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The TweeHards Rainy Day Out!

Canberra AROC, 13 February 2010

Canberra AROC, 13 February 2010

The TweeHards Rainy Day Out!

So after an early start of weet-bix and coffee, the junior TriHards, officially known as the TweeHards sallied forth into the first real rain Canberra has had since Christmas. Why the TweeHards I hear you ask? Well The Cap’n is an experienced TriHard and the girls (The Pinkinator and Lu) are ever so cute, dainty and/or delicate, so it just sort of made sense.

I don’t doubt that as it was the girls first adventure race Mother Nature sought to test their adventure racing spirit... however it was to no avail, these are young adventure racers, born of adventure racers (well one, slightly grey and round adventure racer anyway) and wouldn’t be disuaded by something as trivial as rain!!!

The race was to take place in Tuggeranong and first stop was the novice bike drop at the back of Farrer Ridge and some nice steady drizzle in which to unload the bikes. Once back in the car, The Cap’n, a mere tourist in these southern parts, realised that someone had removed the street directory from the car ... god bless funky phones and google maps!!! Once a carpark had been secured at the event hub, it was off to find the TriHards and provide moral support.

TriHards and TweeHards at start
The TriHards and TweeHards pose for a pre-race photo by the mighty adventure truck.

Having shared the intel gained at the previous night’s Novice briefing the TweeHards wished the TriHards luck and headed off to register. Huddling out of the rain the TweeHards mapped out their route in the back of the slightly less mighty adventure wagon, whilst dividing up bags of lollies and scoffing down a couple of meusli bars and lamenting the loss of the run/swim leg by the Murrumbidgie River. Planning done, it was time for more coffee (and hot chocolate).

TweeHards travelling on a bus to the start.
All smiles as, for a while, at least we're out of the rain

After seeing the Classic course racers off into the wet, final preparations were made for the start. Preparations that were rudely interupted by none other than Cranky Pool Lady (not to be confused with the more common, but no less feasome Cranky Library Lady) who apparently was very upset at all the adventure racers who had dared park in the public carpark outside her pool, the hide of some people, really! After being warned that the ranger was on his way and in turn trying to no avail to politely explain that it was in fact a public carpark and that the definition of public was NOT in fact “Pool Patrons Only” the TweeHards shrugged their shoulders headed to their pre-race briefing.

TweeHards running through Farrer Ridge
Here we are, running through Farrer Ridge

Five seconds, four, three, two ... and they’re racing ... and off into the wilds of Farrer Ridge we went. It was a good plan we had mapped out in order to get our 9 out of a possible 14 checkpoints and whilst everyone else seemed to have decided to run in the opposite direction, the plan soon bore fruit with first one and then two checkpoints under our belt. After stopping briefly to advise the TriHards where their next checkpoint was, it was time for the steepest part of our planned route and into the scrub we went.

It should probably be mentioned, in case you hadn’t worked it out from the photos that the The Cap’n is just slightly taller than his progeny, ordinarily this is not an issue, until of course you start trying to run in scrubby forest where branches and shrubs at The Cap’n’s chest height prove slightly more of an obsticle if they’re hitting you in the face ... so there was some yelling, and the venting of a little teenage frustration all of which resulted in our first team hug of the race. So moving at a slightly more considerate pace, The Cap’n in his first ever role as team navigator led the TweeHards to the next two checkpoints on their map. It was at this point as bearings were being taken to the next checkpoint that The Cap’n suffered a most terrible injury, not to his physical person, but perhaps one of the most terrible injuries and man can suffer, no not there, I said it wasn’t physical ... The Cap’n was brought low by those most hurtfull of phases, “Daddy you’ve got the map upsidedown ...” Whilst the immediate situation was quickly rectified and the next checkpoint was soon in sight, I suspect it will be several more therapy session before the true damage can really be assessed ...

After a brief trip into the mud Lu had the card punched for the next checkpoint and we were over halfway and on track to finish the first rogaine in under an hour. Three more checkpoints down and we were in site of the TA and our bikes and the bikes of several other novice teams (yay!) and so the Tweehards charged down the hill.

Now on the bikes and we took our only wrong turn of the race, intially going right instead of left before heading down to Sulwood Drive, a situation shared with at least one other team it was quickly rectified and downhill we flew “Weeeeeeeee!!!” Down the ditch and across Sulwood Drive, over some grass and onto the bike track that would take us to Checkpoint 15, the Tweehards pedalled along as we counted underpass after underpass and soaked up the increasing rain. Left turn onto the muddy track that would take us to Red Rooster and another member of the team was struck down.

A tearfull cry to stop brought The Cap’n to a halt as poor Lu clutched her hand to her eye. A big glob of mud had ruthlessly attacked the only unbespecticled member of the team, stopping her in her tracks. Some tears, some hugs and the races’ youngest competitor was soon back on her bike and pedalling again. Past the shops and round the corner and Checkpoint 15 was done. Up the hill and past Wanniassa High School, then down again and through some more underpasses and the Red Bull girls signified we had reached Checkpoint 16.

TweeHards at CP16
Wet and weary, but still smiling at checkpoint 16.

Whilst the Cap’n hurried up the short slope, the Tweehards stocked up on snakes and meusli bars and politely declined a Red Bull shot.

Amidst a sea of Classic racers the TweeHards were off again navigating their way towards Checkpoint 17. Whilst there were several underpasses to choose from in order to duck under the out-of-bounds Drakeford Drive, the TweeHards stuck to their route only to be caught up by the same classic teams that had passed them 5 minutes earlier...

Chuffed at their superior map reading abilities the TweeHards powered on, then there was a bit less powereing and some borderline struggling as the hills of Bonython leading to Mt Strange started to take their toll on the TweeHard’s Twee little legs. This was soon followed by some definate trudging as last hill to Checkpoint 17 sapped what remained of both strength and resolve. Leaving the TweeHards at the gate to consume more energy giving snakes and much needed water, the Cap’n once again jogged up the short slope in search of Checkpoint 17.

Now clearly knackered, the Tweehards looked closely at their map and unhapplily at the hill they would need to deal with in order to follow their chosen route back to the finish. Alternatively there was also the option to head back the way they had come, which if it was uphill on the way there, was in all liklihood going to be downhill on the way back. The descision made the TweeHards turned their steeds around and headed back towards Drakeford Drive.

Down and down they went, The Pinkinator dodging some bogan whose lack of a pre-hensile thumb obvioulsy prevented his use of a blinker, until once more a bike path showed the way. It was plain sailing now as the Tweehards once again met up with the TriHards. With cries of follow Uncle Chris (he lives down here, he knows this place like the back of his hand) the TweeHards soldiered on, and then stopped and looked at their map and then asked the question ... are you sure? To which Mr GPS replied with a sudden turn to his left and a somwhat unorthodox trip down a grassy hill and back onto the correct bike path ... This was the last we would see of the TriHards until the finish, as their longer legs propelled them out of site and the TweeHards discovered the last hill ... it was also the biggest and steepest of the race and brought tears to the eyes. There was nothing for it, but more trudging. Grabbing both his and Lu’s bikes the Cap’n headed up the hill, the girls closely behind. Half way up and The Pinkinator had a crack at riding up the hill, momentarilly stunning the Cap’n, still in shock, is then caught completely off guard as Lu finds hidden reserves and breaks into a jog ...

Hill done and dignity firmly re-asserted, the TweeHards headed back downhill and onto the bike path beside Athlon Drive, already reasonably damp from several hours of drizzle the rain began in earnest and this time it was here to stay. Pedalling their way to Checkpoint 19 and the finish the rain got heavier and those remaining Classic racers pedalled past the weary Tweehards. Just a couple of hundred meters from the finish and Chekpoint 19 was done. We now had to drop the bikes and pick up the details of our last task, and horror of horrors it involved maths (duh, duh, Daaah!!!)

An algebaric equation presented itself with the locations on a map providing numbers for the corresponding letters. Stuffing the map in the map case as the rain poured on, the Tweehards ran ... and ran ... and ran ... then walked a bit while the Cap’n kept on running and then they were done, scurrying out of the rain and into the prize tent, shoes were removed and calculations done, answer checked by the judges (who, like everyone else, were nice and dry under the Red Bull tent) and the TweeHards charged across the line, dipped their timing stick, paused for a quick photo shoot and then collpased into the nearest puddle amid cheers from the crowd just in time for the presentations.

TweeHards at the end of the race
Very wet and very tired TweeHards

Did I mention that Lu was the youngest racer? Youngest out of about 150 teams, her youth and cuteness glowed forth through the dreay wet afternoon and earned her a prize. A nice new backpack for school ... excellent work all round I think ... now where’s the coffee?

Race Stats

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

Lessons Learned:

  1. Rain is wet.
  2. You can never carry too many snakes!