I had an important realization yesterday morning, as I was struggling to affix the bike rack to my car, and my bike to the rack: I am entirely too reliant on my husband in getting ready for these races. With Brent down in Texas as a free agent at Nationals, I was on my own to get myself out to Marsh Creek State Park for the start of the Edge, GOALS’s last sprint adventure race of the season.
After twenty minutes of fighting with the rack (which Brent bought about a year ago to replace the decade-old bike rack that I brought to our relationship, and which I’ve never installed on my car by myself), I finally got it secured(-ish), and went to work on the bike. Problem is, the Brucemobile doesn’t seem to like the rack Brent picked out, and requires a separate bar that attaches from the headset to the seat to get it set properly. And of course, I had no idea where said bar was. I tore through the house, ransacked the basement, and then, already running late, I pulled the rack off the trunk, took off my tires, and threw the bike in the back.
I made it to Bess’ just a few minutes after I was supposed to arrive, completely flustered but none the worse for wear.
Luckily for us, aside from my putting the spoke back in the front tire backward (something I didn’t realize until Brent took my bike apart at the end of the night) and having the tire loosen several times throughout the race, the rest of the day ran far more smoothly.
Every point on the six-hour course was optional, so teams had to strategically plan which ones attempt, knowing that there was a firm 5 PM cut-off. Because of a shortage of canoes, GOALS sprints always start with a brief prologue sprint, meant to separate teams and clue them in to their order of events for the day. After examining the maps and noting that checkpoint one on the water and checkpoint eight on the bike would each take us several miles off course, we were hoping to pull the run first, so that we’d have a better sense of how to allocate our time for the back half.
As luck would have it, we drew a run-bike-paddle lot. As we settled into a rhythm on foot, we decided that if we made it through the run and the first seven points on the bike section (as well as the obstacle course and ‘challenge’ events that GOALS likes to throw into their sprint races) within three hours, we would shoot off down a rail trail to the Victory Brewing Company, site of checkpoint 8 (the impetus behind the suggested $5 in our race gear). Chugging was not required, though it was highly recommended.
I had thought our self-imposed three-hour time cut-off was ambitious, and that we would likely get there around 3:15 and have to hem and haw about whether to trek out to the brewery. But lo and behold, after flying on the foot section (due to Sue’s spot-on navigation), and breezing through the special challenges (thanks in no small part to Bess’ expert knot-tying and memorization skills), we nailed the first seven bike points by 2:00 PM on the dot.
So off we went to Downington, PA. We made it to the brewery in about 17 minutes. I’m not sure whether Sue and Bess heard me, but as we pulled into the parking lot in search of the checkpoint, I embraced my inner-marine and started singing, Victory Victory Victory (apologies to any actual marines who may read this. I have no idea whether that battle chant actually comes from the marines. Just my own random association).
We punched our passport, but rather than sticking around and ordering a beer, we booked it back to the park to set off on the water. This turned out to be one of my favorite moments of the race. Once we got back to the start of the rail trail, we had some route decisions to make; we could either retrace our treads and follow the muddy trails back to the transition, or add a little bit of mileage and elevation but maintain our faster speeds on the roads. We opted for the latter, and about a mile and a half from the TA, came upon three all-male teams.
The guys all looked strong and fit, but were clearly struggling on the rolling hills. With little effort, Sue and I spun by them and made our way to the front of the bike line for the last big climb into the park. For one of the guys, his masculinity got the better of him, and for a brief moment, he powered through and caught my back tire. “Nice course out here, huh?” he said laboringly. “Great day,” I responded as his quads caught up with him and he fell back.
As we reached the top of the hill, I turned to Sue and said, “you know, we totally chicked them.” “Yeah,” she said. “We did.”
We made it back to our paddles with two hours left, and after a brief boat logjam that afforded us a 16-minute time credit, we pushed hard on the water to clear the final discipline.
When all was said and done, we finished first in the female-three division (the only team to venture out to the brewery) with fifteen minutes to spare. Though we didn’t stick around for the awards ceremony, when we left, we found ourselves unofficially in tenth place overall, one of a dozen-ish teams out of 115 to clear the entire course.
Not too shabby.
Afterward, we met my family for a quick dinner, and then, as Brent was helping me transfer all of my gear from Bess’ car back to mine, I turned to him and said, “Forget about the frustration from this morning. Will you clean up my bike for me this week?”
The look I received in response said it all. Fat chance.