I saw this back in December or early January. It looked like it could be fun. <9 Death March Two person teams head out into the Hoosier National Forest in search of up to 9 cemeteries and a Fire Tower, provide proof (photographic kind) that both team members were there all under 9 hour time limit. 5 cemeteries are mandatory, 3 of which are published in advance, remaining 2 are drawn at the start line. Some destinations have time bonuses (fire tower was 45 minutes off total time). Oh yeah, it's about 50 miles (depending upon the route you take) of which 40 is gravel roads, 8 is single track and 2 is paved. Well, like I said it really depends upon the route.
Teams gathered at the start for mandatory meeting at 8:45. We received instructions and the final 2 mandatory stops. There were 78 teams registered before Saturday morning. I'm still unsure of the final total. Nice crowd to be sure. Many rode mountain bikes and the rest road CX bikes. Heather and I rode our CX bikes. I was concerned about that at first, but think it was the best choice for sure. At the strike of 9 am we all took off. It's March and Heather and I had decided we would do our best to hit all stops, checking the time throughout the day and just enjoy the adventure. We were in the back of the field. We stopped at the first optional cemetery which was at the entrance of the Boy Scout camp where we began. We had a paved road for a mile or two. All downhill it seemed (need to remember this for the end of day ride back).
We are riding and get to the first gravel road. It had fresh gravel, about two or three inches deep. Loose and dusty. Not the most comfortable ride and we tried to find ruts at the edge to ride. The first hill on that loose stuff was rough as it was slick and made for a large expenditure of energy. My mind start to get real blurry now and I won't have all stops in the right places as I was oxygen deprived most of the ride. We make our way to another road, which used to be a road, but is only used by atv's and horses I think. It had some gravel but mostly the kind that comes out of creek beds and they are large and sharp edged. We cross numerous creeks of varying depths. None more than 6 inches, but a couple deep enough to get our feet good and wet. At the end of this "trail" we get the evidence and turn around. Now on the way to that cemetery we had some good climbs and as we met faster cyclists I was pleased to see even seasoned riders were walking the steep climbs, pushing or carrying their bikes.
We wind up making all but 2 of the cemeteries and climbed the fire tower. Normally, I am ok with heights as long as no children are around. We were lucky there, but as we made our way down that tower others were climbing up it. The wind was fierce at the top and that tower swayed more than I like. Now I still had my long spikes in my shoes from CX season. They came in handy on some of those climbs, but were tricky as hell on those metal steps of that tower.
I would up having two flat tires, both on my rear wheel. Mile 5 and mile 20. We had each brought 2 extra tubes and plenty of CO2. I think I should invest in a hand pump I can attache to my bike though (for road tires at least as CO2 would leave a road tire too underinflated)
We rode a total of 44 miles. I kept running out of gears. Butch said we probably climbed 3,000 + feet. Heather out climbed me (she had a triple!) We tried one single track trail as it looked like we could cut some miles but there were so many downed trees it was a hike a bike. I even took a nice spill, made for a great laugh! Most of the rest of the gravel roads were hard packed with only a little loose thrown on here and there. They were much easier and more comfortable. We wound up riding several miles on a nice paved highway. We had a wonderful downhill that gave us a much needed break for recovery.
I know I'm leaving out a ton of events from the day. We dropped several F bombs throughout the day. My HR monitor had my max at 174, which is pretty much my max. It also had me burning a ridiculous amount of calories.
There were only 3 all female teams. We came in second. I definitely want to go back. The day was fantastic. The weather was perfect, dry, started out high 40s and ended up in high 50s/low 60s. The sun shone! There were very few dogs to be worried about.
I was exhausted by the time I got home. Heather and others stayed in an RV at the BS camp. I hung out with them for a bit and ate a bite and drank beer. It was fun to sit around and listen to everyone's stories from the day.
It's Monday night now and my calves and quads still have knots in them. I tried to spin them out yesterday and again tonight. Guess I should find my stick and roll them out now.
One thing is for sure. Saturday's Death March was a much better choice for me than going to the first road race of the spring season. I'm definitely not quite ready for that, YET.
UPDATE!!! We came in 63rd of 95 total teams. I'm thrilled