Story #18: I was part of a car free relay race team.
That’s right. I participated in the Ski 2 Sea relay in Bellingham in 2011. I raced a hand-made canoe 8 miles down a river. I didn’t (and still don’t realy) have any canoeing experience.
There are the eight different legs: cross country ski, down hill ski, downhill run, road bike, canoe, cyclo-cross, and kayak. This is an awesome beast of a relay race. They say it is the largest relay race in the country. I know that people travel far and wide to participate. And I can see why.
Simon (pictured above) was my canoe partner. Simon hand crafted our canoe in his wood shop at home. He’s an engineer and makes all kinds of fancy things at home. And since he’s an inspired kind of guy, he’s always coming up with something. In our case, he was really pumped on us racing a canoe that he made himself.
We only practiced once, maybe twice, to make sure we wouldn’t sink. Smart, I know.
As a car free team, a group of cyclists goes up to Mt. Baker with the mountain leg racers and all their gear. And because the ride up highway 542 is so beautiful, everyone who can go up, does. We hauled our cross country skier, the down hill skier, the cyclist, the downhill runner, and the road bike racer up the hill with their ski’s and their bikes. The canoe was transported and dropped where we would have to meet it the next day.
We all enjoyed a nice old fashioned camp out in the damp woods below Mt. Baker. Then in the early morning, we hauled ass down the mountain to our stations. There Simon and I would wait until Stax, our road cyclist, handed off the relay chip. While everyone was racing the down hill sections, Simon and I enjoyed the sunshine on a patch of grass with the rest of the crowd.
It was exhilarating to watch Stax zoom across his finish line straight into our open loving arms! We had a big group hug before running to find our boat. We dragged our big blue canoe into the river and off we went! Our team mates cheering us on from behind.
The adrenaline in the beginning got us off to a great start. Our team was strong and we had made good head way. However, the heaviness of our canoe and perhaps our lack of training left us in the dust of many of the paddlers. Even unexperienced paddlers were passing us in the end with their speedy lightweight canoes. I was good natured at first, but as time labored on, I became miserable. It was not until the end was in sight that my spirits lifted.
Every part of this experience was worth it. If you like races, I highly recommend Ski to Sea. You can even find teams to join through their website. If possible, I encourage you to join a CAR FREE team. 😉
So, how hardcore are you?
Can’t imagine biking up a mountain with gear to race back down?? Well, here’s a video of my team before race day doing just that!
BONUS MATERIAL!!! VIDEO of when I did Ski to Sea. !!!!
(CREDIT: STAX @ POSITIVE/NEGATIVE PHOTOGRAPHY)
Big love to the Kiss Army and all you adventurers out there. XOXO ❤ LB