Sunday, October 29, 2006

I have been a bit lazy lately so I have decided to post an article my long time adventure race partner Chris Wilson wrote from 2002.

Intoxicated Press, North Vancouver, Tuesday September 10th, 2002

Team Hammer2Heaven completed the toughest Sea2Summit Whistler course ever in a time of just under 21 hours. Team members Bill Harbord and Chris Wilson have not yet received official results reflecting orienteering time penalties.

This year's course featured significant changes from previous years, including the start in Minaty Bay, just south of Britania Beach in Howe Sound. At 7am in a large gravel pit, all teams were provided an envelope to be opened only once the race had started, which provided directions to the first checkpoint (CP1) located within the tunnels of Britania Beach mine. While some team members were sprinting to the mine to ensure they secured one of the 175 hard hats required to enter the mine (for 600 racers), the others were hauling the kayaks approximately one kilometre to the shore. Upon returning to the shore with the first CP password, Bill and I jumped into our sleek double kayak and went to work moving up the field. We were able to catch and pass our colleagues who could run faster and we made great time during the first 6km leg to Porteau Cove, running with both wind and tidal current. At the turn-around, we were in sight of the leaders, including the legendary Super Dave Norona. The second leg 16-km of the paddle north to Squamish Harbour was very tough, into a building wind and ebbing tide, and we got caught in the strongest part of the current around Watts Point. Racers who gambled on the longer route hugging the shoreline were rewarded with an eddy current that launched them forward and out of reach.

After landing 3:18 into the race, we attempted to get our stiff and aching backs moving with a short 4km run to transition at Loggers Park. About halfway, we were greeted to the first mystery challenge, hauling 2 buckets of gravel 1km along the Loggers Lane trails, in a co-operative effort to help the Squamish Trails Society. Sadly though, many racers chose to ignore directions provided and simply dumped the gravel into the woods and took off... bad karma! We reached transition in 51 minutes where our amazing support babe, Becca waited with food and bikes. A slow change, bite and back-rub got us on to the bikes in 13 minutes and we headed up the Mamquam FSR to 9-mile bridge, the first major climb and the site of my killer cramping in this year's Test of Metal race. We climbed slowly, knowing a long day was ahead, and rode to the summit feeling good, exorcizing the ghosts of June!. This was followed by a sweet fast descent down the Ring Creek Rip, then a second climb up the Diamondhead road to Tseugotseuga, a classic moderate Squamish downhill. On to the Mashiter FSR for endless rollers, before dropping into Made in the Shade, a classic BC descent - drops, rocks and roots on STEEP switchbacks then on to the transition to Trek Stage, we had been riding for 3:30.The trek involved navigating to 3 CP's, all on the north side of the Cheekeye River across from us. There were only 2 marshaled points to cross the river, and we were not allowed to trek in the river. We covered the boulder beds and bushwhack to Cat Lake at a steady pace and found a fallen log to cross the river and save time, and completed the course in 2:17. As we departed, the marshals were advising teams just arriving that the trek cut-off was imminent, it was 5pm and 10 hours into the race.

The course organizers at Sea2Summit just dialed in the next section - after a short hike-a-bike climb up Rock'n'Roll, we were treated to super sweet BC singletrack, mainly downhill, all the way through Garibaldi Highlands... Rob & Cliffs Corners, Mashiter, Roller Coaster, Lumberjacks, 7-Up took us down to the highway, then we dropped into the Mamquam River trails, flat, fast champagne singletrack to finish the day in 11:30 ... no wonder we're smiling! Bill took a nasty fall on Lumberjack when he took a stump to the chest!

That evening we were treated to massages by Becca, beer and nachos by Cindy and a good night's sleep.

Day 2 dawned dark, wet and foreboding. We rode from Bob & Cindy's in Brackendale 2km north to the race start. The morning roll-call was filled with absentee teams, singles, doubles and 4's who had finished at 10pm or later last night and were unable to answer today's starting bell. A 1km run around a track and trail got us back to the bikes, and we settled into a steady pace on the flat road section... Bill fired up the big engine and I drafted him past many teams on to the fire road and double track. Once we reached the initial climbs through the Cheakamus Canyon the pack thickened and there were many hike-a-bike sections. The track opened up toward the summit and the highest views over the canyon were stunning to ride beside and we continued along the Cheakamus River, finally arriving at Brandywine Falls in 2:52.

We checked in, got our orienteering maps and controls, made a quick change to running shoes and we were off! We had one hour to find 10 controls in a one-square kilometer space, navigating through bush, rock and swamp. We scored 7 out of 10 before we had to hammer back to meet the 1-hour deadline and we were out of there in 1:12, felling good.

The intermittent rain made the next stage through technical singletrack very tough, as both an aggressive riding position and hard, semi-slick tires lead to some scary moments on steep rock descents into beds of shiny roots! Then bad news, a twig flipped between chain and spoke, and ripped my rear derailleur into a crazy angle, we were able to effect temporary repairs until I attempted a shift and the derailleur was thrown into the spokes and torn in two. Bill helped me to stay positive and we quickly turned my bike into a single-speed and pushed on to Creekside in 2 hours.

Becca was set-up on the slope in the mist and rain, she provided awesome mini-pizzas and coke, dry clothes and encouragement, and helped us our way to the Whistler summit and the Roundhouse 4,000 feet up. We trekked through the debris chutes of Whistler Creek, a steep treacherous climb over rock and logs then on to singletrack, access roads and ski slopes to the summit. As we passed the lower Chicpea lodge, the rain turned to snow and we really had done a Sea2summit, 100 miles by kayak, bike and foot!

We rode the gondola down, expecting to simply run across the finish line, only to find a waiting mud pit to slime through and a wall climb to get over before finally crossing the finish line at 4:30pm, after 21 hours of racing!

Many thanks to all the folks who helped us, especially my awesome support wife, Becca, and Bob & Cindy and my team mate Bill!!


Monday, October 16, 2006

Friday October 13. 7:00 AM
I hopped on my mountain bike today and rode some of the trails off Svoboda Road in West Arm Provincial Park then on to Mountain Station to ride the Fat Tire Festival XC course. It’s a good 40 minute climb from my place to the trail head. The weather was cool and clear. I am struck by the number of deciduous trees in the forests. The colours on the hillsides are incredible. I started on Logjam which is a twisty flowing XC trail through Pine Beetle killed pine forest. This trail outlets onto Svoboda Traverse then onto Short Svoboda and finishes on Squeeler, a fast flowing non technical trail. Back onto the Burlington Northern Santa Fe rails
to trails to Mountain station Then up Honey to Oso Express to Shasta then down Expresso onto Boneyard then home for a hot bath and something to eat. This is a terrific route and I can ride quite a bit of it.

Saturday October 14 8:00 AM
Its very cool this morning. I have decided to run to Troup along the BNSF rails to trails. This old rail bed features 3 terrific trestles along the route. The first part of my run involves a very steep climb to the trail head along local streets. I think it climbs about 800’. On the trail you loose all that elevation in the next 6 km’s to Troup Landing. There’s a terrific sandy beach here and a creek that empties into the lake. It’s a great place to swim mid run either formal or informal (swimsuit or au natural). Lots of bear sign as they have come down from the sub alpine to polish off the last of the berries in order to fatten up for hibernation. I ran back adding some Fartlek intervals on the uphill grade.

Saturday October 14 3:00 PM
After some chores and a trip to the dump I grabbed my new Fenn Mako Millennium Surfski for a paddle towards Taghum. This new boat is TWICE as tippy as my XT. It’s a lot to handle and I am constantly weight adjusting and bracing. However I am slowly becoming more confident and can finally put some power in my stroke. It’s a beautiful boat 21’ long and 17” wide the widest point. Its about 1 km faster than my XT which means I can better keep up to Mat, Neville and Rich the local “Surfski” community.

The day was beautiful. The water like glass. In fact the water was quite a bit warmer than the air temperature. I went about 5 km’s on the north side of the lake then turned and returned on the south side. Very serene and beautiful.

Sunday October 15 9:00AM
Decided to road ride to Salmo, about 50 km’s south of Nelson. A light rain was falling and the temperature hovered around eight degrees. The start of the ride features a long climb out of town for about 11 km’s then rolls, twists and flows to Salmo, a small forestry/ranch town near the US border. Lots of colour in the hills on this route. Trees are in fabulous fall display. Unlike the coast one gets the sense of the different seasons. Chased by one fairly quick dog, this hound also chased me on the return trip. It was uneventful on the return trip except for the 70 kph descent back into Nelson.

I have been steadily finishing off parts of the house. I have plumbed the basement and installed a washer and dryer. Fixed the furnace ductwork and cleaned 105 years of accumulated coal dust from every niche, crevice and ledge. Virginia and I have decided to restore the house to its original condition so in the guest bedroom I stripped about layers of wallpaper off to expose the original plaster which was in poor condition with 100’s of cracks and parts falling off. I sanded and expanded all the cracks, replastered the holes and filled the cracks. I taped and filled all the corners and after 85 hours of restoration painted the walls and ceiling. I am very happy with the result. The room has flair and personality and is a long way from the typical drywall box we are used to. Hmmm, one room down and 4 to go upstairs, I should be finished in about 3 years.
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