Monday, June 30, 2008

BPA-Back of the Pack Association

Roy, consuming a can of WBD-Weapon of Bear Distraction
sI have noticed the one good thing about being at the back of the pack. Its that we experience complete silence at the finish line. Most people have gone home by then and the band has already packed it in and left hours ago. The second day Roy and I were shocked to learn there were cheerleaders at the finish line for the pros. They had all since left by the time we finished. The BPA, however, is growing as people after 3 days are starting to fall apart, figuratively and physically. The back of the pack association with its founding members Roy Wallack and Ed Korb are producing a serious buzz in this race as it increases in difficulty. We arrived back at our tent today after yet another 8 hour+ day and to our surprise, people were asking if they could join. Everyone was asking what did "Tinker" do today? We said "Tinker who?" The people that worked the hardest were the ones out there the longest. "If people aren't going to recognize us, we are going to recognize ourselves!", adamantly said Roy, our founding chairman, who stayed around the finish line after our 8 1/2 hour time. Roy greeted and inducted new members with a congratulotory hand shake and a photo in the case of Bob Forster and "mountain man" Ted, the last finishers at 9:10:40 after the race organization tore down the finish line.

As we walked, yes walked to the community center of Cumberland to eat dinner and enjoy the awards ceremony, we once again celebrated our victory as the first back of the packers. We walked there with a hiccup in our get up, my legs are sore, and walking up and down curbs hurt. When we arrived at the community center, we asked "where is the food?". One of the volunteers responded "two flights of stairs down that way" and pointed to a series of staircases outside that led to the food. I started to feel the room spin and thought to myself this must be a bad joke they are playing on us now. First they run out of water on the hardest and hottest day, making us ride another 22 kilometers to fetch water, than these stairs??

Suunto reports: max heart rate 210, minimum 73, average heart rate 130, total elevation gain 5290 feet. The rate of elevation gain was sturdy throughout the day. Fortunately the day was mostly in the forest. The forest is interesting, especially coming from Southern California. Its very muggy, and it really dehydrates you quickly if you aren't aware of it. At one point we took a picture of the sweat running off my balding head. It looked as if someone poured water over me.. We continued in and out of forests and at one point climbed to about a high point of 1572 feet where we could see snowy topped mountains.

The ride started out with a loop at Alberni stadium and than with the help of a police escort (which we didn't see) we moved through the town and out onto fire road. At first, the climbing seemed a bit innocent, but than the grades started to get steeper and steeper. We found ourselves at the base of a wild, untouched forest, single file with about 100 other racers. As we ascended through the forest, the cyclists bottled necked the landscape and recruitment started for the back of the pack association. Jokes ensued and finally at the top, already sweating profusely, everyone refrained from talking as we made our way down technical single track. We meandered through the forest and headed out to more logging road.

As we rode, we noticed bear droppings all over the place. We knew there were bears and they smelled close. I turned to Roy and told him we are safe because we carry in our packs at all times a WBD (weapon of bear distraction): a can of sardines soaked in olive oil. It is now revealed to the public for the first time for surviving any lengthy endurance challenge. Its also great because we don't have to share this vital protein source because the aromatic pungency is overwhelming for the uneducated. It also packs really well. In the case of a bear attack, we would crack open a can of this priceless delicacy, only to sacrifice it for our survival by throwing it away from us leading the bear to his natural and favorite food.

Today was approximately 62 kilometers and the last 10k really was the beast. The large trees that riddled the windy single track make for difficult and very technical riding. As we made our way through, we quickly realized that we were in for a complete and full body workout. We began hopping in and out of the saddle to make it over and through large roots and every so often leaving the comfort of the saddle to miserably walk the bikes up a 10 foot hill only to look on and realize we need to do that again in another 20 feet. I felt as if I was juking my bike to get over these obstacles and at times I had to forcibly stop pedaling and quickly start with jarring force. We really had to be tenacious. At one point, we approached a volunteer and I asked him "about 10k to go, right?". Sadly he responded with "well, 10k of forest.". We knew we were in for it. The last four volunteers we saw continued offering up distances to us but really these were meaningless. 10k of forest is much different than 10k. When the terrain requires you to stand, sit, hop off and walk, get back on, move to the sides, juke your bike upwards and try not hitting the trees with your bar ends, it is hardly worth identifying any distance at all. Please, in the future just suggest how long a back of the packer will take to complete it. Our finishing time was 8:32:11.

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Day three begins

Apparently there is much single track to ride today. The bad news is my knee is still swollen from going over the bars and slamming it against that rock. ; ( it seems like after 125 kilometers yesterday its slightly more swollen than the day before. Yikes, if yesterday was a peak and a rest day for many, I don't feel rested. I feel like a pitiful piece of meat that has just been tenderized.

One cool thing though was late last night we were interviewed by a reporter on what we eat for a continued contention, scratch that-relentless dominance in the back of the pack. She was fascinated by our diet and how real we were. We are bringing a sense of reality to a world that carrys very little water and streamlines their food consumption to be faster and stronger. We are the #1 team in the back of the pack and make no mistake, we are proud. Real oranges need real peeling and we are the ones to do it. Stay tuned for day three completion.
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