Truckee adventure racer back on track
After more than a year-and-a-half hiatus from her sport of specialty, Truckees Susan Bower is back on the adventure racing scene.She never planned on straying from the unique discipline in the first place. But giving birth to twin boys will do that.Its a passion of mine, Bower, 38, said of adventure racing. I never wanted to drop it. But with three kids (including 4-year-old Zach) I think I needed to keep that as a goal (while not racing). Plus it keeps me healthy; and I love doing it.Once a member of Team Thin Air along with husband Scott, which competed with success in the Tahoe-based Big Blue Adventure Series, Bower took a break from the sport from January 2006 until September 2007.At that point, with twins Ian and Ben no longer infants theyre now 16 months old Bower dove back into the Big Blue Adventure Series. She did the 6- to 12-hour Big Blue and the 24-hour Big Blue in September, then tackled her first-ever triathlon later that month.Bower won the XTERRA triathlon in Incline Village, which was held the day before the XTERRA USA Championship.A friend actually made me do it, and it was amazing, Bower said. Its kind of like adventure racing, with the transitions and (multiple sports).At one of the Big Blue races, members of a competing Bay-Area team approached Bower and asked if she wanted to join their squad, Dirty Avocados. She agreed.So far this year Bower has competed in two adventure races one with the Dirty Avocados and another with her old team, Subaru, now Team Bones. Both events, Bower explained, could be classified as expedition adventure races because of the sheer distance teams must cover.First up was the SOLE Baja Travesia in March, a 400-kilometer race traversing Mexicos Baja Peninsula, starting from the Sea of Cortez and ending at Ensenada on the Pacific coast. Teams had to paddleboard, kayak, bike, trek, canyoneer and travel in Baja rally cars.Racing with the Dirty Avocados for the first time, Bower and her teammates placed a disappointing 11th out of 18 teams after getting lost and burning 24 hours getting back on track.You can be a really fast team, but if you have trouble navigating, it doesnt matter, Bower said, adding that navigating perhaps is the most key component in adventure racing.The ability to stay awake is huge, too, as Bower received just four hours of sleep in five days of racing.People talk about sleep monsters, when they get hallucinations (because of sleep deprivation). I dont get it. But sometimes you get so tired you can walk and practically be sleeping at the same time, Bower said.At the end of April, Bower took on the Costa Rica Coast to Coast Challenge Race with her old Subaru team. The 500-kilometer race (310 miles) was equally demanding physically, requiring trekking, biking and paddling through some of Costa Ricas most gnarly terrain. Bower lost every toenail, all of which had already been brutalized in the Baja race. And yet she enjoys such bodily punishment over multiple days.I like the length of expedition races, she said. I like going out there for five days or more. Thats amazing. I love going day after day, seeing sunrise, sunset, sunrise, sunset.Now, with toenails half grown in, Bower is making plans to race Primal Quest 2008 with the Dirty Avocados.Touted on its Web site as the The Worlds Most Challenging Human Endurance Competition, Primal Quest is scheduled for Big Sky Country, Mont., from June 23 through July 2.Its hardcore. But thats part of the appeal for Bower, who competed in Primal Quest 2004 on Washingtons San Juan Islands.In preparation, shes training about 10 hours a week. But she must be creative to squeeze in the time.I used to train with Zach a lot, but now with three kids, its all about time management for me, she said. When theyre sleeping during the day Im doing yoga or biking or running. I just have to be really efficient.
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