Tuesday, September 22, 2009

BreakOut 24 2009

Joe Shorb was looking for a teammate, and I was looking for a race. So we joined forces to make Team Founder's Brewery.

The race had three stages that could be done in any order. Based on certain dark zones, we thought the only logical order was Silver Lake, Owasippe, then the paddle leg.

The bike to Silver Lake was about 20 miles on a paved rail trail. We took a little longer route to get to the rail trail simply because we knew the route was paved and where we were going. The alternate route was shorter, but unknown if it was paved and actually crossed the freeway. We hammered up the rail trail pace lining with another team. They dropped us toward the end of the ride but missed a turn. So we actually beat them to CP1. We dropped the bikes and headed to the sand dunes. It was rough going up, but with the help of a rope we summitted the first dune. Down the other side to the lake and followed it to CP2. It was easier walking along the beach than the loose sand. Beach goers gave us strange looks as we hurried past with our backpacks.

Up and over the next dune to CP3. Around the off limits area and past the off-road/atv area to Lake Michigan. It was a nice trek, except for the blazing sun. The sand in the shoes started causing blisters. Once we reached Lake Michigan, we could move easier along the wet sand down to CP4. We then continued around Silver Lake to CP5 and did a run/walk back to the bikes. After a long time in the sun, we still had 20 miles back to the central TA. We caught one team that looked to really be struggling. They soon dropped from the race. Now knowing the alternate route would work, we took it back to the TA saving us 1.5 miles.

A quick TA and we were back on the bikes heading to Owasippe for climbing, single track and orienteering. Joe needed a break, so I volunteered to climb the wall. The recent climbing Lisa and I had done really came in handy. Up to the top, punch the CP and back down. The single track was good, but not well marked. You needed to keep your eyes open for the trail markers. We were pushing to finish the first half before dark. It was close but we made it. We drop the bikes and chamge into trekking attire. We get a bearing on the o-course and head into the darkness. We work well as a team getting close then picking the reflector from the darkness. The first three go very well. We are using the single track bike map to give us some direction between the CPs. Going to the fourth CP gets confusing. The trails aren't matching the map. We travel around looping back to the single track. We knew we past the area, but weren't exactly sure where. We travel around and get close but still not exactly sure where we are. I replot the UTMs, it is right. I remembered being lost here last year at the BreakOut. I eventually locate where we are and head for the CP. Frustrated but relieved we head for the last two. Both are found spot on and back to the bikes. The two other teams that were on the o-course are still out there. We change and jump on our bikes. As we head out, the two teams are heading in. The second half of the single track is even more difficult to follow. The trail just disappears then reappears. In the dark we hope it is right. Bike tracks from earlier teams give us some confidence in the route. We eventually reach the last CP and the end of the single track. Now just an 8 mile ride back to the TA.

We check in and grab supplies for the paddle section. It's about a 4 miles trek to the canoes with pfds and paddles. The trek is on the rail trail so no navigation is required. A couple CPs have been stolen so we can skip one and need to read a sign at the other. We launch in the darkness and paddle into the lake. It is difficult to navigate the shoreline in the darkness. We think we are around the first CP, but can't see it anywhere. We continue on for the next CP. We will hit either one around the next peninsula. We will then know where we are. We find the boat ramp and read the sign. This means we need to head back and get the first CP. As we approach we see another team leaving the CP. Now we know it is there. We punch and go north up stream. The river is matching the map and we find the next CP. Up on land to the last CP. The trek follows some trails so it is rather straight forward. Once found, we now have all the CPs. It is now just a race to bank as many minutes on other teams. We have no idea how others have faired on other courses. As we get back to the canoes, the next team pulls up. They tell us the other team by us has dropped. We figure we have about a half hour lead on this team. A fast paddle downstream to the take-out. I coax Joe to run as much as possible the last 4 miles to the finish. A team on bikes passes us just a quarter mile from the finish. I think we just lost first place. However, they didn't get all the CPs. We finish in 21.5 hours getting all the CPs. Good enough for a first place finish. After all the races, it feels good to get a victory!


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