heading out to the road, he flatted.  This is a really unusual occurrence for our team because we all ride Schwalbe tires.  Chuck's front tire was a Nobby Nic with the snakeskin protective layer.  He has a tubeless setup, but the cut was too big for the Stan's sealant to plug up.  We stopped to put a tube in and used a CO2 cartridge to air it up, but the CO2 got stuck open and he blew the new tube.  Jacob gave him his tube, but it was the last 29’er tube we had, and with the gash we worried about another flat.  Just about the time Chuck finished putting in the second tube a team stopped to talk to us.  They were nice enough to give us one of their 29 tubes in case we needed it. I don’t know the team’s name, but Thank You!   Luckily the Nobby Nics are tough enough that the cut didn't tear any further and the tire lasted out the rest of the race.

Next we headed to CP29 it was in the single track section, but before we got to it we somehow missed the turn to the single track and ended up at an old silo, we knew it was wrong because we had not seen it earlier in the day when we were on that same section. We turned around and found the trail head.  Just before the turn to the ridge that CP27 was on we stopped to eat something and another team rode up, they said they were done and riding back in, but we wanted to get 27 so we let them go.  

When we made it to the ridge, we realized that 27 was really a long way out on the ridge, so we decided to skip it and headed back to the finish.   
Riding in the dark
As we rode into the finish we saw Lori taking photos and Travis, from Team JA waiting for us.  We were looking for the big finish line but it was gone. The generator went out so no finish line. It was kind of disappointing, we really wanted to ride under the finish line. 

This was long gone when we finished
We turned in our passport, got a team photo and headed to the food, which was really good, especially the cheesy potatoes.  Then we all changed clothes, I had to use a water bottle to pour water over my legs and arms to try and get all the sand off before I put on clean clothes. I think it took 3 showers to get all the sand off me. 

Now 2 days after the race, I am covered in chiggers, and my ego is bruised because I kept falling off the back. I have no excuse, I felt good, I just couldn’t keep up with them, but I did ride up every one of those stinking big hills, the ones that most people were pushing their bikes up.  It’s hard being the slow girl with 3 fast boys. 

Three Fast Boys
Photo Credit: Lori Vohsen.. click here to see all photos


  1. hey robin, tell your boys to make bike tows and then share energy!! i tow off of the alpine shop boys all the time, it is totally awesome and keeps the team together really well. jeff has a great tow design that i'm sure he will share. glad to hear you got tougher than the hills! good job!

    1. +1 on Alpine Shop's tow system. Getting to try it out with Jeff at CAC2 made me a big believer!!

  2. Oh I so know how you feel!! Of course, that's me on pretty much every single group ride I do on singletrack. Sorry I wasn't there to ride with you...you'd have gotten lots more chances to rest while you waited for me! :)

  3. Great recap! And I remember talking to you Emily... I was part of the two man group leaving CP16 and you were asking about my teammate's GPS tracker. Awesome job getting 36 pts!!!

  4. Excellent race report. And you would make a great SLUG! It is inspiring to see the things you do and the way you work so well together.

  5. Nice and excellent together racing and making group team. That's awesome and big fun. It's inspiring to see the things you so and the way you work so well together.