This last weekend I spent the day at Yankee Springs with two new friends. We mountain biked a 13-mile loop and then spent two hours practicing our orienteering.
All of us are training for Adventure Races. Roxane is doing the Chameleon AR and Amy and I are competing as a team in the December Chill (brrrr!).
Adventure Racing is a unique event. It's not measured by distance like running and cycling races, it's measured by time. They can be as short as 5 hours or as long as 10 days or more. AR's cover several disciplines including orienteering, mountain biking, trail running, trekking, rock climbing, ropes courses, and paddling.
The temperature was unseasonably warm and sunny. I packed a sleeveless jersey and several water bottles because I didn't want to get overheated. I also packed almonds, raisins, a banana, and some GU—I had plenty of nutrition to keep up my energy levels.
We headed out on our bikes around 1 PM. I was nervous, I had never ridden this trail before and had heard that there were advanced technical sections and that it would be very sandy. They were right about the sand. There were sections I might as well have been riding along the beach at Lake Michigan. I learned quickly how to climb out of a sandpit: get to the front of the saddle so the weight is at the front of the bike. Otherwise you'll be spinning in place.
Other than the sand, the trail was FUN. Apparently I've mountain biked enough this year and increased my skills that the technical sections were not nearly as scary as they used to be.
About 8 miles in, there is a steep, straight up climb. You feel like your bike may actually tip over backwards, the incline is that steep. All three of us spinned up to the top like we were flying. We passed 3 college guys who had to walk their bikes up (he, he). They were red in the face. This is one of the reasons I am never offended by the phrase "Ride like a girl." Girl's can ride!
After mountain biking, we refueled with water and food then set off to practice our orienteering. We hiked through a lot of rugged terrain. When you orienteer, you aren't following a trail, you are going from point A to point B. Potentially you could be hiking through a field of poison oak, a swamp, or down a deep ravine. Fortunately Amy could point out all the poisonous plans for us so we knew what to avoid.
We found all 3 of our checkpoints, each one with a rating of Difficult. We killed it out on the trail this weekend. So, watch out December Chill, we're coming after you!