Location: Ochoco National Forest North Unit
Team: Jen, Stephen, Daniel
Disciplines: Trekking, Mountain Biking, Kayaking
Hours Slept: none
Favorite Sections of the Course:
Mountain biking in the Ochocos is world-class. A lesser-known destination around Bend, it’s pretty empty, and features stunning views, monster climbs, and technical descents. We did all of this on our 19-lbs Lauf fork equipped 29er hardtails from Ellsworth, which remarkably emerged no worse for wear. I had way more fun than I expected to on my ultralight climbing machine – I was dreading the sustained and rocky drops right up until the moment they started.
What we loved:
The navigation was challenging and a ton of fun. The national forest that hosted this event is full of complex and devious terrain, which Jason put to great use. There were a few key sections where I knew that he had specifically chosen CP locations because simple navigational blunders could make them impossible to find. When I’m navigating, finding checkpoints is like solving a puzzle, and when things go well, it feels amazing. Other times, you stumble around in the dark for hours (it’s usually in the dark), and find nothing. Gotta take the lows to get to the highs!
Most talked about topic:
I was the most talked about topic, or more specifically, how I was feeling. I definitely chose the wrong kit for this race, and overheated early. The race was too short and fast to properly recover from this (which often takes hours), and so Stephen and Jen nursed me along as quickly as possible. In the end, despite being severely dehydrated and low on calories, I believe we only lost about 15 minutes to the other top teams from this! For a good deal of the race, Stephen carried my pack, and Jen dragged me. I outweigh her by 70lbs or so, and yet she was able to pull me for hours, allowing me to gain enough strength to eventually be able to retake my pack and move under my own power. Amazing.
Most breathtaking moment:
The view from the top of lookout mountain is stunning. A row of snow-speckled volcanoes in the distance, rolling hills… Also, the climb site was situated next to a gargantuan freestanding tower, we rappelled just as dusk finishing up, and the colors and views were special.
Most exciting moment:
During the final paddle, I overheard the first-place team (Ogres and a Jedi) discussing the fact that they were disappointed at having not found the final lake point. We talked to them a bit, trying hard not to reveal the excitement of this fact: all we had to do to win is find the checkpoint they had missed! We very methodically worked our way through the nav, and wound up finding the point. It wasn’t easy, but nighttime nav can be a pretty complicated beast, especially when paddling.
Key gear pieces:
Our hardtail bikes were amazing! I was stunned at the terrain they happily consumed. We might have been faster on some of the descents with more trail-oriented bikes, but I wouldn’t have traded them for the world on a race with 8000ft or so of climbing!
Once my stomach turned on me, I pretty much survived on raspberry flavored Tailwind, dropped straight into my mouth. It’s like “pixie stix” for AR!
Take heat exhaustion seriously. I’ve had no problems with it for years due to wearing the right kit, and making sure to keep my outer layers wet. It sucked to have to be reminded in such a visceral way!