PrincetonTec Midnight Rambler
Alum Creek SP - Columbus, OH
This was my first night adventure race and I found it to be uniquely challenging having never had to navigate or mountain bike in the dark. I raced with Todd from team COAR and our new friend Laura. With a 9:00 p.m start, the race consisted on a paddle to 4 checkpoints on Alum Creek lake (3 of which were back in an inlet). This presented a unique challenge - paddling a canoe with kayak paddles through a culvert pipe under a road - certainly something new/different. When putting this team together the thought was to go as a 3 person so we could paddle Todd's new 3-person canoe with kayak paddles - supposedly the fastes combination for AR. However, we quickly learned the boat's middle seat was too high and made us very tippy. So Laura sat in the bottom of the boat. She ended up a little close to Todd in the front and they tangled paddles a number of times. My problem in the back was I went in my cycling shorts which made my slide forward on the seat. I didn't have anyhting to brace my feet on to stop this. The paddle went O.K. We weren't the fastest but we weren't the slowest either. Pretty uneventful other than I decided to bushwack to a checkpoint back an inlet rather than us paddle. It was certainly faster as I past two teams but shreaded my legs on a briar bush and was bleeding pretty good. But it isn't a good race unless there is blood loss -right??
After beaching our boat we started to transition to the bike for a loop of phase I of the COMBO trails. Two cranks of the pedals and we had a problem. I had a flat! Luckily Todd, the gear head he is, brought his spare MTB. I quickly grabbed the front wheel off his truck and replaced mine with it. Two cranks of pedals and oops - it was the rear wheel that was flat!! So Todd got his bike off the truck and I changed shoes (no clips on his spare). On with the front wheel and we were off (we lost 5-10 min. in the process). Darkness had fallen but a near full moon helped along the road to the trail head. I had ridden the trail several times but not recently because I've been riding the new loop at Phase II. I led with Laura following me and Todd in the rear. Todd's bike light went dim early but my helmet mounted light did the trick. I tried my best to yell out obstacles to Laura and she relayed to Todd. I think this worked pretty well and we held a decent pace. We passed several teams however that seemed to be having difficulty. Todd crashed onced and I had few minor spills. The only issue I had was I got my shorts stuck on the seat going up over a downed tree and ripped a nice hole in the crotch. Luckily the pad kept Laura from getting a view of my manhood. Along the route there were 4 CPs that were mandatory but were easily found right along the trail. Later we learned however that 3 teams missed one of them and went unranked.
The final leg was to gather as many CPs (8 total) as possible before the midnight time cutoff. We had about 1 hr. 15 min and I thought we had a chance to clear the course. I had done an O meet using the same maps last year and had some familiarity with the area. One checkpoint was actually located in the same spot as in that meet. We had a little difficulty finding the 1st CP as we over ran it. But I found it pretty easily after backtracking. The secnd checkpoint was near a fence I was familiar with from my previous race so we found it relativley easy too. Then on to the "pile of rocks" CP that I recognized from before. Well it was hard in daylight and proved even harder under darkness. We search several minutes along with a couple of other teams we ran into to no avail. We decided to proceed to the next one which was easy. From there with time ticking we had issues and only found three more giving us a total of 6. We made it back to the Start/finish with about 5 minutes to spare. It was pretty cool looking back as we approached the finish and seeing a bunch of headlamps of trailing teams coming in behind us. 1st Coed and 6th Overall. Not too bad considering the issues.
Thanks to Brad from Ambush Adventure Sports for another challenging event.