It was almost one in the morning on Friday night when I heard the snickering outside our dorm window. J & T had arrived.
R & I had decided to camp out in the living room and let our guests sleep in the loft bed. Aren’t we nice. They would’ve probably been more comfortable on the couch.
But maybe that was a tactic to sabotage them. No one will ever know…and I’ll never admit it.
More snickering. We opened the door and let them in. “T was laughing at your bikes!!” yells J as they roll in their seriously serious mountain bikes. Freshly bought a month earlier at an actual bike store. No joke. Those bikes were… serious.
And we instantly had bike envy.
I rubbed my eyes and with a knee-jerk reaction, barked at them “We got them on Craigslist for 30 bucks. Leave them alone! I mean it!”
Welcome to Arkansas. Where the moment guests walk through the door, a fight breaks out. Anyone else want to visit?
Don’t you listen to them, cheap Walmart Craiglist bikes. You are special.
At first, it had nothing to do with how well made the bikes were. T was really worried that our bikes would fall apart while on a trail and we’d have to get them surgically removed from you-know-where.
The danger awaiting us is really what kept me up most of Friday night. Maybe that was their sabatoge. Okay, I get it now.
For a girl who shares a mid-90s car with her husband, lives in a pseudo dorm room, and buys most of her clothes on Goodwill Dollar days (can I not even pay full price at the goodwill??), a name brand bike should have been the least of her worries.
And it was. That is, until morning hit.
I woke up before the alarm went off and hurridly ran to wake up everyone else. We had bikes to fix, breakfast to eat, and other mandatory race items to buy!
J had an extra bike seat and T insisted R use it. He was afraid we’d never be able to have kids with the seat Walmart provided. I was right on T’s heels also insisting a better seat, but now it was only partly for safety reasons and mostly to fit in with this illusive bike crowd.
Maybe if we have a better seat, they won’t notice the huge ROADMASTER decal on the side.
When we arrived at the starting point, I made R put the bikes in the transition station for us without me. Man, this was going to my head! I had better get focused, I thought.
Okay. Let’s review how R and I trained for this event. Well, we paid our entrance fees a few months in advance. Then we waited until something nagged at the back of our heads that something was coming up. It felt like that something was something we should be training for. But what was it exactly? Oh, right, right. A little race with J & T where mid-way I’m sure we’ll stop for a picnic of cheese and wine.
That was it: a steady regimine of complete denial. Along with a few vitamins thrown in for good measure.
We had absolutely no clue. But it was too late now, the show was about to begin.
The first thing we had to do was plot out the checkpoints. We were given coordinates and, by using a UTM reader & topography map, created a general outline of the route.
Just this caused me to drink half my water and lie on the ground. What had I gotten myself into.
Once we compared notes, the four of us took off. We were separate teams but hung out with each other until slow-poke Carrie pulled her team back.
The weather: it. was. gorgeous. And I’m glad it was this way, otherwise, I don’t know if we’d have very fond memories. Not that threatening to get a divorce on a canoe as well as almost throwing up a chimichanga at a mystery event were really fond memories…. but at least it was nice out. We can always say we had that.
This is how the race was described:
- hike/trek 8 miles
- water activity
- bike 20 miles
- perfect for a first time racer!
This is how it really went:
- Run until your sides hurt
- Lift 1000 lbs
- Get lost
- Get back on track
- Run until your sides hurt
- Canoe across a lake until your arms hurt
- Get divorced
- Turn circles back to land because you can’t make the canoe go straight for one measly second
- Jump onto a bike
- Ride until your legs hurt
- Eat a chimichanga and start to heave
- Apologize to person who made chimichanga saying that if you hadn’t been in this race, you could’ve positively pounded those down.
- Ride until your legs hurt.
- Play putt-putt and get a hole in two.
- Ride until your legs hurt.
- Get remarried.
Sprinkle in a few curse words & tumbles on the bike and there you have it. Sound like fun?
But there’s more than that. Here’s what happened.
Slow poke Carrie kept her team back. So J & T went ahead of us. …and ahead of us. …and ahead of us… leaving me the only person to watch R trip on every frigging tree root on the trail. I was tired, people. And everything was ticking me off, especially tripping on tree roots.
J & T were so far ahead of us, though, that when R and I reached the canoes we asked where team number 27 was, and he looked at us pityingly (side note: did he know what bikes we rode? was that why he looked at us that way?) and said, “Oh, yeah. They’ve been out on the water already for 20 minutes.”
I could’ve sworn he called me a slow poke as we picked up our canoe. Whatever.
So we climbed into the boat and I knew this was really going to test us. We had once gone on a date way back when, where we took a canoe out onto a lake … and almost broke up then. And that was during the first phase of dating, where nothing made you mad about the other person.
Now we were paddling with 6 years worth. It was… interesting, to say the least. (In my defense, when R told his coworkers about the race, one of them mentioned that canoeing is the single hardest thing to do with a spouse… this was before R said anything about our short-lived divorce. So there.)
We kept our position out on the lake, which at this point was 7th-ish. There were two other co-ed teams ahead of us, including our friends.
Next came the bikes. I purposely slowed us down until we could transition onto them without anyone in the area.
No, not really. But I wanted to. Let’s just say, I was happy to put on a helmet and cover up my beaming red face. Darn you, T. Get out of my head!
We rode up and down some major hills until finally finding the street of our next checkpoint, which happened to be in a neighborhood. This was the chimichanga event, and so we had to park our bikes. Guess who parked theirs behind a car on the street. Look, I’m not proud of it.
We walked across the lawn and asked the now irritating question, “How far ahead is team #27?”
“They haven’t come yet.”
Shut the front door, I thought. Or maybe I said it out loud. At this point, I was saying a lot of things out loud.
“You are kidding.”
“No, we’re not. You’re team #3.”
After I downed the chimichanga, we jumped back onto our bikes and took off. As we turned the corner, guess who came around in their gleaming, sparkly, seriously serious bikes? J & T. That’s right, folks: eat. our. dust.
I raised my arm and yelled, “Go craigslist walmart bikes!” and off we went.
After a few more checkpoints and spots on the trail where I know R was silently thanking T for the seat change, we saw the finish line.
Oh, the glorious glorious finish line. After 4.25 hours, I was ready to sit down and have a beer. Not a chimichanga though.
Unbelievably, we stayed in third for the rest of the way and ended up winning first in the co-ed division.
I’ve never won anything, let alone a race…so this was exciting for us (me). Our bikes did it. They did it. It was a classic underdog fable.
But I still wheeled them to a discreet location immediately after dismounting.
Afterwards, we drove a short ways to Eureka Springs and, on the way, called random places to stay. Everything was full because of a folk music festival going on, so we booked the first thing that had a jacuzzi and/or hot tub.
Should it have been awkward to share a place that housed a jacuzzi (for two) in the middle of the living room?
Because it wasn’t.
It was even less awkward that all four of us got into the two-person jacuzzi and sipped champagne.
And less awkward still when after J & I climbed out to lay on the couch and watch National Lampoon’s Vacation (and quickly falling asleep), to hear R & T clink champagne glasses while toasting our future families.
It was awesome. We had such a nice night.
trying to get the shot of a lifetime
The next day.
Every fiber of my being was sore and what way to really understand this pain?
Why, by visiting the Christ of the Ozarks.
Such a fun weekend… I can say this now, because the pain has gone away and I am encouraged to actually train for the next one.
We’ve already got plans for a sequel.
And R has plans for a new partner.