Cycling race (MTB) 8:00:00  148.46 km (18.6 kph) +71m
Another crack at Bob on Team Running Free, circa 2016.
Despite some hesitation getting the team signed up (Scotty and I were thinking how nice it might be to volunteer at a CP with our kids) when we locked in Eddie as our 4th the teams focus turned to racing. Dee was keen! Getting away from our 12 combined kids - was a feat unto itself. But as usual we made it up, maps, check-in, hello to AR friends, a few hours of restless sleep going over the map in my head..., the usual....
I left it to Scotty to pick our two boats - both 17 footers - as we knew paddling would likely be our weakest discipline even with a strong paddler like Scott on the team. For most of the paddle Eddie and I would struggle to keep up. Always about 20m trailing; always trying to close the gap unsuccessfully.
Initially we planned the southern route (longer paddle, less portage) but on the bus and overnight the more I thought about it the more I didn't like it. The numbers weren't adding up, especially knowing paddling wouldn't be a strong suite for us. So we made the call during the paddle to stay north despite most of the stronger teams ahead of us going south. The portages were rough but after seeing most of the strong paddling teams on the portage heading to CP1 we knew we'd made the right call. During this paddle we leapfrogged with Beowulf which was great to keep us moving and motivated while occasionally chatting. The scenery was splendid Canadian shield on a river system with no big lake crossings and only the occasional boat.
Finally at the TA we were happy to be ahead of many of our rivals and now onto the bikes. We moved OK for most of it although we had 3 problems that made this leg quite poor for us - Dee's wheel was falling off but we didn't notice until late the in the bike preventing her from riding/gearing effectively; our safe route (the longer trail indicating less rocky wet) was seemingly slower and; we blew by CP3 only realizing it when we got to the road, so we backtracked back. Thankfully it was a short section so minimal time was lost with our issues.'
At CP4/TA2 we changed into our trekking clothes, took in a few calories and made our way out on the trek. Unfortunately we entered too early on the trek and ended up west of a lake we wanted to be east of. We figured this out after being slightly lost but suspecting where we were. I was asked by the team how confident I was in our location, which was as low as 60% at one point. Thankfully after that mistake which likely cost us 10-15 mins I got my shit together and we embarked on 'threading the needle' during the rest of the leg, carefully navigating between marked swamps and lakes until we spiked CP5 directly. A quick hello to Bill, Jake and the crew and then the swim across.
Our navigational luck continued as we hit the trail near Skerryvore right on target, about 20m from where it went south. Back on the road we ran with the pesky Beowulf for a bit, damn Jamie was still navigating like a champ. We sped up a bit after the road CP6 to drop Beowulf and the team was near redlining but it was only for a short bit. At this time Pullin' Foot flew by us on the trek, it was confusing until I found out they had a penalty. I was confident they would now take the lead, however, our concern were the Warriors who continued to lead us by 30mins.
The coasteering CP7 was seen by many as the hardest CP, including us, but our route and bearings were true eventually landing us at our desired location right at dusk. Knowing our next CP had a good handrail in a cottage road to the south I was bit more carefree with the bearing, choosing the path of least resistance which - due to glaciation - was SE. I started getting a bit worried about being so far from the Bay but by the time we started SW to correct ourselves, we hit swamp after swamp after hill after hill, etc. I figured we lost a few spots just in this slow go (thankfully most teams also seems to veer too far inland) so when we neared CP8 I took a bit of a risk on the bearing with a suspected attackpoint from the coast but it turned out fine and we approached CP8 in the same spot - 3rd - but still down 30min to the Warriors.
As many grumbled post-race the bike was brutal, with a lot of uphill bike hiking, technical downhills (walking) and several swamp crossings. I regret not taking the roads at all times possible, however, when we did take the road one time our team was frozen, having packed too little clothes. We moved quite slow on this bike section and I was pretty sure catching the Warriors was unthinkable; my concern turned to worry over soon seeing the lights of Beowulf or Salomon behind us. The kms went by ever so slowly and our pace slowed to a seemingly eventual crawl due to some sleepiness for the last 2-3 hours. Surprisingly we did catch almost up to the Warriors, seeing their lights a few hrs from the finish, but didn't have much to respond. Eventually, thankfully!, we made it through the section and into the finish line.
Great racing with Dee, Scotty and Eddie. We had a good time together and while not capturing Bob the Beaver, still made a good run of it. Would have been great to have the juice to give chase on the bike but it just wasn't in the cards this round. Thanks to all the great volunteers and hosts, another amazing WT. Looking forward to some much needed downtime.