Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Divide and Conquer-Cal Eco/Explore the West

This weekend the team split up and headed down to Cali for the first race in the Cal Eco series and also the first race of the Explore the West series. Cal Eco was raced by RVG, JVG, Hart and Rinn while the Explore the West was raced by Cyril and Jen Segger.

Cal Eco was a traditional race formatt with a four person coed category and other categories such as a two person and solo. I believe that there were 38 teams competing and over 20 in the four person coed category. The race director, Dan Barger, was the creator of the original Primal Quest and has quite a reputation for putting on a good race, usually with a hike a bike section inserted. No exception here, a quality race was put on and we hiked our bike plenty. Most of the race was travelled on foot and we saw some beautiful sections of the Sierra Foothills.

We came out of the gates fast and started with an orienteering sections to spread the field before we got into the boats. Unfortunately I blasted by our last checkpoint without notice and we got into the boats in 28th place. Ouch! We settled into our groove and paddled accross Folsom Lake to look for our next CP. It was a 1/4 to 1/2 mile little bushwhack up a hill and maybe 300 vertical feet...we went up the wrong hill, but the good news is that we were moving fast and still made up some place on this section.

Back to the boats and we were passing teams and getting into our groove. We had a great paddle and held our draft line perfectly. We were paddling Necky Amaruck's, not the fastest boat in the world but still a good boat. We chose the rental option from Current Adventures, a local paddling and white water outfit, and they worked out great.

On foot after the first paddle we had about a 10 mile trail run up into the town of Auburn. Other than taking a while to get to the right trail we moved well along this section and had some good views of the North Fork of the American River (maybe) along the way.

Next would be an optional run or bike section. The choice was obvious to us with a 7 mile road entrance we hopped on our bikes and brought our running shoes along for the haul. This proved to be our favorite section and had some semi-tricky navigation. 9 Checkpoints along the way that we would get by ditching our bikes and running a mile here and there to get to the control. We entered this section in the low teens and finished 3-4 minutes behind the Silly Rabbits in 3rd...great navigaiting by Aaron and we all contributed to moving fast along the way. This section was mostly Dark and seemed to considerably slow down or at least spread the field.

Back onto our feet we hit the Western States Trail, home of the Western States 100, and we moved very fast. We jockeyed for 2nd with the Rabbits on and off throughout this run and really enjoyed ourselves. JVG was moving fast! CP6 had one of oour team mates entering a cave and on his way out I helped Pull Aaron through the hole he went in. It was a tight fit, probably something simillar to a grown up birthing hole...minus the bodily fluid.

On to our bikes where the course, we were told, had been shortened and one of the three checkpoints was removed from the race. We arrived at CP8 to Find the Rabbits doing circles and a bit irratated at not being able to find the control. Per the map it was to be no more than 10-30 meters off of the trail...thats only 100 feet. We spent some time belly crawliing through fields of Poison Oak (Paying the price right now!) and scrub braush and could not find anything.

The rabbits regrouped at their bikes as we were doing the same thing, they said they thoght they saw Subaru's track (They were leading the race) going the other way and were going to investigate. We asked if they found it, they said no. I thought it might be a good time to ride down the hill with them a couple hundred feet to an intersection on the map to confirm our location and see if they continued on. Low and behold we were in the right spot and the Wascilly Wabbits had pulled a fast one on us...back up the hill and back in the bush. Our search expanded a bit and after our 1.25 hours of searching we found it a bit further off of the trail than expected. We must have walked by it before but just not been at the right angle to see it. We move on.

Out to CP10 which had a couple of miles of out and back and we passed the Rabbits coming from the a quick apology, I think their conscience got to them a bit. We were not too worried about it as I am sure our entire team (Including me) was planning our hastily exit from the CP hunt and would have done our best to conceal the fact we found it. Brings a good point, which way do you lean? We, as a team try to never lie, but replace the temptation to do that with keeping our mouths shut. Not sure this mantra always works ;-)

We arrive at the Transition to the last run, an uphill charge to the finish, and find out that Subaru DQ'd and was not in the race anymore. Brought back memories of Appalaichan Extreme, they did the same thing while they were holding the lead? Not sure what the story is, but I think they were fed up with looking for CP8 and moved on...someone chime in with some info for me.

Anyways we moved up the hill and made up about 15 minutes on the rabbits, but they had surmounted too big of a lead...2nd is not bad for a day of hard work. 17 Hours 41 Minutes.

Explore the West went well for Cyril and Segger and we were able to pull of the victory down further south. I will post something from them as soon as I get it. Sounded like a very fast race and was won by a couple of minutes.

a 1st and a 2nd aren't bad ways to kick off 2006! See you on, or off, the trails!

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