FOTC: Tracy Arr Storms the Trent (Race Report)
Tracy Arr (she’s a pirate!) is relatively new to the world of mountain biking. I met her at the King Weekly Race Series (my Tuesday night race series)–actually, I met her BEFORE the series. She sent an email to Team Colin asking for my advice about the race series, we chatted, she raced, and we’ve been buds ever since.
Prior to her first race, she had the same reservations about racing that we all have.
She is the same as the rest of us.
Except not really.
You see, while she is new to mountain biking, she is old (maybe that’s poor phrasing) to bossness. Tracy is an adventure racer. Adventure races are epically hard, gruellingly difficult, slogs through ALL that Ontario has to discover: hiking (although I think they call it “trekking”), biking, and paddling.
And the courses aren’t short.
She’s part of a team called “Team Breakfast Club”, and they don’t just compete in tough races, they raise money for charity too. Awesome.
Here is her Race Report for Storm the Trent 2018.
Spoiler alert: like her, it’s awesome.
Storm the Trent: May 2018
Trek Course. Distance Approximately 55km:
- 39km MTB
- 9km Trek
- 7km Paddle.
Expected Finish Time: 4-7 Hours
This was Year 7 forTeam Breakfast Club, and a new Haliburton edition of Storm the Trent (in its 17th year). In true adventure racing fashion, Race Director Sean mixed it up at an all new location, and race date! In addition to the new location, Team Breakfast Club (Tracy, Ginger, & Emily, Minus Connie), also mixed it up with a New Team member Kim. Cherylle also joined us as a solo racer.
Leading up to the race, the weather for the weekend looked mostly promising: warm temperatures, with the potential for rain, and a possible thunderstorm. As with Storm races in the past, the weather always played a factor–from blistering heat, to torrential rain, to the occasional snowflake.
On Friday night, we met with our team at Pinestone Resort, where we set-up home base, enjoyed some laughs, and shared stories of past AR races. Between our two transport vehicles, we managed to load an exceptional amount gear: 2 canoes, 1 kayak, 5 mountain bikes,gear bins, mandatory gear, food (ALL the food), shoes, clothing, and a plethora of other items we might need for the race.
Our day started at 7AM, on a cool May morning: we left the hotel early to grab some breakfast and coffee at Timmy’s, on our way to the gear drops. I am always super excited on race morning, and want to check-in super early to have as much time as possible with the maps. I know, not everyone takes the navigation part as seriously as I do. However, I feel this is where my strength lies. I’m not a runner; my mountain biking skills are improving but in no way would I classify them as fast; and our canoeing is average, but again not exactly fast, so smart and efficient route choices, are really where our team excels…
Okay, mostly me but hey we can’t all be runners!
First stop was the bike drop: we affixed our plates, and left our bike gear; next, to the canoe drop; and finally to race check-in. The organization always astounds me, with how seamlessly 100s of racers can drop off gear and get checked-in. I always love getting to the first race of the year–seeing familiar faces, sizing up the competition–and the thrill and excitement of a fresh new Adventure Race season!
Once checked-in we finally got our maps (my favourite part!), where we finally got to see what’s in store for us over the next 4-7 hours. The course consisted of navigating to 14 Check Points (CP’s) via:
- a 7km paddle to start
- a 5 km run to the bike pickup
- a short trail MTB
- a foot trek through a trail system
- back onthe bikes for a long gravel/road ride
- another trek with some bushwhack
- back on the bikes to the finish
It looked like a great adventure ahead! I always consult my co-nav, Ginger, especially on the running sections, because “two heads are better than one!”. This is especially true in AR. No two people look at the map the same way, and always through their own lens, typically based on that person’s strength. And of course, its Adventure Racing! It’s a TEAM sport, which is why it’s so great! WE work together, route planning and then executing that plan.
Another thing I always find amusing with AR, is just getting to the start line! With a page long list of mandatory team gear required for the race, as well as individual gear. The act of organizing the food and gear can be a challenge in itself! In previous years we joked “we should name our team Killed it in Gear Check!”
As with all AR, the race briefing is always informative, and Sean stressed the importance of staying with your team! Remember it’s a team sport!
It was at this moment we realized, Emily was given the wrong bib. #Oops!
The water start is always fun, with a reminder warning, “Get off the water if there is lightening!”. At 11am it was GO time, and it was a mad paddle! The smaller kayaks, were jostled by the larger canoes, all jockeying for a spot to get to the CP’s first! The added excitement of most of the canoes using kayak paddles made for a wet start, which was welcome in the increasing heat. The water was a raging torrent–well not exactly, but it sure was fun! We manage to stick together, and got to the CP’s; which also gave the clues to the whereabouts of CP’s that later on in the race. At about the mid-point, Ginger and Emily’s canoe pulled ahead, and they reached the 2nd and 3rd CP’s first. We convened and I tried to write down the clues from our memories, which, to say the least, was moderately comical
“did it say log pile by swamp?”
“I thought it said “boulder by trail junction””
I jotted down what we THOUGHT was correct, and we made a mad paddle to finish the canoe section. The Paddle on Head Lake took about an hour, and went through town, with spectators observing and cheering teams from the bridge above.
We then quickly transitioned to foot, and set out for a run to the bikes, and the Transition Area. Spirits were high on our way to Glebe Park, and we were moving well, with minor chitchat while trying to run. I knew our competition was ahead of us, but not by much. I just couldn’t help my competitive streak; it’s always in the back of my mind “can we catch up?” In last year’s STT, the 4 teams of 4 female racers were separated by a mere 11 minutes at the end of the race, so every second counts.
Once on the bikes, we immediately took on the hilly highlands, on an assortment of ATV trails, to the next CP. The trails were a little rough, kinda muddy, and two-way traffic on one section added an element of danger. Patience, and serious attention! There were a lot of walks up the hills in this section, where I started to get concerned about our pace. Back on the main ATV trail, with one directional traffic, there was an assortment of huge puddles–in AR we go THROUGH the puddles, all of them, up to our seats–and blackflies to spice it up! In the largest and deepest puddle, there was a group of possibly 10 racers walking their bikes, but I was determined to ride through the puddle, around the racers, and I made it all the way to the other side! To say this was a proud moment for me would be an understatement. I heard cheers from the walking racers “look at her go!”
If you have thing about not swimming with your bike… AR is not for you.
At the end of the trail, a fast mostly downhill road ride lifted our spirits, and we sped to the next TA where we transitioned to the first trek.
Navigation here was key. Armed with hints from the paddle CP’s, and a LARGE scale map (7500:1), it’s easy to overshoot your location. Attention to trail types is imperative. At the first junction I was slightly confused and thought
“Have we gone too far?”
“Not far enough?”
As always with AR, it’s rarely too far, so at the next junction, I was reoriented, and we found the CP with ease. This trek was incredibly scenic, and easy to keep a good pace. In AR you can’t move faster than your slowest teammate, so Ginger hooked-up a tow line to me a few times (a common situation because I can move faster). Perhaps we should though that out more clearly–and chosen a clearer trail. Later on, a mild crisis in the form of a full on wipeout occurred! It was nothing serious but enough to put the tow line away until clearer trails! We found our CP’s and headed back to the TA and our bikes.
With the 4pm time cutoff looming, we needed to make quick work of the next bike section, which was mostly gravel, and very hilly roads. The last section before a time cut-off always stresses me out! In past events there have been shouts (from me) to the other canoe of “Dig deep! Go faster!” in order to make the time cut-off, (which we did, but only minutes–but I digress) Back to present race… The dig deep chant is a memory that always seems to get brought up at some point in every race!
This section took a little longer than expected as fatigue was settling in, and the challenge of the first race of the season was known, but we made the time cutoff at the TA, even with a minor crash! We refuelled, and managed minor injuries.
The last trek section was a little more intricate with less distinct trails, some bushwhacking, and strategy for CP order and approach. The blackflies definitely made themselves known as we navigated through beaver dams, thick brush, and swampy trails. I’m sure the scent of Muskol followed us through the woods like a hazy, greasy cloud. During these treks ,where CP’s can be attempted in any order, knowing your position in the race is impossible, which adds to the excitement! It’s just you and your team, pushing through, and finding CP’s. My route choice to the last CP was questionable, as we may have made better time through an alternate option, however fatigue was setting in, and the heat taking its toll, so more definite navigational choices were made. I was wishing for the rain at this point to cool off a bit, but that didn’t happen. Wishful thinking I guess!
Upon our return to the last TA, we were given the option to bike the original route (a VERY hilly road course, with the final CP being on top of a huge hill), or return the way we came on the gravel trail. Before the decision was made, we (I)needed to know the location of the one other team in our division? I thought they are ahead. It was confirmed, and we made the decision that was best for the team, opting for the less hilly gravel route to the finish. I never like to take the short course option, but in AR team comes first, and it doesn’t matter how one individual feels, everyone needs to be considered. The ride back was average speed, grit, sand, dirt, and bugs all stuck to our oily and Muskolled (did I just make that a verb?) arms, as we chatted about our race, while watching ominous clouds move in towards town.
We finished in just around 7 hours, a hard fought race and a great day in the woods with our new friends and teammates coming together to achieve a goal. The all-female team of four division was thin this year with only two teams, and we took a solid second, not too far behind the leaders.
The course was a fabulous mix of gravel, woods, a scenic paddle through town, and fun navigation! STT is always a great start to the Adventure Racing Season, a reminder of the hard work, and training required to participate in one of the best sports on earth. I loved exploring the new race area, totally new and totally awesome! Did I mention it was awesome! Because it was! Every year I wish I had signed up for the Sunday course as well. Maybe get out of my comfort zone? Try a solo race? Maybe next year will be the year?
Something I am increasingly in awe of is the Sunday short course, family division. It is so great to see the next generation of adventure racers getting out there with their family, and tackling these courses. This year there were 9 teams in the family division! Other outstanding accomplishments include many families racing together with their kids in the trek and trek elite courses, in non-family divisions! We have not yet attempted the Trek Elite Course (early season lack of training plays a role in this decision! so when families with kids take on this tough course, it’s just awesome!
In the end, Adventure Racing embodies the perfect mix of strategy, athleticism, teamwork, and determination.
Looking forward to the 2018 AR Season with Team Breakfast Club.
On to the RockstAR in July
A Final Comment from Team Colin
This post NOT about mountain biking.
And that’s okay.
It’s a post about someone who moves out of her comfort zone (and her team too) to and pushes her physical limits (and her team too).
And that’s awesome.
My blog is about someone who consistently moves out of his comfort zone (hey, that’s me), and pushes his physical limits (still me). Also, if you’ve ever seen me covered in spandex, you probably know that I push other people out of their comfort zones too… So, when Tracy submitted her words, I jumped to post them. This is exactly the stuff I’m looking for, and I think, the stuff people want to read about.
And that’s even more awesome.
Ride (and paddle, and trek)
- Race Reports
- Cool Bikey Talk
- Bike and Gear Reviews
- New Race Information
Send your words and a few pictures to: TeamColinBlog@yahoo.com
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