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Adventures in Washing!

13 February 2010

13 February 2010

Adventures in Washing!

Success! Victory! Remember this day, dear readers, for 13 February, 2010 marks the day the TriHards achieved another fantastic goal in their adventure racing career. No, no, don’t look at the results, they are just numbers! Numbers are things for bureaucrats and accountants, not the stuff of hardy racing types (unless, of course, they’re measurements of distance and speed!) No, on this day, the TriHards were truly challenged; and they met that challenge!

On this day, someone asked the wet and weary TriHards, at the conclusion of the race, what PANDSI stands for. Finally! After numerous events spanning almost a year, finally someone has asked! And, while the Cyborg did manage to recite their acronym (Post and Ante Natal Depression Support and Information), they did not accept the offer of a PANDSI information flyer, which he carries on him in all races. Of course, this could be excused, given the conditions; after all, the leaflet would no doubt be nothing more than soggy, shredded paper within moments in the rain.

The day started at around 3.00 in the morning for young Mr Tom, down at the Race HQ, when the pouring rain managed to flood the tent in which he was sleeping; this did not bode well for the race! The kayak and swim legs had already been removed from the event due to the levels of blue green algae in the lake (noted as Extreme in the ACT’s Department of the Environment, Climate Change, Energy and Water website). Not that the AROC crew, or adventure racers, are worried about Extreme - after all, Extreme is their middle name. No, the concern was more about quantity of the algae. If it was too thick in the lake, it would increase the density of the water, which may result in a risk of competitors running across the green lakes dragging the kayaks! And that would just be cheating!

The TriHards arrived early in the morning to find that one of the legs, from around about Point Hut Crossing through to Pine Island, which would have involved running right next to the Murrimbidgee, had been cancelled. The river had been predicted to rise, and while it may have been great fun to go white-water rafting in the bathtubs, it was just impossible to get them all there in time. So, it was cancelled to save everyone the temptation of turbulent water.

On the bright side, the shortened course also meant most teams should get in after only copping a little of the heavy downpour forecast for midday...A 1 in 100 year storm! This really allows a chance to reflect on what to pack on a race, required equipment (obviously), a change of socks (maybe on a long one), a small inflatable craft and 3 days rations (probably not), an Ark (do you have 2 of each animal with you?) The key here is to accept you are going get wet and pack as light as possible; trying to remain dry the whole time is a waste of effort. In some earlier races the Trihards had discussed such things as a change of shoes, socks, however if you stop every change over to select the ideal footwear you are going to be out for a very long time. Short answer: pick your gear and run with it, don’t slow down if you don’t have too, it adds to the fun!

TriHards and TweeHards wet with anticipation
Both teams ready to race!

Further thoughts were quickly banished with the appearance of the TweeHards; a team of Capt’n Charles’s creation. No, really, he made the team - well, with the help of his lovely wife, Admiral Al. The Capt’n and two of Daddy’s little girls were racing together in the novice course, and what a baptism by water it was!

Many bikes
Look at all those bikes getting a wash in the rain!

The PANDSI TriHards were represented in this race by Doc Runaway, Mr GPS and the Cyborg; with Father Brendan being excused from the race to move, and Freak McFly still recovering from earlier injuries. It should be noted, however, that the Cyborg was feeling much more confident with a doctor on the team! His confidence grew as the Tuggeranong native read the race description: a checkpoint near Wanniassa High (a school he attended for six months, many moons ago), then a rogaine at Farrer Ridge, familiar ground where he used to walk the dogs (and he walked just last week in his Vibrams as part of his training for the Wild Endurance.

Those cunning people at AROC are always thinking about clever ways to break the pack up at the start of the race, and this time they brought out a new secret weapon; and this was the fiercest one the TriHards have seen them use! Maths. And not just any maths: algebra. With power notation. Still, at least it wasn’t differential equations, or stats. Ewww, stats!

Teams looking for magic numbers
Chasing magic numbers around the HQ!

So, the first leg consisted of collecting five checkpoints: A to E. Each checkpoint had a number value on the card, which was to substitute into an equation at the bottom of the map for this section. The teams had to find all of the checkpoints located around the event hub, substitute the numbers in, then tell the marshalls their answers before moving on to the next section. Now, it did cross the TriHard’s minds to just say “42” , but they considered that some people may not get the joke, and it was still awfully early in the day!

With the number riddle solves they set off for checkpoint one: a code in an underpass near Wanniassa High School. After rounding Lake Tuggeranong, the Cyborg watched, amused, as other teams began to head off in the wrong direction as he led (for a change!) the TriHards directly to the checkpoint! Then Mr GPS led them back out towards Sulwood Drive, and Farrer Ridge.

Riding on Sulwood Drive
The road was surprisingly empty.

Surprisingly, Sulwood Drive wasn’t very busy, and the TriHards had no trouble getting across the road, and onto the climbing track to the junction at Farrer Ridge which marked TA1. With a slight drizzle coming down, the TriHards dropped their bikes and headed out on foot for the rogaine leg. The Cyborg, confident in his knowledge of the ridge, then proceeded to ensure they got lost before Mr GPS took control once more.

Note: It’s only now that Mr GPS has gotten Tom’s references to Sulwood drive at the briefing.

Kangaroos fled from the path of the Mighty TriHards, as they climbed up the hill for checkpoint 12, then over for 10 (pausing for a moment, to sit on the Cyborg’s stone throne - his resting spot when walking his dogs, from which he could gaze down upon Tuggeranong). Then, they raced down the hill for checkpoint 11, followed by 13, 14, before nabbing nine, eight and seven in short order and bolting back to the TA.

Some sections of thicker scrub at Farrer
Spot the TriHard!
TweeHards at Farrer Ridge
TweeHards racing across Farrer Ridge

Along the way, the TriHards came across the TweeHards, as they raced in the first leg of the novice course; rogaining through Farrer Ridge. It must be said that at this stage they were looking more impressive and purposeful than the TriHards!

The Cyborg believed this rapid pace was due to his local knowledge and advice during the rogaine leg. Doc Runaway and Mr GPS know it was because they grew awfully tired of hearing the Cyborg’s anecdotes of roaming through the hills, and ran faster just to get away from his fading memories!

Back on their bikes, and the TriHards had the thrill of a downhill mudslide to the underpass between Farrer Ridge and Mt Wanniassa - very thankful for the opportunity to put some of the lessons they learned in the CycleEd course the week before into action, with near-perfect downhill poses (that means balance, really!) as they flew down to the underpass. Then they became to climb.

And climb.

Rain began to fall from the grey sky, as their feet, encased in soaked-through shoes and socks, slowly pushed them up and up to checkpoint 15 near the dam. Then up again, until they came down, and to a rode, which they rode around, up, down and then up, and up, and up to Mount Wanniassa and TA3 for the second rogaine of the day. And it was to be a challenging rogaine!

Mr GPS in his element
Mr GPS in his element!

However, the AROC people had learnt their lesson from the last Canberra race, where one team spent three days or so on Mt Taylor in the first rogaine leg (word has it, they were attempting a record). This time, there was an hour limit to the rogaine. Teams that didn’t find all of the checkpoints in an hour could leave the rogaine without any time penalty. The Cyborg asked the marshal if perhaps they could leave after 15 minutes and not incur any penalty. Apparently, it didn’t work that way.

The TriHards, however, did not need any such advantage. Despite the rugged terrain, thick scrub, overcast sky and constant drizzle, Mr GPS’s navigation was true to form, and he led the TriHards around the course to gather all the checkpoints in 40 minutes!

Scrub on Mt Wanniassa
Mr GPS led the TriHards easily through the scrub.

Then it was all downhill! The TriHards mounted their bikes and flew down Mt Wanniassa, ensuring they put their outer foot down on every long turn; heading around the back of Fadden to the sport centre at Fadden Pines, where they momentarily debated the security camera question; deciding to only count the cameras looking south. From here, they rode along the muddy trail into the playground at Fadden Pines, before cutting across to the bike path, which would become a bike highway down towards Tuggeranong.

Mr GPS riding through a puddle
There was plenty of puddle fun on the day!

They turned from the highway after gathering checkpoint 25 to climb once more, up, into Bonython towards Mt Strange to gather checkpoint 26 near the top of the hill. Then, once more, physics applied to the TriHards, those that went up had to come down! And they flew down the generous bike path next to Drakeford Drive until they reached the edge of Bonython, where the Cyborg stated that he could smell the sausage sandwiches on offer at the hub (unless someone was having a bbq in that weather!)

The TriHards turned into Bonython, where they met up momentarily with the Tweehards, and headed out onto the bike path on Athllon Drive, which lead them around to Colishaw St, and checkpoint 28 which was obviously downwind from the sausage sizzle at the hub! Surely the rain was just exaggerating the tempting aroma! With checkpoint 28 in hand, the TriHards bolted for the sausage sizzle, and finish line, arriving with plenty of time to grab a couple of sausage sandwiches, and coffee prior to the presentations!

TriHards at the finish
Okay, we prepared this picture earlier...

It was a fantastic race, despite the weather - even, perhaps, because of the weather. These are, after all, adventure races! Conditions are supposed to change, plans are meant to be shattered so that competitors must think on their tired, soggy feet! And, at least everyone managed to stay cool in a summer race!

Soggy Tweehards at the end
Wet, but happy TweeHards!

A big thanks goes out to AROC for once more organising a fantastic event, and for continuing to hold it when others may have bailed. Great fun was had all around, and not since the adventure race of ought seven have the TriHards had the opportunity to get their adventure gear out for a good, soaking wash!

Race Stats

Date: 13 February, 2010
Location: Tuggeranong, Canberra
Rating: Reasonable Adventure (all our gear was cleanish!)
PANDSI TriHards: Mr GPS, Doc Runaway and Cyborg
TweeHards: Cap’n, The Pinkinator and Lu
Event website: AROC Sport site

Lessons Learned:

  1. Always leave an umbrella in the car.