Thursday, September 28, 2017

Cowboy Tough - pre-race fun

Team Vignette converged on Casper, Wyoming last month, along with a bunch of fellow adventure racers from around the world.  It was finally happening!  And now I'm finally writing about it!  We were ready to finish getting ready and get this show on the road.

Introducing Dave, Leslie, Tom, (me), and a bunch of our new racing friends:

Taking over two hotel rooms with bike boxes, gear boxes, a giant paddle bag, and a bunch of gear:

I guess we have to figure out what to do with all this stuff:

The bag for the paddle gear was so large we determined that it would fit the smallest member of our team.  Although not under the weight limit.  Or without lots of giggling.

For the record, it was quite comfortable in there, no matter what this picture might suggest...

Checking in and picking up our jerseys - team #139:

Ready for the parade to downtown Casper:

Chatting and meeting other racers as we walked to downtown, following the route we figured we'd finish the race on in a few days:

John followed us downtown to get more photos:

There was a brief opening ceremony with a couple speeches, then we were given a map of the downtown streets and told to visit a few places to complete tasks and collect stamps.  Cool, an "urban race" adventure  :) We were also told that it "wasn't a race" and we weren't supposed to run.  Fine, but that doesn't mean we can't be efficient about this.

Posing for a western-style group photo - giddy-up, cowboys and girls!

Hi John, we're just wandering around Casper in bright green race jerseys and pink tops!

There was some big celestial event coming to town later in August...


Tom volunteered for the bull-riding challenge, thanks for taking one for the team, Tom!

Nice video capture, Dave!  With a bit of heckling from Leslie:

Somehow we still managed to finish everything first - so we won the pre-race "it's not a race" prologue, that's fitting for an adventure racing team that has a bunch of urban race experience but is mostly out of their league in a world championship expedition race... we'll take it!  Go Team V  :)

Team photo - happy to be together and actually doing an expedition race this summer, woo hoo!

Gear check the next day, time to get serious:

Showing that we know how to rappel from a couple feet in the air:

Review of medical stuff:

Talking about bears and what to do if you see one (get big, stay together, back away slowly, have the bear spray ready, try not to surprise the bear in the first place):

Photographer Randy Ericksen getting a picture of our friend Abby lugging the giant paddle bag across the parking lot by herself:

Bike box check-in, no issues with that:

John didn't get a picture of the gear box weigh-in because he was helping us hurriedly move everything around.  A slight miscommunication and the lack of a final weighing of our boxes in the hotel room resulted in some last-minute adjustments of what went where.  It wasn't easy trying to get everything set up correctly, as we would see each box only twice max and we had to make sure we had the right required gear in the right places.  Being over the weight limit for a couple of the boxes meant some scrambling, but eventually we got everything loaded.  Phew, that was exciting.

Piles of paddle bags:

Getting instructions on the tracking/communication devices:

After an excellent supper at Racca's Pizzeria (seriously, it was really good), it was time to get some sleep.  We had a pre-dawn appointment to pick up our race maps and get on a bus.  I was really happy with this arrangement - no staying up all night before the race working on maps, and something fun to do on the long bus ride.  Dave was first in line for map pickup - we sent the right guy for this task:

Team Vignette is sort of awake:

It was a good bus ride - comfortable buses and plenty of time to go through all the many, many maps they gave us.  I was very excited to see that much of my scouting would be applicable, and interested to see the long bike route revealed along with the TA location on the west side of Pathfinder.  The course was straightforward - we'd travel from Jackson to Casper in a mostly obvious manner, no big detours, but still with some navigation to keep us on our toes.  It looked doable, if we kept moving at a decent clip.  Now, how to deal with these big piles of maps in our hands?

Approaching Teton Village:

John beat us there, getting a picture of the buses pulling up:

Last minute final packing, bathroom breaks, water fill-ups, trash drops, etc.

Racers convening in the starting area, where we were allowed to leave our packs for the opening leg (a trail run in the ski resort hills):

Yep, it's a photogenic starting ramp, now complete with the teams' flags:

So I guess it's time to actually start writing a race report...

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