CHUBBY BASTARDOS’ ROCK, ROLL AND RATTLESNAKE 3-DAY 2006 ADVENTURE RACE REPORT
Chubby Bag (Joe Bage), Chubby Seven (Gina Six) and Mike Fraser met at my house Wednesday morning May 3, 2006 to carpool to Haskell, Texas. Mike is Chubby Fudge’s (Lori Parks) husband and was kind enough to give of his time to help us during the race. We took the back way in to the Krooked River Ranch Outfitters’ to drop Mike and Joe’s vehicle off. Then we traveled to Lake Stamford to drop our two kayaks off. We finally arrived in Haskell about noon to sign in and collect our maps and goodies. Before we went to eat our baked potato lunch we cleaned concrete mortar off 50 bricks as a community service for the town. These bricks are to be reused to help rebuild a new library. After our lunch we started to plot all the boundary corners for the different ranches that we were going to visit. Jim and Leiza Morales, the race directors of Rattlesnake Racing told us that trespassers might get shot. Earlier that week two prisoners from the prison had broken out and beat up a store clerk. They were quickly captured but we were told that just about ever citizen and rancher in Haskell was probably still “Locked and Loaded”.
Jim and Leiza introduced all the teams competing and gave us a Pre-race talk about the rules and what to expect. There were ten teams signed up to do the race: Nike Vision/Peanut Butter; Eco-Oklahoma; Dynamic Health; Lizzard Kings; Team Star; Die Hard IV; Phat Free; Solve the Puzzle/Houston Fit; 24 Seven and the Chubby Bastardos. Chubby Bag has done many adventure races and one 3-day race at Caprock Canyon last year. I have done many adventure races and a 36 hour race at the Ozark Challenge. Chubby Seven on the other hand has only done one 24 hour race and one 12 hour race. This race will be her first “long” race so it would be safe to say she was very nervous about the race but excited to get started. A representative from Nike Vision gave each of the racers and support crews Nike sunglasses. That was way cool.
At 7:00 pm we started the first leg of the race. We were given a list of locations to look for whirly gigs in the form of butterflies, bumble bees, and flamingos. Some of the word descriptions of the locations were scrambled so we had to figure out what the addresses were before we started. All the teams except us used either roller blades or scooters to maneuver around town. It was a dumb mistake on our part because it really slowed us down. Also most of the teams were smart enough to download a city map to use to navigate with. We didn’t. We resorted to stopping complete strangers to ask them questions and for directions. We lucked out when we discovered the Santa Rosa Telephone Installers’ encampment. They had maps of every street and house in town. With their help we were able to map out a way to navigate to the points we needed. They also had duct tape that I was able to use to cover the blisters on the bottom of my feet. At each location a word or phrase was written on the whirly gigs. We had to collected all the words and unscramble them to understand the hidden message. We were able to figure out the message before we collected all the points, so we head back to the start. The message read (as best I can remember) “Rain, nor tornado, nor flood, nor hail will keep us from peddling, paddling and running to the finish”.
It took us about 3 hours to do the 6 miles of trekking and as we were about to leave about 10:30pm on our bicycles a police officer drove by to warn us that 75 mile per hour straight line wind gusts, heavy rain and golf-ball size hail was headed our way and we were to seek shelter. When it hit us we jumped into my truck to wait out the storm. In the meantime every team except Die Hard was caught out in the rain without shelter and rain protection, so most of them just kept going. About 1:30am Thursday morning we finally started riding in the rain to the L&N South Paint Creek Cattle Ranch. The ride was 14 miles by paved roads. Leiza had told us that we didn’t have to take the dirt roads because they would be unrideable. Once we arrived at the L&N gate we were to trek to collect two checkpoints. Early on we had decided that in order to complete all the legs of the race we would not go after all the points. So we collected the closer of the two points. The ground was very soft and slippery and we soon discovered that just about every square foot of ranch land was covered in prickly pears or mesquite trees. We then rode our bicycles 11 miles to the Anchor Marina on Lake Stamford where our main transition area (TA) was located.
By then it was daylight and we got ready to do a long kayak paddle. There were four points to be found and we elected to find three of them. We had to figure out the best angle to paddle to one mark because the direct course would have put us parallel to the waves. Doing that would have made it easier for us to turn over. So we stayed close to the leeward shore until we could make a downwind run for the mark. Another mark was misplaced and we lost time looking for it. When we gave up looking for it and headed to the next mark we found it. We were fortunate on the paddle back home because the wind died down and the lake became almost like glass. I knew that was a bad sign for later because of the change in the wind pattern. Our first paddle was about 11 miles long.
We received our next set of points to plot and we found out from Leiza that Team Die Hard IV and Team Lizzard Kings had withdrawn from the race. I was barely able to stay awake as I plotted the points. It was so bad I had to take a 15-20 minute nap while the others got ready to spend the night out. Before we could leave I decided to perform surgery on my feet. I borrowed a sharp pocket knife from Mike and I proceeded to cut through several layers of calluses below the ball of my second toe on each foot. I keep cutting until I reached the deep seated blisters and popped them. I felt immediate relief. I sprayed on Tuff Skin and slapped on some duct tape and I was ready to go. The bike ride to the Sanders’ Circle S north gate was hard on me. There were a lot of hills and most of it was into the wind. Chubby Seven just ate it up though. We threatened to put two tow lines on her because she was so strong. Naturally the bike ride went from almost the lowest creek crossing in the county to the highest hilltop in the county. After about 13 miles we finally reached our starting point for the next trekking leg. It was almost sundown and we wanted to get a few marks under our belts before it got dark. We found the first two without a problem and then it got dark. It is hard to adequately describe how hard it was to walk in a straight line. As I mentioned earlier there was prickly pears everywhere. And where there was not prickly pear there were mesquite trees. Throw in a few pencil cacti and jumping cactus and you can start to imagine how difficult it was to maneuver out there. So it was almost impossible to follow a good compass bearing from point to point. We really needed to be able to read the terrain and that is very difficult in the dark with a small headlight. While trying to find the third mark we followed a compass bearing for about 700 meters and we couldn’t find the mark nor did the terrain look anything like the map said it should. So about 9:30pm we decided to sit down and rest until I could figure out what I had done wrong. We all wanted to take a nap because we had been up for over 24 hours. Fortunately we found one of the few places on the ranch that did not have prickly pear everywhere. We pulled out our heavy weight space blanket that Chubby Bag insisted we carry and bundled up. Thanks to Joe when a major thunderstorm of high winds and very heavy rains hit us we stayed warm and dry. The storm lasted most of the night so we got lots of sleep. Well maybe not Gina. Between Joe and I we tend to snore loudly.
When it was light enough Friday morning to see again, I reversed my compass to head back to the last known point that we were at so I would know where we were. Once there it finally dawned on me that I had made a 90 degree error in setting my compass bearing. We had gone the wrong direction; no wonder the terrain didn’t look familiar. From there we found the mark we had been looking for and a couple of more. One checkpoint was just not where it was drawn on the map. We were sure we were in the right location but we just could not find it. Finally as we decided to quit looking for it; it occurred to me that I should check my plot. Sure enough I had plotted the location incorrectly probably because I was so sleepy the night before. After that we found the checkpoint not far away. This route was one of the prettier routes of the race. We followed a dry creek bed down to Paint Creek. The creek bed had several elevation “drops” made of large boulders and massive flat slabs of stones which we had to climb down. This was Gina’s first real taste of bushwhacking. Gosh I didn’t know she knew such words.
When we finally made it down to the water we had to refill our water bladders. While we were sitting at the edge of the creek Gina and Joe say a snake swimming in the water heading straight for us. I could never spot it because they were pointing at the snake from behind me. Fortunately, the snake swam away and crawled under a rock, so they tell me. I told the others it was a good thing because I would have snatched that snake right up, bitten its head off and spit it out! I used a mini-works pump to filter the water and I bragged about how good the water was going to taste after having been filtered. Joe and Gina were telling me how horrible the water tasted and I thought they were kidding me until I took a seep myself. Yuk! Apparently my fancy filter was not going able to filter out the gypsum mineral taste in the water. About the only way to make it drinkable was to put some of Chubby Seven’s H2O Blast in the water. I took the opportunity to change my wet socks. That Tuff Skin and duct tape worked really well. When I pull my socks off, the tape came off with them; and along with the tape came all the skin that covered my blisters. After reapplying more tape we then left to find the rest of the points we had elected to find. There were a total of 21 points to find and we found 12 of them. It was getting into the afternoon hours and we wanted to be sure to get back to the lake before dark to do the last kayaking leg.
Once again I had a hard time on the bicycle even though we had a strong tail wind during the first half of the ride back. Chubby Seven was riding in high gear and loving it. I was trying to remember where I had put my tow line. To our surprise we saw Team Lizzard Kings riding out to continue racing. Apparently they changed their minds about quitting after a good nights sleep. Unfortunately for me, the last half of the ride was into the strong headwind where we had to keep peddling to go downhill. Thank goodness Gina and I ran out of water. That creek water was horrid. We couldn’t wait to get back to drink down a gallon of bottled water. We made it back to the TA with Mike waiting for us. He heated up some left over pasta that Joe had made and I ate several slices of ham that Gina’s husband had smoked. Everything tasted delicious. We dragged our kayaks into the lake with the plan of only getting one of the four points. The wind was blowing hard and the waves were high. We wanted to get across the lake and back before sundown. Unlike the last kayak leg the wind did not die down. In fact it got stronger and the waves starting white capping. Many of the waves were at least 3 feet high. Chubby Seven’s eyes were as big as saucers, but they made it safely across with a deft hand from Chubby Bag.
It was while we were preparing to leave on the bike again to hike-a-bike/trek the next leg when a gentleman came up to us to warn us of the tornado warning. It seems that a tornado had been spotted and was heading our way. We had 20 minutes to get into the storm cellar. Team Phat Free joined us as we waited out the storm. When Mike didn’t show up I went to look for him. He had taken shelter in the marina’s outdoor restroom building. The storm hit (no tornado) and Gina and Joe joined the others in the cellar until the rain slacked off. Team Phat Free left on their bicycles and Gina and Joe came looking for Mike and I. Suddenly the sky opened up again and we huddled together in the men’ room to wait out the storm. Later Jim and Leiza came in to tell us they had picked up Team Phat Free and was taking them to the Krooked River Ranch and that we could either go to the ranch or stay put. We elected to stay put. Leiza also told us to ride the paved roads to pick up the point located at the Circle S’ south gate and then go on to the Krooked River Ranch. After they left we napped off and on but we started to get cold. Gina finally said that she was going to get our sleeping bags out of the truck. (Good Girl!) When she opened the door she was surprised to find that Mike had moved the truck next to the building and had unloaded all our food and most of our gear. What a GUY! You couldn’t have asked for a better support crew. So with sleeping bags in hand Gina and Joe slept in the men’s room and Mike and I slept in the truck.
We found out later that Lori of Team Phat Free had sparks leaping between her thumbs as she rode along and they were happy to be picked up. Team Lizzard Kings and Team Dynamic Health were caught out in the open with only flimsy space blankets. Dynamic Health even spotted a tornado. Team Star left out of Krooked River before Jim and Leiza could stop them so they too spent a sleepless night out in the storm.
I woke up at 4:00am Saturday morning to find that the storm and rain had past. I plotted a couple of points on the maps and woke up the children. By 6:00am we were on the road again. At one point we discussed whether or not we were suppose to turn at the Loop Road sign. I had left a crucial map in the truck so I was not certain this was the right road to turn on. We took the turn anyway and later when a man in a pickup truck drove up we flagged him down to ask him where we were. He was one of the Sanders’ extended family that was having a family reunion at the Circle S ranch. He reassured us that we were heading the right direction. Finally we arrived at the Krooked River Ranch after peddling almost 23 miles. On the way in to the TA we met up with Team Phat Free. They were heading back out to be dropped off where they had been picked up the night before.
We received the 11th leg from Leiza and we plotted the closest point to collect. It was noon and we only had time to get one point each on the final two legs of the race. It took us an hour to reach our point and an hour back. Gina had a chance to lead us back without the use of the map. “Just follow the footsteps Chubby Seven.” We grabbed the last set of points for the 12th leg and once again plotted the closer point. On the way to that point we ran into Team Phat Free and agreed to stay together as we walked along. That was very enjoyable as we had a chance to get to know them a little and we could talk about many different things. It helped to past the time. We grabbed the point and made it back to the TA with 2 hours to spare. The Chubbies had finished! However, Team Phat Free found out that Leiza had not given them the points for the 11th leg. So Joe gave them our map with the point already plotted and sent them on their way. They made it back with about 2 minutes and change before the 6:00pm cut-off.
What an AWESOME time! My teammates and support crew were just simply the BEST! We were surprised that we felt so good after racing for 3-days. Of course it helped that we got lots of sleep and did not extend ourselves getting all the points. That’s for next time. As a summary we bicycled 74 miles, we kayaked 15 miles and we trekked for 28 miles for a total of 117 miles. I would say job well done Chubby Bastardos!