This post is the first in a series of reports from Team GearJunkie/YogaSlackers on its participation in Raid The North Extreme, an international multi-day expedition race in British Columbia taking place July 23 – 31, 2011.
By JASON MAGNESS
I’d love to say I spent the day enjoying the beautiful weather and sun that shined down on the outdoor paradise of Bend, Ore., my new hometown. But instead, most of the day was indoors and preparing to leave for the wild lands of British Columbia, where, in two days, Team GearJunkie/YogaSlackers will line up against an extremely competitive international field of racers, all bent on pushing physical and mental limits in Atmosphere’s Raid The North Extreme, a.k.a. “RTNX,” a six-day expedition race that starts this weekend.
The recent success of our team at a pair of regional Checkpoint Tracker events (two first-place-overall finishes in two weeks!) has inspired us, though also honestly made us a little nervous — we’ve got some high marks to aim for. Today though, the nervousness finally settled for a bit as we got down to the business of actually getting ourselves ready to head to Canada and the epic craziness that will be Raid The North Extreme.
Having recently (as in yesterday) returned from a month of teaching yoga, acrobatics and slacklining on the East Coast, focus was required in order to switch gears from “zen” to “win.” A competitive mindset is requisite for a long adventure race, where you face sleepless nights and individual sections of trekking, biking, and paddling that can unfurl for a hundred miles or more at a stretch.
In total, this year’s Raid The North Extreme is expected to traverse about 500 kilometers of British Columbia’s backcountry through the wilds of the West Kootenay region. The thirty teams of four who’ll line up at the start will race off into the forests and mountains at the “GO!” — many not to be seen again for days at a time.
After racing together in Chile the past two winters in the Wenger Patagonian Expedition Race, an eight-day event where we took 2nd place in 2011, Team GearJunkie/YogaSlackers knows how to move efficiently through immense pieces of land. But RTNX next week promises a different type of race than the Wenger Patagonian, including (we expect) long, fast singletrack mountain biking, open high alpine lands, and, most significantly, an even higher caliber of teams making the trip to Canada to race in what is one of 2011’s premier events.
Back in Bend, after a team breakfast with Daniel Staudigel and Chelsey, my new wife (!) and longtime teammate, we paged through the mandatory gear list and dove into packing. Gear prep can be a major pain for a big race. Luckily with RTNX there weren’t too many surprises, though for some reason the race organizers required us to bring 24 glow sticks in our kit. Apparently, there is a rave at the finish line or something!
Chelsey spent the afternoon organizing food for the six days of the race, while Dan and I took to the task of tuning up the bikes. We made a last-minute decision to put on sets of new tires Specialized had sent for testing, converting all three of our Ellsworth bikes to tubeless.
Tomorrow we begin the journey with a 10-hour drive to Nelson, B.C., where Chelsey, Dan and I meet up with our fourth teammate for this event, the paddling phenom Lina Augaitis. It’ll be a long-overdue reunion, as Lina was largely responsible for YogaSlackers’ first-ever podium finish, third-place in the brutal Baja Travesia back in 2007.
As I reminisce, my eyelids get heavy. It’s nearly midnight here and time for this racer to get some rest. The sleepmonsters, as we call the sleep-deprivation hallucinations common in multi-day races, will come calling us soon enough.
—Jason Magness is a founder of the YogaSlackers. He is a contributing editor at GearJunkie.com and a member of the GearJunkie/YogaSlackers adventure racing team. Follow the team next week in RTNX at the newly-launched team micro-site.