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The TriHards go International!

6 April, 2011

6 April, 2011

The TriHards go International!

The TriHards have been travelling to the Newcastle area to compete in the Paddy Pallin series for a few years now, so have gained a great deal of experience booking into accommodation and become familiar with the surrounds. Indeed, Father Brendan has moved up on a permanent basis to fulfil the role of TriHards Central Coast High Commissioner. Needless to say, with all this practice and familiarity with the area, the accommodation and logistics went off like clockwork, even considering the ever-expanding TriHards teams!

... Pity the same can’t be said for the races!

The race started with what is fast becoming a fixture of AROC races: a bus trip to the start. This provides two key benefits to the event: firstly, at least one person in the team of three invariably winds up sitting next to a member of another team, which can be very nice and social (and much better before the race than after!) And secondly, long bus rides allow for additional spreading of the field between those who get motion sickness, and those who don’t! (Those who do suffer from motion sickness: regurgitated breakfast is considered oversharing on a bus)

Group of racers in the bush

The Cyborg found himself the odd-man-out on the bus, and was joined by a member of another team who had competed in all four races in the series and held high hopes for the day. In an interesting twist, he and his team-mates travelled from Newcastle to Canberra for races; kind of making them the reverse TriHards. Further, they actually regularly place in the events, which proved the theory!

The buses dropped everyone at the bike drop, from where they streamed across the road, like a huge pack of yellow chicks, and into the bush for the first leg. Half of the pack took the opportunity to have a bit more of a warm-up after a long stretch on the buses, and headed well down the fire trail, only to be called back for the race start, which it duly did around 9:07 a.m.

Leg 1: 1 + 1 = 3

The first leg was a rogaine where teams had to accrue 60 points of a possible 81. To make things even more interesting, competitors would not receive their maps until they started. Following from the “Mt Taylor” incident, where a team spent three hours running around Mt Taylor in Canberra during one event, further restrictions apply to all AROC rogaines whereby competitors had to finish the course by 10:15, regardless of whether or not they had the points.

Racers in the bush

So the TriHards, who had been honing their navigation and orienteering skills over the summer through the Canberra Street Series and Twilight Series, grabbed their maps and ran to the side of the path so they could stop, take their time and come up with a good course. No, really, that’s quite an achievement at the start of a race when the adrenalin is flowing, and everyone else is disappearing into the distance. Nevertheless, they decided on a course which best suited them to gather all the points, and set off.

In what would become a recurring theme throughout the day, the PANDSI TriHards saw the Area51 TriHards ahead, and ran harder to pass them and into the bush; only to arrive at the first checkpoint and queue behind them. This continued over the next three checkpoints, until Mr GPS wisely lead the PANDSIs up a hill, while Engine led his team around a contour; and out of each other’s site.

Mr GPS excelled during this leg when he would lead the PANDSI TriHards through scrub that was at times as tall as them, and just as thick, to drop them right on top of checkpoints. His only mistake during that leg was asking the Cyborg to add up their point values on the control card, which resulted in the TriHards running to an extra control and finishing the leg with an extra four points. (The Cyborg is still waiting on the enhancements to his brain...) Fortunately, this didn’t put them into the red zone for time, and the TriHards ran from the bush in time to finally figure out why the chicken crossed the road - to get to his bike!

Leg 2: Stuck in a rut!

The second leg saw the TriHards emerge from bush to daylight, and jump on their bikes for the first riding leg, which promised some singletrack! And the TriHards set off at a handy clip, though shortly into the ride, the Cyborg began complaining about his bike; thinking he had a flat. Upon closer inspection, the TriHards discovered his rear hub was a tad loose. Without any tools on their bikes to fix it, and not considering it a serious issue, they rode on to collect checkpoint 20. From there it was more firetrail until they reached checkpoint 21.

“10 metres west of junction” was the hint for checkpoint 21; so on arriving at the top of a hill, the Cyborg jumped off his bike and went for even more shin-exfoliation treatment as he ran 10 metres into the scrub searching in vain for the checkpoint. Meanwhile, Mr GPS actually looked at the map and determined they were about 60 metres uphill from the checkpoint; so when the Cyborg returned they all set off downhill, and found the checkpoint in short order.

Then it was onto single track. Sweet, sweet, single track... Well, it may have been before the motocross bikes went through! Now there were ruts, ruts and more ruts! But at least that made it easier to pick a line - riders didn’t have a choice! Though, it was shady, and did provide for some technical, but not too hard riding, where Father Brendan could really let his hair down and fly through the bush (the bike being his natural preference for transport).

Before too long the TriHards found themselves back out of the bush, and climbing firetrail once more. Here Mr GPS made his second mistake of the day: he consulted the other two TriHards once more on a course! He presented them with the option of taking the short uphill ride to the top of the hill and following the ridgeline, or taking the downhill path to the “undulating” powerline track. Naturally, the tired TriHards selected the undulations and found themselves trying to navigate their bikes through deep ruts on steep slopes. Needless to say, they returned to the track at the first possible opportunity, and never spoke of it again.

Leg 3: Bush Bassing

Then it was on to the orienteering leg; this leg required teams to visit all checkpoints, which seemed pretty straightforward, so the TriHards set off at a brisk walk into the bush once more. In a cunning piece of course-planning, Mr GPS set the TriHards on a course through the bush which was not only more direct, but had the added benefit of stripping all the hair from their legs for the following bike leg! The short, strong grass managed to wrap around their legs, cutting in and tearing away the hair!

Group of racers in the bush

After a slight hiccup heading towards checkpoint 29, Mr GPS’s navigation skills came to the fore once more as he lead the TriHards through the bush and dropped them exactly on to checkpoints, despite being in scrub that rose over their heads. The TriHards held a slow, and steady pace throughout the leg and emerged onto the firetrail feeling quite fresh, to see the Area51 TriHards riding ahead of them onto track leading back into the bush!

Leg 4: Biker Boys

Knowing the Area51 TriHards were only minutes ahead of them spurred the PANDSI TriHards into steely action; they mounted their bikes and headed into the bush; then the firetrail. Fortunately, the next checkpoint held a master map from which teams had to copy checkpoints onto their own. It was here the PANDSI TriHards initially caught the Sydney TriHards, only to see them zoom downhill whilst they marked their maps.

Not to be outdone, the TriHards raced down the hill and up another. They gathered checkpoint 34 and climbed another hill, from which they could spot Engine’s distinguishing features. So they rode like the wind down the hill; they pushed hard back up the hill until they were overtaking the Area51 team once more. Then they pushed downhill again. Then came the bitumen.

Father Brendan’s biking skills came to the fore, as he lea the team on the road, all drafting behind each other. After a few minutes, the Cyborg called lead, and headed to the front of the pack to take his turn pulling the team along; then he was swapped out again, which all gave the TriHards an incredibly undeserved professional look!

Leg 5: Up the Creek

The ride was all too brief and the PANDSI TriHards, expecting the Area51 TriHards to be on their backs at any moment, jumped in the first kayak they could, and used the tail wind to help them warm up to kayaking on their way to their first kayak checkpoint under the bridge, singing sea-shanties along the way (which, fortunately, didn’t include “Under the Bridge”). Then, further down the creek they grabbed checkpoint 37 before turning around and heading back upriver. The Cyborg put them close to the bank to make the most of any eddy currents, and ensure they were within range of the Immoral Support Crew should she be taking photographs.

After crossing back under the bridge, the PANDSI TriHards caught sight of Klingons, I mean ARea51 TriHards, off their starboard bow! They were looking fresh and paddling well. The tired TriHards assumed they’d already grabbed the two eastern checkpoints and were more than halfway through their paddle leg; having no photon torpedoes, they jeered instead, then paddled harder. Well until the Immoral Support Crew and Father Brendan’s family came into view, when they called, waved, and posed for photos before resuming their course up the river.

The Cyborg steered them along the bank, keeping them in the lee of moored boats to reduce the effects of a headwind. The crew, however, refused his idea of paddling beneath a moored catamaran. It didn’t take long for them to collect checkpoints 38 and 39, then turn back into the wind and sprint for the finish where they were reliably informed by Brett, volunteering for the day, that the Sydney team had not yet returned. The TriHards eagerly handed their kayak and paddles across to a novice team, which saved them having to pack the kayaks away, and sauntered over to talk to the Immoral Support Crew and Father Brendan’s tribe.

Kayaking in a river

They took time to pose for photos; for Father Brendan to play with Cadel, and for the Cyborg to give the Immoral Support Crew a big, wet, sweaty hug, before lingering thoughts of the Area51 TriHards catching them got the better of them, and the PANDSIs jumped back on their bikes to race towards the finish.

Which was just around the corner! In no time at all they were finished the race, and queuing up for sausage sandwiches. Only to find there were no sausages left. The Area51 TriHards rolled through about half an hour later - it turned out they had a flat shortly after the PANDSIs had overtaken them on the bike leg, which cost them a fair bit of time. The Cyborg strenuously denies dropping tacks on the track.


PANDSI TriHards continued their traditions of (a) beating the Sydney team, (b) Not being photographed by the Immoral Support Crew at the end and (c) arriving late enough to just miss out on sausage sandwiches.

More importantly, the Area51 TriHards completed all races in the series in the same team. Even more importantly, they qualified for entry into the Race Vanuatu draw, which was won by Doc Runaway! Entry and airfare to the Vanuatu Adventure Race, with a team mate of her choosing. Consequently all members of the PANDSI TriHards began to strenuously apologise for any name-calling or bad behaviour throughout the race...

Naturally, your narrator believes the TriHards require a foreign correspondent position to cover this event. Donations to support this incredibly worthy cause are always very welcome!


Finally, many thanks go out to the great team at AROC for organising a fantastic event. Word on the track is that Dave worked incredibly hard putting together what was a fantastic course at short notice following some changes to permissions. The effort is much appreciate, and the course was fantastic! As usual, the AROC crew did a fantastic job in organising the event and ensuring everything went smoothly. Well, except the sausages, but Pedal Power was running that and, really, there’s a reason they plan their rides around coffee shops.


Race Stats

Date: 2 April 2011
Location: Dora Creek, NSW
Rating: Reasonable Adventure
PANDSI TriHards: Father Brendan, Mr GPS and Cyborg
Area51 TriHards: Doc Runaway, Engine and McFly
Team Leg 1 Leg 2 Leg 3 Leg 4 Leg 5 Total Place Category
PANDSI TriHards 0:54:47 0:56:20 1:06:05 0:39:07 0:44:09 4:20:28 92/135 62/82
Area51 TriHards 1:04:43 0:56:06 0:53:07 0:57:02 0:48:22 4:39:20 107/135 17/29
Event website: AROC Sport site