Checkpoint Zero/Inov-8 Team Blog
presented by Inov-8

Our Odyssey in Roanoke
posted Tuesday, July 31, 2007 by Team Checkpoint Zero @ 3:07 PM - 0 comments

Less than two hours before we reached Roanoke, Va., and what we hoped would be a good night's sleep, we learned the host hotel for the Odyssey One Day Adventure Race didn't have a record of our reservations.

Most of team Checkpoint Zero/GoLite (me, Michele Hobson, Peter Jolles and Tim Abbott) along with my wife, Lisa, son, Henry, Tim's wife, Gina, and dog, Bernupe, had been on the road for about 7 hours and knew we needed plenty of rest before the start of the race July 21. Now we had to search for a suitable replacement. It wasn't until about 11 p.m. that we got settled down. None of us will be staying at a Knights Inn again, I can tell you that.

Now, I get a little superstitious when it comes to, well, pretty much everything. So, I crossed my fingers and cashed in some good karma chips so the next day's race wouldn't be as cursed as our evening. Fortunately, things turned out well and team Checkpoint Zero/GoLite won the 24 hour race in a time of 16 hours and 18 minutes. But there certainly were some iffy moments along the way.

The race start and finish was at Explore Park, just off the Blue Ridge Parkway outside Roanoke. The park also would serve as a transition area that we'd visit several times during the race. I'd grown up -- for the most part -- just 30 minutes from Roanoke in Lynchburg, Va., so I knew the course would be beautiful.

The event began with a short run of about 3 miles to spread teams out a bit. With the run finished, a small pack of lead teams took to the single track loop still bunched together. We were just behind co-ed Calleva/Moosejaw/Yogaslackers as we hit the dirt. Each of us love to shred the trails, so Team Checkpoint Zero/GoLite was ready to cut loose. Unfotunately, we and Calleva zoomed right by the first checkpoint punch, which was attached to a stream of orange tape rather than an orienteering flag. We'd been able to get in the front of pack of riders, but now had no decision but to circle back and ride the loop over again. That was a bit tough to swallow because we knew in doing so we'd put ourselves behind most of the pack, and therefore would have a tough time passing on the tight trails.

Trying to be polite, we weaved our way through other teams, found the punch, and cycled hard to the end of the short 5-mile bike leg, even with soloist and racing buddy Scott Pleban in first place. We took a few minutes to load our paddles (we had to carry personal paddles throughout the race if we chose to use them rather than the single-blade canoe paddles provided) and shoes into our packs and grab more water at the transition area, then we pedaled off in a group with Scott and another soloist in first place.

We were headed onto the beautiful Blue Ridge Parkway where we immediately were treated to gorgeous views of the valley below. Then we cycled up the paved road in a loose pace line, headed to a trailhead where we would run a time trial on foot. The team with the fastest time in each division would get an hour deducted from their finish time -- a HUGE award for a race we figured would be decided with a win time less than 20 hours.

So, off we pedaled in a small group, up, up up ... and right past the trailhead and the checkpoint volunteers that certainly must have shook their heads as we pedaled by. While Scott stopped to consult his map, we kept going upward -- until the road ended. What?!? We'd actually gotten to the top of the mountain to the site of the famous Roanoke Star -- the largest man made star in the world -- and completely passed the turnoff to the start of the trail run. So, we turned our rigs around and zoomed back down the hill, where we found the checkpoint volunteers and LOTS of bikes. The gaffe had cost us about six places. We dumped our bikes and traded our bike shoes for trail treads, then tromped off determined to get the fastest time on the trail run. Queue our next navigational misstep ...

We didn't have a detailed map of the trail we were supposed to take, but were given the directions to take the red blaze trail counterclockwise for a 5.5-mile loop. We took a right turn (what we considered to be the correct direction) and zoomed down the trail. About 5 minutes later we met friends and two-person team Triangle AR with Ernie Chilcott and Charlie Roberts coming up the trail toward us. They quickly informed us that we all were on the wrong trail. I looked around and -- sure enough -- there were no red blazes to be found. At that point Scott was with us again, and our little group -- which grew by a few more misguided racers who took the wrong trail -- bumbled briefly around the hill while we looked for a red blaze. Nearly 10 minutes later, we realized we had no choice but to turn around and run back to the start of the trail, which we did then hustled around the loop. Not only had we lost more time to teams that passed us due to our mistake on the previous bike, but we potentially could be down an additional hour because of the time award. We'd have to hustle on the remaining trek, bike, orienteering and paddle sections.

Finished with the running loop and back to where we dropped our bikes, we grabbed some water and started the next trekking leg, which required teams to hoof it up a trail to the Roanoke star, find the name of the overlook above which it was mounted, then return to where we previously dropped our bikes to report the answer to the local trivia to a volunteer. We passed a two-person male team along the way, but arrived at the bikes about 10-15 minutes behind the co-ed teams ahead of us.

The next biking leg would wind about 50 miles up and over beautiful gaps and back roads surrounding Roanoke. Along the way we biked through a meadow and by what appeared to be an outdoor music festival. Where there's music, there usually is food and drink, but thereā€™d be no time for stopping.

The sight that stood out most on the bike ride, however, was Michele staggering in agony as cramps set in not even one-third of the way into the ride. She persevered, even though her legs locked up repeatedly as she bore down on the climbs. We split up her pack between us and she insisted we keep moving. We caught and passed Calleva and Berlin Bike -- the co-ed two teams ahead of us -- and were cycling along with soloist Dimitri Kaganovich and behind Scott. Despite the severe cramps that limited Michele to pedaling with one leg at times and several stops, we finished the bike and returned to the transition area, even with Dimitri and ahead of the other 4 person co-ed teams. Next, we'd head off on an orienteering section in which we'd search for 15 points, all bunched somewhat close together near the Explorer Park. At that point, we were about 30 minutes ahead of Berlin Bike and maybe an hour behind Scott.

Just as we were getting ready to head off on the O-course, Scott rushed into the transition area looking for a compass. His stopped working, so I loaned him mine and off he went again after losing lots of time to bad luck.

The orienteering points were tucked mostly in re-entrants and finding them was fairly straightforward. Tim and I brought our bright bike lights along, and Peter's job was to point us in the right direction. Michele worked out the cramps in her legs, and Peter was right-on with the navigation. Roughly two hours later we were returning the transition area with all 15 points punched. We saw Berlin Bike and Scott while out on the course, but were unable to draw any conclusions about positions since teams could punch points in any order.

Next was a 10.2 mile paddle in canoes down the Roanoke River to snag a checkpoint, then back up to the finish line at Explorer Park. On the way back we also had to spot a point along the right shore. The start of the paddle was rocky, but it soon mellowed. Michele and I enjoyed the view from our boat, and at one point Peter and Tim picked up a hitchhiker when a small fish decided to jump aboard. Otherwise, we just swung the paddles and finished in about 2 hours and 10 minutes. When we passed Berlin Bike on our way back up the river, we determined we had an hour lead. We assumed they had won the time trial run, so our lead over them couldn't slip.

We beached our boats and crossed the finish line at 4:18 a.m., 16 hours and 18 minutes after the start. We waited for an hour to pass before we felt fairly sure we'd won. Berlin Bike would finish an hour and 12 minutes after us. But the winner of the time trial actually was Calleva, who finished an hour and 13 minutes after Berlin Bike to get third place.

Unfortunately, Scott's bad luck with the compass really hurt his finish. He came in a half hour after us, but with a smile on his face as always. It was great to see him and so many other adventure racing friends at another well-run and enjoyable Odyssey event.

- Paul Cox

Your other river right!
posted Monday, July 30, 2007 by Team Checkpoint Zero @ 11:23 AM - 0 comments

Pop quiz. What side of the river is "river right" when paddling upstream? It may not be what you think it is. It certainly wasn't what I thought it was at this weekends Geico sponsored Ocmulgee Adventure Race.

Carol Garrity, Allen McAdams and I teamed up to tackle the GOAR in Macon, Georgia. The race benefits the Ocmulgee Heritage Trail and this year we helped raise over $75,000.

The race started off Saturday morning with a lap of the 1 mile track at City Park. The catch was that we had to have our bikes, but couldn't ride them. After the quick lap we got our race instruction packets, which then gave us textual locations of all the CPs for the day. The first section was a fast road ride through downtown Macon. Since the CPs weren't plotted on the map, Allen was reading off the street addresses of the points and I was frantically looking at the map trying to figure out the best way to get there while avoiding parked cars. This was actually a pretty effective way to split up the pack, but definitely gave a distinct advantage to those who knew the area. We made one wrong turn which put us a little behind, but we knew it was early in the race, and anything could happen.

As we picked off the remaining bike points we ended up on the Ocmulgee Heritage Trail riding flat out with Allen leading the charge, while I was towing Carol as fast as I could. We had a very close call on one narrow, blind, corner on the trail when Carol swung a little wide and narrowly avoided a head on collision with another racer coming the other way. Several minutes later, we weren't so lucky. As we got the last bike CP and headed for the transition to the paddle, Carol tried to hook up on the tow again. I heard her say something about going right, so I hugged the right side of the trail. I was supposed to hear "I'm coming up on your right." The end result was a touch of the tires and Carol hitting the deck hard. Looking back I was afraid something was going to be broken, but lucky for us it was just some road rash (if you call that lucky). She was a trooper and got right back on and we transitioned to the paddle.

The first paddle check point, CP8, was described as river right, just north of the I-16/I-75 interchange, visible from the water. We portaged the boat up to the overpass and scanned the far bank for the CP. When we didn't see it, we put in and started paddling upstream. We debated how far "just north" means and figured it could mean a couple hundred meters, given the map coordinate we were given. After paddling almost a kilometer and we didn't see it, we figured they didn't place the point and we continued on.

The rest of the course was pretty straight forward. The paddle was broken up with a trek in a very sandy area, which required a short portage with the boat. Unfortunately we chose the wrong takeout point and ended up having to drag our 17 foot boat through some really tight underbrush. By the time we got back on the river we were in 4th place. On the paddle back to the bikes, I started cramping up pretty bad and was trying to re-hydrate and refuel. It was bad enough that my forearms started tightening up while holding the paddle! Thankfully it was a short paddle before we got back on the bikes.

We had a short ride back to the start/finish area where we got ready for a short river swim. The swim was quite refreshing in the afternoon heat, and we all wished it had been longer. As we got off the river and checked in at CP16 we were surprised to learn we had moved up into 2nd, passing 2 of the teams that had been ahead of us. As we looked back we saw one team had put into the river much further upstream and were still swimming towards us, the other had run down the levee and were opting for a shorter swim, but hadn't gotten in the water yet. With both teams on our heels, we ran the last several miles punching the last 3 CPs and making the dash for the finish line.

We finished the course having only missed the elusive CP8 and had to wait until other teams came in to ask if anyone found it. Turns out almost half the teams did find it we just got a little impatient and paddled right by it. The CP had apparently been less than15 feet from where we put in, hidden in some brush on river left. We spoke with the race director and explained that river right is only on the right when you are facing downstream, I can see how this is an easy thing to get confused on, as I had to double check myself. In all fairness, the race director did not make a decision on if that point would count and said that they would review the evidence and make the call later.

The outcome remains to be seen, but we had a good time and will be back for more, once Carol's road rash heals up and my calves loosen up.


Shouldn't it be named Iceland?
posted Thursday, July 26, 2007 by Team Checkpoint Zero @ 12:50 PM - 0 comments

Well, my team didn't paddle through icebergs or cross glaciers like Jon did this week at the Extreme Arctic Challenge in Greenland, but Team Checkpoint Zero/GoLite did pull out a win at the Odyssey One Day adventure race last weekend in Roanoke, Va.

We finished in 16:18. Thanks to teammates Michele Hobson, Tim Abbott and Peter Jolles for a great time.

While we were tromping around in Virginia, CPO/GoLite captain Jon was toughing out the Arctic Challenge as part of Team Feed the Machine. Follow the latest here.

Fellow racers from the Southeast Neal Radford and Chip Whitworth are there as well with Team Explorer.

I'm really looking forward to the pictures! The race course looks spectacular!

- Paul

Zeros on the move
posted Friday, July 20, 2007 by Team Checkpoint Zero @ 9:38 AM - 0 comments

Never a group that likes to sit around, members of Team Checkpoint Zero will have a busy week.

Michele, Peter, Tim and I will be competing in the Odyssey One Day AR in Roanoke, Va. The race starts Saturday at noon. You can follow the action on Checkpoint Tracker. Lisa, Henry and Tim's wife, Gina, will be volunteering & cheering.

Meanwhile, Jon and Diane are in Greenland, where Jon will be racing in the SIKU Extreme Arctic Challenge. Wow. The photos from the race area are amazing!

Chip Whitworth and Neal Radford, race friends from the Southeast, also are racing.

Stay tuned. We'll have lots to blog about -- and photos -- in the next few weeks!


A Wife's Perspective: Sending a Child to Camp or a Husband to a Race -- Same Rules Apply
posted Thursday, July 19, 2007 by Team Checkpoint Zero @ 10:20 PM - 0 comments

When sending a child to camp, there is a universal rule that all parents must follow: Put your child's name on EVERYTHING.

It is a good rule. It increases the possibility that your son or daughter will come home with their own clothes, gear or toys. As the wife of an adventure racer, it would be refreshing if the same were true when Paul returns from a race. Unfortunately, that's not the case. He was still swapping gear with teammates a month after coming back from Michigan.

As a support person, having all the clothes and gear labeled is a huge help and allows me to do my job better and more efficiently. So, to that end, I searched the Internet and found the solution They've got it all. Iron-on labels for clothes and strong adhesive labels which are "resistant to oil, solvents and chemicals and adheres to all surfaces." Surely they should work on the gear.

Just as a parent would spend the week before camp ironing and adhering labels to their child's belongings, you, too, as the spouse of an adventure racer, will have to spend a week labeling all of the AR gear. (well maybe YOU won't, but I know my racer/husband isn't going to spend time with labels) It is a lot of work, but well worth it. At least when washing stinky post race bike shorts you will know whose stink it is!!

Lisa Cox