Friday, June 15, 2007

Treetini and Greeple

We introduced the Treetini last night, and boy howdy, did we do it in style!
With terrific games inspired by Leave No Trace and our buddies at Carbon Neutral Events, and prizes provided by our amazing, generous sponsors at SmartWool, CW-X, and GoLite, we attracted a lot of attention and may even have won over a few more environmentally sensitive outdoor athletes!
The very talented Cynthia Lin performed last night. Little did we know, she too is a SmartWool fan! Says she ran a marathon in them!
Our staff last night was pretty incredible. We had a really wonderful group of Friends of ARFE who helped us out. Witness the wall of Greeple ("Green-wearing Sheeple") in SmartWool last night!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

partying, in a purely environmental sense

Those of you with a working knowledge of the way we do things here at ARFE know that we love our sport. You also know that we love to socialize. And that when we do socialize, we try to do it with the bigger picture in mind.
So it should come as no surprise to you that tonight, ARFE, in conjunction with Live It Green, LLC, is unveiling the first cocktail ever to be inspired by a bunch of grubby adventure racers--the Treetini .
Every cocktail sold at tonight's launch and from here on in at our local watering-hole-cum-restaurant, Uncommon Ground , will plant a tree.
And that's not all. Tonight, attendees of the third-ever monthly Green Room Session will have the chance to win terrific prizes from our sponsors, SmartWool and CW-X.
Keep your eyes peeled, for a running tally of how many trees we planted!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Dover VT 24-Hour photo

Hi there,

Here's a photo from the 12-hour race this past weekend in Dover, VT. Your trusty Team ARFE-SmartWool finished second, but ended up third to SPTU due to a time penalty for missing a piece of mandatory gear.

I love this photo. It's proof positive that even the best of the best sometimes get confused when it comes to taking out a boat on rocky (durable! LNT principle number one!) terrain.

Big thanks to Joe and Kelly for both the crewing and the photos. More can be viewed here: (just click on the "welcome" at the bottom of the photo).

Monday, June 11, 2007

Crew Minion Wrestles a Mammoth

Dear Diary,
This weekend is my first adventure race in goodness knows how long, and I am AMPED! Today I'm racing with Jim and his friend JohnEric from work. The race is in a town called Crystal Lake, and boy is it pretty out here. We had to get up at some stupid hour of the morning to prepare, and I'm a little pooped, but other than that, I feel good.
I'm wearing a very sexy girdle around my waist because I tweaked an oblique muscle recently, and Jim's just come off of finishing an Olympic distance triathlon in the very hilly Elkhart region of Wisconsin, so we probably won't win, but oh well.
My favorite item of clothing this week. Ain't it purty?

Jim looked pretty strong finishing the Elkhart Triathlon. Let's see how he does in the race today, shall we?

It's JohnEric's first adventure race EVER, so I guess we'll just try to finish happy.
The Woolly was in danger of becoming extinct earlier this month, so we were happy to learn that our registration, and quite likely the registration of our friend Hans' team, pushed the number of teams needed for the race to go on over the edge. There are eleven teams, running the gamut from seasoned racers to triathletes to newbies.
Pre-race is busy. Pre-race meeting involves our standard Leave No Trace presentation and general rule review by race director Joe Davison, who also adds in the incredibly good news that he's procured two cases of beer for post-race consumption, and then we get our maps.
These are the world's biggest fricken maps (practically five feet tall and over four feet wide), but we are able to cut them down to 2x4. The course will cover between 40 and 60 miles, depending on whether or not we make smart route choices. We'll start on a canoe leg to retrieve a raw egg from the beach, canoe back turn in the egg, and take the first bike leg to an O course. From there we'll take our bikes 15-20 miles up to Wonder Lake, then canoe down the Nippersink Creek to a take-out, from whence we'll navigate our way back to our bikes and then back to the finish line.
Race start was hectic. Joe assumes a very casual stance in front of the races and bellows, "Forty-five seconds to race start!" I jump and sort of freak out, and then I promptly dump the boat. Twice. Why, yes! There are pictures! Support crew for the Brothers Grime got all of the actions on camera. Maybe I'll post them later. Maybe.

The maps we actually got were a LOT bigger than this.

JohnEric and I laughed our little rear ends off, while Jim stewed in the front of the boat. He is angry all the way out to the beach where we were to retrieve our eggs, and then he makes me all anxious when I get out of the boat to find the egg. See, the thing is, they are up on the beach like four feet from where we docked the boat, but he's screaming at me, telling me I'm going the wrong direction, and I get all flustered and end up running all the way down the beach, like, a quarter mile, and then I have to backtrack until I find the eggs sitting right under a huge neon-orange construction cone. Fortunately, four other people follow me out there. [I am SO not going to the prom with Jimmy. He's mean.]
After I hand over the egg to Joe, we run to our bikes and try to start the ride. We're missing JE, though, and then we spot him rinsing off his little feetsies in some water. Who rinses off their feet in an adventure race?
We hustle out of there and, with another team hot on our tails, make it over to the first test, which is on a ball court. We have to shoot a free throw, a three pointer, and make a volleyball serve into a hula hoop. I was kind of hoping I'd get to use the hula hoop to hula in, but that didn't happen.
We zoom off pretty quickly. Jimmy makes a minor navigation error and almost crashes us all, but we get over to the O section safely, where we immediately get fouled up on the first point.
We end up nailing all of the other points, although we spot Hans' team coming out of the woods well ahead of us, and, after another few minor errors that involve backtracking, we get back to the O start to find that we are not, indeed, last.
We hot-foot it out of the O-meet area and start the long ride north to Wonder Lake and the canoe put-in . I am really enjoying the flat terrain and sound of the crazy cicadas humming, and then I look down and see that I've acquired a hitchiker.

A new friend!

I guess we must've be flying, because that little booger stays on me until we stop.
I am thanking goodness for my road bike and speedy road shoes when I see the first...big...hill.
Hello, did someone forget to tell the Flatlanders that hills hurt? JE, who is sweeping to make sure I didn't get left behind, mutters, "holy candy!" and zips past me to the top of every hill, standing in his saddle.
We pass the Brothers Grime at some point, sitting on the side of the road changing a flat. It is the first of three for them that day, a fact that gives us only a minor edge over this strong team from Wisconsin, Mississippi, and Illinois.
Two big hills later, I am huffing to the top, watching Jim and JE circle around like vultures while they wait for me, and then I spot the convenience store. Jim asks if I wanted to stop to refuel, and I say, "Ur..Eeee...OK." I creak to a stop, and JE decides to take the opportunity to refill his bladder and his belly.
Little did we know that he was stopping for a picnic.

Ten long minutes later, we continue on the final 4 miles to the put in, where we are greeted with fresh fruit (oh joy!), treats for trash (oh boy!), and the news that the first team has come through nearly two hours ago and still not been back ("holy candy!").
We grab an apple and a cookie, and were off.
We navigate the twisty turns and the easy water of the Nippisink Creek in perfect weather. The red-winged blackbirds are everywhere; the other people on the river look at us in amusement, and the prairielands and rushes of Glaciers State Park make the whole trip seem like a really amazing dream. I've read about the praries before, but never had a chance to experience them first-hand. We catch up to the Brothers Grime, who had passed us while we were refueling at the canoe put in, only to be overtaken by them fairly soon afterwards.
Then come the trees. High water and many fallen trees lead to one member of Brothers Grime losing his helmet. Well, he may have lost his helmet, but I almost lose my head when Jim grabs a branch to prevent from colliding with it and then (with warning) has to let it go as we pass by underneath and it whips towards my head. Yikes!
There are a few tiny little rapids, during which I, sitting in the bottoom of the boat, become almost scandalously well acquainted with a few rocks and roots.

Our route on the Nippersink. Maniacal trees and rocks not illustrated. Put in and takeout (red and green, respectively) clearly marked.

An hour later, we pull out and visit the potty. I eat a few more Tylenol (girdle is nice, but of less help than, say, a few Percoset might have been), and we set off just behind the Brothers Grime.
We assume a leisurely but smart course, choosing to walk to stave off any more pangs from my peevish oblique, and then we take a good look at a park map and chart a route straight through Glaciers that allow us some great up-close encouters with a few frogs, a toad, a ton of butterflies, some hardy prarie grass, and then...oh, then, accursed thistles.
Prickly prickly. Jim disappears from sight. See, his philosophy is, "The faster I get through this, the faster it'll be over," which translates to me as, "Screw my teammates, I'm getting the hell outta here!"
JE and decide that a wade through the creek would put us on better, less prickly ground, and we are right. We muck our way back to the canoe put-in and are shocked to see that Hans' team, which had been well ahead of us before this leg, were still not back. We worry marginally, and then I become rapidly elated at the thought of finishing in a better place than we thought we'd be. Why, no, it wasn't very sporting of me.
The ride back (16 miles) is no fun. We keep a pretty good 17-mile-an-hour clip for about the first third, and then I get cranky, and then I have to be pushed up a hill, and then, finally, oh wonder of wonders, we pull into the race finish at a whopping eight and a half hours after race start, and in sixth place. We are solidly middle of the pack, for sure.
Hans' team, having gotten lost in Glaciers and attacked by a renegade bunch of cicadas as well as having had a water bottle thrown at them by a bunch of jackass teenagers on the roads, pulls in shortly after that despite two flat tires, and then, a team who called themselves The Quitters, who had pretty much been hot on our tails the whole race. The Brothers Grime, having suffered three flats, come in shortly afterwards. The final team to come in was no team at all, but one single female, who had finished the race after both of her teammates had dropped out. Pretty ballsy, if you ask me.

Hans looked like this after the race. Then he got up and ate a whole watermelon and drank a can of bad beer.

All in all, it was a wildly successful race for everyone involved. We had a terrific time. Big thanks to Joe for hosting and creating the Big Woolly, and for hosting the ARFE programs.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Racing Ahead 12 Hour Un-official results

Per Joe, Team ARFE-SW made up a crazy amount of time on the bike leg and finished 11 minute behind Team EMS!!! First accounts are that Suzi was a rock star on the surprise there. Some question about manditory gear check so we are waiting to hear all penalties and CP tallies before official results are posted.

Headed into the last leg

ARFE-Smartwool was 4th into the TA and the 3rd team was all male. At this point it looks like they are in 3rd with 23 min behind EMS who is in the #1 spot. The last leg consists of 5 or 6 CP's and is all mountian ARFE strength. All reports are that everyone looks good and is ready to rock the last leg. Winner expected to finish around 2-3pm EST. Results will be posted later this afternoon as I'll be away from the computer. YAY ARFE-SW!!!

Racing Ahead 12 Hour update

A text message at 4am mountain time (6 am eastern) alerts me that the gate to the beach where the race was meant to start is closed. The race directors were scurrying around to find an alternate start for this race. Team ARFE-Smartwool waits patiently for the official start and the much anticipated maps. The race got under way at 7am and after about 5-10 min of plotting and laminating, ARFE-SW was off along with the first one-third of the other teams. A quick team dash down a street to the boats and they were off on a lengthy paddle which includes an O section. Kelly said she could see them on the water and they were cruising by other teams. They are due back into the one and only TA momentarily for a quick transition to the bike. Chris and Bruce will be sharing the nav responsibilities today. More after the transition...

Friday, June 8, 2007

Racing Ahead 12 Hour

We interupt the compelling conclusion to our LNT Master Educator course to join Team ARFE-Smartwool at the Racing Ahead 12 Hr in West Dover, VT. ARFE-SW will begin racing at 6 am on Sat June 9th. Last report from the pre-race meeting: No report. The team will receive all maps and instructions at the start of the race. The only thing we know now is that the start is on a beach but the discipline is unknown. Competing this weekend will be Chris, Bruce and new-comer Suzi Snyder. Suzi is an experienced triathlete with notable finishes including #15 in the amature division at the Xterra World Championship (I hope I got that right). Crew for this race (yes there is crew for a 12 hr, don't ask.) will be Kelly Piche and Joe Aubin. For the 7 newest LNT Master Educators out there, yes it is the same Joe that was featured in several stories.

Best of luck to everyone and I'll do my best to update first thing in the morning (keep in mind 6am start=4am in CO so there might be a delay due to sleep and there is a chance they'll finish before I rise, but I'll do my best).

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

The saga continues

I think I forgot to mention that Chris has to teach a lesson on principle three, Disposing of Waste Properly. Everyone likes this lesson, because it's about how ARFE poops in the woods and whether or not anyone notices. The thing is, the Crew Minion has already pooped in the woods, and she's discovered that the lovely hobble-bush, which grows at low elevation in New Hampshire, is terrific as nature's TP. Props to Chris and Christian both for passing on the knowledge!

Hobble Bush leaves. So soft! So fluffy! Comes only in single-ply, regrettably.
...Chris and Pamela sleep outside and wake up with zero bug bites whatsoever. By contrast, the Crew Minion wakes up feeling sore and sticky, although not from any mere bugs: she's slept with a rock and a tree stump under her calves, and Kathy and Amber are equally maimed, from having slept on a slope that has them sliding towards the foot of the tent every four minutes. Oh well, we say, all in the sake of Leaving No Trace shall we suffer.
Chris shares some more insight on digging a hole to poop in. He also demonstrated some lovely, ur, stances for pooping: the Orangutan hang, the Warrior Two, the...oh, never mind. We're sorry we didn't get pictures. No points to Jim for leaving the camera back at camp while Chris was showing us how he drops the kids off at the pool.

Brekkie was oatmeal and coffee. Huge props to Amber for bringing along her French Press!
We packed up (Crew Minion's stuff was strewn everywhere) and moved on to our next campsite, a whopping 2.7 miles away. Christian, Jim, Jeff, and Kathy moved on to the actual campsite, which was going to be a challenge: Christian had made it our jobs to find a suitable "pristine" camp area, one that had never been used before.
When we got there, the master's crew was gone looking for the site, and we encountered a lovely family and their dog, which reminded us of both Principles six (Respect Wildlife) and seven (Be Considerate of Other Visitors). More on that later.
We settled at the camp site and quickly decided that a day at Christian's favorite swimming hole was in order. Chris brings along his 700-page Poker Bible to peruse as he sunbathes. The rest of us take a REALLY QUICK DIP in 50-degree water and emerge feeling reborn.
Christian teaches us a very important Inuit word: Nuan'aar'puq. It means "to take extravagant pleasure in living." The Crew Minion thinks she is feeling a little bit like that, as she absently scratches at a black fly chew-site and Takes Extravagant Pleasure in It.

Jim goes in for a dip and comes right back out again. Brrr!
Chris and Crew Queen go for a run.
Jim and Crew Minion drag back to camp; Yi Shun is contemplating the emerging blister on her left big toe from ill-fitting Tevas. She contemplates further the purchase of Chacos when she returns to Plymouth and Takes Extravagant Pleasure in That.
Together again, Amber points out an Indian cucumber plant. She shows Yi Shun how to dig it up, which proves to be an enormous mistake, because Yi Shun eats one teeny little root and decides she wants a whole salad of them. Amber immediately reminds Yi Shun of Principle Number four, Leave What You Find. Yi Shun feels sheepish but then quickly recovers.

Mmmmm. Indian cucmber.
Crew Queen takes us through the rest of the lesson, pointing out that there is a fine line these days between artifact and Stuff That Just Doesn't Belong. She cleverly hides some pretty glass bottles, an ancient beer can, and some other things and challenges us to discern which are garbage and which are artifacts. The whole crew decides that it's all garbage and needs to go.
There is a curious pair of New Balance sneakers that look relatively new. They are paired together and the team wonders if we should look for a body to go with them.
Yi Shun abandons the idea in search of more cucumbers. She is quickly curbed by the voice in her head reminding her once again of Principle Four: Leave What You Find, Leeeave What Yoooou Finnnnd, Leeeeeave...
Back at camp, we discover a little abandoned mouse's nest. We all want to take it home, but we hear again: Leeeeave What Yoooou Finnnnd.....We step around the mousie nest, even though it's REALLY REALLY CUTE!

Mousie nest. Insert squealing noise here.

Later that night: Curious sound of cards shuffling. Chris has morphed into some sort of gambling enabler and has taken Crew Queen under his wing to produce more of his poker-playing ilk. More on this later.

This is an ominous vision of things to come.
As part of Kathy's lesson on respecting wildlife, Christian teaches us about Bear Hangs. He employs a pretty impressive pulley situation that the Crew Minion hopes someoone wrote down somewhere.

Christian, bear-proofing. Chris, in the foreground, thinking up poker strategies.
Kathy leads a lively discussion on dogs and how they ought to behave in the woods. Both the Crew Minion and Kathy admit to preferring their dogs to run with them off leash. Christian says something about "Personal Ethics." Sigh.
We awaken to a really nice day, temperature wise, and a nice challenging uphill hike ahead. The vegheads go on ahead, which the meat-eaters, having packed on many packages of tuna in the previous days, drag behind. We have lunch in a stream and continue uphill to our last campsite, an AMC shelter.
Tune in later for more on principle seven and news about our last day in the woods.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Did I say "Tomorrow"?

YOu should all know that "tomorrow" in ARFE-speak as it pertains to your Miss Midwesterly is a bit of a loosey-goosey term.
We are completely swamped this weekend with prep for the very exciting Untamed Virginia race, and we apologize for the delay in our ongoing photographic and journalistic recounting of the Leave No Trace principles.
There's much more to learn, so just hang tight. I'll be back soon, with daring exposes on how Team ARFE-SmartWool and ARFE Management practise and employ Principles four, five, six, and seven.