Night & Day Challenge 2006
San Francisco, CA
June 3-4, 2006
There are times when the precursor to a race is just as exciting as the race itself. Night & Day Challenge 2006 proved to be such an occasion.
Our adventure race team, Team baarbd, planned to do the Cal-Eco series this year which was especially novel since it was in a hiatus in 2005, so I was anxious to experience the long-awaited grueling races put on by Dan Barger. Unfortunately the Yosemite race was canceled which put a gap in my race calendar. Thanks to Terry’s SOL email announcement I signed up for the San Francisco Night & Day challenge with a day to spare.
With a little ambition and rule-breaking I signed up for the 16 hour bike event (solos are not allowed for this length). Other events of the N&D are 16 hour duathlon (foot and bike) and foot, followed by shorter time durations, down to 3 hours. The caveat to my registration is I was planning on doing it on a fixed gear bike (a bike with 1 gear that does not coast) which meant I that I had two days to find a teammate who was willing to ride a fixed gear bike throughout San Francisco down to San Bruno Mountain for 16 hours with me as a first-time navigator.
As a rookie fixie I solicited Galen’s assistance to access the community, as my two fixie friends, one of them being Galen, were not available. I was one lucky girl to get a response. Though the skeptic I am, sent a scrutinizing email in return. Despite the bars I set, Jeremiah was determined to clear every one with no reservations. At times as refreshing as it is, it makes me nervous to find others who are as adventurous and trusting as I. We met for dinner Friday and started our 16 hour race on a beautiful Saturday afternoon in Noe Valley.
On your marks
I was studying the maps while waiting for Jeremiah to show up from last minute race prep. Let it be known that this was anything but minor – he purchased gearing, gear and race wear mere hours before the start. This was my first race as team navigator which added to the anxiety. Its one thing to get yourself lost in an orienteering event by yourself; it’s quite another when you get lost while others are following you. Terry and Erik, the race directors, are expert orienteerers therefore the course is expected to be difficult, albeit ‘challenging’ to say the least. In these terms, there is no obvious course. Route selection is an art in as much as the paintings on the walls of the MOMA.
All the other teams I knew there: Nomad, True Grit, and Dirty Avocados, were heads down strategizing. I sat there peeking up like a high school student eager to cheat on an exam. Jeremiah arrived shortly thereafter and assisted with the requirements I had missed. Then the gun went off! We ‘allowed’ the pack a lead, then around 4:05 (a.k.a. 16:05) we were off.
The first few points went fairly well as I settled back into navigating. Our knowledge of northern SF complemented the others; seamlessly traffic surfing and hammering down check points from the Mission, Noe Valley, Castro, Market, SBC Park, Golden Gate Bridge, Pac Heights, Golden Gate Park, and then to Ocean Beach around sunset. From here we took a minor detour and devoured sandwiches in the corner of a deli in the outer Richmond. We finally emerged from the warm and bright nook to a chilly south-bound route to Daly City, up some killer hills.
Heart meet throat
We navigated the southern points from Daly City to San Bruno Mountain, then East to Monster Park in the reverse direction of most other teams. To our dismay, we ended up at Candlestick Point at 3:30 am. (This area is not known as one of the kinder neighborhoods.) We cruised by some unassuming parked cars along the side of the road which did not become suspicious until Jeremiah got a flat. Precariously positioned under a lone street light at a bend in the road he changed the flat, which is no small feat on a fixed gear, while I put on layers to stay warm. During this time a few cards sped by, tires screeching, almost careening out of control. Little did I know, while facing the other direction, Jeremiah watched a ‘parked’ car systematically encroach on our position. We were both very nervous and without a means to escape were helpless reserved to our bike-shoed-feet on land surrounded ¾ by the bay, the other ¼ by the 6” fencing surrounding the park.
In record time he changed the flat and then we attempted to find the ‘drum set’ check point. After about 30 minutes of search and debating, we eventually surrendered to our sanity for safety. On our way out we were almost in the clear until a pick up was driving toward us on the wrong side of the road! All I recall saying is ‘don’t stop riding’ and aimed for the sidewalk – knife in hand, heart in throat. Seconds later the truck was behind us. Breathing a sigh of relief, Jeremiah informed me that is was merely delivery of the Sunday morning news.
All of this turmoil was followed by an excruciating climb, of which we had to ‘hike-a-bike’ (a.k.a. walk) most of it. Little did we know that the most excruciating part was soon to come. When we reached the CP I realized that we had already gotten it. A severe waste of time and energy (and points) we could not reclaim. As good Marines, we pressed on with little commentary.
Happy Donut Ending
From this point we were in a race against the clock and fatigue. We had about 2 hours and 11 points left, most of which were at the top of significant climbs. In orienteering for every minute you are late points are docked; therefore err to arrive early to retain all of your hard work. We had an unusual sighting of two ‘consenters’ on a well-lit basketball court. Prior to dawn this was followed by a sting through Bernal Heights. Unfortunately we were in the depths of Glen Park Canyon for the sunrise, then a hard earned summit to Twin Peaks, back to the start with an hour to spare.
Shortly after our finish at 7am, Nomad (the 3-person male duathlon team) arrived having obtained every check point! The race officially ended at 8am and teams started to flow in. Due to a few navigational errors and the enticing scent of donuts at 4am emitting from Happy Donut, I swore to compensate Jeremiah a dozen for his gamble; lucky for me he settled for the complimentary pastries.
As the first place finishers for the mixed bike course (on fixed gear bikes) having met the day prior and as a new navigator, I was quite happy with our results, even without a donut.
Team baarabd(-fixie) -Jen w/ Jeremiah