Monday, July 18, 2016

Wildcat Mountain Chronicles: Couch Jockey Retires

I've let too much time go by.  I've been too lazy.

At the constant and infernal behest of my mountain biking friend Kris I convinced Mandy to sign us up for the Wildcat Mountain Challenge in Rockcastle County.  The three stage race was scheduled to take place the day after our sixteenth wedding anniversary so it was kind of our gifts to each other.  Maybe that wasn't the best idea.

The race was broken down into three stages...well, three and a pre-stage.  The first leg started in "downtown" Livingston and participants ran south on US 25 for about a mile to a transition at the Rockcastle River into kayaks. The first full stage was a four mile paddle downstream to another transition on bikes for six miles on the paved road. The final leg was an off road run back to town advertised as five miles but eight in reality.

I'm not going to go into the harsh critique of the event as I am wont to do. Instead I'm going to stick to a simple race report and you can infer from my wicked prose how the whole thing was put together.

Firstly, I did not train.  Let's make sure we're all on the same page here.  I've not "trained" for so long that most of my chronic injury pain is gone.  Cured.  Healed.  Miraculously cleansed.  My knees haven't felt so good in years.  Even my back is slowly sorting itself out.  I'm at nearly my heaviest weight, and presumably some chainsmokers are more cardiovascularly fit than I.  Well, that might be a stretch.

So why did I sign up for this race?  Ugh, it's a Monday morning.  I hardly have the mental energy to try and unpack yet another dubiously motivated fee-assessed adventure.

But here goes...

Kris kept posting up on social media the link to the Wildcat Mountain Challenge on various Facebook groups we're both members of.  Prod, prod, prod.  It sounded interesting and fun and the cost was effective: $20.  Our 16th wedding anniversary was Friday—Mandy and I; Kris and I are not married—and it sounded like something we might both enjoy.

Now, for all of you guys out there that have been married long enough to have made this mistake let me assure you that I approached this subject with caution.  If I heard any of you uttering those words (“signed us up for an off-road race for our anniversary”) I would probably smash your kneecaps for your own future well-being. 

The reason I felt comfortable broaching such a subject with my amazing and beautiful wife of sixteen years is that she really digs kayaking, cycling, and running.  Now, she’s never had a strong affinity for mountain biking or trail running, but…close enough, right?

The problems started when we couldn’t figure out from the website if we needed to take our road bikes or mountain bikes.  It seemed as if road bikes would do, but the wording said something about mountain bikes being appropriate.  To further complicate things the wording changed while we were pondering this matter over a couple of days.  A point blank Facebook question by another participant seemed to settle the matter and we took our mountain bikes.  Acctually, we took my mountain bikes as Mandy does not have one of her own these days.  We discovered that she can ride The One so when we’ve gone off road I’ve ridden the Slutty Single Speed*.

Since I had no real expectations or aspirations of victory I figured “what the heck!”  I’m just going to have fun anyway.  Why worry about gears?

We had our boats, we had our bikes, and we wrestled with footwear for the entire event leading up to the five (eight) mile finishing trail run.  I decided to start off wearing my bike shoes, do the paddle, do the bike, and change into running shoes at the bike to run transition.  I would take a small day pack through the entire race.  Mandy rides my bike with flat pedals** so she was decided to wear her old running shoes for the entire event.  Oddly enough, our choices of footwear would become the least of the myriad concerns by the time the race started.

We arrived bright and early in Livingston.  Nothing was really going on.  There weren’t even signs pointing us to the registration area yet.  We had to ask around before finding out that it was in the tourism office.  At 8:00am (as it had been advertised) registration had NOT begun.  People were starting to show up.  The online instructions stated that as soon as you were registered you should take your boats to the put-in and your bikes to the transition location or you could let the organizers shuttle your bike(s) to the spot.  We opted to do our own transporting, but when registration lagged we were worried.

After finally getting our numbers (but no safety pins) we scrambled out to drop off our things.  We were the first to drop boats and bikes and when we got back to town to the start it was ten minutes before the race was supposed to begin.  Everyone assumed there would be a delayed start, but there was no official announcement to this effect.  In fact, there were no official announcements to any effect. 

I just realized this post is going to go long.  How about I split it into a two parter?  We’ll pick up tomorrow with the start of the race…

*The meaning of this nickname will be the topic of a future blawg post.

**I recently put the new Crank Brothers Double Shot pedals on my bike so we could easily switch between the two of us as she does not ride clipless off pavement.  I will also do a guerilla review of these in a near future post.  

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