As we left on our bikes it was very easy to see that we were extremely tired. I was falling asleep and I could see Chris was too. So to keep myself awake took on the task of keeping Chris awake and therefore hopefully keeping each other awake. However there were parts of the dirt road we were on that would suddenly have the scenery change as I realized I was asleep. Only to look over at Chris and see that his eyes were closed as all 3 of us biked down the road.
It wasn’t long before we were at the zip line challenge. This meant zipping across a scary river on a zip line BUT with our bikes attached to us. Before we reached here Pete and I decided that we needed to take an hour nap after the zip line. Of course the line didn’t get us all the way across and found ourselves pulling our tired bodies and bikes across this watery canyon.
After we all got across we took that nap in the shade in a quiet little spot on the side of the road. While 60 minutes isn’t nearly enough, it was all we could afford as we knew this next bike section was long and we didn’t want to be poking around another mountain range in the dark. It was also hot and with Chris struggling a little Pete and I took all his extra gear and the climbing began.
After a flat tire, quick change, a water fill up at a creek we continued to climb. Mixing between pushing bikes and riding, it was later afternoon as we continued to steadily climb. Our morale was a low, but just then a truck came down the dirt road and who should jump out but Glen Rodgers, good friend and fellow adventure racer from DART/Nuun who wasn’t doing this race. This was the boost we needed. Glen is a crazy man with lots of energy and his words and encouragement was exactly what we needed. Telling us how far we were from the top and that WEDALI was right ahead of us. For those of you who know Glen would not be surprised to read that he just popped up out of now where. They guy is from Seattle and had come over to just check out the race.
We finally topped out around 8pm, which gave us about 1 hour of daylight left. The bugs were out in full force and we couldn’t wait to get riding downhill to ‘drop the bugs’. Downhill was fun and we screamed down this mountain in no time on the well marked trails. I pretty much wore out my back brakes in the process. We overtook 2 teams, who we found out were unofficial because they had dropped someone, so we were moving up the header board again, despite our shortcomings earlier in the day.
One more flat and then into the TA were we scheduled to change from bikes to canoes but partially dismantling our bikes and putting them in our canoes to paddles 6-8 hours down the lake.
But when we arrived we discovered that our gear bins had not arrived ahead of us. This contained our lifejackets, more food (of which we were almost out of) and other paddling gear. We went ahead and put our bikes in the canoes in anticipation that they were ‘about to arrive’… yeah right!!!! We had heard stories and rumors that other teams had suffered this, but it was never confirmed. Because of the huge logistical under taking along with the remoteness that this race had created it took a long time to transport teams’ bikes & gear. We stayed up hoping it would come, not knowing anything. Our plan was to get some rest but paddle through the night
And so we sat, with about 4 other teams on the side of the lake with all we had from biking. 2 other team arrived later, and we were told by the race volunteers that our gear would be here in the morning. So what do you do…. That’s easy, SLEEP. We put campfires, pulled out our emergency blankets and tried to sleep.
Around dawn (5am) the next day (Friday) we awoke to still no bins. By now 6 teams we waiting, anxious leave and hungry. As we sat around the topic soon moved to eating and there were several team bins there in front of us that were from teams that had left earlier the previous day to do what we were still waiting to do. We realized that they too would be waiting for their bins at the end of the lake as bins would be dropped off, picked up and shuffled down the lake. Soon the idea arose that we … EAT THEIR FOOD!!! Yup it was said. The race staff wasn’t too excited about this but soon we were looking at what team’s bins were there. First bins were the French….’no, not touching theirs.’ Next was Team Sog, a US team of which we knew some of the team members after a short discussion on ethics etc it was decided to go for it. And Julia was a lucky recipient of hungry adventure racers diving into her bin to eat food. We all promised to tell her sorry later on and admit what we did. And it’s not like we ate everything and being Friday morning the race would be over in 24hours.
Then of course right after that our bins showed up!!! We were in heaven. Quickly (& by that I mean an hour) got our paddling stuff together and were off. We quickly left the other teams behind and found ourselves with WEDALI again. We made our way down the lake, not going slow either; we wanted to finish the race. The only hiccup along the way being me breaking a wing paddle.
More & hopefully the final report soon.