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Training Log Archive: Bender

In the 2 days ending Aug 21, 2011:

activity # timemileskm+m
  Running2 8:50:00
  Paddling2 7:50:00
  Mtn Biking1 5:20:00
  Total2 22:00:00

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Sunday Aug 21, 2011 #

Paddling long 3:50:00 [2]

Last bit of time wastage and screwing around came with the marshy bits and the bays of Red Pine Lake. Suffice to say I was lollygagging in my head, comfortable in following Harper's lead a few hundred yards up and not looking at the maps. However, we found ourselves beached and then subsequently cornered with what seemed like truckloads of teams on the return trip. Finally I got my shit together and we went out front, me assuming a straight forward shot into the channel towards the dam. However, again had I looked at the map I would have anticipated the channel stemming off the left shoreline of the bay we ended up dead-ending into.

Finally on the return trip we let Running Free go on their merry way. I started to feel cold with the portages, where the cold air and lack of radiant heat from the lakes caught up with me. We just got 'er done, with one last dumb scratch of the head while approaching the TA at Little Hawk. We'd stayed in Little Hawk the previous night ...right at the take out, yet Corner and I couldn't agree which set of significant lights in front of us were those we needed to head to ...despite being able to recognize the actual cottages from 40yards off shore. We finally got our brians unscrambled and beached only to wonder where the TA was ...helps if one actually pays attention and anticipates things like "the TA is located slightly uphill from the boat take out". We were really running silly in the head now having lost the "game on" mentality. Next time my head will stay in the game, I'll review EVERYTHING with strict attention despite how straightforward it may look and also keep things moving by working as a team again simple as hooking up a tow between the two boats to stay together and stay focused.

Running long 2:10:00 [2]
shoes: La Sportiva CrossLites

Seeing Outeractive in the TA with us and knowing that there was considerable distance back to the next team (atleast those that took the same out-n-back route on the paddle as us), I'd mentally let Outeractive go and settled in to being done fairly soon. However, surprisingly we were out of the TA first and after making it to the trailhead with no lights behind us I came back to "race mode". Quickly shuffling the team into the woods to force Outeractive to make their own decision on finding the right trails. Also once up I found myself trying to motivate the team to stay ahead of Outeractive ..."comeon guys we didn't work this hard just to let a spot go in the final 6k of the race". Where was that fire while on the water?!? 'Bent took over up front setting a great and comfortable pace, while I kept looking over my shoulder. After punching CP13 we had the option to drop down to the lower and flat snowmobile trail, but I just didn't feel it was worth the risk of it being too subtle or not there at all so stuck with the beautiful ridge trail. Even hitting the pavement, until we were within 200m of the community centre I kept shoulder checking surprised to have found ourselves holding off Outeractive and knowing that if they popped out on the road and spotted our lights, we'd have to sprint ...something I really was feeling lazy about so wanted to avoid.

Once again, reading the instructions would have been helpful; …as we approached race HQ, 'Bent poked his head in the door to ask if Bash was the finish line. Bash MUST have been exhausted as she simply directed us to the finish line north of the firehall (as stated on the instruction sheet) and didn't make some deservedly sarcastic comment to her husband and us ;)

...showered, slept, big breakfast, awards and home. Great weekend and thanks to GetawayStix, Bash, Dee, Frankenjack and all others for the tremendous efforts you put into this. Really is a fun race for navigators and know that all your efforts are truly appreciated!

Saturday Aug 20, 2011 #


Warning apologies as this is the type of race report solely focused on navigational errors made and likely to be found to be of any interest solely to my teammates, GetawayStix and Bash.

WT 2011 w The Shed Coffee Bar
I was really looking forward to this weekend all summer as it would be my first venture back into the woods post Matteus' arrival in Elena and my's life. Also it was an opportunity to finally race with my good friend 'Bent. The weekend certainly didn't disappoint. Thanks ‘Bent, TRex, and Corner for another fun weekend in the woods sharing in some great Ontario wilderness fun.

Running long 6:40:00 [2]
shoes: IceBug Multi-Runs

Every year at GHO's adv runs I say we'll take it easy off the line and sure enough there I am getting caught up in the adrenaline of the start and red-lining it from the word "go". So as I have exhibited and come to accept my tendency to be an idiot in these long race starts it was agreed upon to let TRex and 'Bent set the pace off the line for WT. ...what do we do? ...hammer it (not redlining mind you) but certainly not doddling off the line and find ourselves jumping into the bush with all the other favorites.

After last year's WT trek experience I realize that GetawayStix really focuses on designing a true navigational race course and so long as he continues this I will continue to toe the line. I figured with the stellar field in this one that we'd likely be insight of those teams that came out of the bush with us for the duration of the course. So I really wanted to put a stamp on this section, however that stamp fell apart; atleast in my mind. My teamates may think and say what they want, but in my own reflection I felt I let us down significantly ...making atleast 90mins worth of errors over the trek.

Start - CP1

First error came shortly after starting the formal bushwhacking ...purposely heading NW on a bearing for a set amount of time, then turning west in the low drainage area (location "A"), eventually hitting a narrow channel crossing I'd seen on the satellite image, skirting a wetland and then finally t-boning the trail just north of CP1 (this intended route is shown in blue). It was a risky move with the chance of being too far north and having to do extra westerly distance if we overshot the 90deg trail corner north of CP1. However, after having reviewed the satellite imagery for the area I figured we'd only have one potential swim (should we miss the crossing I'd seen in the imagery) by staying north of the line. So while on this initial NW push when my mind started to get those twitches to turn left I asked the crew their estimates on our pace to that point. Got a 2kph and a 4kph, so we average at 3kph; however, my spidy senses were tingling and thought we were on a faster pace (should have listened). So before we knew it we hit a significant and identifiable wetland at Location "B" ...which confirm it was actually 4kph. No worries, readjust, swim the channel rather than waste time picking around it and push hard to recover the 8-10min error ...gotta say that this one was worth it though, for as we swam, not 100m south of us crossing in the same direction was bull moose! Beautiful view of it snorting as it swam carrying its huge rack. He seemed to be headed in the same direction so we debated climbing aboard and having him shuttle the team further west; he probably wouldn't have even noticed.

Eventually we hit just south of the 90deg corner in the trail was severely close (phew!) and did the quick out and back to grab the hunting camp's name and getting a sense of where we stood with all the top teams coming out of CP1.

CP1 - CP2

A clean leg on this one, opting for further distance on the trail rather than jumping into the bush before the S-curves and approaching the CP from the bottom of the lake; which we saw a team head off into the bush as we came from behind on the trail. Not sure which team that was but I'd be surprised if the southerly approach was faster ...certaily couldn't have been drier as we stayed dry this whole leg jumping in just south of a wetland to the west of the trail and sticking to the high ground all the way to the tip of the lake and then skirting around onto the trail and in.

CP2 - CP3

After tagging CP2 in 8th and knowing that this meant very little at this stage, we booked it north on the trail with everyone else. My aim was to turn left at the high ground (Location "C") and book it to the unavoidable channel swim at Location "D". By the sounds of crashing bush on our left as we pushed north on the trail it seems most teams near us turned left a few hundred yards too early. For we stuck it out right to the high ground and sure enough ...ATV trail bang on our bearing headed NW. We pushed it here with the sounds of teams on either side of us crashing parallel through the woods, while we jogged. I was certain in my mind that this trail, although way old, would take us to the channel and likely continue on the otherside of the channel only to hook up with those GPS'd by GetawayStix. Sure enough a few minutes later we found ourselves facing the channel swim. A few hundred meters to our left we could see a team crossing the channel right where the channel connected to Pauper Lake. However, I could not locate the continuation of the faint ATV track we'd just left on the other side of the swim. Rather than bushwhack down the channel to pickup the GPS'd trails I figured we should continue west and pickup the GPS'd trails in front of us; besides we'd have the sounds of this other team we had a visual on to help guide us in a few minutes. Seemed logical to me as if you're going to be slowed by bushwhacking ...might was well progress in the right direction.

...a few minutes later of traveling west, when I though for sure we should have interested the GPS'd trail my spiddy senses started to go and I let the team know I wasn't at ease anymore. Another minute and suddenly a team comes crashing in from our left ...likely the team we saw crossing the channel. Yellow snowpants Benoit and I came face to face ...locked antlers and had an ex-national team orienteer's throw down in the forest ...hmmm, maybe not; actually we looked at each other and kept pushing west for the trails. Finally we popped out and booked it to the right; this would be the one and only time that the Shed led WT 2011. For sure enough my spiddy senses we still not happy and with good reason. After passing a small hunting hide (Location "E") the trail was very evidently headed in a 180 from where we wanted to go. Turn around, back to the hide and ditch the trail in favor of a bearing west. The only problem was that my speed miscalculation from earlier in the race had me second guessing how far west we'd pushed. When we hit the south end of a significant lake I wasn't sure whether it was infact Otterhead or Little East or even Blackberry. Assuming that we'd crossed the GPS'd N-S trail and rather than risk a push west with no catching features to stop us I decided to consider this lake to potentially be Little East Lake and convinced the team that the time invested to travel up the east shore line a short distance was worth it to confirm by spotting the incoming trail and cabin. We'd made it a significant distance up the eastern side of the lake with no cabin, nor trail, plus we could see a team on the far shore looking around before slipping back into the bush towards the west. By now the shape of the lake was also more revealed to me and I was certain we were on Otterhead! ...down another 30mins, but back on track again, grrrrr.

Retraced to the south end of Otterhead and pushed hard west through the nice woods before finally popping out on the N-S GPS'd trail. A right and a left and boom hunting camp and the south end of Little East Lake. Stopped for a refill of water as we all ran dry along the trail to the hunting camp. While filling we could hear a team crashing the bush on the western shore and as we got up to leave in came Running Free. I choose to ignore them and was planning to push the western shoreline of Little East to pick up the portage connecting Little East and Big East, then have a quick trail run for 1km and a short coast into CP3. Off we charge into the bush, us leading the way for Running Free. What seemed too early I saw some flagging tape directing a subtle trail westerly; given how much faster we were moving in the bush than anticipated all morning and Running Free right on our tails I decided to hook left and follow the flagging tape assuming this was indeed the portage trail. Hindsight is remarkable, for if I even took a few moments to think about it, it should have crossed my mind that the connecting portage would be a significant trail considering the presence of the hunting camp on Little East. So sure enough as we head west we run out of flagging tape and I start to veer North-northwest to compensate. RF is more or less mimicking our moves and despite the evident contour changes I seem to be continuing west ...eventually coming out to a channel that needed wading across (Location "H"). So I assumed we were infact just south of the CP at the little inlet off the east side of Big East Lake. Despite this channel not being open water and almost a full 90deg to the direction on the map we and RF pushed across without slowing to think about it. Spiddy senses are now just screaming at me to wake up and fix what is so clearly wrong! I laided out my cards and casually questioned to Harper whether he too felt we were compounding each other's problems and conducting a minor battle here that was potentially damaging each other's race. We chose to work together and correct our wrong to the tune of another lost 40min grrr. These petty battles are really ridiculous and I take full responsibility for not just ignoring RF's presence in favor of continued smart navigating.

At CP3, we were not almost 55min back of snowpants and clearly they had picked up the GPS'd trail waaaaay back at Location "E" and booked it through. Stupid me letting my team down!

CP3 - CP4
Rather than bushwhack return to the portage and then bushwhack around the north end of Little East, I choose to beat it out of the CP before either RF or Outeractive (who also arrived simultaneously to us) could join us, for fear of doing the same thing again. This time I kept it simple with a straight shot to the ATV trail (intending to catch a glimpse of Little East on our right as we passed; never saw it). This being the last of the bush and a straight shot, Corner and I pushed the team a little bit and might have gassed TRex and 'Bent a bit. T.Rex was awfully quite on the trail into the CP which concerned me, so gave her a tow rope to play with and she bounced back incredibly on the subsequent bike leg.

Mtn Biking long 5:20:00 [2]

From reviewing the course the previous night, it became clear to me that the trickiest bits of nav on the bike leg would come at about 3/4 of the way through the leg. So we decided as a team that our goal for the day was to make it through the bike in the daylight or at minimum through the tricky turns section in the daylight. Having already put the team behind the eightball clockwise with a trek that I'd hope to nail in 5hrs,10min (but came out in 6hrs,40min) we had our work cut out for us given the estimated bike leg times and the quickly deteriorating weather conditions. Especially during the opening 2-3km of this leg, which exhibited my least favorite kind of riding ...if you can even call it riding. However, once making our left hand turn at Anson lake things improved. We pushed hard through the next section with minimal slow downs and working well as a team. I did take a bit of a gulp in my throat when while punching CP6 in Big Winds Prov Park I asked 'Bent how his knee was doing ...his reply "not good, I'd give it a 50-60%" ...gulp! But then man is no princess and pushed onwards bouncing along in his ever so comfy looking trail lounger. Finally we pooped out on the pavement of Echo Lake Rd and turned east again. Having marked to take a trip around the north side of Ril Lake, we opted for the southerly route, despite the extra 350m distance as TRex had spotted a potentially significant climb on Echo Lake Rd had we stayed to the northerly route; ...thinking like a true orienteer, makes me want to cry, they grow up so fast. The southerly approach was certainly not without it's rolling hills, but nothing significant and we even got to catch a glimpse of a couple out training their pooches along the road; they were setup on their bikes while their pooches pulled them up hill wearing dogsledding harnesses; I asked if we could borrow them.

At the Fireaccess Rd turnoff we had already agreed to stop to apply some chain lube to combat the nasty chainsuck. We went a bit of a ways down the road as I didn't want to help any subsequent teams in deciding on the turn, however evidently not far enough in as Salomon-Suunto came along just behind us and I could hear Phatty slow the team to confirm the turn, only to look up and spot us. I'm sure he would have continued around in subsequent loop after loop of Ril Lake had we not been there, costing him their impressive comeback to Phatty and co. I say "you're welcome."

The nice thing was that we'd made it to the trickiest section of the bike (navigationally speaking) and were going to complete it in the daylight. So for the section from the Fireaccess Rd turn off through to the turn north at Location "C" I kept it dialed ...having my map all marked up with notes of visual cues plus the distance between each subsequent turn to keep me on my toes at all times. We were cruising through and approaching what I anticipated to be the trickiest turn of the ride (Location "C"), for as from the satellite imagery I could see that the ATV trails didn't quite match up to the map in that area. As we approached the left turn at Location "B" we'd dropped Salomon-Suunto at an earlier turn and I'd picked up on the climb/saddle at "A-1" and the tip of the lake to my left at "A-2", so as my bike computer came into "slow down" range for the turn at "B" I kept a keen eye and told the team to do the same. However, somehow I never saw the intersection! ...I don't understand it but when we found ourselves riding through a clearcut service area (Location "C') in a most definite easterly direction, my spiddy senses went off again; especially seeing as there was no an evident ATV trail to our left headed north. With Salomon-Suunto on our tails I wanted to make sure they had to make the decision on their own and I choose to continue forwards in hopes that we were simple on a jog in the trail that wasn't captured when GetawayStix GPS'd it. However, just as we opted to continue out popped SS to follow. As the bike computer added significant distance I started to question my decision and reeled the team back in to turn around. We booked it back to the service area and took the trail north at Location "C" ...finally when I saw the portage sign at the subsequent split I felt confident we were through the worst and we pushed it out the T/A in full daylight, having just passed five teams on the bike leg and jumping to 5th spot. Suffice the one small nav error (~6min), some minor mechanical issues (chainsuck and a floppy mapboard), and 'Bent's knee hurting the Shed loved this leg and I'm sure my teammates would agree we would have loved another 20-30k of it!

Paddling long 4:00:00 [2]

This is the leg that I feel I let the team down the most on. After pushing away from the boat launch, finding our two boats not evenly matched and watching as the Salomon-Suunto hydrofoil skimmed past us ...I found myself settling in for a "just get this over with and enjoy it" feeling. Somewhere I'd just lost the sense of racing and accepted just finishing the leg. This was further compounded by not having actually reviewed the paddle leg during the maps prep. TRex and Corner had done a bang up job selecting and marking our route and I'd glanced at it briefly but not closely enough for the subtleties that were necessary to be familiar with. So in between paddle strokes before the first portage was my first real review of what was to come. Part of me thinks that potentially in the back of my mind I was more comfortable with letting those teams around us get the advantage over the paddle leg so that we wouldn't have to have a full on 10k trail run down to finish line, which we would likely come out on the loosing side of.

Things started a bit awry immediately at the first portage. I hadn't looked at it on the map assuming that it would be straightforward and with two or three teams directly in front of us... So upon landing Corner immediately sent me up ahead with one boat while he gave a hand to TRex and 'Bent who were just landing. With what looked like a decision point at the road I didn't want to go any further without glancing at the map or spotting a sign, but Corner told me to turn right; which there was already a team headed that direction too. Partway up the road's hill and spiddy senses come alive again. Finally looking at the map it appear that the portage was drawn in as leaving from the evident s-bend in the road, however there was no sign of it. With other teams now appearing out of the wood work ...with one claiming to not have been able to locate the portage straight ahead at the intersection with the road right back at the take out" and the other team claiming have seen a portage sign indicating to turn right on the road for 750m distance, we made the call to continue on the road, where I could now see on the map that worse-come-to-worse the road would take us up right next to Plastice lake at it's south end. Not ideal, but given we were half way now between the take out and the south end of the Plastic ...we bother going back for a portage that may or may not be there. ...10min later, back in the boat and mess over.

However, I still didn't seem to want to look at the maps closely enough and deservedly so we lost another 10min or so screwing around at the south end of Sherborne Lake where the channel connecting it to Big Hawk became a wetland. Because I hadn't properly looked at the leg I found myself being surprised to be out of water when in my mind we were simply paddling straight through to Big Hawk and turning left. Had I paid attention I would have strategically/mentally been prepared to either push through it (recognizing it from the inaugural L,R,&S ...where I simply paddled it in reverse and lifted my surfski over one beaver dam), or been savy enough to grab the more established portage route on the right.

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