Mad Dogs and Mountains

We’re back…”we” being Rob, Tim, Kevin and I, returned from our Adventure Race in Virginia last night at around 8pm. We’re all walking like someone tried to bugger us with a toilet brush, but apart from that (oh, and the fact that Kevin found a tick on his leg yesterday on the way home and is now convinced he’s going to get Lime disease) we’re all intact, if a few brain cells lighter than on Friday morning when we set out from Burlington on the 11 hour drive to Roanoke in Virginia.

The race started at noon on Saturday and we finished a little over 20 hours later on Sunday morning. if I never see another Cliff bar or Hammer Gel in my life again, it will be too soon. I know that the race photographer took some photos of our team so I’ll either post them here or add a link to them once they have been published.

The race went roughly as follows:

– 1 hour trail run
– 2 hour mountain bike
– 1 hour road ride
– 2 hour trek
– 9 hour road ride
– 3 hour orienteering section
– 3 hour paddle

The long ride was through the night and was up and down the mountains in Virginia, we covered 8500 feet of elevation. The orienteering section was also done in the dark. Rob never ceases to amaze me how he can find stuff like a “re-entrant” (I didn’t even know what one was) in the middle of the night after no sleep and 15 hours of constant activity.

Virginia is gorgeous, and we were rewarded with some spectacular views from the tops of the mountains and ridges that we climbed.

Adventure racers are a great bunch of people and we had a good laugh with the various teams that we encountered on the way round the course – including one lady from Kentucky who was doing the race solo.

I will say, though, that some of the Virginia natives are a little bit strange. Take, for example, an incident that took place just as the sun was setting during the long biking section. A dog came dashing down the driveway of a farm just ahead of us, followed by a little old man in a golf cart with blazing headlights. We smiled politely as the man shouted that his dog was harmless, whilst it weaved dangerously between our bike tires and snapped at our feet. As we carried on riding, the man followed us, in his golf cart, headlights on full beam behind us, watching his dog run at us. Eventually Rob turned his bike round to ride back towards the man, at which point he 180’d his cart, headed back to whence he came, and called off his dog. Leaving us wondering what on earth he was up to?

On another occasion we were standing, checking the map, near to a big, rural, house when a lady came out to talk to us, curious about what we were doing. She had seen a couple of other teams pass by already that day. We explained the race and, telling her that we had run out of water and were getting dehydrated, we asked her if she knew where we could buy some water. “Oh no” she said “there isn’t anywhere to get water from around here…” I guess Virginians must use beer or something to wash their dishes.

Anyway, we were attacked a couple more times by crazy dogs in the night time – one big black dog made me scream, it gave me such a fright leaping out from the shadows of it’s yard. It felt quite good to make that much noise involuntarily. Kevin gave it a kick on my behalf as he passed by and I think it may have had a bit of a headache the next morning.

Roanoke city centre is a colourful place too. On the Friday before the race, we went out for a drink and something to eat downtown. A police cruiser passed by every 30 seconds and we watched from our patio vantage point as a man armed with a huge rifle wrapped in a silver blanket, got out of his car and was escorted across the road and into a building on the opposite side of the square in full view of the bar where we sat. I think I am a bit estranged from US culture and to see so many guns is bizarre. Guns and churches, Virginia seems to have a large helping of both, and I can’t really say that it is doing them any favours from an outsiders perspective.

Despite all the strangeness, we had an amazing time and I can’t wait to do it again. There’s another 24 hour race in 2 weeks in Guelph and I am trying to convince Rob we should go for it…

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