Raiders of the Lost Passport
For the last couple of years our middle kid, heretofore known as “the boy”, has been asking us to do an Adventure Race with him. With Adventure Racing in Arkansas being limited, it took us time to fit one in to our schedule. We signed up to do the short course of a local race that the big man and I have done together once before. It’s also one he’s done a few times as a member of several different teams and once as a solo racer. After the requisite meeting the night before the race, the three of us stopped for a meal at a local Pub and toasted our coming adventure. Raid the Rock, here we come.
Because we were doing the short course, our day would begin 2 hours later than the long course racers. We could sleep in until well past my normal alarm hour, I could sleep until 6:00! The morning started off a bit chilly so the boy stayed bundled up with our favorite red hat that every person in the family has worn on one backpacking trip or another keeping his noggin warm. Those layers would be shed quickly. Almost immediately in fact.
The race began with a mile long run across the Clinton Presidential Bridge to collect the race packet of maps and checkpoint passports and back. Of course the boy is a much stronger runner than either of his old folks so he took off and we kept having to reel him back in. We got the maps and Joe and I set to plotting all the UTM coordinates on our topo map. We have a system of teamwork to do this, it seems to be effective.
What doesn’t work is my linear thinking brain’s need for details. Joe is our navigator, and he’s good at it. But I tend to want to get details out of him that are difficult or impossible for him to communicate. After the first few checkpoints I had to remind myself that his job was getting us where we needed to be and trusting him to get us where we needed to be was mine so I should to shut the hell up.
Starting out the day the boy had been assigned to keep track of the passport, our proof of visiting all the checkpoints, basically our scorecard. About 30 minutes after we started out, I noticed that the boys hydration pack was leaking. We stopped to check it out and I took the passport to punch our card while he got his pack squared away. I put it in my pocket, we got back on the bikes and headed out. Just a few minutes down the road I realized my pocket wasn’t zipped up. That’s right. Within an hour of starting and after having possession of the passport for less than 10 minutes, I had lost a vital piece of equipment. Luckily I noticed it before we got too far and I raced back to the top of the bridge where our last CP was. I saw a scrap in the middle of the concrete and began praying as soon as I saw it “please let that be my passport, not a kleenex!” The man insisted that it was Bridge Karma that kept it there for us. This bridge is notorious for pedestrian/cyclist conflicts so all the “on your lefts” “good mornings” and “coming behind you thanks” paid off. But I was no longer trusted with the passport. I never even got to touch it again. And the rule was instituted that after each checkpoint, someone asked “who’s got the passport?” Losing that little slip of paper means the end of the race for your team, no one wants to be the screwup that does THAT to her team. Ahem. Loser.
What we thought was going to be a 3-4 hour race turned in to 6 hours. Including a poorly marked intersection that led us up one of my favorite climbs for working out, a gnarly, gruvely, gravel and rock strewn uphill switchback that seems to go on forever. Turns out we didn’t need to climb it. This was bad for several reasons:
1) I had talked the big man into doing this race even though he was scheduled to ride in the FINAL mountain bike race of the XC season the very next day. Blowing his legs out on a race that lasted twice as long as we thought it would was bad.
2) The boy was tired. He’s super strong but he doesn’t mountain bike as much as we do and after several miles of road riding, a lot of hiking and bushwhacking and many more miles of single track, his wheels were turning slowly and he wasn’t having much fun.
3) We didn’t have to do it. We weren’t the only team to make the mistake, in fact I heard most of the teams did but since we realized the mistake at the top, there was some mental battling going on about wasting time and energy for naught.
I was still feeling pretty good and led the whole way up the hill. No sprint, all endurance I am. Don’t ask me to get there fast, just ask me to get there.
The race was coming to an end, we had no clue what our position was in regards to other teams but we did know there was a rappel coming and it would be off a downtown building. No matter how worn out I am, this part of a race always wakes me up and gives me a second wind. This one wasn’t as tall as some others we’ve done but still a thrill. Again I jumped first, and was down in time to snap a few pics of the boy easing himself down.
The ride back through downtown to the finish went quickly. We discovered we were the first 3 person team to arrive from the short course. Well done Team Arkansas Outside. No one threw punches, no one got hurt (except my manicure and my pride), we never got lost and we finished smiling. For my team I am Thankful. And I’m thankful that we were not the team that was stupid enough to lose their passport at CP4.