Atomic AR Report

Deena, Don and Jeff teamed up a week after the 12 hour Yuki to race the inaugural 24 hour Atomic Adventure Race in Georgia.

Don’s pics

We went into this one aiming low. It was Jeff’s third racing weekend in a row, Deena’s first 24 hour AR, and I had only trained by doing last weekend’s 12 hr Yuki. The cutoffs seemed tight, so we prepared to make the call to skip points (4 hr penalty for each).

Pre-race

Pre-race

The race started off with an uphill prologue run for Deena, then we all hiked up 1,000 feet to get our bikes and fly down the paved park road. Another team had a rider’s rim brakes overheat the rim and burst a tire.

On the ride to the first foot-O section, a number of teams, including some of the top teams, mis-naved the roads and we got ahead of them. I think we were listed in 5th place at one point.

We had trouble with the 1:24k scale on the foot-O at first, but soon adjusted and got back on track. It rained on us during this section, and we were wet from then on.

The ride from the first foot-O section took us through some bike trails that were a red-clay slopfest with all the rain.

As we approached the next TA, we saw some CP flags that we didn’t have the UTM’s for. At the TA, we were given the choice to try to get 3 of these new CP’s in fifteen minutes. If we failed, we’d have to go get two more. We choose to go get all five up front, mostly because my knee was keeping me from running. Besides, you have to get ALL the CP’s to really “clean” a course, right?

Burn TA

Burn TA

From there we trekked about 3 km to the river put-in. We had to swim across the Etowah River to get the TA CP before we could paddle. The paddle was long, but the river was up two feet so it was moving pretty good. We had to be off the river by 2:30 am (first cutoff). I think it was about 6pm when we got there, so we were still looking ok at that point in the race.

River takeout

River takeout

The trek back to the bikes included a number of CP’s. We were able to use our namesake skill and bushwhack several of these successfully. Several teams kept passing us, again and again. They were running, we weren’t.

Night fell on us in this section, and we finally reached the TA to get back on the bikes. The volunteers were relaying that more rain was moving in on the final foot-O section already. I put on my first pair of dry socks (after about 12 hours of wet feet). They made it 15 minutes until we had to wade the river again, with bikes. The rain arrived again as we started 10 miles of uphill red clay trails and roads.

The big cutoff was to arrive at the Wildcat TA by 4:30 am. If we made that, we’d have 10 hours to hike 10 miles and ride 7 or 8 back to the finish. We arrived at about 3 and were trekking by 3:35 am.

The final foot-O was mostly on trails. The three points were so spread out, any bushwhacks would have had to be a km or more long, in very steep terrain, in the rain, in the dark. Our tanks were getting low, so we decided to stick to the trails. Our pace slowed almost to a crawl as dawn arrived and we topped the highest peak. The downhill on the other side was endless and nearly as slow out of caution.

We eventually made it back to the bikes to discover that there was only one other team still out on that section. All the rest had either not made it to the section, or had only picked up one or two points, or was one of the lead teams who were still running when they left and were long gone.

We granny-geared back out of the valley we were in and spun our way back to the finish area. There was a bit of brain-deadness happening in this section, but we finally reached the park and the start area.

The kind volunteer there cheered and gave us our final instructions. Drop your bikes, get all of your mandatory gear, and hike up the Amicalola Falls stairs to the top of the park. This was the same 1,000 feet of elevation gain that we started out on, except that was on a trail. This time we were to take the more scenic stairs. There are 600 actual stair steps in this climb, plus a bunch of steep paved trail.

Stairway to H...?

Stairway to H...?

I have never hurt so much on a stair workout. I don’t think it’s possible to get this kind of red-line burn in a gym on a stair machine.

Why is Deena smiling?

Why is Deena smiling?

We were met at the top by Josh and some of his crew. They had a tray of homemade brownies, which we dug into. Then they piled us into the backseat of a volunteer’s Xterra and he drove us back down to our bikes. We had to keep the windows down, for everyone’s sake. 26+ hours of wet AR fun had us smelling pretty strong by that point!

Back at the bottom, other vol’s had burgers and dogs going on the grill and we started the recovery process.

We managed to clean the course, getting all of the CP’s, even the two extras at the Burn challenge, and we made all of the cutoffs. We felt pretty good about that. Draft results have been posted , which put us in 6th place in our division. We had a blast and lived through the challenges. Everyone should attempt a 24 hour AR at least once in their lives!!!

YukiJoy ’09 Report

Team Bushwhack Adventures had a great showing at the 2009 Isotopes Racing YukiJoy adventure race! When it came time for heading to the prize table, we were the first ones called, as the first place coed team! The final standings may change (that’s another story), but we will be proud of our performance regardless.

Don’s pics from the race course

I understand some of our readership may not have the endurance to make it through my book-length race reports, so I’ll try to do a Cliff-notes version here.

Deena, Jeff, Patrick and I formed a four-person coed team this time. Sully and Roxie were our cheering section. The race started at 7am with teams plotting the 24 CP’s on their maps. We then ran through camp to the river, paddled and waded our canoes upstream for about a kilometer to CP 0, then turned around and paddled downstream for about 11 km’s, picking up CP’s 1-5 on the way.

At TA 1 we transitioned to bikes and rode about 7 km over to CP 6 and a hike-a-bike-O section. There were five more CP’s there to be found among a set of ATV trails. The overnight storm turned the red clay to slick mud, so we chose to take a risk by hoofing it instead of biking it. Apparently that was a smart guess on which would be faster, as other teams were hating the biking and weren’t happy with us as we passed them. This might turn out to cost us in the end. What cost us more was my stupidity in not taking a water bottle with me. We spent more time on that section that I thought we would and I got a little dehydrated.

Once through that section, we biked the 7 km back to Danbury and picked up two more CP’s close to town, 12 and 13. My dehydration was starting to kick my behind at this point. I was drinking and taking electrolytes, but the midday heat and being behind on fluids took me a while to recover from. As we climbed hills towards Hanging Rock State Park, I got really slow and started having a few brain misfires. At one point I intended to shift gears up but grabbed a handful of brake instead – surprise! Soon after that I sprawled out on the ground under a shade tree for a few minutes and finally got my temperature down and some fluids soaking in.

The ride up into HRSP was a killer. The road went from1100 feet to 1700 feet in about 3.5 km. If it wasn’t for Jeff and the tow rope, I might still be crawling up that hill!

At the Visitor’s Center we refilled our camelbak’s and then checked into TA2B. From there we hiked across the park, up and over a ridge and down to Tory’s Den, where we punched CP 17. As we left 17, it started to rain. We climbed back up to Moore’s Knob, punching CP 18 on the way and finding CP 19 on top of the tower at the knob.

By this time my left knee had decided to abstain from downhill’s, at least it wasn’t going to do them without screaming at me. The 4,037 rock steps in the path coming down were very painful. I wasn’t the only one grimacing. We decided then to seek sponsorship from Celebrex.

Back at the bottom of the mountain we picked up CP 22 by the lake and headed back around to our bikes. We had to be out of the park by 8pm. It was 7:30 when we rolled away. The hill that took almost an hour to get up only took 5 minutes to get down. Patrick hit 56 kph, with both brakes on. We had one hill to grind up just after we got out of the park, but from there it was all downhill back to the campground. We punched in at the finish at 7:45, leaving 30 minutes on the clock. Had we not been so ready to be stopped at that point, we probably had enough time to get one more, if not two more CP’s in that amount of time. Ah, hindsight.

Regardless of the outcome, we had a great time on the course and worked pretty well together. I’m looking forward to the Atomic AR next weekend! 24 hours of AR insanity! What was I thinking?!

Update: The results have been posted. We were penalized 1 point for not dragging our bikes through the mud-fest-bike-O section. But we were one of only three teams who hiked all the way across HRSP. Most other teams hiked in to one point and biked around to the other side to get the other mandatory point. As result, the RD gave us three bonus points, equivalent to the three CP’s we could probably have gotten in the time we spent hiking that other teams didn’t. The result was a change in points, but we still maintained first place in the 4 person coed category! That also put us in 7th place overall. Not bad!