Tag Archives: Wakefield

Paying it Forward at Raid Pulse

CPA1 Installed

Greetings loyal readers! It’s been a pretty busy year once again for me in the race world. I’ve participated in and covered a whole range of events from simple running events to obstacle runs, mountain bike races and triathlons. I do all of these because I love participating in them, regardless of the outcome. I enjoy the challenge of new events, and just getting to spend time outdoors with like-minded people. However, not a single one of these events could ever have gotten off the ground without the help of volunteers. To those ends, even though I’m very busy, I do try to pay it forward now and again. This past weekend, I did just such a thing at the 4-hour Raid Pulse sprint race. The key with volunteering at these events is to view them as fun, not work, and to see the great time participants are having as they tackle what could be their greatest challenge of the year. Don’t they deserve a well-run race and to cross the finish with a big smile? I think they do, so read on about the fun I had at this top-notch event!

Pictures from the Event

Raid Pulse is celebrating 11 continuous years of putting on adventure races. That’s a lifetime in the adventure racing community. Its very lifeblood is the dynamic duo of Thierry and Annick (who are now also proud parents to boot!). For the past 11 years, they’ve been putting on high-calibre local events for anybody looking for a challenge, be they experience racers or newbies. The races have ranged from 4 hour races, to 24-hour continuous races, 2-3 day staged races, and even winter events. I have participated in the majority of them and can not recall a single bad experience. I know that a lot of local racers only participate in these events, and others that got their start and interest in the sport through Raid Pulse’s events. As such, I have volunteered on a number of occasions to make sure people continue to have great experiences there.

With the 30-hour Wilderness Traverse race coming up the next weekend, I decided to not race, but to use this event as a venue to test out a few new bits of kit, and get in some training under race-like conditions. As such, Thierry gave me a pretty prime responsibility. On race morning, I was given the advanced mountain biking CPs, and asked to set up that part of the course, patrol it, then take it down once all the racers had gone through. This meant I’d get to bike the whole course (since I opted to bike from the headquarters rather than drive), and experience what the racers would experience on the bikes. In the end, I put just under 40km of biking under my belt, and had a great time. One piece of gear I was testing were my new tubeless 29er wheels, and they performed admirably, even under some pretty crap conditions (I’ll explain). I also got to test a new ‘front pouch’ system for my race pack, along with a home-made attachment system for it. All worked well, making me confident going into Wilderness Traverse.

Although we’d had drought-like conditions for much of the summer, the rain has finally returned to these parts, and the forecast was calling for rain all day. However, we once again got lucky, in that during the race, if was merely overcast. It had rained the night before, but then cleared up. That made the start of the race wet, but drying out over time (with the sun even making an appearance later!). Much of the race took place in the confines of Gatineau Parc, and I headed off on my bike from HQ in Wakefield at about 9am bound for Lac Taylor. I was confronted with a trail closure not long after setting out due to highway construction, and opted to hike up and over the area. This is where I learned of my disdain for clay.

With the rains, my bike (and feet) sunk deep into clay as I hike-a-biked the construction zone. The end result were wheels that seemed all but encased in concrete. Suddenly my new lightweight wheels seemed made of lead! I lost probably 10 minutes just trying to clear it all off before setting back out. I later learned racers actually took the main road out, and crossed the highway with the help of police instead of taking my stupid route. And on the way back, they were allowed through the fenced-off construction area to take the quick route through the construction. Silly me!

At any rate, the rest of the ride was fun on the trails, and I passed both the paddling section, as well as the bike drop-off where the trek section was located. I got my 2 remote CPs installed just after 10:30am. The race had started at 10am, and I wasn’t expecting anyone until at least 11:30ish. And true to that, my first visitor was sometime around 11:20am. For the rest of my time in the area, I hung out near a lake, with a bug-net on my head (another experiment), eating, drinking, snapping pictures, and encouraging racers. I had a race radio and was in touch with Thierry a few times to get a feel for how many teams to expect. I also recorded all the times of the people that I could as they punched the control.

After a few hours, I packed up the two remote CPs, and once again took the trails back out to the headquarters. Along the way, I stopped at the paddling and advanced trekking section, which is where most teams were now battling it out. This was the last stop before the finish line, and it was a mere 5 minutes or less away. People all seemed to be having fun, and as usual, there was a good group of volunteers on hand to make sure things went smoothly.

Rolling into the finish, there was once again a small group of helpers recording times and helping answer racers’ questions and collect the used race bibs and bike plates. The race wrapped up in the next hour or so, after which we all had a great meal of rotisserie chicken from Au Coq, while watching a slideshow of the days images (they actually ended up using mine, as they were auto-rotated). There was also a good array of prizes, most of which were drawn for, rather than awarded, which is in the spirit of including more people in the event.

All in all, Raid Pulse once again proved to be a well-oiled machine with no hiccups. We got lucky with the weather, there were no major injuries, and I believe there was practically a 100% success rate out on the course. Kudos to all! The whole point of this post is two-fold. First, do what you love. Second, if you love something, help it along, and do what you can to show others why it’s so great. Without volunteers, there would be no awesome races, so if you can, get out there once in a while and lend a hand! Up next: 30 hours of suffering and fun at Wilderness Traverse, which I WILL be racing and WILL be covering!

Towing Troubles Thwart a Team Triumph

Team Trekking

Good day to you all! Time for another race report. This one is from a 4-hour sprint Adventure Race put on by the fine folks at Raid Pulse. Normally, I wouldn’t be interested in doing an adventure race this short, but seeing as I was cleared to cover it for Get Out There Magazine, I figured why not? It’s quite surprising to look back on all my races this year. I have done a surprising number of them with Deanna! Some as team-mates, some in different events, but either way, we’ve toed the line together quite a few times together. Each race, she gets a little stronger and a little more skilled. This race was another example of that, but unfortunately, the outcome wasn’t a podium or anything. We were just happy to clear the whole course! You’ll have to read the rest of my post to find out what I mean by that. Before reading it all though, I invite you to check out some pictures from the event that I’ve posted, as well as view my quick 3 minute video race review. That’ll give you an idea of the race, then you can read my whole tale.

As with pretty much all adventures, the disciplines that we’d cover were biking, trekking, and paddling. For this particular race, the order of events was set to be mountain biking to a trekking section, back onto the bikes to a paddling section, then back on the bikes to pedal to the finish. A week before the race, I took Deanna out to Gatineau Parc to actually coach her a bit on mountain biking technique, since she has never really done any. We spent several hours out there, and the improvement was dramatic. By the end, she was much more confident in riding, handling the bike, and braking. I was quite happy, and knew that it should pay off in the race. However, in spite of the coaching, I still put on my trusty bike towing system for the race. As you might have guessed from the title of the post, this *might* not have been the best idea I’ve ever had. More specifically, my application of the idea wasn’t the best.

The race start and finish took place in Wakefield, which made it very easy to get to. With an 11am start, we were able to eat at home, and drive to the race venue with lots of time to get ready. The main biking took place on relatively easy trails in the parc. Some nice hills, but nothing too technical. The trekking section was laid out as an orienteering course, and all took place on the trails at Ski Vorlage. To finish off the challenge, the paddle was on the Gatineau River, where we’d grab a few CPs then head to the finish to celebrate. The trek and paddle CPs could be picked up in any order, allowing teams to choose the route they thought would be most efficient, or, in the case of a time crunch, skip some CPs in order to finish. Each CP had a specific point value. If you got all the regular CPs, it was good for 160pts. If you also grabbed the 3 ‘advanced’ CPs, that took you to 215pts. If you finished after 3pm, you were penalized a point for every minute you were late.

Once we were briefed on the race and had the maps in front of us, out strategy was pretty much to just race to clear the regular course. Thierry, the race director, didn’t think too many would make the advanced (only 6 teams out of 54 actually attempted it). After all, I had to take video on the course, and this was only Deanna’s 4th race. With that in mind, we lined up and awaited the start. At 10:55, set out on the course, immediately settling in to a nice mid-pack position. Once into the trails of Gatineau, we managed to pass a few teams and start to make up some ground. Deanna is a strong cyclist from all the road riding we do, so we tried to capitalize. At one point however, I suggested that she hook up to the tow so that we could grab a few more spots on the field. It went well enough for a bit, but shortly afterwards, Deanna said she wasn’t comfortable being on the tow on the trail (it’s usually easiest on pavement and gravel roads, not trails). I suggested she stay on so that we could get more practice. However, after a few more twists, turns, and an imminent downhill, I reluctantly agreed and told her to unhook. This is when pseudo-disaster struck.

I heard a fairly scared-sounding scream from behind me. Stealing a look back, I saw Deanna starting to go down. I also noticed we were still attached, with me going high speed down the hill as Deanna was at a dead stop and wiping out hard. The tow stretched. And stretched. And stretched. Surgical tubing is amazing for that. But sadly, I reached the end. My bike was actually snapped tight, then pulled backwards, causing me to a pretty amazing end-o (according to the racer who actually saw it). I landed hard on my right palm and left hip, but felt okay. I was more worried about Deanna, who hasn’t had quite as many wipeouts as I have over the years. She was already dusting herself off, and appeared mainly scratched and bruised, but generally okay. Phew. Sadly, as we were getting sorted, team after team flew by us. Ugh. Then, we realized Deanna’s front wheel would no longer spin. I was hopelessly warped. I tried loosening the brake, but even at make spread, it rubbed. I tried bashing it back into shape, but no dice there either. I was quite angry now (at the bike). After losing enough time, I made an executive decision as captain. Shoe and bike swap were in order. I could ride her bike, knowing there was only rear brakes and a fragile front wheel. My experience would mean we’d still make good time, and she’d have a comfortable safe ride on my bike. We finally got that sorted, and headed off. The first little bit was odd, but we eventually both got comfortable, and honestly, I think we might have actually made better time with swapped bikes than otherwise, as Deanna had strong reliable brakes and a comfortable position, which gave her more confidence.

We rode on strong, and once again, started making up time on teams. We’d probably lost the better part of 20 minutes all told with our accident, and in a 4-hour race that is an eternity. However, we also didn’t want to push too hard. A good decision further on the bike route also helped us pass a group of 5 or 6 teams. They’d all chosen to seek a lakeside trail at Lac Phillipe, whereas I took us on the campground roads. We never saw those teams again till the finish line. The rest of the bike was uneventful, if not hot, and we arrived at the trekking transition set to go. A quick change of shoes, helmet removal and grabbing a Vanilla Boost, and we were off. I’d planned what I suspect was the most efficient route for the trekking CPs, and we struck off.

By now, Deanna was getting a bit hot and tired, so I grabbed her pack to carry for her while she could drink and eat more to keep the energy up. The process of picking up the trekking CPs was quite straightforward. With the aid of a good topo map which showed where the ski runs were, we hit all the CPs perfectly. I was surprised when I saw some teams searching for CPs or heading into the bush where they shouldn’t have. Our only slight issue was that at the end of the trek, I was looking for a trail that should have been at the base of the mountain, but couldn’t find it. The unfortunate solution was climbing about halfway back up the ski hill to rejoin the original trail we’d taken. This took a bit more out of Deanna and I felt bad about the extra climbing. Top teams ended up clearing the full trek in 1 hour even. Our time for all CPs was 1hr 20mins. Totally respectable for sure.

Coming out of the trek, we had less than an hour to get to the paddle, clear the 3 CPs, and bike to the finish. It was definitely going to be tight, but we are comfortable paddlers, and had faith in our ability. We focused on getting through transitions quickly, and had a plan going into each one. At the trek, we opted to keep our trek shoes on rather than putting on bike shoes. Just put on helmets, and biked to the next transition. At the paddle, I put together the kayak paddles, and we helped each other put PFDs and jerseys on (jerseys have to be outermost layer). I also spotted a nice kevlar canoe which I could easily portage to the put-in. Without even pausing, I grabbed it, hoisted it, and took off at a jog while Deanna followed with our gear. We put in the water, and set off right away paddling hard.

The plan was easy. Paddle downstream for the first 2 CPs, then paddle hard upstream to grab the final CP, at which point we could then spin around and follow the current back to the canoe take-out. We had no problems grabbing our CPs, and again managed to pass a few teams on the water who were less comfortable paddling as us (all that kayaking has definitely paid off for Deanna’s paddling skills). Before the take-out, we once again reviewed the plan. We’d hit the exit, I’d toss my paddle and bag, which Deanna would grab and take back to the TA. She’d get out helmets, which we’d put on, and put our packs over our PFDs rather than changing. Meanwhile I once again hoist the boat and run it back to the transition. This all went smoothly, helping us be back on our bikes in no time. The final bike was a mere 400-500m, so we just had to cross the main road and head back to the start. We found ourselves in a big pack of racers waiting to cross the road. As soon as there was a break in the traffic, they all went gangbusters.

I started going hard, but realized it was sort of pointless. We were, for all intents and purposes, done, and pipping a team in the last few meters wasn’t going to accomplish anything. Instead, I let up a bit, and we just cruised to the finish while I shot some video. The finish line was a flurry of activity with teams yelling their numbers to be recorded at the finish. It was only then that we realized our official finish time was 14:59. One minute to spare!! We had no idea, since we hadn’t carried a watch. Too funny. However, we’d managed to finish 100% of the regular course, which by looking at the results, was nothing to sneeze at. It looks like only half the teams finished the full course, and even less finished the full course and finished before 3pm! Our final ranking shows as 6th in category, and 20th overall. In my books, we were actually more like tied for 5th in category, and 15th overall, based on the big blob of teams that finished at the same time as us. All in all, a great results given our bike accident.

Once the race was all done, we all got to enjoy a great meal of rotisserie take-out chicken from Au Coq while prizes were given out and stories of the day were told. I told our story, which nabbed me a prize, PLUS I won a draw prize as well. Good deal. Although we’d raced a good race, I’d also decided to squeeze in a bit of extra pain for the day for myself. I opted to mountain bike back home through the parc, an extra 45km in the hot, sticky night. It was a great solitary ride, giving me time to reflect on what a great day we’d had, and how lucky I am to get to share it all with someone I love. Not something I take for granted, believe me! Then, the next morning, a torturous 25km run in the crappiest humidity conditions ever. By Sunday night, I was a hurting unit, but grinning from ear to ear for the great outdoor fun I’d had. We’re already looking forward to another fun weekend, this time relaxing a bit out at Calabogie (although I’ll likely cycle to and from for training!). Till then, hope you enjoyed my little story.