Monday, April 28, 2008

The Talon 10-Hr AR (2008)

I went down to Alafia River State Park this past weekend to race the Talon 10-hour adventure race.  Alafia is still one of my favorite MTB park in Florida.  The trails are awesome!

Anyway, my team consisted of my friend Charlie, and a new comer to AR, Linda.  we were a 3-person co-ed team.  Jason and Erica were also racing in a 2-person co-ed team.  As were Erica's parents, and our great friends, Jim and Lori Gabbert.

Anyway, race started with a quick little 1 mile trail run to spread out the teams some.  Then we jumped on our bikes and headed off on the single track trails at Alafia.  We did, in this order, North Creek, River Run, Rock Garden, and Bridges.  There were three points along the way we had to pick up before returning back to TA.

So here's the kicker.  Just before finishing North Creek, about to start River Loop, I noticed something felt wrong with my left pedal.  So I went to clip out and clip back in, when my entire left crank arm came off.  The bolt had gotten lose and it was lost somewhere on the trail behind me.  There was nothing I could do.  So I picked up my crank arm (with the pedal attached) tossed it in my backpack, and proceeded to do the rest of the ride with one leg.  Single track riding, on a mountain bike, with one leg.  The hardest part was having to hold my left leg up the entire time as I had nowhere to rest it.  I did pretty good with one leg.  Even catching up and passing some of the slower people out there.  It was funny because they couldn't believe a guy with one pedal was going faster than them.  :)  Going up hill sucked.  And on most steeper hills I had to put my foot down.

Anyway, we made it back to TA.  My leg hurt, but not too bad.  At the TA we completed the two special tests they had.  One was a short paddle in a pond to pick up 4 check points.  It took us about 15 minutes.  The other was a puzzle.  After completing the two tests, we had to jump back on our bikes and head south on the powerlines to our next couple checkpoints.

With me still riding on one pedal, we took off on our bikes again.  The double-track by the powerlines was grassy so it was easy riding.  We found the next two checkpoints (which required some cool orienteering) and then rode down to the Alafia River where we would go on the first of our two paddling sections.

The first paddling section was the longest and toughest of the two.  We headed north on the River looking for just one checkpoint which was somewhere along the way.  The river, for those of you who have never been there, is tough to paddle on because there are so many logs and trees that are across the river.  You constantly have to duck under trees or completely get out of the boat and portage it around obstacles etc.  It's a pain in the ass.  We were constantly in and out of the water, sometimes in chest deep water having to push our pull our canoe one way or another.  But eventually we found the checkpoint and made our way back through the obstacle course back to the boat TA.

At the boat TA, we switched gears and left on foot on our first trekking section to find three CP's.  The section was fairly short, and the CP's were fun to find.  The race director definitely placed the checkpoints in interesting places.  one of them was at the edge of a lake.  Surrounding it was about 10 feet of mud.  I didn't think anything of it, stepped right in the mud, and proceeded to sink down to my chest in nasty cement like mud which was impossible to get out of.  I had to roll myself out of it and basically crawl to the check point and back.  Fun stuff!

After getting the three points and going back, we got back in the boats and headed south on the river for a quick paddle to our next CP.  This paddle was completely different than the first.  The river was wide and clutter free.  It was actually a very nice paddle.  Took us about 40 minutes before we were back at the boat TA, jumped back on our bikes, and made our way back up the powerlines to the main TA, picking up one more CP along the way.

Back at TA we started second trek section.  This one was much longer.  But also more fun.  We had to orienteer by shooting bearings from point to point.  I love that stuff.  It was all fun and games until we got to the area that had the last four checkpoints.  It was a very small area.  The entire area was maybe 1/2 mile x 1/3 mile.  But it was NASTY!!  It was thick, thick woods and pretty swampy.  But the worst part were the humongous steep hills.  Each of the four points was located at the top of these steep hills which were each at about a 65-70 degree angle.  I am not exaggerating.  They were steep and long!  Going up and down them was actually pretty scary.  We had to take our time because one misstep and you were going to stumble all the way down, hitting god knows what on the way down.

After a little while, we found all the points and ran back to the main TA.  We were now 'officially' done with the race.  We had completed the required course and collected all the mandatory checkpoints.  Now we had the option of heading back out to try and collect as many 'bonus' checkpoint as we could before the time cut off.

This being Linda's first race, all she wanted to do was finish.  So she did not want to go back out.  The race had been pretty tough and she was pretty beat.  But After about 25 minutes Charlie convinced her to go back out so that we could get just one or two bonus points.  So we promised her we would go to the easiest ones and just get one or two then head back.  It was the only way we could get her to go back out there.  Even though I really wanted to go for some of the harder ones which were worth more points.  So we went out, got our two easy ones, and went back to officially finish our race.

Jason and Erica came in shortly after we did.  They had gone after the harder bonus points and it paid off for them.  They finished 1st-place overall!

I had a great time!  The course was excellent and very tough for such a short race.  Now I am all pumped up and ready for next month's Coast to Coast 72-hour race!!!