Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Gettin' Crafty

For Christmas this year, my mom came up with a novel idea. Each family member (my sis and her husband, mom and dad, and Brandy and I) would draw names for our Christmas gift exchange. The rules were simple: a $20 limit, and the gift had to be homemade.

I've actually been having a lot of fun with this, and it has also led to some homemade gifts for Brandy's (non)birthday present and a Christmas gift for her. It's always fun to learn new skills.

I can't spell out any details yet, since the family members both Brandy and I have are readers of this Blog. Look for photos of the final products to appear after Christmas.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Scenes From a Ride

Heading out past the Vlasic pickle factory.

Scenery for a good chunk of the ride.

BFE = Farm Country

Happy to be riding.

Welcome to Lum..... don't blink!

Polly Ann Trail - this remains unimproved through Lapeer County.

Mom and Pop Christian???

Nice lake

An old wildlife conservacy. Unfortunately the sign ceased to be legible long ago.

Hey you... yes you... what are you hiding behind that big fancy gate with the high tech card reader and camera... you do realize that you are in the heart of BFE and the crime rate is low... please tell us... what are you hiding... Hoffa... Amelia Earhart... my mismated socks... please tell us what lurks behind that beefy gate...

Welcome to Kings Mill... don't blink... even on a bicycle...

Riding up the infamous "5-Nut Hill".

About ready to crest...

No Hunting Emu???

Deer Check Station closed. Can I at least check my Emu here?

Another pretty lake in the Lapeer State Game Area.

R.I.P John Smith

The flowers were nestled all snug in their bed.

Thursday, November 12, 2009


For all intents and purposes, the 2009 racing season came to an end with Iceman. There is one more cyclocross race that I may participate in, provided that I don't get too fat and out of shape with a week at deer camp. It's now time to look back on my racing: what went well and what I can do better. Hopefully I can use this to make 2010 a much more successful racing season.

The Good

I raced in, and completed, my second Lumberjack 100. Being too stupid/stubborn to know when to quit is paying off. Even with mild cramping setting in around mile 40, I was able to get back on my nutrition plan, fend off the cramps, and push on through the pain.

This fall marked my first crack at cyclocross racing. I was able to jump right into the "B" group and not embarress myself (solid mid-pack). This was with an obvious lack of cyclocross specific skills (mounts and dismounts in particular).

Even though I didn't do a lot of racing, the ones I did do I was excited to do. Starting line stress was about perfect (not too laid back and not to antsy).

My starts have improved. In the past, I have been a slow starter, relying on my ability to pick off competitors through the course of the race. This year I made it a point to go out hard, but at a sustainable level, right from the start.

Pacing continues to be a strong point. My splits at Big M were quite consistant, with my last lap being a faster one. Upon review of my GPS data from the Maybury cyclocross I noted that my later laps were also amongst my faster ones.

The Not So Good

During much of the season, I just didn't feel like racing. I backed out on a few races when conditions looked like they would be dodgy (rain & mud). Other times I just didn't have the desire to race.

I effectively turned myself into a diesel this year. Early on I didn't do much for interval training or riding at threshold. This showed later in the season when I didn't have the top-end power to hang with the pack.

My cyclocross skills need much work. I would lose time on the barriers and run-ups. A few times my barrier attempts were "less than graceful", bouncing the bike off of the barrier tops for example. I also need to learn to shoulder my bike.

Mistakes, mistakes, mistakes. From not properly hydrating leading up to the event (Big M), not fueling properly and bonking at the end (Michigan Bike Festival), to not following my fuel/hydration routine early in the race (not taking my electrolytes during lap 1 at Lumberjack). I made more stupid errors than I cared for.

There you have it, my racing season in a nutshell. All-in-all I'd give myself a "C" grade. I had some successes, but I know I could've done better with a little more focus.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Niceman Cometh

This past Saturday marked the 20th running of the Iceman Cometh MTB race, a point-to-point race from Kalkaska to Traverse City. Friday morning Brandy and I drove up to Traverse City; this would be my 3rd time doing the race. Based on my 7th place finish, I set the lofty goal of a podium (top 5) finish for this year.

Due to a SNAFU with registration, the number of participants was in excess of 4000. The race is generally capped at 2500 entries. Because of this, the start was moved from the Kalkaska middle school to downtown, giving an extra mile and a half or so.

After dropping Brandy off at the hotel, I met up with my teammates to pre-ride the finish of the course. We rode out to Anita's Hill, and rode the course back. The finish was a bit different this year, with the last big hill being closer to the finish than last year. Also there was some added wider singletrack snaking through the finish area. Word on the street was that the course was about 2 miles longer total than last year.

Friday night we had a great pre-race dinner with the team. Lots of pasta was eaten, and stories were told.

Saturday morning I did my warm-up, and secured a spot along the front row of the Mens 39 and under Singlespeed. With the added entries, our wave size was nearly doubled: 81 total finishers.
On the go, we rolled out. We were spinning along the opening road section hitting speeds around 23-25mph. My 65 gear-inches felt good here, and I settled in at the rear-center of the lead pack (just over a dozen of us).
When we passed by the school and reached the trail, the big dogs cracked open the throttle and the front chunk of the group pulled away. I found myself at the tail of a four man line. For the first few miles I would chase them, occasionally falling off when I had to pass stragglers from the previous wave, but quickly catching up. In the first singletrack, about 5 miles in, one of the other singlespeeders got tangled up with a Sport/Expert Clyde (previous wave). I jumped on this opportunity to get around him. A bit later, I think it was near the "Steve's Secret" section, I passed one of the other Singlespeeders. Once again I was able to ride up the singletrack climbs in "Steve's Secret". The Sport/Expert Clydes all had geared bikes, and they were crawling up in granny gear. But, I grunted it out, and passed when I had the opportunity.

I basically rode the last 19 miles solo. Shortly before Anita's Hill, the top 2 guys in the 40+ Singlespeed wave (which started 10 minutes after me) passed. I ramped it up and paced them for about a mile, until we hit Anita's Hill. Here they pulled away, and I was once again without anyone to pace me.

I rolled into the finish at 1:57:20, and I found out later that I placed 11th. Not the result I had hoped for, but with the longer course it seemed most people's times were longer (the top Pro finishers were about 5 minutes slower than last year). During most of the race, I could feel my lack of top-end training. Note to self: do more intervals and threshold rides next season.

The afternoon was spent hanging out at the team tent, drinking beers and watching people finish. The expressions on the Beginners' faces were quite varied: some looked like they were done 15 miles ago, some looked ready to puke, but there were a lot of smiles.

A few special shout-outs:

Thanks to Jackie and Jay, Noelle and others for setting up the campsite and BBQ for after the race, along with prepping the team dinner.

John Osgood - smoking it with an hour and 49, for a 9th place finish in Expert 30-34.

Chad Schut - racing in his 20th Iceman. Yes, that's correct, he's done every single Iceman.

Todd Shorkey - came within one second of a personal best.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Since I went for pretty much the whole summer without any posting, I felt that I owed it to both my readers to say what I've been up to:

The big news - On July 20, I was laid off. Another casualty of the downturn in the automotive industry. On the bright side, I had a month to spend with Brandy before she went back to work. I've been using the time to get caught up on projects, try to find other employment (jobs in Engineering are hard to come by these days), and of course riding a lot.

Lumberjack 100 came and went: I finished in just over 9 hours, shaving 18 minutes off my time from last year. My placing was 12th in the Singlespeed class. Overall I don't think I ran as solid as a race this year. Some inattention to my electrolytes had me showing some mild cramps about 40 miles in. By eating a couple bananas I was able to knock the cramps back... unfortunately the damage had been done and I was lacking any climbing power for the second half of the race.

PALM followed immediately on the heels of Lumberjack, as in Lumberjack was on June 20, and we started pedaling on PALM on June 21. This led to some logistical "fun" for me. On the 20th, Brandy and her brother Rocky took bikes and gear to the endpoint for PALM, and took the bus over to the start. This was consistant with what we typically do for PALM. I did Lumberjack, and afterwards drove myself and my friend Jon down to the start of PALM. Thankfully PALM started this year in Whitehall, which was just over an hour from Lumberjack.
Brandy and I rode our separate bikes for this, as she wanted to prove to herself that she could do the whole week (with not much training I might add). Also, last year we found that on the tandem, we'd quickly pull away from Rocky.
PALM also happened to be on the hottest week of the summer, with temperatures in the low-mid 90s.

I haven't been doing much racing this year. My races so far consist of one Lake Orion spring race, the adventure race, Lumberjack, Big M, the race at the Michigan Bike Festival, Pain Haven, and the Ithaca GP of Cyclocross.
At Big M, I pretty much came out flat. I think for that race I was not fully hydrated at the start. I decided to race against the expert gearies in my age group, finishing 7th of 9. The good news was that I got faster as the race went on.
The race at the Michigan Bike Festival was unique, utilizing the ski trails at Hartwick Pines, singletrack at Hanson Hills, and roughly 9 miles of bike path connecting them. I basically ran out of gas with less than a mile left (next time I need to listen to TMB and eat more than a Clif bar for breakfast). I didn't realize it at the time, but I let the eventual 4th and 5th place guys past me with < 1 mile left, giving me a 6th place finish out of 7.

Overall, the Michigan Bike Festival was a great time. Attendance was on the low side, but I knew a lot of the people there. Hopefully next year, more people from southern Michigan make the trek up to Grayling for this.

Over the past couple months I've been running more than ever before. No real reason why. I've also had a couple big mileage months on the bike.

Not much more to say. Next up is a couple Cyclocross races, followed by Iceman.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

High Country Pathway

After a morning career fair in Marlette, I proceeded to drive north. My usual stop at Big Buck netted me a growler of IPA and a growler of Old Ale... alas, they were out of Docs ESB. Through the rain and drizzle I then drove on to Clear Lake State Park.
The drizzle let up enough for me to quickly set up camp. As nobody else was in the group site, I walked over to the modern campground where Rick and Chris were just setting up. I hung out with them for a while, before making my way back over to the group site. Tom and Joe had arrived, and Dan would arrive shortly later.
We had dinner, and sat around the fire sharing stories. We also elected to do the ride without spotting cars (everyone there was an HCP veteran), and also decided to put off riding until 11am (we usually get rolling by 10).

As usual, we caravaned up to Osmun Road, got ready, and did the group photo thing.

From Left: Joe, Chris, Dan, Myself, Rick, Al, Tom
*photo courtesy of Tom Landry

I was having fun riding the wet roots that greeted us right off the start. Quickly I found myself leading the pack, with Dan right on my wheel. We pulled ahead of the rest of the group; the pace was good but comfortably maintainable. After a bobble on a boardwalk, Dan took the lead. Dan and I both had the same thoughts: keep stops to a minimum so we wouldn't cool off and have our legs tighten up.
Things warmed up a bit, and at Pine Grove we stopped to shed our outer layers.
Boardwalks that would often be ridden (some even by me) were best walked in the wet conditions. Walking them was even trecherous: Dan "surfed" on his feet for a good few yards on one.
We stopped briefly at the DNR office to top off our water, and pushed on. Just past Tubbs Creek, it started to drizzle. We put on our raincoats, and rode on. A half hour later the rain stopped, and off came the raincoats. Things proceeded without incident until we were coming down off Rattlesnake Hill. Dan's rear brake went out! We (him carefully) rode to the road crossing at the base of Rattlesnake Hill. Here the problem was diagnosed as a broken cable. There was just enough cable where, with some adjustment of the pads, I was able to get him a little bit of rear stopping power. The alternative was to bail early onto dirt roads.
We rolled into the campground through the "Day Use" area, shaving 4 miles of trail off the ride (commonly done when riding the Fun 50). Our rolling time was 5 1/2 hours, with an extra 45 minutes worth of stops thrown in.

The rest of the crew had quite an adventure: an hour to fight with a flat tire, photo ops, and riding the last hour by moonlight. We picked up the cars from Osmun Road, and enjoyed a few beverages around the fire.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Newest Bike Build

Thanks goes to Ben for the frame, wheels, and fork.

Build is as follows:

Frame: Unknown make. Based on a few details such as the Esge brake bridge and the seatpost diameter, I’m guessing mid ‘70s European made (Germany or Austria) department store bike (Free Spirit was a common example). Tubing is likely gas-pipe.

Frame cold set to 126 mm spacing

Wheels: Front is a Richey, rear is a Campy rim with unknown hub

Fork: Shimano

Crankset: Old Raleigh in a spinneriffic 170 mm length; 42t chainring

Cog: 16t cheap BMX cog (need to get a 14t)

Brakes: Shimano 600

Homemade drop hanger for the rear brake. Front brake adjustment slots lengthened to get the pads low enough (only needed ~2mm on the front)

Levers: Old skool Weinmann – new Cane Creek hoods trimmed to fit

Tires: Cheep Serfas 700x25. I think there may be a TPI or 2 somewhere in them ;)

Tape: Bontrager (my first crack at taping road bars)

Saddle: Selle Italia (Ti rails even – it spent a couple seasons on the Q)

Seatpost: unknown

Monday, September 28, 2009

All Aboard the Pain Train - a full weekend of racing

After packing and loading up the car on Friday, I left early Saturday morning for Sanford MI. This was the site for the 30 Miles of Pain Haven race, a race which has been intriguing me for a year plus now. As the name states, this is a 30 mile mountain bike race, held at Pine Haven in Sanford. The start is a bit different than a typical race. You do a 1 mile time trial, and your time (relative to other riders) in the time trial determines which wave (of 2 or 3 riders) you start in. Each wave then starts 5 seconds apart. The primary reason for this is that the singletrack starts within 50 yards of the start, and it helps to cut down on bottlenecks going into the singletrack.
I had a mediocre time trial, and started about 5 waves back with Steve Kinley (a Masters rider). There were 3 others in the singlespeed class, 2 starting in the wave prior to me, and the last a few waves up.
I beat Steve to the singletrack, and grabbed ahold of the wheel of the singlespeed rider one wave ahead of me. Unfortunately, he quickly pulled away through the first couple miles of singletrack. When we hit the 2-track, Steve pulled around and took off.
I spent most of the race by myself, except for a bout of cat-and-mouse with a geared "age group" rider. Overall, it was a very enjoyable course, with a lot of doubletrack in the middle. There were a suprising number of hills in this doubletrack also. The twisty nature of the singletrack meant you were frequently seeing other riders, who were either a minute plus ahead of you or an equal distance behind you.
Late on the 3rd (and last) lap, I caught Steve. Afterwards I would find out he suffered a bout of crashes. I also pulled within site of another singlespeeder. unfortunately I was lacking in gas and time to fully reel him in.
I crossed the finish line at 2:19:24 for 4th of 4 in singlespeed. I was 10th of 20 overall (for the 30 mile racers, not counting the sport and beginner classes). All four of us in the singlespeed class were seperated by less than 3 minutes.

Unforutunately, I couldn't stick around for the awards, post-race food, or more than one beer. It was back in the car... next stop Ithaca... for the Ithaca Grand Prix of Cyclocross. Team Sandbag assisted in setting up the course for Sunday's race, and I had volunteered to help. I met up with the team, and we laid out the course. This was followed up with some pre-riding to learn the layout and work out the best lines on some of the corners. Afterwards, we had a nice pasta dinner and a good night sleep.

I had a bit of time before the singlespeed race, so I was able to watch all the other classes. My teammates Curt, Ben, and Lee rocked it out in the 30 minute "C" class race. Following that, I watched Todd and John in the 45 minute "B" class race. John had recovered from an early crash to work his way into the top 5. Unfortunately mid-race he suffered a flat and had to carry his bike ~2/3 of a lap to the pits. Grabbing his pit-bike, he was still able to at least finish.

At 1:15, after my warmup, I was lined up with Ben, John, and 12 others for the 45 minute singlespeed race. At the start, some of the riders made the dash for the cash Prime. John took off with this group: I think he was out for blood after his flat in the "B" race. I held back not wanting to blow myself up right away.
My start was mediocre, and I found myself back in 10th or 11th for the first couple laps. There were a few minor issues due to my jitters/inexperiences: tripping and almost falling on the ampitheater run-up, washing out on a hard left (luckily I recovered without hitting the ground), a few pedal strikes, some bad line choices.
Having worked out the opening jitters, and some of the "heavy legs" feeling that came from racing the day before, I was able to pick up the pace. My line choices became better, I used less brake going into some of the corners, and I was able to put the hammer down on the more open section mid-lap. Over the next 4 laps, I was able to work my way up to what I believed to be 6th or 7th place.
On the bell lap, noting that the next guy back was nowhere within striking distance, I backed off a bit. With one lap to go I didn't want to take any chances. Towards the end of the last lap, I noticed I was within 30 seconds or so of the rider in front of me. Unfortunately (as with Saturday's race) I was out of time to reel him in.
I crossed the line, and later was told that I finished 6th in the 15 person field. Not bad for my first ever cyclocross race. My teammate John rocked it to a 4th place finish.

Riding up the sled hill. We rode about 2/3 of the way up, made a hairpin left turn, and bombed right back down (hitting close to 25 mph). During set-up, it was suggested that we go all the way to the top. By my last lap I was thankful we didn't.

Hairpin left off of grass onto blacktop.

Running up the "Ampitheater of Pain"

Cresting a short climb.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

New Crank Arm

The new crank arm arrived today. Big thumbs-up to White Industries customer service for being able to turn this around quickly.

ENO Update

I spoke to White Industries yesterday, and they are going to overnight a replacement crank arm to me. They just asked that I return the cracked arm to them, and I'll be paying the difference between overnight and standard shipping. The lady at White Industries was very nice to work with, and overall it's been a good experience so far.

I'll post up once I receive the replacement crank arm (should be this afternoon).

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

ENO on Crack

Found this today while washing the bike.

Hopefully I can get a replacement crank arm in time for Lumberjack. I left a message with White Industries, and I'll post an update later after I hear back from them.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

An 80 Mile Epic Ride

This past weekend marked my fourth installment of High Country Pathway fun-n-games. June of 2007 had me attempting the entire 80 miles, aborting after 28 1/2 miles of trail. September of 2007 and '08 had me attempting, and completing, the 50ish mile section from Osmun Road back to the State Park. This year would mark my second crack at doing the full 80 mile loop.

Jon and I hit the road in the morning on Friday, and stopped for a noontime lap around Hanson Hills. At the trailhead, we bumped into one of Jon's fellow Mountain Bike Patrollers. We headed over with him and his group to the Keg 'O Nails bar in Grayling. After conversation, lunch, and a pint, Jon and I swung up to Big Buck to pick up some weekend "supplies".

We rolled into the group campsite in the evening, set up camp, had dinner, and spent the evening sitting around the campfire.

Five of us (Todd, Wendy, Dan, Tom and myself) rolled out at around 8:30 am, intending to do the entire 80 mile loop. We headed out counter-clockwise from the campground, so as to do the rougher and more overgrown stuff first. Coincidently, all except Dan were on singlespeeds.

About 10 miles in, Dan pulled ahead of the group. He must've been on a mission, as this would be the last I saw him until we finished the ride. The remaining four of us rode together for the most part.

Overlooking the Tomahawk Creek Flooding, not far from where my profile photo was taken.

Snack time at M33; Todd and Wendy enjoying a break.

On the Canada Creek bridge. Tom is in the background.

Canada Creek

Boardwalk near Dog Lake.

I didn't take as many photos as in trips past; the length of the ride didn't allow for many stops. Most of my photos were from the section between M33 and Osmun Road, since this is the stretch I hadn't ridden previously. If you dig into the musty archives from September 2007, "The Blue Dots Part 1" will take you from Clear Lake up to a few miles short of M33. "The Blue Dots Part 2" and my post from Last September take you from Osmun Road back to Clear Lake State Park.

Riding the boardwalk. I'm starting to get better at riding these.

I spent some of the time riding solo, and the rest riding with Todd, Tom and Wendy. After the stop at Pigeon Bridge, I rode off solo from the group, having a blast on the trail, climbing most of the hills, and actually riding the really long narrow boardwalk just before Tubbs Creek. Until... coming down some nice flowing trail, I saw two oncoming riders ahead. After a quick double-take, I realized it was Todd and Wendy. After a short debate, I let myself be convinced that they were heading the proper way (which ended up being the case), and after about a mile of backtracking familiar looking trail, we made another turn at a clearing. In hindsight I think I got turned around at this clearing when I circled it looking for the continuation of the trail.

I rode the remainder of the trail with Todd and Wendy, and we were joined by Tom at the base of Rattlesnake Hill. Here we donned lights and rode as a group to the campground.

Rattlesnake Hill overlook

We were on the trail for about 12 1/2 hours, of which about 10 1/2 hours was spent moving. But in the end, all of us that set out to complete the full 80 miles did indeed finish the full 80 miles.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Midwest Mountain Bike Summit

This past weekend I elected to forego racing, and instead chose a long weekend of learning about MTB advocacy and trail building. Yeah, and there was some riding and beer drinking thrown in there also.

I left work Thursday evening, and made the trek over to Grand Rapids. After setting up my tent, I made my way over to the welcome reception. Dinner was a (very tasty) pig roast, and tasty Founders beer was on tap.

Friday held seminars on various advocacy topics. The first one I attended was about how to organize and maintain a successful advocacy club. This was hosted by Kelly and Collins Bishop, one of the IMBA trail care crews. Next, I learned about how to write a grant request. Finally, there was a classroom session on trail building. Here I learned many of the guidelines on how to build a sustainable trail for multiple user groups.
After the advocacy session, I made my way over to the Cannonsburg Ski Area, where myself and a couple others were given a guided tour by Rick Plite (a member of the local chapter of the MMBA). He actually laid out a significant portion of the trail, and rides it regularily, which made it "fun" to keep up with him.

The night was capped off with a late dinner followed by beers around the fire.

Saturday morning was spent putting my new trail building knowledge to the test. We went over to the Cannonsburg State Game Area, where we practiced laying out a stretch of trail.
Afterwards, a group of us decided to ride a lap of the Ski Area trail. Trek had their demo trailer there, so I decided to try out a Top Fuel (their 4" travel XC race bike). This was my first time ever riding a full suspension bike on singletrack, and it made for an interesting experience. The bike rode very nicely, but I could tell that I was tentitive in the corners. This was due to a combination of the 26" wheels, straight bars, different tires, and the effects of the suspension (i.e. drastically different than my bike. All-in-all a nice bike, but I'm definately wanting to stick to singlespeed.

Over the log pile on the Fuel. The blur makes it look like I'm going fast. (Actually I was going pretty fast)
Over the logs at the Ski Area
Photo courtesy of Diane Ursu

Afterwards, a couple dozen of us headed over for a guided lap of Luton Park. This is a new trail in a new county park. The Western Chapter of the MMBA did a great job laying this trail out. Nothing steep, but still a fair bit of climbing in a couple of the loops. Very nice flow. A few technical spots, and a number of fast spots.
After the group lap, a few of us stuck around to do a second lap.

Riding the Luton Trail
Riding the new trail at Luton Park
Photo courtesy of Diane Ursu

Saturday evening was spent at Founders Brewery, where we watched the Wings beat up on the Penguins.

Sunday morning we met at the Cannonsburg State Game Area for the final group ride. I was put into the "fast" group, with Tim from the Founders MTB team, Steve (the owner of Ada Bikes), and another guy who's name I don't remember. As luck would have it, we were all riding singlespeeds. We rode part of the game area, then ducked out and headed on the roads over to Luton. After a lap of Luton, more roads took us to a paved path, which had a few rolling hills. This took us to the ski area where we rode a lap. Finally it was back to the game area where we finished the lap there. It ended up being a 40 mile loop.

Good trails, good people, good beer, and good MTB related information. All this made for a great weekend.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Broadsides of Barns

I went shooting with my dad yesterday. We spent about an hour and a half at the indoor range at the Oakland County Sportsmans Club.

This was from my Ruger Single Six 22lr, which has a 7 1/2" barrel. Distance was 30 feet to the target.

This was from dad's Colt Cobra 38 Special, which has a 2" barrel. Distance was 30 feet to the target.

Not bad for someone who doesn't shoot a whole heck of a lot.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Adventures in Racing

This past weekend, my teammate Ben and I participated in our first ever Adventure Race. This is a race where you attempt to locate a number of checkpoints using an assortment of travel modes, specifically paddling, bicycling, and trekking. This is something I've been wanting to do for some time now, so when Ben suggested the race while at the MMBA expo, I willingly dropped my original plans of doing the Paris-Ancaster race.

Saturday was spent putting the finishing touches on my gear, followed by an early bedtime. I woke on Sunday and headed out to the Walleye-Pike boat launch on the Holloway Reservoir, where the race was staged. After Ben arrived, we checked in with the promoters, and prepped for the race. There was a short pre-race meeting, where we were given the maps and race instructions, and we were left with a half hour in which to discuss final strategies.

We also used this as a chance to have a pre-race photo taken.

This particular race had us begin in the canoes, followed by the bikes, and finishing with an orienteering course taken on foot.
Ten minutes prior to the start (8am), we headed down to the shore. We staged the canoe, and when the promoter gave the "GO" command, we were off. Paddling into the wind to start...

We had to beach the canoe, get out, and run to the checkpoint. Repeat for each checkpoint.

After a couple hours, we ditched the canoe in favor of bikes. We rode out towards Columbiaville and Otter Lake in search of the elusive checkpoints. We started out doing great, working up from our ~1/3 way back positioning after the paddle.

We were coming up to the left turn which would take us to checkpoint #18, and then on the return trip.

One of us: "Do we have all the checkpoints?"
Ben: "Checkpoint 10... 11... 18?"
Me: "18 should be the last one."
Ben: "17?"
Me: "F***! We're making a right instead of a left."

After an extra 4 miles, we rolled back into the transition. We did indeed make up a few places even with our "diversion".

We dropped our bikes, donned our trail shoes, refilled water, and headed out into the final trekking portion. Here we would use our map, compass, and bushwacking skills to locate the final 18 checkpoints. Side note: for the bike and paddle portions, all checkpoints were mandatory. For the trekking portion, you could get as many or as few as possible, as long as you got back to the start by the 4pm cutoff time. A minimum of 3 were required to remain a ranked team. Placing was determined by the number of points taken, with ties being broken by finishing time. For example, 3 teams get 14 of the trekking checkpoints. Team 1 finishes at 3:30pm, team 2 finishes at 3:15pm, and team 3 finishes at 4:05pm the placing would be as follows: team 2, followed by team 1, with team 3 receiving a DNF (missed cutoff time). So, there was some strategy and time management involved... do you risk missing the cutoff to get that one more checkpoint.

We headed up hill...

Through swamps... this one was not too bad

Gathering checkpoints...

And making a couple wrong turns. We spent a half hour searching for one checkpoint only to figure out we were not too far from one we had already got. Oops!

We got to learn about the drinking habits of inhabitants long ago...

And about all things farming...

Unfortunately photos don't exist of the worst of the swamps. The cutoff time was fast approaching, and we had a fair bit to go to get out of the woods. The safe and sure way was to head straight North, where we would eventually hit Stanley Road where we would have a mile road run home. Straight North happened to take us through swamps ranging from ankle deep to "boys" deep.

Wet from hips down, we emerged onto Stanley road, and had a painful (for me) run to the finish. We made it in with 1 minute to spare!

The results had us finishing 17th overall out of the 54 teams which finished. We got 14 of the 18 checkpoints in the final trekking portion; we did see another of the checkpoints, but time was running short and we made the (wise) decision not to hike around the swamp to get it.

We both had a great time, learned a lot about navigation, and will definitely be doing this again.