“Raid” is a French word that signifies a major test of endurance, and that is just what the second weekend in September was for members of GearJunkie-sponsored Team YogaSlackers.
The four-person team headed to the Gaspesie region of Quebec to take part in the Raid International Gaspesie, called the “RIG” for short, which is a four-day stage race.
The team traversed 190 miles by mountain bike, trail running, bushwhacking, canoe, and whitewater swimming to finish 2nd place overall. We caught up with the squad for a quick Q&A.
GJ: How was this race different from other long adventure races you have done?
YogaSlackers: Two things: First, it was all in French. We got a translated rule book and race notes, but it left something to be desired. The first instructions about the race start literally read “after leaving the beach, you must ride on the bike path to the north and then east to reach PC1.” But PC1 was to the north and then west. Later on the translation said “take this trail for 10 miles….” when it meant 10 meters. We will learn French next time!
Second, it was a supported stage race, which meant that we got to sleep 8 hours each night, and have assistants help us at every TA. It also meant that the pace of the race was insanely fast and there was no room for errors. Every second counted. A flat tire, small navigation error, or slow transition could (and did) make huge differences in this race.
Tell us a little bit about the course, was it rugged?
The course was amazing. Each day had elements of mountain biking, trail running, bushwhacking, canoeing, and ropes. Every day we got really really wet several times – with some checkpoints underwater, rappelling down waterfalls, and coasteering around headlands. We also had one of the most fun (and muddy) bike legs we’ve ever had in a race, as well as one of the longest canoe drags ever. Oh, and then there was the leg that required us to put our bikes in the canoe and paddle down a whitewater river. We flipped and Chelsey’s bike filled with water.
Any essential gear?
Anything and everything that helped with speed. Speed laces on all of our shoes kept transitions lightning fast. I used a Suunto thumb compass during the off-trail bushwhacking which allowed me full use of my hands for scrambling up waterfalls while keeping us on a bearing.
We wore 2XU bike shorts the entire race so that we never had to change. We drank most of our calories, and only two of our team wore packs. Honestly, the most essential for this race was the bike tow and running tow system. We didn’t use them much, but they helped the team move fast as a unit when one member or another was at their edge.
How was the race organization? We know you’ve had some experiences racing with less than efficient race staff.
Endurance Adventure (the host) was incredible. Everything was dialed in: Huge beautiful race camps every night, banners and flags marking all the transition areas, and amazing directions for our support crews. And the media coverage was incredible, run by the same crew that does the live coverage for the Olympics for Canada.
Each night the race would put together a video of the day, to get racers inspired for the next one. It reminded us a bit of the Abu Dhabi Adventure Challenge that we did a few years back. It is rare that an adventure race film captures the feel of what it is like racing!
After the recovery, what is next?
Well, with the Idaho expedition and this race so close it is time for some good down time. But we will be back training and getting organized for the World Championships in Ecuador. We’ve rented a farmhouse outside of Quito, Ecuador, at 9000ft elevation, that we will live in for the 3 weeks before the race. Kind of an acclimatizing vacation. But I am sure we will have lots of adventures while we are “tapering” for that race!
—Follow Team YogaSlackers as they head to Ecuador this fall and the AR World Championships.