Saturday, September 22, 2012

Swamp Donkey reunion

8-hour adventure race in Winnipeg area (Falcon Lake)
A one-line email comes from Eco-Challenge teammate Philip Roadley (aka Warrior) “Will you do a one-day adventure race (Swamp Donkey) with me?”… timing perfect! I needed a fun low-key event in lieu of writing off cross season with healing my toe. 

New teammate for me, Jon Hunt, who has raced previous Swamp Donkey’s with Phil.

the canoes awaiting in the race morning mist
Pre-race, unloading bikes and an awesome Kevlar canoe. Wind, rain and blustery damp weather had us questioning our race clothing choice as our fingers were cold and damp. The local Liquor Store/Hardware Store/Housewares Store had some super duty rubber gloves in a lovely bright orange colour that would work.

following the bagpiper to the race start

After plotting checkpoint co-ordinates early race morning, 113 teams of 3 teammates marched behind a bagpiper towards the canoes waiting for us on shore. We received a few comments and much envy of our lovely orange gloves.

easy to spot my team with the orange gloves! - photo Kelly Morton photography

scenery outstanding
Started with a paddle across Falcon Lake. Me, perched in the nose, Phil behind and Jon in the rear. Passed by two checkpoints with a written clue. After the first checkpoint, the guys both said the written word“Salomon” out loud. We paddled by the second checkpoint, glanced at the word “Maximum” and we continued on. Closer to the canoe pullout, Phil proudly reiterates the words “Salomon” & “Momentum” with Jon confirming the words. I exclaim “I saw Maximum”! Phil then says he thought there was an “X” in the word and agrees the word had to be “Maximum”! It was a funny moment of how easy it is to forget.

Team Bikes & Beyond getting close to shore
The rubber gloves worked well to keep base layer gloves dry for paddling. Still managed to splash water above the glove level and my clothing arms got wet. Next time, MUST wear a waterproof jacket to paddle in cool temps. I had the smarts to wear waterproof pants.

portage to the bikes
Next up, the bikes. I dashed off a quick pace, happy to get hills to climb to warm up. Bushwack section with bikes wandering over deadfall not so fun.

Trails on the Canadian Shield tons of fun with the unforgiving rock. Taking a grassy cross-country ski trail had hidden lumps where I was tossed harshly. Once passing over the lead to Phil who took a few more tosses later. Part of the new Trans-Canada Trail had fresh sand on it making it challenging to ride. We passed multiple teams on this section bogging down in the seashorey sand.

We caught up to the lead mixed teams with women on tow while I was leading out my guys!
Major orienteer section with the first easy checkpoint. The next few involved passing thru the swamp multiple times, scrambling on rocky Shield, ploughing thru thigh-high grass with divots and sinkholes. It was bushwacking at its best. 
Ha, the woman in the pic was similar to me in losing ground in the marsh
I didn’t mind the bushwacking as I was fully clothed and it was easy to crash thru. Aging aches of my S1-L5 compression, knee and shoulder degeneration, the healing toe, were extra pains that gloomed the experience. Wondered if I would do another event like this?? Definitely had no lack of fitness or strength or spirit.
one of the many swamp crossings - careful for that drop!
there was no real "running" section... it was scramble, slosh & dodge mother nature
Finally, taking a direct bearing back to the orienteer TA to make a time cut, it was awesome to be back on the bikes for a short bike orienteer in Falcon Lake townsite before crossing the finish line.

The passport which we had to stamp at each checkpoint was embarrassing for an "experienced" team to hand in as it got soaked with a few swamp crossings and was barely holding together. Oh well!

Team Bikes & Beyond - happy to get dry, fed, and to chill out!
Thanks to Philip for finding me a bicycle to ride for the race. My little Scott is too dainty for AR. It was certainly nice to not to have to fly with a bike in tow.

BEST PART was the reunion of my ECO-CHALLENGE team from 1999!!   as they all live in Winnipeg

Philip Roadley (Eco-Warrior), Marg Fedyna (Eco-Barbie not happy w/ the name!),
Alex Man (Eco-Spaceman), Kurt Gibson (Eco-Kowboy)

Alex was course designer for the past Swamp Donkeys

Delivering the bottle of wine that Kurt had me bring back for him from Argentina when we were at Patagonia Eco-Challenge in 1999. 
The wine was pretty good 13+ years later!

 Thanks to Patricia Roadley for whipping up an amazing meal for the team and their families. It was great to see the guy's families after 13 years, especially the kids growing up.


Philip, Kurt, Alex, Marg - eager for their first 5-day expedition adventure race - Raid the North Extreme, Elliot Lake ON, August 1999
Post race, 99-hours later, a little inflamed and sore though still smiling!
with wicked support crew Patricia Roadley and Shirley Benson.
I'm wearing my only clean clothes with sealskin socks as my feet were too inflamed for shoes
A funny memory... with major sleep deprivation a few days into the event, the three boys took a daytime catnap on the trail. When we started to ride again, Philip all of a sudden realized he left his prescription glasses where he was snoozing. How did he see without them? And why did it take him so long to notice?! Luckily he found them... on his own!
Eco-Challenge Patagonia 1999 poser race photo
ready for a 110-km paddle on super windy Lake Nahuel-Huapi
few days later, mountain climbing in Patagonia thru a crazy snow storm
 - these pics look more like we are on a holiday with those smiles!!
if anyone wonders where I get my energy from... this pic was taken 
after the 99-hour adventure race at Raid the North Extreme.  
Probably only had 5+ hours of sleep the whole race. 
The guys are out cold, I'm wickedly wound up!
got the Swamp Donkey sticker on my car!

Monday, September 03, 2012

Rattlesnake Island - Rattling Experience

Sitting, chatting at Dorothy's friend's house in Peachland with the views of a kayaker heading for Rattlesnake Island... I decided to go then and there. I had completed a 4-hour ride earlier though had plenty of time to eat and recover.

View of Rattlesnake Island from Jack & Dian's house in Peachland

Leaving the house, I noticed a flag dancing stiffly in the wind and knew it would be a tailwind out.

Rattlesnake Island is almost direct across from Peachland 3.5 km. The island is hard to spot while in the water as the island blends into the terrain of the mainland behind it.

Rattlesnake Island (internet photo - too choppy at the time to take a pic on the surfski!)

Paddling my trusty stable surfski, the waves got uncomfortably choppier midway. Stubbornly making my way, the wind pushed me out to the north.

Making it across, the wave chop was too turbulent between the island and mainland, so I skipped paddling around it and headed back to Peachland.

Teeny spec of me in my surfski with a motorboat going by

Heading back, the cross wave wind was horrendous though fun in a weird way. I kept a deathgrip on the paddle not to lose it to the wind. The cross waves spooked me enough that I decided to go direct into the wind and make my way to shore until I felt safe to parallel my way back to the start.

Ha, the wind was so strong I was crawling at 4-6 kph (normally paddle 8-10 kph). I've not put in such an effort for awhile. Glad I ate lots earlier.

My path bypassing Rattlesnake Island due to the wicked crosswind and turbulent waves

As I made it closer to shore, I noticed a truck driving slowly by the roadway. It was Jack and Dorothy coming to rescue me. They could see from the house that something was up. The turbulent waves midway are not visible from shore.

I laughed and thanked them! I wanted to now paddle it in, as it was a tailwind back.

A couple weeks later, my 2nd attempt went well to paddle around the island though horrible to come across a pea-size brained motor boater that thought it'd be fun to try to swamp the kayaker with the boat's wake as he purposely accelerated thru the narrow channel between the Island and the mainland. That incident was scary. That guy was an idiot and I was helpless as a small boat on the water. Not a good feeling.

In general, I've had to keep my eyes and ears peeled for ignorant boaters almost every time I've paddled on Lake Okanagan. Some just don't understand the effect of their boat's wake on a small craft. A few come too close and politely wave hello!

Saturday, September 01, 2012

Smith Creek Trails - just awesome!

For some reason I never made it to these trails the last few years until recently. For my 1st trek up, Aaron and Tiffany from Edmonton joined me. Once we clued in to the green dots painted on the trees as the trail markers, we climbed up a reasonably graded switchback trail.

View of Westbank 1/3 way up Smith Cr trails
I bumped into a couple local riders, Steve and his buddy Dom. They lead me up to the top 11-km in while Tiff & Aaron turned around.

At the top, the trail wound into the descent which looked menacing as I viewed it from the climb. There were huge ladders and jumps all over. Each stunt had an out to quickly go around it. I kept telling myself to "look away" real quick as the trail would guide the rider onto the jumps & ladder.

Near the bottom, the 4-km descent finished with a huge swoopy section. About 1 hour up and minutes down! Well, I'm still in the double digits.

High fives to the trail makers!
And the signs that advise for no motorized vehicles i.e. dirt bikes.