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Googong Gambol

25 October 2012

25 October 2012

Googong Gambol

Following his humiliation at the start of the iAdventure Race in Canberra on 18 Feburary, and in anticipation of the following event in October, the Cyborg began a strict training regimen. Every day he would rise at 5:30, down a raw egg and listen to Eye of the Tiger then sit down for a long, hard Sudoku session. He spent almost eight months in this fashion, dedicated every spare moment to mastering the art of Sudoku. Every spare moment searching for patterns, putting numbers in boxes, in preparation for the rematch: iAdventure Canberra ii: The Googong Challenge. So, you can imagine his disappointment when, upon opening the race pack and reading the course description, there was no mention whatsoever of Sudoku. This probably was for the best, because despite all the practice, he was still really bad at Sudoku.

The TriHards were represented in Googong by Junior, who had just returned from the gruelling Tour De Timor and the Cyborg, who had managed to set his own harsh schedule in recent times. So, neither was looking to break any records on the day, and both agreed early on that the plan was to take it easy and see how they went throughout the race, particularly given the area - after all, they don’t make dams on flat plains! And the iAdventure team make it easy to pace yourself; providing bonus checkpoints throughout the course, which require slightly more navigation skills, as well as a bit of strategy. Each bonus checkpoint has a time score - which is then taken off the team’s final time tallly. So, if a checkpoint was worth 10 minutes, but took 14 minutes to achieve, the team would effectively be four minutes worse off. The TriHards agreed that they wouldn’t even consider the bonus checkpoints until they had a good idea of how they were feeling!

With their race strategy set, Junior and Cyborg headed to the hub for the race briefing where there would be no Sudoku, instead the team at iAdventure had thought of an all-new, and very subtle evil. They had gone through the whole race briefing, informing everyone of the rules, options and any other important information for the race, then they planted the seed of an idea in the Cyborg’s mind. Now, we should mention here that the Cyborg’s mind tends to be very fertile ground. Which is not to say it’s full of shit, rather that ideas tend to spring up and grow unrestrained. This would be a good thing if it were to be used for a single, or even two crops. But this garden bed is filled with a strange assortment of lush, wild, and altogether useless vegetation. So, when Amanda mentioned there was Subway available for everyone at the end, that seed feel into the Cyborg’s fertile mind and began to grow...

Racers at briefing
All those red bibs!

Then the teams were sent on their way. Rather than using Sudoku to split the field, the teams were split into two groups - the first (mainly male) would start with a kayak leg, and the second would run around to where the kayaks would eventually arrive. Being males, naturally, the TriHards started on the kayaks with the powerhouse of Junior at the front, and the Cyborg in his usual steerage position.

They had just began to make good speed into the dam, when the kayak became a submarine. The Dagger Voyager II kayaks were two-man sit on top kayaks with a cargo-area towards the rear of the kayak. With two burley blokes towards the front of the kayak, and a bit of chop, the bow sank beneath the water. This problem was exacerbated by the speed with which the strong paddlers had the kayak going. The kayak began to dive.

Which, naturally, started the Cyborg thinking about a Subway sandwich...

Kayaks coming into shore
One solo competitor had to paddle one of the double bathtubs alone...

Plans were devised for a sophisticated shuffling of weight throughout the kayak, which didn’t involve dropping the filthy TriHards into Canberra’s drinking water; perhaps bailing out the rapidly filling wells with shoes. Ultimately the situation was easily rectified when the Cyborg moved back onto the cargo area at the back. This had the additional benefit of being slightly higher, providing a better view of the course ahead - enabling much better steering. With those positions sorted out, the TriHards made short work of the kayak leg, garnering checkpoint one in no time at all, and heading across to the TA1 to start their first run leg.

The first run leg provided the option of collecting bonus checkpoint H, which would reduce the TriHards total time by 10 minutes. The TriHards decided that it just wasn’t worth the half an hour it would take to get there, and went straight on to checkpoint two, then climbed a hill for checkpoint three, taking in a magnificent, elevated view of the area. The picturesque course continued with the TriHards skipping along stepping stones in a river for checkpoint four, then running around the shoreline walk to grab checkpoint five on their way to TA2. With views so grand, the TriHards could not help but relax and take their time, letting the maddening crowds race past.

At TA2 the TriHards picked up their bikes for the first ride leg - making quick time along the smooth, downhill bitumen stretches - a far cry from the roads Junior had travelled on in Timor. But what goes down must come up again, and with such a long downhill stretch the Cyborg began to feel dread in his stomach for the climb that must surely come.

Riding down a road
Yes, it all looks nice and civilised now...

Or was that just more thinking about a fresh Subway sandwich lunch...

And, sure enough, just after collecting checkpoint six they crossed the dam overflow, which marked the low point, and the climb began. Fortunately the first part of the climb was also on bitumen, and plain sailing. But this then led to a steep, loose dirt climb which, of itself wouldn’t have been too bad. But we all know that Matt from iAdventure loves a challenge, and believes everyone else does too. So, just to push everyone that bit harder he drove his Landcruiser up behind them. With the fear of rapidly becoming road kill, Junior (who had watched enough movies to know the wise course of action when something is coming at you in a straight line is to move out of it’s way) ducked off the road. The not-so-sensible Cyborg, caught dreaming of Subway, foolishly pushed hard in a desperate bid to see if his two-piston biofuelled engine would beat a six-piston diesel fuelled one...

Needless to say, both riders survived the climb, and claimed checkpoint seven; just in time to point out to other riders that checkpoint 10 was a run checkpoint, not a ride checkpoint. (No doubt they were just annoyed they didn’t think of it themselves!) From checkpoint seven it was downhill to the next TA, and the next “run” leg.

Whippets running into the distance
Everyone ran away from us...

The second run leg had some slightly trickier navigation and the option of two more bonus checkpoints, each worth 10 minutes. But the TriHards avoided temptation and stuck to their original plan to just collect all the mandatory checkpoints. Off they went, chasing about eight teams who’d run off into the distance, to checkpoint eight. They turned up at the second watercourse and saw nobody. They continued up to the junction, with Junior beginning to doubt his navigational abilities, until they spied checkpoint eight. Then teams began to arrive; teams who had run off only to turn back! Once again, Junior’s navigation had put the TriHards back into contention.

Then it was across the water and up to Googong lookout for checkpoint 10 - which provided a great view of the lake. Naturally, the Cyborg stopped to take a few photos, before heading on to checkpoint 11, where once more the TriHards rejoined many other teams. Then it was on to checkpoint nine, and more confusion. For, while the map had nine on a watercourse, the land had the watercourse dammed!

View from Googong Lookout
Please say we don't have to paddle back!

So, the TriHards pulled out Cyborg’s compass. A cheap compass that lives, with a whistle, permanently attached to his pack. Orienting the map with the compass brought even more confusion. So they gave up and navigated by the stars - or, at least, the only visible star - the sun, which should be relatively easterly - coincidentally the same way the Cyborg’s compass was pointing. A compass that always points to the sun - sounds like a great recipe for an endless summer... Not so good for orienteering. Giving up on gadgets, the TriHards once more relied upon Junior’s navigation skills, looked up, and saw the checkpoint right in front of them! Then it was merely a matter of heading back up the hill to the bikes.

The penultimate ride leg had them returning from whence they came, up the bitumen road, then climbing a dirt road, so everyone could check out the Ranger’s station, before heading back down for Checkpoint 12 and then to the hub for another paddle.

Learning their lesson from the first paddle leg, the Cyborg took to the bridge of the kayak (no, not the poop deck), rather than sitting down in the rowing deck, and the pair made excellent time out to checkpoint 13. From here it was possible to chase down some bonus points, however C held only five minutes for them (and involved climbing up a hill) and, while D had 15 minutes, it’d probably take at least 10 to get there and back. So common sense took hold and the TriHards crossed to checkpoint 14.

It was here, however, that history was made. For the first time since the inception of the TriHards, they took on a bonus leg. Checkpoint E, was worth 10 minutes, and lay across a small isthmus from checkpoint 14; the map indicated fairly flat and clear ground, so Cyborg and Junior went for it. They ducked across for the checkpoint and were back at their kayak in six minutes and 12 seconds, which gave them a bonus of 3:48. But, more importantly, it earned them a spot in the TriHards hall of fame! The first TriHards to complete a bonus leg!

So, without further ado, the TriHards steamed back to the hub for the final leg of the race - the southward ride. The wind began to pick up as they made their long and arduous journey across the dam, as though nature was trying to steal those bonus minutes from them. Then, as they arrived in site of the hub, a gigantic serpent flashed towards the boat. Fortunately, Junior’s keen eyes spotted it first, and the team drifted past, leaving the beast in their wake - though for some reason it left the Cyborg contemplating a five foot subway roll...

Then it was back onto the bikes and the dreaded southward ride. Dreaded, at least, by the Cyborg who had memories of the hills on this ride from the Sri Chimnoy triathlon he undertook at Googong in the year before - with some real bar-biting climbs. Not so much for Junior, who had just returned from the Tour De Timor where climbing a mountain before breakfast was de rigueur. And it started out well enough with the boys cruising along the firetrail, giving way every now and then to some whippets returning.

Riding on worn car track
There's the track!

Then Junior saw a dam and exclaimed “Damn!” He had been waiting for a road junction to turn off for checkpoint 15, but none were apparent - and the dam meant they had travelled too far (and downhill at that!) There would be no turning back, no backtracking for the TriHards (backtracking being quite high on Junior’s peeve list); so both riders went across country in search of the elusive second track. The second track turned out to be overgrown double-track, and looked like it had been made by being driven over the day before. Nevertheless, the TriHards rode along the grassy track and picked up checkpoints 15, 16 and 17 in no time at all.

Rather than spending a few minutes riding around, the TriHards once again rode across country to gather checkpoint 18 - close to the firetrail, a clear path of golden-brown dirt. Very similar to the colour of a subway roll bun really. And that was it, the last checkpoint, all that remained was the ride back along the firetrail, and it wasn’t a moment too soon, as midday was fast approaching, TriHard tuckertime!

Apart from the first ride leg, the TriHards hadn’t seen so many other racers as they did on the home stretch. They even managed to overtake a few. One poor rider was down, sitting in the shade next to a steep pinch climb, with a bad case of cramps. Cramps that would no doubt be relieved by a salty Subway ham roll.... Not being able to assist (as he was being ably cared for by his team mate) the TriHards continued on their homeward journey, pointing out to many a team coming the other way that they were on the wrong course, and had to follow the fenceline. It wasn’t that they purposely wanted to lose-but because those poor teams would ride down a lot of hills they’d have to ride back up again to get to the checkpoints!

So, a little after 12 the TriHards had run their race, and swapped their bibs for Subway rolls. Hmmm, Subway roll. What a great motivator to return the bibs!

All in all the latest Canberra iAdventure race was an excellent adventure, a fantastic course set within a picturesque location; providing the added benefits of being able to “choose your own adventure”, as it were by electing to gather, or forego, the bonus checkpoints. The TriHards thoroughly enjoyed their return to adventure racing in this outing, and look forward to the next time iAdventure come to town.


We would like to thank iAdventure for putting on such a great event, and all their sponsors - On The Go custom clothing, Moxie Gear (who make excellent gators!), Shotz sports nutrition (which really would have helped with those cramps!), Everyday Life Fitness, Vision Ink (performance eyewear specialists), Stevens Bikes, Runners World Magazine and 2Toms


Yes, the Cyborg did take some picture during the race - you can find them in our Facebook album.