Thursday, March 15, 2007

Ole Espana!

After an eight month hiatus from adventure racing (AR), I'm back at it again! This time Team Feed the Machine (FTM) will be racing the 4-5 day Bimbache Adventure Race in the south of Spain. My great friend Antonio DeLaRosa is a professional adventure racer and the director of the Bimbache and he has been trying to get me to his race for the past few years. It finally worked into my calendar, so here we go! This race will include mountain biking, trekking, kayaking, in-line skating, canyoneering, and of course navigating with a map and compass.

Antonio DeLaRosa racing Primal Quest 2006

We fly into Madrid on March 18 and will be taken by bus to the city of Jaen where we will meet with 29 other teams from Finland, Sweden, England, Canada, Denmark, France, Norway, Croatia, Ireland, Scotland, Portugal, Columbia, and Spain. Some of the best teams in the world will be competing at this race to earn a spot for the AR World Championships in Scotland later this year.

Pre-race accommodations in Jaen

I have been on an AR world tour with FTM in the past year and a half. Christian Burke and I put a team together for the very popular Ecomotion 7 day race in Brazil in October 2005. With a successful race under our belts, Christian, Jayson Brown, Jon Bonwick, and I decided to stay together to race the longest, most extreme race in the world: the Patagonia Expedition Race. We spent 11 1/2 days riding, kayaking, trekking, and crying (well I did) through southern Chile in February 2006. After barely surviving Patagonia, Christian, Jayson, and I decided to continue the madness so we took Neal Radford with us to Greenland for the 5 day Arctic Team Challenge in July 2006. That was a super technical race with lots of new and exhilarating moments.

Bern preparing to canyoneer

This time Christian and I have invited a couple of international racers to join us: Pierre-Etienne Leonard from France and Horacio Fuentes Olmos from Mexico. We met Pierre in Greenland when he was racing for the very fast and fun French team. Pierre is an all around strong guy who will probably end up carrying some of my load. He brings a boisterous enthusiasm to our already fun loving team. With Pierre in the line-up, there will be no mistaking who we are and what we have come to do….HAVE FUN!!!

Horacio and I met during a 4 day race in Mexico. Both his and my teammates stopped racing but we wanted to continue without them. So we ended up traveling together and we hike-a-biked for several hours then rode about 5 more hours to complete the race. He is an excellent mountain biker and mechanic. He brings a “never give up” attitude and will be our "primary Spanish speaker."

Christian will take on the main navigator duties. He has gained much experience in the last year and there is no doubt in my mind that he will lead us in the right direction. Christian is all around strong on the bike, on foot, and in the kayak. But it will be interesting to see him on the in-line skates! He and I have been through a lot together in these races and we know each other very well.

Bern during the 13 hour kayak at Primal Quest 2004

I am the “mandatory chick.” Well, okay, I’m more than that. My duties also include:

1) Organize all pre-race gear preparations via Spanish and English!
2) Race media relations; i.e. smile for the camera and talk to Spanish,,,yikes!
3) Translate for my teammates through the entire race. (Horacio doesn't speak English and Christian and Pierre don't speak Spanish). Note: This will become interesting at 3am when I'm super tired.
4) Keep the peace. You know boys...sometimes there's an over production of testosterone that must be tamed.
5) Social/Fashion Director; i.e. Get us invited to all the post-race parties and make sure my boys are properly attired
6) American Idol; i.e. Sing to my boys at 4am on day 3 to keep them awake. Poor Christian will hear the same playlists from Brazil, Patagonia, and Greenland.

I've been so busy with my mountain bike training and racing, that I started packing only one week before my departure as opposed to my usual three week time frame.

Prior to arriving at the race location, we usually only know the disciplines and the approximate days it will take us to finish. This time they have already given us the order of the disciplines and the approximate times for each. If we take the maximum amount of time, then we will finish the race in about 4 1/2 days. But hopefully we will move faster...and not get lost! There is one mandatory 4 hour stop time somewhere in there. Other than that, we can rest for as little or as long as we want.

Here's our itinerary:
Trek & Canyoneer: 10-14 hours
Mountain Bike: 9-12 hours
Trek, Kayak & Ropes: 15-18 hours
Mountain bike: 13-16 hours
Trek, Kayak & In-line Skate: 15-20 hours
Mountain Bike: 13-17 hours
Kayak & Trek: 7-9 hours

Our goals for this event are to race hard, do our best, and have lots of fun! We will carry a GPS device that will track our progress on the internet (but that we are not allowed to open for our navigational use.) You will be able to follow our progress and make sure we are still moving. Check these sites from March 20-24.


Lucas said...

Good luck Bernice! I am sure you guys will kill it! Don't forget to come home in one piece!

Gillian said...

GO BERN!!!! Have a wonderful time (race time and vacation time). Love Miss Gilly

Matt said...

Wow - good luck!