Wednesday, September 13, 2006
Explore the West #4 - Big Bear
Stop number 4 on the Explore the West freight train, was no different in terms of venue and race administration...top notch, grade A, off the charts. West coast Adventure racing at it's best. On top of a great race it was a chance for me to see how my body would feel back at it after a heat stroke, 30 days of rest and 6 weeks of training. Overall I had a small mental hurdle to get over before I could let go, but had it in my sights and I found my self leaving the hurdle behind me at the start line. I spent more time focusing on my body and less on the team than normal, but wanted to see what feedback I would get. Ultimately, all systems were a go and I am glad to say I am back.
The race...started off in Pioneertown, a small western town to the east of the San Bernadino hills, and would have us covering almost 160 Km along our way towards big bear. 6 AM came and we were off. We decided to hang back and see if anyone in the field of 14 solo racers would jet out in front and no one really did so we some how ended up in the front of the pack with out too much extended effort. One solo racer by the name of Ted soon jumped out and we raced next to him for the first 20K and then proceded to be within 10 minutes of him for a majority of the race. The first bike was not that technical, but covered about 35 k of dirt roads and beautiful terrain. We left the TA after a lightning fast 4 minute transition and were off and running. Up some dirt roads and into the next CP in First. We gambled a bit looking for a dirt road and missed our route, which had us now going over a mountain and gaining elevation where we did not have to.
Just off of the PCT on Onyx summit we grabbed our bikes and started a 1500 vertical foot hike-a-bike that had us cursing a bit...this yielded some unbelievable views and an absolutely insane downhill! The very last section of the Mountain gave me slight headache and had my heart beating very fast, but still not enough to warrant me to worry about the level of intensity I was at. Soon enough we were on some single track and missed a turn which caused us to bike whack our way back to civilization. Into a campground where we found some water and kept moving. Onto the Santa Ana Trail and we could not get enough. Ripping trail!!!
After another run of 10K or so we got back onto our bikes and hit up the Clarkson Grade into Big Bear, this was the first road ever made to access the quaint mountain town. Up and over the pass, put our Arc'Teryx Alpha SL jackets on and bomb down to Big Bear Lake. My hands were frozen when we arrived but they warmed up after about 15 minutes of paddling and some food from the best support crew in teh world...JVG and her dad.
A couple of hours paddling under the moonlight got us through the section and we moved onto the last trek section up to Grey Peak and back down to the finish in a Boy Scout camp on teh North side of Grey peak. Ted had put a bit of time on us, rumor had it that his house was accross the street from the TA, and we went from race mode to finish mode. I don't like it when I do that and always look back in disgust when I don't finish hard...just another lesson learned, always go strong to the end. We ended up finishing in around 20 hours and won the elite coed division!
What a race! Glad to be back.