Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Equinox Traverse: I Sort of Hated It But Am Glad I Did It, Part I

We (or at least I did, I don't want to speak for Bill) had low expectations for the Equinox Traverse from basically every angle. We expected there to be not a ton of creativity in the course, lots of hills, a low-flowing river and lots of trips up and back down the same mountain with the occasional detour due to crappy maps, a lack of familiarity with much of the area and no navigation experience with races that long.  We hoped to finish but expected to struggle -- this would be the longest race I'd ever attempted and, if we managed to snag an official finish, Bill's first successful completion of a two-day race.

Our expectations all came to be -- the layout was basically an 8-hour adventure race followed by miles and miles of biking to optional trek rogaines, the paddle was brutally slow (but an upgrade from April's paddle at the Yough Extreme), we went up and down the same mountain trail three times and we certainly got lost quite a bit.

I am getting ahead of myself though.

Where to start?

How about here:

Our beloved yurt was already booked up so we moved on to a "walled tent." It had beds, no bugs and a light so all was good. Val, of Rev3 fame, and her teammate were our neighbors in walled tentville. After an uneventful check-in and map pickup it was back to home sweet walled tent to pack our packs and stare at the maps for a bit.

Here's a shocker: I hate mapwork. Hate. Almost as much as I hate snakes. I helped some but mostly packed my pack as Bill's head began to hurt and his eyes began to bleed as he stared at the two giant maps (they were both larger than beachtowels) set to the smallest of scales (1:35,000, neither one of us could remember a race with a scale that small).

We tossed and turned a bit but did get a few hours of sleep before heading to the 10 a.m. start. Where we learned that the list of gear we had to carry for the entire race changed a bit and we hustled to repack our packs before the time-trial start. This made me a bit surly -- the communication from the race company had been sorta piss-poor leading up to the race and to change things at literally 9:53, seven minutes before we got moving, wasn't the coolest thing of all time.

But adventure racing does require a bit of flexibility (that I am not naturally inclined toward) so I tried to let it go and soon Bill and I were on our bikes. And then on our bikes, off our bikes, on and off, off and on as we rode, yanked and carried them up a trail called Sugarloaf toward CP 1. The point was easy to find -- even I understood how to get there and we had a screaming downhill to CP 2/TA 1/paddle put-in. We found ourselves way toward the back of the pack but we felt fine and there was still plenty of race to go -- 44 hours worth, in fact.

There at TA 1 sat a pile of damn duckies. Seriously, American Adventure Sports, have you heard this sweet ride called a canoe? Invented centuries ago, they are, in fact, still in use today and readily available in Pennsylvania.

The volunteers seemed to note my grumpiness and were nice to me as we threw down our bike stuff and transitioned to the water. We were only briefly detoured when I cracked my head on a street sign, setting off a bang that echoed loud enough for a lady in the process of draining sewage out of her camper to come check on me.

Anyway, we dragged our red POS boat into the river. Or, a trickle. The water was barely moving with exposed rocks everywhere. Seriously, I piss bigger streams. We moved slowly, got stuck on lots of rocks and passed no one except for smart, lazy people on float trips drinking lots of beer.

I will speak for us both: We hated the paddle.

"Hey, I think we live in this rubber boat now," Bill lamented after an hour went by and we seemed to be going nowhere. "This boat is now 46 Haines Street. We will get a cat and call it home."

I tend to get songs stuck in my head for hours on end during longer races. The thought of living in our red duckie, together forever outside, got this piece of awesomeness stuck in my head for most of the next two days:

Home is wherever I'm with you. Including in the middle of a pisstrickle river stuck in a giant floatie.

We passed a guide who told us we still had more than four miles to go.

"She's lying," I said. "I know she is."

Turns out she was lying (or maybe she was just wrong) because a few minutes later we found ourselves at the takeout. So awesome. I hopped out of the "boat" into the ankle-deep water and dragged Bill and the floatie to the bank of the river. We'd both clearly had enough -- Bill lifted the thing under his arm and we were off to TA 2.

A ton of teams were there, including Val and her teammate Russel. They'd mentioned something about a trail to the next TA/CP -- thanks to them we realized we missed a route instruction forbidding the most obvious route choice back which would have likely led to a penalty or a DQ or something (the race rules were never entirely clear) had we been caught.

Here's a picture of a someone on another team to give you an idea of what we got to do next -- an optional 130-foot rappel off a bridge. While it took us all of 10 minutes to complete this entire part, from the time we left transition to the time we returned, I thought it was a great addition to the race. Gravity rules!

I acknowledged to Bill that I was actually starting to have fun despite myself. We headed back to the car to change out of our sopping wet clothes (what water there was in the river managed to drench us) for a 15-mile trek back to our bikes.

Want to know how I managed to basically light my boobs on fire while in transition? Come back for part two. That is all. 


Nobel4Lit said...

Well, when someone tells me that I only have a certain portion left, I get aggravated... worse when they are WRONG!

Mallory said...

Sweet pics!!! You are a much braver woman than me!

Anonymous said...

I'll admit that, you know how to finish with a good cliff hanger! Boobs on fire? I want to know all about it...

Anonymous said...

Your races never fail to leave me in awe. You crazy kids are...crazy. The bridge thing looks fun though!