Last Saturday Team Vignette raced at Tyler State Park. Steel Sports hosted a fun race called "Pain in the Pines", and it was John's first adventure race since hurting his knee playing rugby last fall. Dave and Jason rounded out the team and Kip came along to take a bunch of photos (including all of the ones below and many more).
The race started with a relay sprint to pick up skeet targets. Sadly, we didn't get to do anything else with the clay targets, including break or shoot at them. Maybe next time.
Here is Rodney (the race director) leading the sprint pack, with Dave not far behind in the red jacket:
From there we hit the bike trails. The guys let me lead the way, so I conserved my energy for all the second-half uphills and tried to focus on technique. The piney woods were a lot more fun that our normal Central Texas rocks, even with a few roots here and there, and we made good time.
Kip caught up to us in the woods for a few action shots:
One of Dave's boys gave John a high-five:
Dave punching a checkpoint and securing the passport in his pocket:
We saw a couple other teams behind us, and a solo racer passed us early on. We passed him back in the steep uphill switchback section (I was walking faster than he was) and stayed ahead of him for the rest of the ride. More checkpoints, more fun riding. I made it to the end with strong legs, so that made me happy.
We checked into TA and plotted a couple points on the lake. Time to paddle! But first we did a quick out-and-back when Dave realized he had left the passport on the table. Oops. We recovered quickly and biked down the hill to the boats:
John was careful (mostly) when getting in and out of the canoe. Only once did he try to push off before I was seated, and much shrieking ensued. I think the campers across the lake heard me.
Here he is getting in gently:
We docked the canoes in two places to run into the woods and find a checkpoint. The paddle nav was slightly harder than normal, which we appreciated.
After biking back up the hill to TA, we were given directions toward the ropes course - a tyrolean traverse across a ravine. Fun! But first we had to retrieve the passport we left in TA... again, it didn't take long and we were soon tromping through the woods toward the ropes.
John was glad to be racing again for the first ropes we have done in quite a while:
Notice the tongue - not sure if it makes me faster:
Dave and John helping me across:
Jason doing midair acrobatics:
John taking a short cut back across - Jason and I decided against it for safety reasons (safety third!):
From there we were back on our bikes for an interesting "urban clue" section. We visited the camp store to find out what color shirts the black bears were wearing, the BBQ restaurant outside the park entrance to check out their menu, a nearby church to determine what year they were founded, and a couple of places along the back roads to see what the signs read.
It would have been even more enjoyable if Jason's bike didn't lose a pedal along the way. The threads stripped right out, and no amount of duct tape seemed to be the answer (say it ain't so!). He ended up pedaling with only his left leg, as Dave towed him. They are both animals - John and I had to work to keep up. Amazing.
We were just glad this happened at a relatively short race and not at Eco-Lonestar last weekend...
Back to TA with the one-pedal bike:
Copying our answers onto the passport:
Next we had a long trekking section around the park. Kip was allowed to accompany us to take photos (and not help with the nav). It was fun having Kip on the team again!
We didn't take a great route to the first checkpoint:
But eventually Jason spotted it:
Running on trail a short ways:
The next checkpoint by the creek:
A neat checkpoint location in the middle of a "piney thicket" - a bunch of thin trees close together creating a nice dark spot in the middle of the woods:
On the road again:
From Kip's set of photos, it would appear that we spend way too much time looking at the map and talking things over:
But at least it gave John time to mug for the camera ...
... and go for a walk:
On the move through some more brush (and that's where the "pain" part of the race title comes into play):
Luckily we had more clear woods than underbrush to deal with:
Except for this one big tree across the trail!
Phew, we made it over that obstacle:
We found all the trekking checkpoints without incident. One last leg - a "ride and tie" with 2 bikes and 4 people. I got to ride the whole 1-mile loop (thanks guys!) and my teammates switched off with the other bike:
We finished in about 5 hours in first place. Woo hoo! Well done, team V. And thank you to Rodney for an enjoyable romp in the beautiful Piney Woods. Congratulations to John for finishing his first adventure race in many months - and coming through with no knee problems. An excellent, sunny day in Tyler.