Team Stories – Dumb ‘n’ Dumber
April 19, 2002
Dumb n’Dumber (C.Saunders, P.Chouinard)
1/4 teams in Mountain Bike
The weather was as good as it will ever get during the month of April in Nova Scotia. It was mainly sunny, about 8°C (but the wind made it feel about 1°C). Pulling up to the start line, Team Dumb n’ Dumber (Chris Saunders and Pierre Chouinard – respectively) were definitely the odd team out. Not only were we the only team riding full suspension bikes, but we were the only ones wearing shorts. After a quick brief on the rules, regulations and safety, Michael Haynes caught most of us off guard with the cowbell, signifying the start of the race. Our general plan was to run the course in a counter-clockwise direction and to get away from the other teams as soon as we could. Within the first 2 minutes of the race I started to regret bringing my 37 lb Kona Stinky on a 6 hour XC race as I watched team Lost Again take an early lead even though I was pedaling as fast as I could.
In order to get away from everyone else we decided to bike past the first two check points (CP) #190 and 191 and instead bee-line it for CP #186. We were a little anxious to pick up our first points since it took us about 20 minutes to get there and we didn’t know what the markers actually looked like. In fact I was a little too anxious when I spotted the CP 186 marker and tore off into the woods without taking a second to see what was the best way to enter the woods. As a result I fell on a rock and split my shin open causing blood to flow down my leg. The beginning of the race took a turn for the worse when 2 minutes later my chain and rear derailleur locked up solid. When I tried to wrench it loose the chain broke. I let Pierre fix the chain since he has broken his own chain more times than most people blow a tube; 15 minutes later we were underway again.
We picked up CP 187 on our way to CP 241. After the race Michael Haynes laughed when we told him we went for this CP. Apparently he put that one there just to see if anyone was foolish enough to go for it; obviously he hadn’t met Team Dumb n’ Dumber before. CP 241 was at the top of a very long and very, very steep hill. Pierre and I managed to bike two-thirds of the hill before we had to start walking. We considered leaving our bikes behind, because it was getting difficult to even push our bikes up. We were glad we didn’t because the ride down was awesome. Since we both had dual-suspension bikes, we let it rip on the way down; it was by far the best part of the race.
We headed to CP 38 next; it was located by Mount Uniacke. This was a long, long way to go for just one checkpoint but it was worth 300 points. Considering it was mainly up hill it was a fairly easy ride. After getting CP 38 we soon realized why the ride was so easy. A very strong wind has been at our backs all the way to CP 38, now we had to go back the way we came with this wind in our face. On our way back down from CP 38 we passed Teams Punctually Impaired and Blood, Sweat, and Gears, who seemed to be riding together.
Our next CP (#236) was not supposed to be difficult, but it turned to be the worst one of the race. We backtracked past CP 187 and turned NW towards CP 236. Our plan was to take the second right off the main path. This is where the symbology of the map worked against us. Prior to this point in time, we didn’t realize that a dotted line on the map represented everything from a main road to a barely visible path that has been fully engulfed by trees and bushes. We ended up taking a wrong turn, which made every turn after that wrong. It took us about 45 minutes to fully accept the fact that we had made a wrong turn off the main path. However, by the time we got back on track, we had only wasted about an hour. We felt pretty bad about it at the time, but we later learned that the other teams wasted much more that an hour getting lost.
After finding CP 236 we were now a little worried because our plan was to continue North to CP 39. This meant leaving the path we were on and bushwhacking about 200 meters through very thick woods to attempt to find a path that was running perpendicular to our current path (ideally you would want to leave your current path for one that runs parallel). This is a very foolish decision even if you don’t have bikes to drag through the woods. This is where we used up all of our luck for the day. There just so happened to be a very new trail that linked our current path to the one we wanted, it wasn’t on the map but it lead us to exactly where we wanted to be. We only had to get off our bikes for about 50 meters when we came out into an area that was being clear cut, but at least we could see where we were going. I remember thinking at the time that if we had been coming the other way, we would never have found the trail that linked the two paths. As we found out later, one of the other teams had attempted just that and failed miserably, wasting a lot of time.
The rest of the race was pretty straightforward. Our plan was to get to CP 39 then start making our way south along the more westerly path. We would see how far we could get before making the crossover to the more easterly path. (Both of these paths are main roads, but there is no easy crossover between them.) We were hoping to make it as far south as CP 202.
CP 39 was a very grueling up hill that just about wiped we out. Unfortunately Pierre and I use up our energy differently. Up to this point I had been eating a lot of energy gels and bars and riding along with a fair bit of energy while Pierre was at the end of his second-wind most of the time and not eating very much. On our way to CP 39 the tide turned. Pierre seemed to get his second wind while I just slowly died away until I had nothing.
After getting a little side tracked while looking for CP 39, we started back down the hill. CP 232 was at the bottom of the hill, so it was pretty easy. We continued on to CP 185. Between 232 and 185, the road was fairly up and down (it seemed mainly ‘up’ to me). CP 181 was another 1½ Km further on. On the way south to CP 33 I informed Pierre that I was out of food and that there was no way I was going to make it all the way to CP 202 and still be able to get back within 6 hours. Pierre wasn’t convinced until we arrived at CP 33 and it was almost at the 5-hour mark. We decided to make a mad dash for the finish line and go for the half-hour incentive. We still had 3 CP’s on the way worth 100 points each.
We headed North passing CP 181 again. We had a lot of trouble finding the path we wanted to use to crossover to the easterly main road that would take us pass CP 149 and to the finish line. After making 3 or 4 trips back and forth over the same stretch of the road looking for our path we started getting some weird looks from a lot of racers that were on foot. We abandoned our search for this path and took another one that was further North, forcing us to forget about CP 149. We had left CP 190 and 191 until the very end. By the time we made it to CP 190 we had about 10 minutes left to get to the finish line to receive the 150 point incentive. We wasted 2 minutes looking for CP 190 before we have up. Apparently we didn’t look behind the right tree. CP 191 was now out of the question since we only had 8 minutes left. We had absolutely no idea how long it would take us to get back but we thought it was mainly downhill, we were wrong. It was more uphill that I would have liked at the very end. We managed to pull it off with about 2 minutes to spare.
We had nothing to do now but wait for the other teams to come in. We hadn’t seen any other teams for hours, we had no idea how well they were doing. Before the race we thought it was possible to get every single checkpoint. Even after the race, we thought it would be possible if you were fast and didn’t get lost. After failing to get CP’s 202, 200, 149, 190 and 191, for a total of 1000 points, I didn’t think we had done well enough to win even with the 150 point incentive.
When the other 3 teams all came in late and starting talking about how many times they got lost, I realized that it was impossible to get every single checkpoint in 6 hours. It turned out that only getting lost for about an hour would allow us to win. The other teams had gotten loss for a lot longer that that.
Thanks, very much to everyone that organized and helped out with race. It was a great way to start the racing season. Until next year.
Chris Saunders (a.k.a. Dumb) n’ Pierre Chouinard (a.k.a. Dumber)