May 2006
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Month May 2006

memorial weekend at bull mtn

I was finally able to escape to the mtns in north Georgia and ride the Bull Mountain trails that I have somehow not yet been to. A bunch of friends camped out all weekend, so I joined them on Sunday for a day of riding. Camp was off of 77A, so we began with a nice long forest service road climb (my forte!) then joined up with Bare Hare for some more climbing (I did ok, but not fab). Then the downhill began… nearly all of Bull Mtn was a descent – yeah, my fav (not!) I assumed my role of official sweeper and actually quite enjoyed the ride down. It wasn’t nearly as hard as I somehow had imagined in my head, so I was pretty satisfied with my performance. At the bottom (near 1C?) a few folks decided to call it a day and headed back to camp. The rest of us wanted more, so we (I think) continued up Jones Creek Ridge and headed over near Turners Creek. We got about 3.5hrs of riding in. Unfortunately though I wanted more. Sure I’m not too fast, but I can go and go. The guys just wanted to get in a bit of a ride, then go back to camp and eat pork sandwiches and drink more beer. I don’t like riding big areas like that by myself, so I went with the flow and chilled at camp for a bit before heading back to Atlanta. It was a great day though and I’m excited to get back up there and explore more soon!

final preps for A24

The Adventure24 is a day-long adventure race that my friend Kevin and I put on each summer (this will be our 2nd year) in Cherokee Nat’l Forest in eastern TN. Saturday was spent testing some possible new additions to the course (a recent bear attack has certain parts of the forest currently closed) and gathering directions for our volunteers and support crews.

First though, I joined Jim & Bill on a lovely 2.5hr tour of the Tanasi trails on mountain bike. This is only my 2nd time riding them, but it reaffirms that this trail system is one of my favorites…. beautiful views, some killer climbs (that burn particularly bad as I try to reclaim my pre-injury cardio fitness), & nice descents (did I say that? even though I normally hate them, they aren’t too bad here… good place to practice when I turn sorta local).

Then I met Kevin (who is the main director of the A24) and we split up the duties so that we could finish up at a reasonable hour. The weather had been great all day until a mid-afternoon shower cooled things off a bit. It was nice to drive around and soak in the scenery – the drive thru the Ocoee Gorge area has to be one of my favorites (the other might be the Nantahala Gorge).

Here is a pic of a father and his 2 sons fishing in the Hiwassee River – the generators I guess were off, as the water flow was pretty minimal. Cool to see the bottom of the river… the fog was a nice addition too.

I got back to Atlanta at a decent hour and was able to get showered off before heading downtown to see Cowboy Mouth at a free music festival. It was an interesting experience, going alone (I normally avoid social events where I fly solo)… since the festival was sponsored by Southern Comfort, drunk people were everywhere. I had beer spilled on me, got nailed by flying mardi gras beads, and had some strange girl behind me touching my hair all the time (that was just plain weird). Otherwise I had a great night!

the greenway challenge

Last weekend I traveled up to Chattanooga for my annual birthday race (we should all treat ourselves to such!). Last year was the Gulf Coast HIM; the year before the Mtn Ranger Bike Race. This year the Greenway Challenge Adventure Race was the lucky race; Charlie & his girlfriend Sara the lucky teammates. My friend Jim Farmer has put on this race for 4 years now and it was about time I experienced in person the hype around this little ‘ole race that sells out quickly year after year.

Jim is a quirky fellow (said with lotsa love) and likes to have a theme to his events. Last year was Napoleon Dynamite. This year, Seinfeld ruled the day. Jim entertained us during the pre-race meeting wearing a puffy shirt and sombrero. Many of the teams chose names with Seinfeld references (we were the Rabid Anti-Dentites), as were our surprise mystery events.

The day started surprisingly cool (42 in the middle of May?!!), but we started off running and warmed up quick. The first mystery event, the Soup Nazi, had teams dashing around a field collecting soup ingredients. We then began our first of 2 run segments where I quickly realized I need to get back in my running routine. It was only a few miles, but it sure got to me quick. Then we transitioned to the first of 2 bike legs. After a fast lap around the wildflower field, we hit the one short singletrack section we would be on. However backups were already occuring and we sadly were pushing for a good part of it.

When we returned to the TA, the second mystery event greeted us: The Silder: 2 team members would be blindfolded and had to navigate them through a small obstacle course in 3-legged fashion. This event promised some compromising positions, so I let the 2 lovebirds get tied together and I used my voice to slowly guide them to the end. We easily nailed this task! Next up was a paddle on Chickamauga Creek. We hadn’t practiced paddling together, so it took a few for us to get in sync (and a bit longer for me to get the steering right).

After a short portage, we headed to the quarry for our next event: The Marine Biologist. Using provided materials (with the addition of paddles if we wanted to go back and get them), we had to create a raft and retrieve golf balls from whale floats at either end. This was another great event for compromising positions hehehehe…. After this, we continued on a run and headed up to the ropes challenge course. Each teammember had to successfully complete 1 event (charlie, cable walk; sara, log walk; me, 2×4 balance beam.. on the 2″ side of course). Then we had to get the entire team up and over a 12ft wall. (Thanks to Sara being an incredible climber (oh, and Charlie’s great strength as well) this was by far the easiest time I’ve ever had in going over the wall – comparing to past Blue Ridge and Balance Bar/Hi-Tec races).

At the next transition, we had another mystery event: Bring Steinbrenner His Calzone. We had a ball, a PVC pipe joint and some taped rope… we took some tips from other teams and quickly conquered this. After one more bike loop sans singletrack, we were left with 1 final event: The Slippery Wall… a 12′ ramp coated with soapy water that the team had to get up and over. Then the finish line! We ended up in 27th place with a time of 3:05:40.

This event was top notch all the way around (and I’m not saying this to kiss up to Jim either). There were plenty of volunteers, good prizes to those swift top teams (Enduraventure, Mighty Dogs & Litespeed), and great post-race food.. not to mention gorgeous weather.

Afterwards, we went up to Charlie’s parent’s house on Lake Tellico, where we were treated to laziness, cold beer, and good food. A perfect end to the weekend!

pictures by Steve Lamsey

STW: post-race report

Race Date: Saturday May 6th
(yeah, I’m a bit behind)

I actually got a good sleep the night before the race and woke up at a normal hour. Late morning I packed up and headed to Athens to meet Daniel & Hunter. After a quick stop at WalMart to get canned food – the race holds a big food drive – (and we still forgot to grab the 5th chem light we were required to have), we headed east to McCormick, SC and Baker Creek State Park. We got there as the last teams were finishing the sport division race, a 6-8hr event. We lazily went through check in and set up our transition area, then just sat back and enjoyed the beautiful weather – sunny and in the low 80s. Then I reorganized my pack a few more times before our pre-race meeting at 5:45.

The meeting went over the normal things, then we were given our maps as we exited at 6:15. With orders to report back at 6:45 for final announcements (and a race start at 7), the rush was on to plot 35 points. We ran up to the start and in a few minutes the race was on. The race began with the traditional short swim to our canoes (crappy aluminum ones) that were tethered in deep water. We threw ourselves over the sides and paddled to one CP that was apparently only going to be around for 45 min. It was a boat and the guy had the flag on a stick that everyone was trying to grab – definitely chaotic. We decided to get one more nearby CP in the boat before heading back to transition and hop on our bikes. (This race was a rogaine, so we could get checkpoints in any order).

We headed north on our bikes to the De La Howe School as night fell. With rain forecast in the early morning hours, we wanted to get to a ropes challenge course before things got slippery. A few teams were already around as we came upon a monolithic 3-sided wall, around 50-70′ high. Each teammember was to conquer one side. I went first up the side resembling a rock climbing wall. The holds were few and it was tougher than I thought. Things got hairy when I grabbed one hold only to find several large bumble bees hanging out inside. (Star had warned me but I forgot by the time I was up there). I finally got to the top of the ledge; the problem was I had to get over the top onto the platform. I had nothing. I hung out for a bit to rest, then I saw some other guy coming up from the other side – he graciously pulled me over and I had victory. After I was down, I looked over the maps and planned our route while Hunter & Daniel went up their rope challenges.

From here, the action leveled out. We would bike to an area, stash them, then go after the points on foot. We could see from the maps that none were located in prominent terrain features. We would need to find an attack point, shoot a bearing, and hold it. The distances often weren’t that far; however, we weren’t ready for how thick the brush was. Our routes had to be adjusted often. The first few we found relatively easily. We usually ran into a team along the way that we either hooked up with or pointed us in the right direction. As we were leaving the DLH area, our luck left us. We couldn’t find a few, but hoped to reenergize ourselves with an easy one behind a barn. HA! There were 4 other teams with us as we circled a pond, lights shining in every direction. We spent way too long there and we all left without the punch. Luckily there was a hose at the barn (a renovated building, not an old one full of animals), so I could refill my water bladder. Then the sprinkles started (and I didn’t bring my jacket – I’m not sure why as I’m usually prepared). We tried to hit another point on our way back to transition, but again we were met with nothing except thick brush that seemingly wanted to eat us.

We got back to our TA at dawn and set off on a paddle. The rain wasn’t that bad initially, but the water choppy. It was a nice change of pace for a little bit and I was happy to be off my foot (it hadn’t bothered be yet, but I’m still treating it a bit gingerly and didn’t want to overdo it). After 45min or so, Hunter and I both got the sleepies. I could paddle a few strokes before I nodded off; I could tell he was doing the same. (Poor Daniel had to put up with us). All of a sudden though his red bull kicked in and somehow it jazzed me up too. We grabbed one CP on an island, then paddled across to a peninsula, stashing our boat while we grabbed a handful there. The rain was coming down real good now and the forest service roads turned into orange creeks. As long as we kept moving we were warm, even though temps were dropping. Not knowing how bad it would be on the water, we left plenty of time to get back to the finish line. We finished with 12 CPs in 18hr 25min (with a 20hr limit, we could have stayed out a bit longer and perhaps gotten a few more points). This finish gave us an 11th place finish in the co-ed elite division.

This race was quite different than any other I’ve experienced. Most of the time it didn’t even feel like a race – more like a training. The checkpoints were much tougher to get than we anticipated. Daniel and I are relatively young navigators and I think we learned a lot during this race. As a team, we worked well together and had a lot of fun.

photos by Wilderness Adventure Photography

quote of the moment…and why i like AR

in cleaning my stuff out to get ready for the big move, i came across a piece of scrap paper with a quote on it.. not sure if i’ve posted it before, or where i got it from. but i like it so i will write it again here:

People say that we’re searching for the meaning of life. I don’t think that’s it at all. I think that we’re seeking an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonances within our own innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive.
- Joseph Campbell, The Power of Myth

STW, pre-race

I am not quite recovered from the whole post-Brasstown illness (it was applesauce and crackers for a solid week, and now I am barely eating what I call a real meal). Yet I am off in the morning to McCormick, SC and the Save The World Adventure Race. Am I ready? I have no idea. I am worried about my lack of nutrition and resulting fatigue. And of course my foot just happens to be more sensitive this week as well. I haven’t worked out in 2 weeks, yet I will try to actually be competitive in the 20hr elite race (there is also a 6hr sport division). I’m racing with Hunter & Daniel, my fav UGA boys… I’ve raced with each of them separately, but not together. We will definitely have some fun, although they are very quick and strong – I hope I can keep up enough so as to not be frustrating! I am optimistic that things will go well. I haven’t done this race before, but have heard tid bits here and there – the navigation is tough and especially important with much of the course fashioned as a rogaine. The race always starts with a swim (and we start at 7pm – I am not looking forward to jumping in the water!) and will include a series of special tests, including a ropes course. I will def write a post-race report to let you know how I held up!