Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Team Trail Shop Does the Paternity Test!

364 days of the year my father is Richard Wayne Lowery. As it happens, Murray has the same father. While neither Murray nor I have met Brian's father, judging by Brian's outstanding personality we're sure he's a great guy... 364 days of the year that is. For all you amateur dayologists who've noticed that our paternal notification is short one day on the year, this is because of Who's Your Daddy?, Eastern Canada's most attended adventure race.

Who's Your Daddy? is an 8 hour adventure race typically hosted in the Greater Fredericton Area by Natural Selection Adventure Racing, you may have heard of these guys since they host Race the Phantom as well, which is Eastern Canada's BEST adventure race. Like any race, Who's Your Daddy? is challenging for anyone, but it also provides a beginner friendly atmosphere for those new to the sport. Fredericton is currently the power house of the Adventure Racing populous, no question that that is a result of events like Who's Your Daddy? The course consists of a biking section (typically having plenty of trekking / hike-a-biking!) a paddling section and the infamous tire pull. Yes, participants are required to pull a large tire some 500 m... loaded with a keg! No easy task, which is why the male and female racers with the fastest times are awarded the title of 'Daddy' and 'Mommy' respectively as per the namesake of the race.

Somewhere in Oromocto, NB Brian, Murray and I got our maps nice and early with about 1.5 hours worth of planning time. Right away Brian had a firm grasp of the course remembering many spots from last year's race. I love working a map with Brian. He has an incredible ability to see the map for only a few minutes and then remember every detail and every move hours later. We decided to attack the bike course first since we're stronger on bike and we wanted to make use of that to get as many controls as possible.

It's always fun to start a race when everyone goes a different direction. Some teams went on the water, some went up through town and others like us went along the Trans Canada Trail. Oh yea... the Trans Canada Trail! If I were to describe my ideal start for an adventure race it'd go something like this: The Trans Canada Trail. We threw down mighty in our big rings to leave the start line in a cloud of dust and man grunts. We collected the first batch of controls without incident starting in Lincoln and heading back down the Waasis Rd to the next batch in Oromocto. Our success continued and our speed never faltered... until Murray and I heard Brian curse horribly as we descended an ATV trail en route to a few controls on trails that were underwater. As cute as it is to hear Brian swear in his gently accent, there was nothing cute about his demolished rear derailleur.

Unfortunately Brian's bike is a dual suspension, so we couldn't bypass the derailleur with a singlespeed set up because the chain length changes and in general it would just slap around and constantly fall off. This was a catastrophic situation for any race, let alone an 8 hr race where the slightest mistake could mean everything. For a the next two controls on underwater trails (that was some fun map work!) Brian ran with his useless bike. It wasn't working. Enter Mad Dog.

Murray is a calm, mild mannered gentle sort. Mad Dog isn't. Murray is easy to contain on the race course. Mad Dog isn't. Murray is happy to go at a reasonable pace while appreciating the overall goal. Mad Dog isn't. It was a perfect time to unleash the Mad Dog. It went a little something like this...

Andrew: Hey Brian, this isn't working. Murray is the strongest runner and he can probably keep up with us on the bike on these ATV trails.

Brian: If you think it'll work and he doesn't mind...

Andrew: Murray, do you think you can keep up on foot while pushing the lame bike?

Murray: Yea, probably.

It's at this point that I can see Murray is no longer with us. His left eye was twitching, his shoulders hunched up a bit and I swear he picked up a scent of some prey somewhere. Mad Dog grabbed the bike like a predator claws into a carcass and hammered along into the ATV trail like his life depended on it. This kind of behaviour is generally foolish on an adventure race, but we only had about 5 km to go before we were on paved roads. The plan was to let Mad Dog go crazy and then Brian and I could push him on the bikes once we hit the pavement for the ~6 km ride back to the boats.

It wasn't long before Brian and I realized that we couldn't keep up with the Mad Dog. This was a problem because Mad Dog wasn't really concerned with the rest of the controls we needed to collect, he was of a one track mind to run fast with the bike. Through an extraordinary effort of our own we managed to track him down in time for the final control in the woods. Trying to get Murray back was a bit of a task that fortunately ended with only a few bite wounds and no need for animal control.

Now it was time for Brian and I to pay Murray and Mad Dog back for the incredible feat of effort by pushing him on the lame bike. Fortunately the topography was mostly flat on the way to the final control on CFB Gagetown. The folks on the base thought it was strange that three guys covered in mud were biking around at ~30 km/hr with arms around one another, but we let them use their imagination. From the base it was all downhill to the tire pull.

Mad Dog apparently had a few minutes of glory left as he demonstrated how to successfully expend the most energy possible while pulling a tire loaded with a keg. Being team captain has some perks, most notably, I get to delegate who pulls the tire. Brian took our second pull while I ate food. Both Murray and Brian put in great times.

Next we were on the water. we made a few quick moves on portage for the first few controls portaging two islands. The mosquitoes were bad, but tolerable. On the second island we met a half dozen horses. I love horses so I called praise out to them, forgetting entirely that my big brave brother whom we occasionally call Mad Dog for his fits of insanity is petrified of horses. As fast as he could say "no man, what are you doing?" they were charging us. Some of our more dedicated fans may remember some cows chasing us down in Dalhousie, NB at Race the Phantom last year. Well, this time it was horses. No doubt they just wanted to see why some guys in tight clothes were dragging a boat across their yard... but it was still an intense couple of seconds when all the excitement of a truck commercial was charging at you. The stopped fortunately with about 25 m to spare, and Murray managed to keep from suffering a panic attack.

Our island hopping was done and we had to paddle down river to a larger island for the final three controls. It was here that we became reacquainted with Murray's Canoe. While stable as an ocean liner, it's speed could likely be matched with a bathtub... to say nothing of the two large men and one extra-extra large man occupying the thing. We gave it what-for and hit the island without any drama.

The first control was easy. Somewhere, on a direct bearing between the first and third controls was the second control. This is called a 'Line-O' and is usually a fun but challenging exercise. Then it happened. Every so often on an adventure race you're presented with something so awful that you forever compare future atrocities to that thing. We experienced 'that thing' on this island by means of mosquitoes. More mosquitoes than we'd ever seen before, and we've seen bad mosquitoes. This isn't your shirtless guy with a moustache in a tent type of mosquito infestation... this is wipe your arm and get a handful of 400 mosquitoes! You couldn't breathe without inhaling them, you couldn't stop moving or they'd plug your eyes, ears and nose. The only reprieve was swimming in hot stagnant bog water, but even then they'd still ravage your face and head. Trying to hold the bearing was nearly impossible.

On our first pass we missed the second control, but fortunately on the way back we found it. Motivation to get the hell out of Dodge came easily enough to rid ourselves of the mosquitoes. Congratulations Who's Your Daddy? participants,we've got a new bench mark for 'suck'!

The paddle back was against the current and while not terribly difficult, the heat and long day caught up to us. We tried singing some songs to stay strong, but we were fading. Even though we only lost about 15 - 20 minutes due to the bike malfunction, that is often enough in an 8 hr race to compromise your result. Plus our water speed just wasn't what it could be if we had a performance boat. We weren't expecting much when we made it to the finish line... it's impossible to tell your placing on a race like this! We were surprised to learn we were indeed the first team back!

We had a great day; we worked together, overcame a catastrophic bike malfunction, dodged some curious horses and endured mosquitoes of biblical proportions... and all of it was made that much sweeter with the win. Well done Brian and Murray... I had a blast!

Oh... I almost forgot... on our approach to the finish line the captain passing boat called something out...

Murray and I heard: "The guy in the back is doing all the work!"

Brian heard: "You're too low in the back, it's not going to work!"

Yes, I was in the back.