XTERRA Camp Eagle - Amazing!

posted Apr 5, 2011, 2:13 PM by James Cass
So Sam Sandusky talked me (James Cass) into coming with him for an XTERRA race (USAT offroad triathlon).  Since I love mountain biking and triathlon, I figured this would be awesome...and it definitely was, but it certainly wasn't without a hitch.

So we are running late to the airport, big surprise there...we were going to carpool, but both bike boxes wont fit in either of our cars, so we have drive separately.  We get to the airport with 5 minutes to spare for checked baggage, but we have "Special" checked baggage...so special they (Delta) want's $200 each for the bike case to be checked...ouch!  Well, we decide to go ahead and do it, and that's when the Delta Rep informs us our flight is delayed.  We think "yaay", this will give us more time to check bags, etc, right?  Yes, but it means we'll miss our connecting flight in Atlanta--of course!  Solution: different flight, going through Atlanta, but arriving in a different city (but same amount of driving time to the final destination).    So we board our new plane, fly to Atlanta, then San Antonio instead of Austin, all is good.  Until  we realize our rental car is waiting for us in Austin.  After battling with the credit card awards program until the very last minute we board the plane because the rental car agency can't help us out, we get it all straightened out.

Arrive in San Antonio, bike cases are there, and in one piece.  Success.  Off to get the rental car...bike cases won't fit.  Upgrade to the stylin' minivan.  Ha ha ha.  In the van, and begin our 3 hour drive.

After stopping for a brief snack and drink at a completely run-down road-side, gas-station, food stand, biker leather and shirts, and homemade beef jerky place (yes, all-in one) we finally arrive to Camp Eagle.

We opted for the very modest lodging (screened enclosure) to fully experience and appreciate the naturistic aspect of the trip.

Unpack bags, assemble bikes, get some sleep.

The next day, we pre-ride the course and find out this is some very extreme terrain.  I've never ridden anything this crazy, treacherous, rocky/craggy, etc, etc.  We finish the pre-ride, get to packet-pickup, and enjoy the rest of our afternoon.

Race day the weather was breezy, cloudy, and cool -- perfect.  

The swim was a cold spring-fed 1000m swim in the river, with a climb over the dam in the middle.  The bike was 10.5 miles of the craziest climbs, descents, riding cliff-edges, and super technical rocks, and obstacles.  The run was 4 miles of runner-consuming mountain that started right out of transition with a super bouncy suspension bridge, followed by about 2 miles of straight climbing.  The view at the top was completely amazing at just over 2000 feet, but you couldnt enjoy it for too long.  The run down the mountain was extremely rocky and had tough grades most of the time, so you couldnt just bomb down the mountain.  Going down was certainly much tougher than I expected.  Near the finish, we crossed back over the river by hopping on strategically placed rocks to form a crossing point, or you fell in and got wet, which would have probably felt really good.  Right at the finish line there was about 100 feet of steep stairs to climb before a short 100 meter dash across the finish line.

Completely amazing.  We made friends with lots of cool people from all over the country, hung out at camp fires and got to explore some really cool parts of nature.  The stars were so bright (because there was no city lights anywhere within 100 miles) that you could see satellites in orbit.  The competition was tough, but very different than road triathlons.  People were friendlier, very giving, and seemed much more laid back--almost as if they were not even there for a race at all, but to go camping instead.

if you ever have the chance to XTERRA, do it.  It might be the most memorable triathlon you ever do.

Here's a slideshow  

Here's a video