Grafton Notch across the Maine border was hopping today as Margaret, Sue, Finn, and I waited anxiously for GOALS’s arrival at the transition to the ropes course.
Teams trickled in slowly through the afternoon. First was GMARA (with ARMD’s Kathy rounding out the crew), racing unofficial after one teammate dropped. Then came NYARA, looking strong and moving well as they donned their climbing helmets and set off for the mile-long climb up Tabletop Mountain to the 150 foot rappel and ascend. A little while later, Tricia of Pain Syndicate rolled in, down two team members but feeling good. They had a bit of a scare overnight when one teammate fell down a 12-foot cliff. He was taken off course and checked by EMT’s, but other than a bit of swelling, he came out relatively unscathed. Unofficial by that point, Tricia used the opportunity to catch a short nap while her teammate hiked up to the ropes.
GOALS finally rolled in at 4:07 PM. When they first arrived, the entire team was beside themselves. “Seven minutes,” Brent yelled as he passed by on his bike. “We missed the cut off by seven minutes.”
“No!” I replied encouragingly. “They pushed it back to 6 PM – you guys are safe!”
The change was instantaneous. Suddenly, they were smiling. Tracey blew out all of her air in relief. Jon gave Brent a high five. I walked over to Brent and saw tears welling in his eyes. “It was a really stressful couple hours,” he said quietly before recovering and pulling off his bike shoes.
Margaret and I decided to hike up to the ropes course with the gang, while Sue and Finn drove around the corner to watch Bruce rappel down the cliff. It was only mandatory that one team member complete the challenge, and they didn’t want to waste time with others going down.
It was my second time up the mountain, having trekked up earlier that morning to retrieve a two-way radio, but it was great to get to spend some time with the team.
“I experienced my first sleep monster,” Brent told me as we began the ascent, referring to the adventure racing term for the visions that appear when the lack of sleep begins to take effect. “I saw you and Margaret down the road when we finished the trek this morning.”
“Um, B, I wasn’t at the end of the trek,” I told him.
“I know, but I could have sworn you were!,” he replied. “I saw two women, one wearing a red sweater and the other a green jacket, just like your go-lite rain coat.”
The power of suggestion must have taken hold, because by the time they made it down the road, all four team members were seeing us in fine detail. “I could make out all your features,” Brent said.
When they finally arrived at the spot, though, they found a red For Sale sign, and a green plant.
Not quite the cheering section they were experiencing.
The team was tired, having slept for only half an hour during the second night, but still moving well. Brent reported that his appetite was in full force, and that he’d been eating well throughout the race. In the hour and a half I spent with them, he downed about 700 calories, in the form of cold-soaked ramen noodles and a two-day-old peanut butter sandwich.
We climbed back down the mountain and I tried to offer light conversation, filling them in on the red sox win the night before and the NFL player that was shot outside of my middle-school in suburban Philadelphia. By the time we got to their bikes, their energy seemed to have waned and no one looked especially excited at the prospect of another six-hour ride. But they picked up their helmets, clipped into their pedals, and took off down the road toward the New Hampshire state line.
“Only sixteen hours left,” I told Jon.
“Yep, only sixteen,” he said, smiling.
Ready to Rappel
Stories from the course
View from the top
Back on the ground
Back in the saddle…
Over and out