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Tuesday, February 2, 2016

THE LEGEND OF THE WHITE SQUIRREL, Vol. 2: TEAMWORK -- February 2, 2016

The White Squirrel unexpectedly appeared almost two months after our trip to North Carolina in a way that I could never have imagined.  Throughout the summer of 2008, Mark, Glenn, Kristian, and I participated in the Mid-Atlantic Super Series...a string of mountain bike races predominately located in the states of Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, and New Jersey.  That summer, the final race of the series was at Bear Creek Ski Mountain Resort in Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania.  

Racing at Bear Creek Mountain Resort in the Mid-Atlantic Super Series -- September 2008
I really had anticipated this being my final race of the year...but after the race, a fellow racer, Gary Johnson, approached Mark, Glenn, Kristian, and I with very intriguing offer.  He had been looking for a group of people to form an team and enter an adventure race the following weekend.   I had never heard of adventure racing...but after hearing Gary describe it we were all curious.   Five people...mountain biking, canoeing, trail running.  Everybody stays together as a team.  We had no idea what we were in for....but the four of us racing together as a team sounded amazing.

Before I knew it, the five of us were entered in the 2008 Wildlands Adventure Race at Blue Marsh Lake.  We had no idea what to expect.  We had no idea, really, of what we should bring.  And, until we met the man in charge, Butch, we had no clue how much fun "suffering" could be.  It was at the check in table that I learned Kristian had named our team WHITE SQUIRREL.  It was the perfect name for a group of guys who just wanted to have fun.

The original Team White Squirrel:  Mark Lentz, Cody (Mark's son and our transition man), Kristian Hains, Dave Raymond, Glenn Medice, & Gary Johnson -- September 28, 2008
This race took place before the whole Facebook and social media craze....so I don't have many pictures....but here is what I remember.  I remember driving in the rain the whole way there listening to Glenn wonder out loud why he was heading to a race...on a Sunday morning...in the rain...instead of being home in bed.   I remember thinking that beginning of the race, the "mountain bike iditarod," was one of the hardest things I had ever done.  (We disengaged the chain on Gary's bike and pulled him up a long grassy slope.)  I remember Mark hating the running part and Glenn bitching about it.  I remember us absolutely kicking butt on the mountain bike section.  And I remember the canoe ride at the end....we all had cramped up and then, just as we were about to paddle towards the finish line, we heard Butch on his bullhorn instructing two of us to get out of the boat and tether ourselves to the boat.  Gary and Mark jumped into the drink leaving Glenn, Kristian, and I paddling like we were in peanut butter. 

Yeah, 5th place isn't 1st place, but we thought it was pretty cool -- September 28, 2008
There was so much about this whole experience that I just loved.  The most surprising thing about the race was the spread of food at the finish line.  The most mind-boggling thing about the race was the realization that the five of us, with no expectations and adventure race experience, actually finished in 5th place!  The most amazing thing about the race was how much fun I had.  This was something more than mountain bike racing.   In a mountain bike race I disappeared into the woods and then afterwards told everyone how cool it was.  In this adventure race I created memories with friends that we can share forever....and that's definitely a prize worth racing for.

Life is a journey, not a destination.


David A. Raymond -- February 2, 2016

WHITE SQUIRREL would race again sooner than expected!