Monday, October 01, 2007

Team HH / MOMAR Sweep the MOMARs!!!

Gary and I are ecstatic! We couldn't have asked for a better end to an already awesome season. Going into the final MOMAR of the year, Gary admitted that he was actually more nervous than any of the other races we had done. This says a lot. There was a lot riding on our shoulders as we were the previous winners of the inaugural Squamish and Shawnigan MOMARs, and it was like we had targets painted on our backs. There is also the fact that we're up against the local crowds, the people that we have come to know and have come to know us. At some of the larger races, we're just another team, but at the MOMAR, there's no hiding. Nonetheless, we went into the race with a calm demeaner and just wanted to have a solid race with no navigational issues.

We once again had our super long (25 feet?) outrigger that treated us well in the Shawnigan race and allowed us to create a large lead on the pack before we hit the bikes. However, this race was probably the most competitive of the season and with some fast boats at the start line, I knew that we wouldn't have the same advantage.

After countless Cumberland races with perfect weather, today was just not meant to be. Grey skies and misty rain started the race and it got progressively worse throughout the day. The line-up of boats at the race start is always a cool sight as racers get ready to head upwind on Lake Comox.

As with most races, the start kind of catches you by suprise and before you know it your red-lining it to make sure you get a good position. I don't think Gary or I felt super strong on the paddle but we managed to hold on to the lead pack and drafted as much as we could to help save some energy. We weren't too concerned with the pack in terms of the overall race results, but Jason Sandquist was looking strong in his surfski and we knew that we would have to make some time on him in the kayak and navigation legs in order to hold him off during the bike section of the course.

While the wind wasn't as bad as previous years, I was concerned as we turned at the buoy and started to get hit on the left with the cross wind and waves. While the outrigger is pretty stable, it doesn't do well in a crosswind on your left (since your outrigger is on the left and lifts up in waves). Also, it is meant to be paddled with offset strokes (if the bow person paddles on the left, the stern person paddles on the right). So, using kayak paddles in unison and a crosswind on the left can be a good recipe for flipping as Roger McLeod and I found out during the 2006 Cumberland MOMAR. So, we had to slow down a bit, paddle offset, and just try to get to the next buoy without flipping. We lost a bit of ground on the lead pack but this all changed when we headed downwind. Our boat just started to surf and the paddling became much easier as the waves helped us move back up to the leaders. We had a strong finish and ended up being the second boat off the water (the lead team was paddling a K2).

We got the nav map and started to go as I planned our route on the fly. The route usually tends to be a loop and in the last races, I've done a counter-clockwise route with some flat running in the beginning to work out the legs. This time, I dedided to try the other way and I think it worked out to our advantage. It allowed us to hit most of the controls before seeing another team which was great for us as having other teams around typically only makes things more stressful and, if you know what your doing, you tend to give away to other teams where the controls are. The last control we hit was on the flats beside the river and during the flat run-in we both found that maybe we had pushed a little too hard as our legs were starting to feel the burn. It's usually best to ease into the run as a hard start will build up lactic acid in the legs and this can come back to haunt you.

We hit the boats again and made off quickly as the lead team. After pushing off we saw that we were followed closely by Darrell Soefield who put in a solid effort in the first paddle and trek.

After a short paddle and we were on the bikes and into the awesome single track offered by Cumberland. The bike route looked pretty short as the bucket-of-blood trail had been cut-out to include some different singletrack; these first trails would be punishing on the legs. We hit a new trails called 'short and curly' and this trail was not well worked in, was wet, and seemed to have more roots covering the ground than actual dirt.

This was a leg cramping nightmare. I started to hurt.

During the trek my bottle of NUUN tablets had opened and I lost all my electrolyte supplies. With a hard pace and no NUUN coming in, the effort in the trek had come back to haunt me. Eveytime I would stand or spin out a little, my leg would half seize. I tried walking some sections but this didn't seem to help much. While both Gary and I are comfortable in technical trails, when your hurting, it becomes a whole different story. It wasn't just the technical nature of the trails either; some of the trail sections just didn't have much flow so, it was hard to get into a groove and just go. It wasn't until we hit 'spanker' that the trails started to flow and I was able to pick up the speed considerably. It was awesome to have my favourite trail (and Tasaka's favourite) Cumberland trail on the course this year, 'space nugget', which topped off the end of the sweet singletrack.

Hitting the Hostel, the Mystery challenge had us running through town and writing down the business names of four addresses that were given. While I'm not too fond of the mystery events usually, I thought this one was good as you didn't have to do any math or figure out any clues (Squamish comes to mind here). Just as we were finishing up, we saw Sandquist and knew that he was not far behind. We got back on the bikes, picked it up on the homestretch as other teams watched in suprise that we were just finishing the bike leg that they were just starting, and rolled into the finish area hoping that there would be no additional finish suprises.

"What do we do? Do we need another map? Straight to the finish?"

"Straight to the finish!"


We knew at this point that we had it in the bag. Just under four hours of racing! The finish was a little emotional with both of us on the verge of tears as we were so happy in our accomplishment and in each other for putting in a solid effort.

We actually finished at a great time as the rain started to turn worse and the wet trails that we rode were about to get even wetter.

Thanks again to Bryan Tasaka for putting on another successful and awesome event and a big thanks to all the volunteers who held out in the weather to make this event happen.


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