April 27, 2008

Suburban Rush Sprint Adventure Race Report

The Suburban Rush Adventure Race, which Todd and I would be competing in as a team of two, was amazingly salvaged for us the night prior by a rather random act on my part. I was thinking about the race, and guessing (completely ignorantly) that the terrain would be easier, flatter and faster than most AR's that I had done. With this in mind I proceeded to my mountain bike and decided to up the tire pressure, which I really never, ever touch. I put an additional 10psi in each tire and went about putting together the rest of my gear and hitting the sack for the night. When I was loading my bike onto my car the following morning I was greeted with a flat rear tire. Weird I thought, but whatever, I could replace the tube in Port Moody before the event.

Once we arrived at the race start area we went about fixing the flat when Todd noticed that I had a torn sidewall, which is a gash in my actual tire that leaves a hole in it and exposes the enclosed tube! Todd went to work slicing up the old tube and with the ever handy roll of duct tape created a band-aid for my bike. This is pretty standard in this type of situation, but the tire was now compromised and could blow another tube much easier. Todd was confident in his repair and I pretty much forgot about it as there was nothing else I could do now anyways. Had I not inflated my tire the night prior, the tube would not have popped in advance, and we would surely be left dealing with this at some point during the race itself. Being a shorter event of around 30km, it would have all but ended our chances at a top finish. I was very thankful for the randomness of my action and my complete misconception of what this race would entail!

Todd and I had both agreed that The Suburban Rush Adventure Race was a beginners A.R. and that we didn't quite feel right about going out to race and try to win the event. It wasn't until we learned that our Helly Hansen Vancouver Island counterparts Justin Mark and Jeff Reimer were making the trip over that we started to give the race serious consideration.

I know Todd would confirm, that after enjoying an incredible and challenging race yesterday, we were both wrong, very wrong in fact, in every single one of our assumptions about The Suburban Rush! As a testament to this statement, the race, as always, had sold out at 200 racers with many more left wanting in from the outside.

Everyone was treated to the nicest day of the entire year with temps getting up in the high teens, not a cloud in sight and for the first time in awhile, no wind. For a sprint race where we guesstimated our time to be around 2hr, we wanted to get a warm up in as redlining right off the start, and from scratch on the day can create an overload of lactic acid in a hurry. We decided to bike up to the bike drop and run back down, plus I was able to get Roxy a pre-race run and since it was a flagged course we could legitimately see what was in store for us on the run. As we were running down I turned to Todd and commented on what a great climb this was going to be and how it was already shaping up to be a tougher course than I had envisioned.

We got back down with 15min to spare, but after I fumbled about for a bit, changed my clothes and subsequently lost my bib number, Todd and I ended up sprinting through traffic to barely make the official start as they were counting down. For the record here, my watch said I still had 3min to spare Dean! (which of course means my watch is five minutes slow)

The race started and with our heart rates already racing Todd and I worked our way to the front of the pack. We knew that a good 25min straight uphill climb awaited us, and with our race plan centered mainly around the other HH team we figured we needed to gain a lead on the run as they are both very solid bikers. Todd and I hit the transition with about a 1min lead and were departing just as Helly Hansen Vancouver Island started to change into their biking gear.

Even after almost a half hour of uphill running our climbing had just begun. We seemed to match this elevation gain again on our mountain bikes. As Todd and I followed the flagging up the never ending climb we came to a major intersection that was all of a sudden devoid of any flags or flagging tape. In a bit of a panic we turned back around and doubled back to our last know flag, which temporarily looked like it could jut off in another direction. This cost us our 45sec lead and with HHVI knowing the area fairly well they hit the intersection, cut left, and were gone. Todd and I did not want to make any hasty decisions as we've seen all too often what an ill timed decision can lead to. Once the next team of two caught up to us, who ended up being the winners of the previous two editions of S.R. we realized that we did indeed need to take the left, and once again continue climbing.

We went to work trying to catch up to the now lead team of HHVI and managed to close the gap as we came into a short 'off the bike to run to a CP n back section'. The Suburban Rush course was covering some similar terrain to Diez Vista did just a few weeks prior. In my two runnings of the Diez course I had yet to see a single view. As we grabbed this out n back CP I was startled to see how incredible the scenery around the area was. No wonder the D.V. is such a renowned course! It made much more sense to me now as otherwise I just figured it to be a super tough 50k trail!

After this we were finally riding some downhill terrain and I started to feel bad for Todd as there were pretty large strewn rocks all about. I was getting bucked around on my full suspension, yet Todd still rides a hardtail bike! (he assures me that his new full suspension in in the mail) I was very impressed at Todd's ability to keep a decent pace over this terrain as I personally would have either bailed or submitted to the constant bashing on the body to act as the main shock absorber!

From here we hit up some sweet single track riding and HHVI managed to distance themselves from us again as the terrain was rough and did not lend itself to hardtail riding. Once we hit the more open and faster section of the bike leg we hammered on the pedals to try and once again close the gap. The bike leg lead us into what was listed as a bushwhack, but was 90% on packed runnable trails. We arrived before HHVI were able to depart and with a quick transition managed to catch and pass them within a few hundred meters of running. As a foursome we all blew right past the first CP, which was hanging off to the side of the trail. We were under the assumption that the CP's would be on the main route and it was not until we ran back down an embankment that we were able to determine that we had to backtrack. HHVI had continued past us and stopped a few hundred meters down the trail. We yelled at each other and indeed confirmed that neither of us had found the CP. Todd and I decided to turn around, while HHVI continued on with the intention of snagging the missed CP on the way out.

As Todd and I ran back up hill to find our first CP on the trek we were passed by the previous years winners, sporting the 'leaders yellow jerseys'. At this point I recognized one of the racers from a random training encounter in Wash State in 06 and immediately knew that there was now a solid three way battle for the lead happening.

Once Todd and I realized that the CP's were somewhat hidden Todd went into his 'superhuman dialed into the maps mode' and I knew that we were in a position to make up some serious time on the other teams,

"Let's be the first back to the bikes Todd, we can win this thing out here right now!"

With the exception of one additional CP that we overshot and dropped about forty five seconds searching for, the stage went like clockwork and we ran a solid pace back to the bike transition. A quick scan allowed me to see that everyone elses bikes were still in place and we made out of there like bandits in the night trying not to be spotted from any potential teams coming back into the transition area behind us.

Once up the hill and around the corner I figured there to be about thirty minutes of racing left, and knew that barring any serious issues or cramping, that we should be able to maintain our lead.

Todd faced some minor cramping issues that did not seem to slow him that much and I prayed that my torn sidewall would continue to hold. We bombed down some nice open flowing single track and upon reaching the finish area has to crawl under some netting to cross the line in 2h08m and claim the 2008 Suburban Rush win!

The 2007 winners crossed the line about ten minutes later and Justin and Jeff of HHVI claimed third. The day had only gotten nicer and we all enjoyed the social atmosphere and incredible weather.

Suburban Rush is a top notch adventure race. The organization was second to none, the volleys, as always, were amazing and the energy around the event superb. We had a stellar day and after heading in with so many misconceptions about this race we were both happy to have educated ourselves a bit better and opened up our eyes to another staple event on the adventure racing scene in B.C.

Thanks to Dean Wutke, Shawn Leclair, the entire Suburban Rush crew, and Bryan Tasaka of Mind Over Mountain Adventure Racing as he was the one who constantly told us that we were completely wrong in our assumptions and insisted that we come out and try it for ourselves. I'd also like to thank Cap's Westwood Cycle for their very generous prizing donations, along with all other sponsors as well of course! Todd will vouch for the fact that we had some incredible customer service at Cap's Cycle. My brain was shutting down and I was surprised at how tired I found myself after the event. I created what could only be described as the longest and most confusing transaction in the history of retail, and the girl behind the till handled it all in stride and with an actual genuine smile upon her face. I personally would have snapped on someone attempting 1/2 of the mess that I had created!

Six days till Miwok, thirteen till MOMAR, fourteen till the hangover of the year for me!



Anonymous said...

Great seeing you yesterday. THE SR was actually quite a beginner AR when it first started and it got "better". It still is short but man you have to go buck hard. I usually try to invite newbies along to get them started since this is a great race for them to do it. My bro and his friend actually did it and they loved it...first time too!

Anonymous said...

Making us proud as usual!Keep it up and save the hangovers for the off season Gary!!!

The Chaser said...


Gary Robbins said...

Karl, it was great seeing you too, hard to believe it's been almost four full years since we met at our first ever adventure race!

Hannah and Gab, thanks! Oh yeah Gab, they could totally use your help at MOMAR in a few weeks...you can be my drinking partner at the after party!!


Anonymous said...

Good Job Gary (& Todd)... I don't know how you guys can do it... As for your retail experience- I totally understand- I'm pregnant and sometimes these days the simplest things are like a foreign language... frustrating! But smile anyway and act like it's not you!!!
Take care (and don't drink too much!!!)

Gary Robbins said...

Erika, that's too funny cause the girl helping us was pregnant too...unless it was you!!
Thanks for checking out my blog...no promises about the drinking though!


Anonymous said...

Ha ha- that's funny! so maybe it wasn't you with the issue- it very well could have been her! and it wasn't me as I'm in Victoria! but that is funny!
Be good and see you at MOMAR Shawnigan- I'll be the pregnant one cheering you on!

garobbins said...

No it was most definitely my fault! See ya at Shawnigan!