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

Planning on the USARA Nationals race but never been to Georgia?
posted Tuesday, July 08, 2008 by Team Checkpoint Zero @ 9:24 AM - 1 comments

If you've never been to Georgia before, never heard of NGAR or the Checkpoint Zero Adventure Race, or the tour of Georgia, you may not know what exactly lies in store for you at this years USARA National Championship to be held in Blue Ridge, Georgia. We've put together a quick survival guide of some of the info you won't find anywhere else.

First off, one should be warned of some of the dangers that exist in our back yard. There are numerous varieties of poisonous snakes, like the copperhead, cottonmouth, timber and eastern rattle snake. There are black bears, ticks, scorpions, mosquitoes, poison ivy and oak. Did I mention rumors of cougars? On top of all that we are in the midst of a multi year severe drought.

Once you get past all that, we've got some fantastic single track mountain bike riding and hiking like in the photo above. We've also got great rivers and lakes to paddle, assuming there is any water left in November. I'd suggest taking a look at the various topo maps for the area, but that only leaves you with half the story. There are countless old logging roads and game trails that are great to get around on as well. Rest assured, we're all memorizing all of them and when we suddenly disappear from sight, we've probably taken a short cut.

For all those who will be coming in from out of town and looking for a place to grab a bite to eat on the way to or from Blue Ridge, I highly recommend stopping by Pooles Bar-B-Q in Ellijay. You'll drive right by it if you fly into Atlanta. It is a classic north Georgia joint and I try and stop by every time I head up there. No matter where you eat, you'll need to specify how you want your iced tea; sweet or un-sweet. If you are diabetic, be warned, sweet tea in Georgia uses about a cup of sugar for every cup of water.

If you are looking for lodging for the weekend, you may want to skip the host hotel and call any of the cabin rental places in and around Blue Ridge. For a little more than the price of a couple nights in the hotel you can get a whole cabin with all the amenities, all within 5 to 20 minute drive. It's a great option for those looking to spend a little more time in the area.

My final tip, brush up on your Southern American English. While many of us in the big towns are transplants from other places, you'll be up in the woods and folks up there talk a little different. Y'all have fun now, y'hear?


We're back from the Land of the Midnight Sun
posted Wednesday, July 02, 2008 by Team Checkpoint Zero @ 12:42 PM - 0 comments

Well, we weren't quite at the Arctic Circle, but certainly in the Land Where it Never Got Dark ...

Allen and I are back in Atlanta after finishing 3rd in the male tandem kayak division of the Yukon River Quest last week, and our boat "Babs" (an acronym for Big Arse Boat!!) is tucked away at Up North Adventures in Whitehorse, Yukon Territory. Our fingers are a bit numb and my feet hurt from pushing against the kayak foot pegs for 48 hours and 9 minutes -- but my fanny doesn't hurt a bit!!

We got a little prize money for our efforts, so we're happy. It was a bit disappointing, though, that we were passed during the last 91-mile section. Knowing it was a gamble, I tried some shortcuts around the MANY islands to close the distance on the lead team. But instead of picking up time, we got sucked into too much slow water and lost second place. Oh well, I feel good for going for it, and Allen cut me some slack. The Yukon River is so big, and very unlike anything I'd ever paddled before. Our rivers in the Southeast aren't even half as wide, so it's not as hard to find the fast water around every turn. I'm going to try to get a map of the shortcuts for .. ahem, next year!

Some Brits from Jersey finished first in our division, with a mixed Aussie and Brit team ahead of us for second. Great competitors they were! The second-place team greeted us loudly at the finish line with a roaring "You BAAAHSTARDS!" for making them sprint for the last hour of the race. My forearms are paying the price for that sprint today.

Allen and I have lots of stories ... from sneaking into a museum exhibit army tent at a Canadian Welcome Center to sleep (after we couldn't find our gear after the race), to meeting the absolutely nicest volunteer ever who took us into her home (two doors down from where Jack London once lived) for a warm shower and a good night's sleep after the race, to my first experience at a Western-style gambling/dance hall in an authentic gold rush town. Yes ... a dance hall just like in those Wild West shows.

The winning team overall was a 6-person voyageur team from Canada (paddling the most beautiful boat you'll ever see).

I'll post a race report on soon.

- Paul