2011 Blue Ridge
Blue Ridge Adventure Race 2011 Info
- Blue Ridge Mountain Adventure Race
- Date: April 9, 2011
- Location: Blue Ridge, GA
- Event Details: 10 hour cut-off
- Event Description:
- 46 miles of mountain biking on single track, quad trails, rail trails & back roads, trekking & orienteering, and canoeing.
- Event Points Category:
- Checkpoint Tracker Sprint-length Race
- Teams Registered:
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Blue Ridge Results
- Placed 8th in Co-ed, 9th if you include Masters division; 11th overall
- Finish time: 9hrs 13min; with 1 hr bonus CP: 8hrs 13min.
Blue Ridge Reviews
This was my son's first adventure race (not counting the Challenge Four Kids length race). His last season of Cross Country, followed by track season, and biking home after track practice, left him in prime shape. It was all we could do to keep up with Dylan (15 years old). He was waiting on us at the top of every hill. He punched every checkpoint on the course (including the 1hr time bonus at the top of Hickey Knob).
I wasn't sure how deep "Deep Hole" was, and since we got to the start 10 minutes before the start, we really didn't have time to scope out the river. We biked around with a few other teams, rather than crossing the river for CP1. We then biked to CP-A and CP-B (swinging footbridge over the Toccoa). Then it was up John Dick Branch (FS248) for CP-D. We figured it connected to FS332, which was on the other side of the Benton MacKaye, and sure enough, an abandoned FS road was there. We actually rode through some dude's campsite. He was sleeping in a sleeping bag in the middle of the Benton MacKaye--almost had to bunny hop him. Shortly after that, our teammate, JoEllen, decided the trail was too easy, and she left the trail to head straight down the mountain. She managed to grab a tree to stop her decent and now has a nice sprocket tattoo.
We picked up CP-G, which was cleverly hidden, so you could not see it unless you looked back while riding a rocky trail covered with leaves. Since the trail was not on the map, it was a bit difficult to tell that it was about 50 meters uphil from the trail, behind a tree. Nice.
Then it was down to the infamous CP2. We saw about 20 bikes dropped too soon (before the ridge/spur that the road went over). This was probably due to all the streams that were not on the map. We biked over this ridge, but apparently there was another ridge (or it looked bigger in person), as we were still one ridge short. Looking at the map again now, I can see how we could have been thrown off, as the road goes up over a spur (rather than contouring), just before the real ridge. The stream was pretty small in person, considering all the other larger streams out there, that were not on the map. Anyway, we spent probably 45 minutes before we were at the right spot. It was definitely a hard one to find, but once we were in the right reentrant, it was right there, at the merging of the two streams.
After this, we biked up the gravel road that was manually drawn in on the map, ditched bikes, hiked up to Peter Knob for CP3 (love the names in this area:Little John Dick Mt, Big John Dick Mt...). Then back to bikes, down the road a bit to find CP4. This is where we found the "old hunters trail", so we biked that down to CP5, then CP6&7 with no real issues (aside from not knowing exactly where that trail was going to let out on the stream...and the private property signs..). Then we biked it in to CP8/TA1 around 12:30pm, where my wife and brother had a one of those sport tents set up. Nice and shady. Later I saw the pictures of it, flipped upside down on my new Xterra...luckily my 78" canoe rack protected it from any real damage.
The portage to the Noontootla was great, until we hit the 6" stumps in the bushwacked cut to the river (but I guess it could have been an UNCUT bushwhack--plenty of those later in the race). The Noontootla at this point reminded me of the Etowah, and was a nice paddle. We passed a team of an all male team in what appeared to be a tub boat (a wide canoe with big black rubber strips down the side). They caught back up to us at the Griffith Cemetary (CP9), as we spent some time swimming in the river. Okay, so I tested the depth with my paddle (knee deep), then stepped out of the canoe maybe 6" away and ended up chest deep. Then as we pulled the canoe up the bank, JoEllen's paddle slid out of the boat. She dove in after it, catching it before it left the reach of the boat. After dragging herself out of the water, she was questioning why she had to get the paddle. Dylan and I looked at each other, then looked at our paddles that never left our hands, and she knew the answer.
Back in the boat after getting CP9, we paddled down to the Sandy Bottom takeout, which came faster than expected. Stepping out of the canoe, my leg cramped--groin muscle. Despite my pleading, no one volunteered to rub out my groin cramp... We saw Ben, Stephanie, and Wren (Team ROC Gear teammates). What a nice surprise!
We picked up CP10, we made it to the waypoint and were putting in at Tilley Bend at 2:03pm. That water was really moving, since the lake level was way down. My wife and brother were there to give us a cheer. Josh was barking for us to get going, but we were getting prepared for the sprint across the river to the other bank. We managed to find a bank to hold onto, so Dylan could go for his solo trek for CP11, CP12, and the Bonus checkpoint at the top of Hickey Knob. After he disappeared into the woods with map and compass, and we left the bank, flying down through the rapids, we started questioning if that was the best idea. What if he got lost? What if we didn't stop the canoe in the right spot (we'd planned on picking him up due north of the bonus CP). Too late now. Trusting our compass, we found the location and tied off on a stump (as the strong winds made it hard to maintain position). We saw several racers waiting for canoes, and canoes looking for racers. Again we began to question our decision, but about 5 minutes after we arrives, there he was! Boy were we glad to see him!
We watched one team paddle their runner across the river, and drop him off on the north bank to go get CP13. We had decided to paddle up to the cove and go get CP13 as a team. We actually ran into the runner, who was looking for his team...who had apparently overshot the cove for the pickup. There was at least one other racer sitting at the cove looking for his boat---and further northwest, canoes waiting for their runners. Back in our boat, we paddled to CP14 for the portage from hell. Up and over the peninsula to pick up the CP and avoid the extra 2k of paddling in that strong headwind.
We arrived at CP15/TA2 at 4:38pm. Plenty of time to make the 4.2 mile bike to the finish. Josh asked if I knew the way, and of course I said, "Yes, it's easy". Famous last words. I thought I had it memorized, and maybe it was the traffic at Aska Rd, but we made a left onto Aska Rd--rather than crossing it, onto Mineral Springs! Three huge hills later, and across Weaver Creek, it hit us that this was the WRONG WAY. We turned around and climbed those three huge hills again on the way back (which was hard to do, while kicking myself for making that rookie mistake). Now back on track, it was a short ride to the finish line. We finished at 5:13pm (9hrs 13 minutes), and cleared the course--despite my navigational error at the end and at CP2. I'm proud of my son's performance, and you can expect to see him out at other races, because he's hooked!
Oh, and today, he went for a 15 mile bike ride "to keep from getting sore"...ah to be young again!
At the start we had to make a rather big decision. Do we swim the River at "deep hole" and get the checkpoint right on the other side? Or do we take an extra 2.5 K on the bikes? We decided to take the 2.5k knowing that getting soaked at the start of the race would be a bad idea.
After getting CP1 without any problem (besides the fact i still had to wade across a river!) we biked to get CPA,CPC,CPD,CPG (those were the 4 "choose ones" we got, we had to back track on CPG about 400 yards on foot cause we over shot). When we went to hit CP 2, we ditched the bikes 1 creek to short and ended up searching for a checkpoint that wasn't actually there for about 45 min. We decided that it was best to forget about it and move on. 10 min. later we got a tip that we under shot it. We took that tip to a rather extreme measure although it was a prety big gamble and bushwacked for about 20 min into the woods. FOUND IT! and then got out of there as quick as possible. Got back on the bikes and took off trying to make up for the lost time.
Biked, and got CP3, CP4, CP5, CP6, and CP7, half of them we were biking through what looked like hunter/deer trails. Was pretty interesting to bike considering how fast we were going with little to no trail.
When we got to the transition I was feeling a little "iffy" on the fact our support crew did not have a lot of experience being, well, the "support crew"--however she did AWESOME. Everything was laid out in front of us. We traded bladders grabbed some snacks and hauled of the canoe in a breeze. Hit CP9 on the canoe and then CP10. At CP10 my teammates decided to go for a lil "swim". I, however, stayed fairly dry.. knees up any how.
Way point 1. A mile portage... You dont know what a prortage is until you do a mile one. Lets just leave it at that. Getting into the river again, to be dropped off on the other side to do my solo run, I was feeling the pressure. "What if I screwed up my bearings and got lost, then my team would be sitting there in the canoe waiting for me forever." Then I thought, "Well the land I'm being dropped of on is only 3.5 square K if I did get lost, I would surely be able to run all up and down the place until I found them". Stepping off onto the "bonus" land about 50 yards was a 10 foot wall of dirt where the lake carved out the peak. I was literaly climbing it with roots sticking out the ground from the trees above. After making it up I ran to the first peak CP11 (was only 97 feet of elevation gain) then heading to CP12 I got a little of trail but managed to follow a creek up to it and nailed it. Then came the "bonus". I dont think that name suits it--it should have been called "suicide" or somthing like that. Following the forest service road and looking down at the map. I realized it was the highest peak in the entire flippin Blue Ridge! You can only imagine the things going through my head when I looked up at the mountain that was so big I couldnt even see the top! 1800 feet ALL THE WAY UP TO 2277!! straight up. NO TRAILS ALL BUSHWACKING. Note: 1800-2277 in about 1 kilometer. Was absolutely INSANE. When I got the top, the guy up there looked surprised to see me, so I faked a laugh and said "Ha, that's like my backyard :p" Got the wrist band and made a mad dash to the shore to the north, where my team waited across the river, and I waved them down. Paddled to CP13 with head on winds probably 15-20 miles an hour nonstop! Then to CP14. We portaged at CP14, and it was by far the hardest thing of the entire race besides the "suicide" but we managed.
Arriving at CP15, hopped on the bikes and took off to the finish...maybe we took off a little too fast as we went up 3 HUGE UNFORGETABLE/UNFORGIVABLE hills. After realizing our mistake, we turned around and headed for finish. Finished with 9 hours and 13 min with an official time of 8:13 ("suicide" gave us a 1 hour time bonus)
Overall awesome race! Definately want to do it again.
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