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Bill and Dave’s Excellent Adventure Race Part 6

This is part 6 of a series of blogs on our adventure race

Mother Good Luck makes yummy cookies

My feet were light and it seemed that I could effortlessly trot up any trail. I felt like a runner, which I am not,  but last night I felt like one. My route took me up Mount Jumbo on the East side. The side hills were so steep I could barely keep my balance. Once on the Jumbo Saddle Trail I bounded up and over to descend on the Helgate side of things. Then just for good measure I did the “L” trail. Still I did not have enough so I sprinted along the side hill on the Rattlesnake side until the sun disappeared. The sun gave up and set on me. I averaged over 5 mph for the run and I am happy with that. Specially since none of the terrain was exactly built for speed. I had to REALLY slow down on the descents. I just will never feel comfortable going down.

But I had run out of daylight. When I started I was like, “Oh, how am I going to motivate and run for two hours”. And then by the time I finished I was wondering where the time went. I wanted to keep going. It was like the Grizzly Man Adventure Race when Dave and I really wanted to get a couple more checkpoints but we had ran out of time.

It seems that in 12 hours of racing you can either do things right and celebrate the win or mess some stuff up and then maybe HOPE for a decent result. Rarely can you fudge things up really bad in 12 hours. I mean, you get your leg caught in a trap. Then have to chew it off. Right? What does that take? like 25-45 minutes tops. Then you have like 10 or 11 hours to catch back up and get back into the game.

So what. We missed check point “G” and spent gobs of time locating some checkpoints. Yea, carrying snow shoes was not the best decision. Getting a flat tire or having to take a emergency break behind a tree certainly will not make or break a good race. Once we were looking for check point “C3” and found “W. That was unsettling but a check point is a check point. Right? Specially when you have 15 minutes to get back or be disqualified. Specially since that one last checkpoint would later make or break your chances at the podium.

Sometimes if your diligent and just do your best it is good enough. Benjamin Franklin once said, “Diligence is the mother of good luck”. I didn’t feel lucky, instead I felt unprepared and in a team situation that meant I was letting someone down. But then my team mate was Dave and it is against his nature to get all anal about a competitive event. I guess my luck was that I had teamed up with the perfect partner. In 12 hours we did enough stuff right and mother of good luck made us cookies.  And those were some good cookies indeed.

“Dave, we have like 25 minutes before the time cut off. What if we just take one more run up there”, I pointed up the hillside.

“And try to find C3?”

“Exactly … just one more look. You never know. If it doesn’t work out there is the tunnel and after that is the finish line.”, I pointed towards a culvert under route 200.

“Let’s do it”

Later on after we finished, chatted with other finishers, and picked up all our gear at the transition station we were sitting at the Lubriecht Experimental Forest woofing down some pasta and salad. So let us take inventory. 12 hours preparing, plotting, and planning. 12 hours of racing. And now around 4 hours of cleaning up ourselves and picking up our equipment; the boat had to be loaded, stuff like that. All that equals some tired adventure racers.

I couldn’t do the math in my head and I was trying to guess-ta-mate how many check points we found. Surely 20 I thought. Josh started calling up the winners and 3rd place was not team Bill and Dave. Then second … no, not Bill and Dave and they had 25 check points. I was bummed because I felt we had done well enough for second. No way we got first because there was this team way ahead and they were fast runners.

“Dave, how many did we do”, I looked over to him and noticed he was already looking at me about to ask the same.

“I don’t know, twenty … um … ”

He looked like he was trying to spell a long word in the county spelling bee when Josh announced, “And the winners of the 2011 Grizzly Man Adventure Race”.

I just wanted to tune out, gosh had we only obtained 24 check points?

“… with a total of 26 check points”, Josh continued. I looked back at Dave as he suggested we had somewhere in the vicinity of a upper twenty count. My heart started to pound. Could it be? Did we?

“Team Bill and Dave”

We hugged and celebrated. Then I saw it. I looked into my friends eyes, that glaze of accomplishment and joy. It is my favorite part of these things.

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Bill and Dave’s Excellent Adventure Race Part 5

This is part 5 of a series of blogs on our adventure race

The Unknown

Sunday 9 AM. The adventure started out last Sunday when my eyes strolled through the map I have up on my wall at home. At first it was “I wonder if” and then “if only I could get here from there”. Before long the coffee I was sipping hit my pleasure centers and a decision was made to go for not only a route that I had not done before but three routes that I wanted to try. I decided to link up the Fish Creek Road, the Graves Creek Road, and the South Side Road in one big glorious loop. I quickly drew it on Google maps, ignoring the estimated length of 130 plus miles, and posted my plans on the interwebs. I was committed.

The ride was going great even though there was a gun shot incident just outside of Frenchtown. The weather was holding out and I had 9 hours of Carbo Rocket strapped to my back. Within hours I strung together and executed a route through the 6 mile and 9 mile valleys. I arrived in Alberton with high hopes of this magnificent loop and wasn’t slowed down by the hail storm stinging my face. Once I had to jump a fence twice and race across the interstate like a deer dodging multi ton bullets. I crossed a river and trudged along some rail road tracks. When I emerged from a train tunnel I realized this would be a true epic and I started to feel confident that I could endure at least a full attempt at completing this giant idea. The unknown disappeared to some sort of clarity.

I started thinking about “the unknown” and why it is so exciting as I spun down a paved country road. I passed a piece of property where the owners half buried kayaks in their drive way. A gate made out of kayaks. I thought to myself about how much those dudes must like the river and instantly my mind raced back to the Grizzly Man Adventure Race just a week ago. For me the unknown below the surface of a body of water is terrifying. What lies down the rapids at the next bend could be white water and a plunge into certain death. That scares me too. But these folks must think of it like I think of the unknown bike loop. Exciting and fun.

Many times on these big adventures my mind sticks to a theme and I can completely inspect each cornice and crevice of it. Today I thought a lot about my friends, specifically two of them that in the past year helped me overcome some fear that I manage to avoid. Jill and Dave are the friends that I thought about. I arrived at a sign at the beginning of Fish Creek. It implied a 31 mile journey to Route 12 and I knew of at least one mountain pass in between. Unknown … but exciting.

As I pedaled up the freshly dragged gravel road (freshly grated = spleen tingling bumpy ride) I though back to the Borah Peak climb. I have been at altitude many times on exposed ridges. Many times scared shitless. My thoughts are that I was with people more skilled and I just felt their enthusiasm interfered with my “overcoming fear pace”. Back on Borah, however, I went with Jill and Norm. Jill who had the same apprehension to exposed heights seemed to be at my pace. It was a good match and as we all topped out I realized that I had done something that maybe in the past I would of turned around on.  Most of that trip I had a perma-grin on my face. It was unknown if I could make it, which is exciting, and I did.

Sunday now 3:21 in the afternoon. I began climbing up a sustained climb. At mile 74 I was still on Fish Creek Road but found a similar perma-grin as the road went up and up and up. My mind started drifting again but only back as far as last weekend (sorry to jump around so much here folks). It was another one of those overcoming fear moments this time with my friend and teammate Dave. And surprisingly enough I had the same shit eating grin on my face as I presently had climbing up the switchbacks.

Grizzly Man Adventure Race. I hate water, I fear what’s under it and I fear drowning in it. Last Sunday as Dave and I approached “River Put In” I was completely distracted by all the events that had happened that morning. The morning “situation”, overcoming and capturing all those checkpoints, and all the trail running that we were STILL doing. This was going great. I was thinking about how much I love adventure racing but when we reached the end of our current heading. Running down a kayak access road. I saw all the boats and I panicked. “OH SHIT”, I screamed internally. This is the part we ….

“Start by putting on your dry suit and then your PFD”, Dave distracted my glaze at the river.


“Personal floatation device.”

Moments later I was suited up, PFD attached, and helmet snuged down.

“don’t forget your paddle”, Dave seemed to be enjoying this part. But he was calm and didn’t show any enthusiasm. He was just giving simple commands. Simple commands that someone holding onto a cliff frozen in fear could understand.

“Grab the boat there, get in and face forward, now pedal, pedal pedal, keep it smooth”, are just some of the simple phrases that were seeping into my subconscious.

Dave is a master and he steered us through all the big waves. At one point I came out o
f my butt clench to actually crack a grin. In fact I started grinning a lot. I didn’t even mind that I realized he was actually guiding us over the “big parts” and at one time almost folded the boat in half. I may have even squeezed out a “Yeee Haaa” but I am not certain.

Sunday now 4:51 PM at mile 98. I had found Route 12, pedaled down it, and got almost all the way up Graves Creek to Petty Creek when I turned off to take a pee and a breather on a foot bridge. I was standing there starring out over the rushing water when my mind stopped drifting back. I was smiling again. Within a years time two friends, two fears, lots of very big grins. All that time reliving last weekends race and reflecting on it all. I hoped back on and proceeded to Tarkio where I would hook up with my final route along the South Side Road.

It all worked out. Later I found the South Side Road, a road I had been on before. I had biked all the unknowns for the day. I stopped to call my friend Julie to set up a ride finale standing in line at the Big Dipper Ice cream shop. I set it all up and continued on. As the sun set to my back and I coasted down Mullan Road past the big Wal Mart I glanced down at my GPS. 135 miles in 10 hours I whispered to myself as if I had to say it or it wouldn’t register. My mind was kind of fuzzy now and it drifted back in time. Back to the GMAR. One last time.

Grizzly Man Adventure Race. Dave and I had a brief celebration at the end of the white water section and began to drag our craft up the steep bank to the transition area. We had a handful of hours until the cut off time for the race. Where to next? We had some planning to do and some decisions to make. But since it was all unknown I was happy with that. I loved the unknown and my big smile represented so.

“So now what?”, I asked Dave. I had not even considered anything past the “water” part.

To be continued…

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Bill and Dave’s Excellent Adventure Race Part 4

This is part 4 of a series of blogs on our adventure race


“THERE”, I shouted and dad slowly brought our white Dodge pickup to a stop. I pointed vigorously in the direction of a hay stack on the far side of the field. We all slowly crawled out of the opposite side of the truck as dad steadied.

BLAM BLAM BLAM … dad usually hit the deer by the third shot. Dad was so cool and he was the best hunter I knew. I felt a sense of pride because my true worth in this hunting party was essential. I located deer minutes before anyone else could. My job was the spotter. No one could locate deer as fast as I could. I could almost smell deer before we rounded bends in the road and my long distance vision was top notch.

I really never hunted down and killed anything large enough to put in a freezer but I grew up in a community of hunters. We had to hunt. Hunting was a necessity and if you didn’t contribute to putting meat in the “ice box” as dad used to call it, then you really didn’t have any worth. The true hunters were heroes. I contributed when I could carrying heart, liver, and if I was lucky help drag the carcass. But my true place was as a spotter and everyone looked to me to find the deer. I was even asked to go along in the upper level hunting parties.  Hunting trips with the “boys”, the men.  It was the super bowl of hunting for me.

About 35 years later … “THERE”, I shouted and Dave looked back at me to see what I was pointing at. “Down there”.

“Yea, way to go Bill, you have an eagle eye”, Dave yelled back as we hustled towards a check point I. I felt a big rush of accomplishment and approval. I was flashing back to 35 years ago and this was one of the few times my dad showed appreciation. Oh how I yearned to get that feeling again. Too bad dad and I were not closer. As we walked down to the orange check point I told Dave the story of how I was regarded as the “deer spotter”. At least now I was making a contribution to our race.

210253_206267516061279_192516730769691_648404_4660372_oOur first check point of the 2011 Grizzly Man Adventure Race was not easy. We arrived in a region that was much larger then it seemed on a map but we soon adjusted and was knocking off check points. Sometimes with relative ease and at other times with pure luck. One check point was deep in a wooded thicket in deep snow. That one was hard to spot. But now we were nearing the end of our first sweep grabbing as many points as we could on the farthest point of the course.

Since this morning I was finally contributing. I was able to be a sort of the route sheriff. Walking behind Dave I was constantly checking and re checking our heading and altitude.  This initial push would later be a critical part of our success. Another critical part of our success was at check point “G”.

“It is right at this elevation and it should be right here”, I shouted with anger in my voice wavering just a tad because of being out of breath. I had ran all over this square acre. Dave was 200 feet below me and finally he just stopped.

“Dude, it’s time to move on.”

“But its here some where … I mean …”

“This is just a waste of F$%&ing time.  Dude let’s go. Come on!!!”

I reluctantly followed him to the next check point. I was pissed. Our perfect loop was marred.  I kept telling him how disappointed I was we couldn’t find that damn check point. I felt like a failure. But Dave just calmly continued as if it were no big deal.  How could he know that in the end a mere 10 minutes would separate us from one place on the podium.

We had plenty of time to make it to the 2 PM cut off at River Put In.  By noon we were back on our bikes heading back to River Camp. I was about to re hash something about checkpoint “G” when Dave yelled “FLAT” from behind. Soon enough he was on the side of the trail which was looking totally like a cycling yard sale. He had the tire levers out and struggling with a tire repair.  I began to realize that we would be cutting things close to making the cut off. Good thing Dave forced me to abandon that checkpoint.

Dave finally got the bike fixed and we made it back to the transition area. We refueled, dropped off the bikes, and began a trail run to the Kayaks. On our way we needed to capture two checkpoints along the way. If we didn’t do it by 2 PM we had to skip the white water section and be penalized 11 points. We really needed those points.

We only had a half hour to go when we stopped on a ridge. Looking around I couldn’t spot the checkpoint we needed to get. We had been searching frantically along with about 4 other adventure racers but this one was really hidden. Now when we needed the “deer spotter” the most our time was running out. Could we make it or would we just chalk this race up to a good time and talk about how we missed the kayak part.

Another team spotted the check point and we got in line to punch our passports. I lowered my head. No approval from dad on this kill. I sure hope we can make the time cut off. And if we did … I had my fear of water to overcome next.

To be continued …