and the Big Blue 24 Hour Race.
Let’s go back a week on this one and start with the big plan
we had to buy a 3 person kayak ready for the Big Blue 24 hour race. We had arranged to go to Paddle Fest at Coyote
point and pick up a boat that was advertised as being popular among adventure
racers. We paid our deposit and packed
all our gear ready to paddle the boat the 20 miles from Coyote point back to
The ride in Skeggs was fun until we got back to the car. Grant had this painful look on his face as he looked for his car keys. He couldn’t find them. They’d fallen out of his pocket somewhere on the ride. We had met Ken White earlier in the day and he had taken on some crazy trails that we’d never been on before and probably couldn’t find again. Where the hell had we been? How were we going to find them? We were lucky that they were only 2 miles back on the trail where he’d taken his last Clifbar out of his pocket. Could have been a lot worse right? I was planning on riding my bike back to the City if we hadn’t had found them.
So the week of the race is here and we’re receiving race updates from Todd Jackson telling us a little about the race format and how things are going to start. I pass these updates on to the team and chat with Grant about our strategy.
Me: Bike first then kayak right Grant.
Grant: OK. Where does it start?
Grant: So are we kayaking from the start?
Me: No! Bike FIRST!
Grant: OK. So should we bring extra crash hats for the TA as it says we need bike helmets for the kayak?
Me: No, we’re riding our bikes to the kayak so we’ll have our crash hats on already.
Grant: Oh yea, ok.
We cut work early on Friday and everyone meets to load up the truck. Super supporter Hailey is joining us to cheer us on during the race and drive us home after as we’re going to be tired.
We manage to get 4 people, 3 bikes and a massive rental kayak onto Grants Toyota truck and we’re off. The traffic is horrendous and it takes nearly 6 hours to get to the lake and drop off the kayak.
We get to the hotel and start dividing up all of our gear for the various parts of the race. We have a huge bin for the TA and we start loading it with supplies and gear we think we might need for the kayak and beyond. Jen Ratay stopped by and hung out for a while taking a look at some navigation equipment that she would need for the race. She was racing solo as her husband was at the Moab Extreme race and had taken all their navigation equipment. No worries, after a brief class on the Basic Roamer AR she was all set to go.
Grant was furiously packing gear and making sure that we had all the right kayak stuff in the right bag, as well as enough food for 24 hours. I made him go through the gear list line by line checking things off. Bike first than kayak right Grant? Sure…..
We wake up early on race day and drive the 30 minutes to drop off all the kayak and TA gear. As we’re leaving the lake to go back to the start Grant sees his bike crash helmet in the back of the car and tries to put it in the TA box. I stop him and say that he’ll need the helmet as we’re biking first. Bike first right Grant? Oh yea, ok says Grant. Now this should have been a big red flag as to what was coming next.
We get all the way back to the hotel with about an hour to grab something to eat and roll over to the sign in. As we’re packing up the room and loading the bikes on the car Grant says “Hey, have you seen my yellow dry bag with all my bike stuff in it?” I ask him why the hell I would have it in my room and he just shrugs his shoulders. I ask him if he might have put it in the TA box that was now 30 minutes away and he says that he is 90% certain that he did. The next few things out of my mouth are not worth repeating but you can imagine what was said. Did he not listen when we said that we’re biking first? Did he not read the race updates that I forwarded to him so as he could be prepared?
Grant drops us at the start ready to sign in and drives back over the mountain to fetch his bike gear that he’ll need. He wanted Hailey to go get them but I said that he was the one who was going to get a speeding ticket for this, not Hailey I register us and get the maps while finding a quiet spot in the sun to start plotting.
Here is the first good news that I get, that maps are 1:24,000 and 1:63,360. Perfect! These are exactly the scales that the Basic Roamer AR was designed for. I was going to get to use the whole thing for this event. We were given 3 UTM’s that told us the location of CP1, 2 & 3 and we were told we would get further instructions out on the course. I was so happy that the navigation tool I had developed was so perfectly suited to the race we were about to do. I had high hopes for the teams that were using one.
Everyone was talking at the start about the best route over
the mountains to CP 1. There were a few
choices. Chatting with Adam Dotti from the Dirty Avocados it looked like
Final picture just before the start
Grant shows up just as Todd says go,
he managed to retrieve his bike gear from the TA. We hear that Jenn
from Team BAARBD.org also left stuff in the TA and missed the start. The field splits into two groups, one goes North to hit
Highway 28 near the kayak TA
We cruse into the kayak TA and Hailey is there wet and shivering. She has been swimming in the lake that’s about 57deg and looks really cold. There are a bunch of bikes already in the TA and apparently the leaders left on the kayak 30 minutes earlier. We’re 2 hours into the race and we’ve already lost 30 minutes! We jump into the boat and Grant starts complaining that he has no foot pegs in the front. This is going to be a long paddle like this. I’m wondering why we didn’t do something about this earlier and stuff a pack in front of his feet or something.
We did the 8 miles out and back around the buoy and saw a Mink swimming in the harbor as we came back to the beach. Everyone was watching and pointing until Grant said out loud that they make great coats. This got us a scowl from a spectator and I was hoping that Heather would hit him with the paddle because I couldn’t reach. We find out from Hailey that we’re even further behind. I blame it on the big fat boat we’ve been paddling without foot pegs for our powerhouse with a paddle. We drag the boat up the beach and head for our gear.
We jump on the bikes for the ride back over the mountain to CP 3 at the lake. The ride was fairly uneventful with a little bike pushing but nothing to bad. When we get to CP3 we see Team BAARBD.org and others just finishing up the plotting for the next leg. We’ve managed to catch up some time. I plot the next 4 CP’s and we decide that we’re taking a clockwise route with CP 3C and then 3B as our first targets followed by 3A at the top of the mountain and 3D off in the woods.
Love the Basic Roamer AR..
We set off running, the terrain is good and the pace seems fast but easy. Grant helped Heather along with a tow rope and we hit the CP by the lake. The Waterproof pedometer was dialed in and we were hitting trail markers and intersections spot on with the distances measured from the map using the Basic Roamer AR. Even the 1:63,630 scale seemed to work fine.
We were the first ones to hit the manned CP. I guess the other teams went anti clockwise. We bushwhacked up to CP 3B and found it fairly easily in the daylight and after going back to check in at CP3C again we were off on the long trek to the highest point in the event, one peak over from the top of Snow Valley ski resort. We bumped into Team www.BAARBD.org and others coming along the trail and said hi, but everyone was moving fast and there was little time for a chat.
The route we had chosen put us quite high up on the side of
the mountain and we aimed for the saddle between the two peaks. As we were climbing we could see lights on
the top of
Where the hell is CP 3D??
I was shaking while I was plotting the next 2 CP’s. It was cold and the wind was howling. The hot soup really helped but it was time to put on more clothing. Team Ultimate Direction were at the CP and they were talking about quitting because their girl was freezing and Rick had to get home for work at 9:00AM. We said goodbye to them as they headed back to their cars. I wondered if Rick made it to work on time as it was about 1AM and a long drive back to the City.
We were going to be on the bike for the next 4 hours as the 2 CP’s took us back to the top of the park. It was a long hard uphill slog to CP 4 and we eventually arrived just as 2 teams in front of us were leaving. They gave us a clue on how to find the CP but we still had trouble. We were told to go to the end of the trail and shoot a bearing of 128deg. What ended up happening was that we went to the next trail intersection assuming that is what they meant by the end of the trail. What we actually had to do was go to the intersection and turn right. That then took us to the end of the trail where we shot the bearing and found the CP. We must have wasted at least another 45 minutes on this one. I blame it on sleep depravation and tiredness but this should have been an easy one to find. From here it was downhill almost all the way to the finish with a short pause for CP 5. This was easy to find as it had a glow stick stuck on a pole right next to it. You could see it like a beacon from 100 yards away. I wish some of the others had been like that. I gave Heather the info from the tag on the flag but there seemed to be some confusion. Grant had forgotten to tell Heather the phrase from CP4!! And now he couldn’t remember it.
I was going to kill him! There was no way we were going back up the mountain to get it again. He would have to try and remember. I was furious and told him all about it. Can you imagine going all the way back up to 8,000’ to get a phrase that Grant forgot! I was not impressed.
Grant trying to remember the answer to CP4
Now we had a long fast descent but both Grant and my
headlamps had gone out. We had to resort
to our backup lights which slowed us down a lot. The long slog back to
A big thank you to our sponsors for this event
The gear and support they provided us was the key to our success during this event.