July 28, 2007

ride ride ride

We should have known better when we decided to go on a ride today with Cisco and M&M that it would not be a short route. This weekend we had originally planned on running a half marathon up in San Francisco with Moniques school mates but then switched to the night adventure race(under the full moon), then pre-riding the course at Snow Valley and finally a short ride because we needed a rest. Ride ride ride. A little over 8 hours later we got back to our cars and OOhhhhhh was I hungry! ;- O

We had planned to start out at Aliso Woods ride through Laguna Canyon park and loop through El Moro. Monique and I were going to turn around early and I wanted to do a few brick workouts on the way back BUT hanging out with M&M is just too much fun.

We should have taken our exit when Cisco headed back at El Moro but he was on his single speed and made more of the downhill sections that we could make with our fully suspended bikes so there is no comparison there. He also completed a 100+ race last year on that single speed.... He is an animal! So with that we continued on and had the hopes of some milk shake and ocean water ahead to recover. Well worth the ride!

Sunday we spent the day out at trails surfing. Ohhh do I miss surfing! Georgina saved a few waves for us but she obviously had talent all over the place. I think she could have make any of our boards look like magic that day...

I almost forgot about that pain in my ribs the first few times you go out but again it was so worth it. I only with Jordo, David and Westa were there to hang out too. I would have love to see Westa drop in on someone again ;-P

And Mandy... What a superstar! Not only did she literally ride circles around us for almost nine hours but she has a smile and attitude that goes on for days. A true match for Marius and it is so cool to see them together. Mandy only after a short time in the water braved the waves to catch her first wave and I am sure she will be back on a board again. I hope we all will be again soon!

July 26, 2007

Moniques new Rig...

The new ride is complete and looking almost as good as Monique herself. Well, not that good but much better than her old bike and she is more motivated than ever to climb ;-)

I know this will be much easier for her to pull around in our adventure races and we are planning a few team mountain bike races at the end of the year so this puts the pressure on her to perform... Just kidding Monique!

Now we have to grab some pictures of her on it in action!

July 17, 2007

Scout Challenge Adventure Race 2007

I love adventure racing!! Not only do you get to spend the day (and sometimes through the night) with some good friends out on the trial but you get to switch it up over a bunch of different sports in the wild. Racing strategy is on a whole new level where your race can fall apart or work like magic when it all falls into place. Mix in some interesting challenges, team dynamics and having to navigate your way to the finish and it just does not get much better. Last year, I was fortunate enough to race my first adventure race, the Scout Challenge with Georgina and Marius who I now consider great friends. We met at the race and I didn’t fully know what I was getting myself into but now that I look back my life would never be the same. Last year’s race was such a positive experience that I am forever hooked. This year would prove to be just as magical and our race strategy just fell into place as fast as we could keep up. Ohhh if I could only get the DVD…. I would watch it over and over again. ;-)

Team Ring-Sting Mapping it all out

Just like last year the race started at about 3am so after a gear check and and a quick bite to eat we were ready to head into the dark and enjoy the day before the hills got hot. We were racing for the first time as Team Ring Sting! Marius and myself had returned and now we were racing with Monique and Cisco. I am proud to say I would go ANYWHERE with these folks and was honored to spend the day with them. It is funny that I was looking all over for a great team to race with and these friends were all around and top notch in every aspect. We just "naturally" meshed so well together and our race would prove it with speed.

(Teams line up minutes before we start the race)

Our first checkpoints that we headed out to get would be on foot. Three-ish in the morning and running at full cadence down a dark road. I remember Cisco saying something about not being a good runner but we were all just trying to keep up around that first turn ;-) Over some rocks, through some bush and we got our fist checkpoint. Now fully soaked from sweat in the dark only minutes into a long race we were working as an integrated team with ease. Warmup complete! Although most adventure races have very few "rules" we had a few mandatory ones set for us at the race. One was that no bikes could leave the transition area until 9am. What made it more interesting was that we were racing rogaine format where it is not mandatory to get every checkpoint(or to get them in order) but mandatory to be back at the finish line at a set time(10hurs). The harder it was to find a checkpoint the more points. Planning and race strategy was key.

(the trek continues into the hills)

We headed out and grabbed the first set of CP's and then evaluated things a bit (a continual process in adventure races) on our way back to the transition area. Due to the fact we could not take our bikes out until nine, we had to make a choice on what we would get on foot. We opted for a big climb in the dark with few checkpoints (get it out of the way in the cool of the morning) and we would descend on our way back to pickup a bunch of CP's when we would have better visibility. Big and long hills! Watching the glow of the sunrise was amazing. Our trekking approach worked very well and by the time we were back to the transition area we had picked up nearly all of the checkpoints on the way.

(on to our bikes and back to the STEEP hills)

The bike was the longest and hottest part of the day. This proved our teamwork and the spirits of everyone on the team. We bonded together, put our heads down and push, push, pushed... We had a four person toe line going up Blackstar canyon and were making amazing progress. I have learned from other races that a plan is only as good as the ability to execute it. The surprises that get in the way can erode the best of plans and the strategy that does not account for the unexpected is sure to fail. Sometimes you have to know when to move on and when to keep looking for those little checkpoint boogers... Our strategy and team were spot on and I was still amazed at how well we were working as a team to pickup checkpoints and make group decisions with ease. We didn't have time to discuss. We were racing here and our team had a unified focus to suck up the "unknowns" and keep our momentum going.

Between bike loops we made a stop at the transition to refuel and knock out another challenge. This one was a zip line where Marius and I had the fun time flying across the tents and parking lot... After hours of racing this really helped to wake us up. Before long we were all back on our bikes and headed for the lake for a quick paddle...

(heading out on Lake Irvine for a quick paddle)

Out of the heat and into the water, I thought we would have a break from the sweat. Marius and I were off on our surfskis and pulling with everything our upper bodies could dish out. This was our only time to give our legs a rest but it didn't mean that we would let up. Checkpoints again came to us with ease and salt filled my eyes and we baked on that quick paddle back to the tent. Paddle complete. On to our bikes again and back to the main transition. Four person tow in full effect the whole way back as we tried to get the last few "challenges" complete with the time we had left.

(Monique and Marius balance around the ropes)

By now we realized that we were doing something right. No big mistakes, no major bonks, no crashes. Our momentum was feeding our energy better than any powerbar and all I thought about on the way back from the lake was I wish it was not going to end. I love racing with these guys and I wanted to keep going... It is funny how the mental encouragement can push you beyond any physical exhaustion and the fuel from your team brings our the best in you. This is what I love about adventure racing. You get to bring out the best in other and yourself for things you/and them never really thought were possible and may not be if attempted alone.

Back at the transition we had plenty of time for some of the ropes sections but they had already taken down the rock wall. No big deal. We were finished off with another rope section that Marius and Monique made short work of and had time to spare as we got cleaned up and refueled for the closing ceremonies.

We ended up finished in a 5th place overall and we were so stoked about it. I am so proud to race with this crew and the plan that fell together could not have been better and more fun with all the last minute changes that make adventure racing what it is.

July 13, 2007

Mt Whitney time

July 11, 2007

Unpack, Repack, Repeat

Sounds like the story of my life here in Bako. If I am not packing for work I am packing for a long trip on the trails but who can complain. I love my job and I am so stoked that I can get so much time in on the trail. That is just another nice thing about living in bako... We are never too far away from anything.

(our crap and totes that see the gear to its destination)

My current pack is for Mt. Whitney. I did not plan it out too much but there is not too much to do for a hike. Adventure racing has packed more crap into our garage than I could have imagined but it is sure nice to have the space for now. I leave tonight for Whitney with Joe Westa, Dustin, Aaron and Johnny to stay at the portal and then its a long day tomorrow. Should be an interesting trip with that mix of dudes. I started praying about it last week.

When we get back on Friday . . . Monique and I are packing for the Scout Challenge out at Black Star Canyon. Check-in is at 3-6pm and the race should start somewhere around 4am on Saturday so I tried to get everything packed up today. I have been looking forward to the Scout race for over a year... Well, one year exactly as this was my first AR and still one of the funnest times. I am bummed that Georgina will not be able to make it but Monique and I are racing with Marius and Cisco. So stoked! Should be a blast.

Now, I have to get on the road again.

July 08, 2007

Home on the Ranch

It was long overdue to stay home for such a long time now and our schedules opened to appreciation. We are going on our second weekend in a row staying home and it is a first for sure since we moved to bako. After a week at home with Moniques folks and the 4th behind us we were off to explore some more of our local hills and get to the water for a paddle before it gets too hot.

We headed back up river to the Keysville trails and found that it has all turned to sand. Last time we were out in Keysville it was green, wet and cool out. I think we would have been better off on dirt bikes but it was great training. Monique cut her lap time in half from the last time that we were out despite the dust and heat and she was riding so much more confident too. I think that just the thought of her new bike was getting her through the hills ;-0

We were trying to think of a good time to get everyone up to ride the trails and visit the rapids over at Kern River Outfitters.

I don't think they run year round and it would be perfect right about now anyways. With that thought we were off to the water for a looonngg paddle in Lake Isabella. So many bass jumping! We will have to bring our poles next time...