As mentioned we swapped running shoes for bikes, not before making sure we ate and drank enough. I should mention at this time that the weather was still really favorable with a few threatening skies earlier in the day.
In adventure racing the longer the race and less sleep you get the more fatigued you become, in addition to this is ones’ susceptibility to feeling the heat and cold weather. Is common for me to get cold really easy in a race even if the temperature is still above freezing i can begin shivering really quickly mostly due to the fatigue that i am already racing. Over the years i have come to realize this about myself but tend to ignore it because i know that as soon as we get moving again and get the blood pumping i will be warm and ‘comfortable’ again. Well at least that’s my theory… more on this later.
We left the TA on foot, with our good friends Team WEDALI and immediately begin biking up a steep road. WEDALI stopped because their female team-mate was having some breathing/asthma problems., we kept going, up & up. Soon more clouds rolled in and this time the rain was for real. Jackets on & riding up this mountain in the rain, but relatively comfortable. Past another CP and eventually to the summit of this mountain by the same road. By now the rain had stopped and sun had come out. WEDALI didn’t catch up but we were joined by a race photographer as we leaped froged each other for the last hours biking to the summit of this mountain. He snapped our pic at the top as you can see here
From here we had sweet descent into the valley by a series of switch backs on the dirt road. We got up to some crazy fast speeds down here and it was very invigorating to be going fast for once and not slogging up hill or even pushing bikes.
At the bottom of the valley we crossed another full creek/river from all the snow melt still happening to ride through this somewhere between weird & creepy old mining town that had been abandoned but had several people (as we were told) trying to resurrect it. While we rode through in like 10 minutes it still wigged me out and maybe because i was very slept deprived i wasnt thinking straight but made me think of some sort of hollywood movie or old Twilight Zone episode.
Upon leaving this town we began yet another climb on our bikes bike Idaho Peak. this took several hours and was somewhere between late afternoon and early evening. As we got to the top of Idaho Peak and the next CP we could see more clouds rolling in. As we pushed our bikes to the summit and the wonderful greetings and cheers from race staff the rain started to fall again. From here we had to descend the (so-called) famous Wakefield Mountain Bike trail. Not sure what makes this trails famous but it is not because you get to go fast. This was prehaps one of the few times i had been scared on a mtb. The trail was single track, with mountain/hillside on one side … AND 1000’s of feet drop on the other. I have no photos to share because i was too scared keeping my eyes on the trail in the fading light and falling rain. But it was scary. i rode most of it with only one foot clipped into my pedal for fear of falling down the mountain.
Then, did i mention the rain. The rain turned into a downpour for like the next 7 hours including the beginning of the next section, paddling on the lake (more on that later). by now we were soaked to the skin, still up high and really cold. no place to go or shelter but just keep riding this really scary trail. We eventually got lower, still raining and easier trails but very cold. Chris & Michelle especially! The road flattened out and we road on a dirt road into a small town around 11pm.
Peter got a flat just before town, but decided to ride on it anyway, not the best thing to do but oh well. When we got to this little town we still had to find the TA, and rode through the streets using the maps to locate it. We did make an error when i rode all of us into someone back yard thinking it was the TA when really it was some locals having a big party with lots of noise and drinking. I had mistaken the noise for the sounds of a TA (and really it was 11pm on a monday night, why wouldn’t you think that) upon realizing our mistake we left to sadness of our ‘new friends’ and quickly found the right TA. Once here we were greeted by an over zealous race staff person who just had to get through his little speech about what we had to do here, & not do and blah blah blah, when all i was interested in was getting off my bike, getting our tents up and getting some hot food in Chris & Michelle. Unfortunately this race volunteer was trying to do his job but lacked a little flexibility and understanding at 11pm. Needless to say he& i didn’t exactly get along right away.
Don’t get me wrong, i love and appreciate race volunteers, I’ve done it myself (don’t like doing it, would much rather race) but they do an amazing job, through all sorts of weather, circumstances and responding to people.
We managed to get tents up, food cooked and eaten and quickly in our tents, albeit wet. Set the alarm for 2 hours and decided to get some rest/sleep. But not before eating our food and getting out of wet clothes in a brick bath house that a french team had taken over and made it difficult to move around in there, much to their dislike. Well shouldnt have claimed the only dry building for yourself and expect privacy then. Were the words i recall saying to them as i stepped over them trying to sleep several times. I mean really… sleeping next to a toilet, have some standards, i know you have a tent!!!
The rain kept falling and every time we were woken by the alarm we collectively decided to set it for “another hour”. Eventually committing to getting up, no matter what at 4pm to get ready to get on the lake to paddle. As the alarm went of that ‘final time’ it was hard to leave the comfort of my sleeping bag, knowing i was about to instantly get wet, but did so to dawn slowly arriving, which would be an encouragement to get going.
Part 3 coming soon, thanks for taking time to read all this.