For those of you who haven’t had a chance to get down to Baja for one of the Baja Xtreme races, you’re missing out on a serious adventure! This past weekend in Laguna Hanson national park was no less of an adventure for most racers. I don’t know many if any that didn’t get at least a little bit lost this past weekend. I was definitely one of them. It was a great race, physically, for me. I felt pretty strong the entire time. Which is great seeing as I needed all that extra strength and energy to make up for all of my navigation errors. Ei yei yei. It was not a good nav race for yours truly. But let’s start at the beginning…
We started the race staggered in one minute intervals. Barrie (my master and the reason for my addiction to this insanity) was first, then a “team” went, then another solo and so on. I was second and the first leg was a bike. I was psyched. I’ve been riding quite a bit lately so it was going to be fun to see how I felt racing. So I was cruising along on my bike, actually, it felt a bit more like I was slipping and sliding all over the place since there was quite a bit of sand. Soon after the start I managed to have a little collision with the ground while careening around a corner and down a hill. In a nut shell, I turned, but my bike didn’t. Ouch. So, I got up, dusted myself off and took off as quickly as I could so I could get my mind off of my new scrapes and bruises. During the first mile or so I rode along with Angie, Jake, and Juan. They were clipping right along until Angie broke her derailleur . That unfortunately took her out of the race, but I later found out that the race directors let her do the trekking/rappel section which was awesome.
As I was cruising along, and keeping up with some of the boys , I came up on Barrie!! How could it be? I was passing my master? Well, come to find out, the master had forgotten to make a little turn which cost him a bit of time. But in no time after the transition to the trek, he was long gone.
The trekking section was an adventure in itself. I ended up following the wrong set of flags and doing some of the course backwards, and then ended up taking a different “arroyo” and ending up on the flip side of where I was supposed to be. Luckily, I wasn’t the only one. I managed to hook up with Victor’s team and we all meandered our way down to CP3.
Then it was off to the rappel. We could see the people coming down the rappel and it looked… very high. Since I’m a bit afraid of heights… well, let’s not kid ourselves. I hate heights. The views were nice from the rappel, or so they tell me. We had to scamper/practically rock climb up this cliff-type rock to get to the top where they’d send us over the edge on skinny ropes. While I was putting on my harness I did have a chance to check out the view and it was amazing. I got hooked in and they let me go. It was only my 2nd/3rd rappel and I had never done anything this high, so this was a big step for me. But the experienced volunteers made it a safe trip for me. (muchos gracias) All I really remember from the rappel was the rock face in front of me. I just kept telling myself “don’t look down, a couple more jumps and you’re at the bottom and it will all be over.” Ok, it was kinda fun. I’ll admit it. And next time I’m sure it will be even better
From the rappel I passed through CP3 for the 4th time. I was starting to become a regular here and I’m sure they were wondering what I was doing. Heck, I was wondering the exact same thing! Well, I ended up following the “correct” way back to CP4 (even though I had already been here). It’s amazing how much easier it is when you go the “right” way. It was a bit scary, though, because Jaime and Antonio had informed us that there had been a puma (mountain lion) sighted earlier in the area. You know, there are some things that I just don’t need to know and that is one of them. Granted, it did make me put a little bit more umph in my step as I tried to get through the “arroyo” as fast as I could. I got back up to the CP safely and it was off on the bike again.
Now this is where I messed up. Big time. I’m thoroughly convinced that my compass was playing an evil little game on me because I hate to admit that I’d ever make this big of a nav error. And we’re talking BIG. Basically, I rode my bike for about 40 minutes down a pretty good size hill. Finally, after noticing that there weren’t any bike tracks on the road that I was traveling on, I stopped to reevaluate where I was. Something just didn’t feel right. There was absolutely no way that I wasn’t getting passed by someone or didn’t see anyone. So I decided to turn around and go back to the CP and get re-oriented. I was hoping someone was still going to be there in case I needed a bit of assistance. So I started back up the sandy hill. It was not fun. I was not happy with how dumb I had been with my nav and cursed the whole way back. I’m sure many of you can relate. And I will swear to you, I will do everything in my power (including getting a new compass ) so that it will never happen again. It ended up being close to 1.5 hours of extra time on my bike. Now, I didn’t really need that.
Luckily I made it back to the CP just in time. I got reprimanded (in a kind way ) for my poor navigation and was sent off the correct way to CP5 and 6. It was getting dark and when I got to CP5 we were told it was closed and to go on ahead. So we (I had hooked up with another team by this time) went to the finish line. I was so psyched to have made it, even though I had gotten short-coursed.
All in all, it was another crazy Baja adventure. Physically, I was happy with how I performed. Navigationally, well… let’s not talk about that. Let’s just say, I have a lot to practice
A big thank you (muchos gracias) to all of the Baja crew, race organizers, directors, volunteers, supporters, athletes!! I can’t wait for next season