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Double the TriHards, Double the Fun!

27 November 2013

27 November 2013

Double the TriHards, Double the Fun!

The TriHards fielded two teams for the final iAdventure race of the year with Engine and Groucho forming their own team of Lycra Louts to go up against the much more casual, baggy pants-wearing team of Mr GPS and the Cyborg. This grouping suited everyone very well: the in-form Engine, with his superior fitness and navigation skills would be ably supported by “I don’t run” Groucho, an efficient rider with very good endurance - both being quite competitive and keen to test their limits and endurance.

The Baggy Boys, on the other hand, had very different expectations for this race. Mr GPS had taken quite a deal of time off racing and training in his efforts to create his own adventure racing team. Now that the Bamily had grown to five (that’s a full Mountain Designs XPD team, with one support crew) he was able to take a break, which is what racing with the Cyborg is for most people.

This race was originally scheduled for October, but was postponed until November to cater for the arrival of jAdventure. This turned out to be extremely unfortunate, as it not only clashed with the Burley Griffin Canoe Challenge, but also the premiere of the Day of the Doctor! Fortunately, with a few engineering and computer science degrees between them, the TriHards were educated enough to ask the Immoral Support Crew to record it for them! (Though, when a request went out at the 11th hour asking for someone to volunteer to collect all the controls, the Cyborg was sorely tempted to stay and watch the Day of the Doctor, then head out to collect controls - after all, the Baggy Boys may as well be sweeps - and if they should cross paths with the Lycra Louts they could always shout spoilers at them!

Race registration and carpark.
Okay, it only looks small there, but it was uphill!

Sunday morning arrived, and the TriHards turned up to the coffee-van-less Tin Hut carpark with time to spare (note to self: pack the percolator next time!) And that spare time came in handy, because the registration tent was uphill. Sure, it wasn’t a big hill, but the Cyborg reported back that this was in fact the iAdventure way: if there’s any sort of rise - a mountain, a hill, even a mound of dirt - make sure you send racers over it. They like hills.

TriHards ready to race.
Baggy vs Lycra.

After a quick briefing everybody was off - running in three different directions. The first checkpoint lay to the south, which could be reached by a direct route going cross-country along some fairly easy terrain, running along the very navigable, firm road or a not so firm, but more direct, road. Not wanting to be associated with anyone who wears lycra, the Baggy Boys ran in the opposite direction to the Lycra Lads, which meant up the main road with all the other newbies. And it was a nice little run, serving to both warm up the racers and split the field.

Some animals mark their territory through scents - think dogs urinating, or cats spraying - others will do so by hue and cry. Not the Cyborg; he does it through a combination of verbal and visible cues - that is why you will often see him scraping the skin from his shin onto a fallen log or low-lying boulder near a checkpoint. And checkpoint one of the event was no different, as he let out a little cry whilst dragging his unblemished shin over a fallen tree. Similarly, he once more dragged his now blemished shin over a smaller branch whilst gaining access to checkpoint two at a knoll. Fortunately, the field had thinned out nicely by the time they reached checkpoint three, and he didn’t have to mark his territory anymore!

View at Googong Dam
At least, for all that climbing, you can be rewarded with a nice view.

The TriHards gave up on bush-bashing along the ridge, and dropped down to a road to chase after the next checkpoint which, naturally, sat atop a small hill. You see, the iAdventure people like to claim their races are heavenly, so they see elevation as a chance to raise racers to new heights. Naturally, the less enlightened (or is it fit?) among us have quite the opposite view - that climbing drags us through hell, and descending (especially on bike) is heaven...

And descend they did, finishing with a quick jog along the road to get back to the Race HQ - passing the Lycra Lads, already on their bikes. After clearing a giant hurdle, the Baggy Boys grabbed their bikes and set out; with aAdventure informing them that the Lycra Lads were ahead, and were going hard in an effort to build a decent gap prior to the kayak leg (which had a number of bonus points on this course!)

So the Baggy Boys gave chase! At a nice, relaxed, consistent pace. They rode, and chatted, and rode, and stopped chatting to climb, then rode again. Googong Dam is quite a nice place to ride - well, not counting the numerous climbs - in that it is primarily grass land, and easy to take the bikes cross-country, which can be a lot of fun. And that’s exactly what they did for checkpoint five. Checkpoint six was then gained through a bit more climbing, this time up a rocky fire trail, which continued for three more checkpoints

During the descent to checkpoint nine the Cyborg began to lose control of the front end of his bike; yet he still managed to duck in and punch his control card. On the way back to the firetrail, however, he found the problem; his front tyre had lost all air.

Once they’d pushed their bikes up a hill, not too far from the next transition, the Baggy Boys halted to fix the tyre. First, the Cyborg put a canister of CO2 into it, which inflated the tyre, and actually seemed to work okay for a minute. Then it went flat again. A little more investigation found a hole in the sidewall. So, the Cyborg fitted a tube, and pumped in his second CO2 canister, then listened to the whooshing sound of air escaping. The tube had a puncture.

Having no more 29er tubes, he raided Mr GPS’s spares kit, taking his 26” tube and mounting it on the bike, then snapped both his levers trying to get the tyre back on. Fortunately, every single team in the tail end of the pack stopped to check if they were alright, and at that moment team number 1 passed by, and made the mistake of asking if they needed anything. Even more fortunately is that they had a set of industrial-strength tyre levers, which the TriHards put to good use in squeezing the tyre back on. Then it was just a matter of pumping the 26er tube up.

So they pumped.

And they pumped.

And Mr GPS lay back on the ground, staring at the sky and spotting various shapes in the clouds. That one a TARDIS; the other a dalek. The Cyborg pumped faster lest the sky reveal spoilers for the Day of the Doctor!

Fixing a flat tyre.
Mr GPS patching the tube.

But it was to no avail - the tube was inflating, but the combination of a deep well, and big-bagged tyres meant the smaller tube wasn’t even touching the tyre! So, it was back to the 29er tube, which they inflated, then located and patched the hole. And it actually held!

In no time at all they were mobile again. And, by no time at all we, of course mean a great deal of time. So much time that half of the last team of two sisters - who hadn’t ridden a bike before - had managed to catch them! The Baggies waited a moment or two to ensure that the second half of the team was coming, and okay, before heading off to the TA.

The TA that was maybe three hundred metres away. The TA where Groucho’s bike, another 29er, with a perfectly good front wheel was parked. Had they been the competitive sort, the Baggy Boys could have saved a whole lot of time by just running the bikes in and swapping out the Cyborg’s flat front wheel with Groucho’s...

TA2 marked the start of the first “mystery” leg of the race - which wasn’t revealed until arriving, and turned out to be a foot orienteering leg which would eventually bring them to the kayaks at TA3. So, off the TriHards ran, and Mr GPS committed one of the greatest offences anyone can commit during a remote team event. He sang the first few bars of a song which was stuck in his head - effectively transferring it to the Cyborg’s head. And it was a Katy Perry song. And the Cyborg only knew a snippet of it, which began to roll around and around and around in his head. So, in a desperate bid for revenge, the Cyborg performed his best rendition of “Barbie Girl”, resulting in any and all wildlife scattering.

Fortunately, shortly thereafter the Baggy Boys were much more distracted by the fact they couldn’t find the checkpoint. Even more fortunately, the newby sisters found it. Then they asked how many races the TriHards had done along the way and, for the first time in a while, the boys found themselves running!

View of kayaks racing
Can you spot the kayaks?

The next checkpoints had them climbing high once more, where the Cyborg took a moment to orient himself to the water and figure out where all the checkpoints were - noting the number of kayaks already coming back. Then it was a downhill run to the kayaks, where they were greeted by a friendly volunteer and mAdventure - who asked if the TriHards would mind if he used the motorised boat to bring in the bonus checkpoints. Being far too late to get the bonuses, and looking forward to the cool, clear waters of Googong, the TriHards ever-so-politely indicated that they would not be pursuing the bonus points at this time, and set off in a red plastic bathtub.

It was a very nice day for an adventure race; and a nice day for a paddle. With little wind, clear skies, and mild temperatures, the TriHards made short work of the paddle leg, and were back in no time to set off for checkpoint 10 at a leisurely walk. After all, this was a social occasion, not a race, and the boys walked and chatted, up the hill towards the checkpoint.

Mr GPS stopped at one point and referred to the map; not being able to see the dam marked on the map and thought the checkpoint may be a few more hundred metres away, over another rise. The Cyborg studied the map, and looked at other landmarks, such as the fence and oriented himself. Then they both looked around, and saw the checkpoint hanging from a tree to their left...

Both Baggy Boys were relieved (and a bit surprised) when they found the Cyborg’s front wheel was still inflated back at the TA. They were even more surprised to discover they were not the last team to the TA! About four bikes remained as they rode away chasing checkpoints 17 and 18.

Firetrail was followed by rolling green hills, which was quite fun to ride, and the TriHards began to reel teams back in. They found team number one once more at checkpoint 17, though they barely recognised them. The iAdventure team bibs are red, with large, black numbering. With the profusion of flies in this later stage of the race, team number one’s bibs actually looked more like “100”. What’s more, the flies were not assisting at all! You would think with such numbers they could at least push a bit!

Checkpoint 18 was cleverly hidden away behind some bushes at the bottom of a hill - this is another favourite of the iAdventure team: putting checkpoints at the bottom of a hill, just to ensure that you have to start from scratch when climbing back out. So, if you’re ever in doubt, look at the bottom! Which is exactly what the team that the TriHards caught at the top of the next hill didn’t do - and they’d just ridden down the other side to start looking up a creek! The Baggy Boys put them back on track, then rode off for the finish.

All checkpoints in hand, they started cross-country riding in earnest, pushing through green fields, with only some small bits of tussock grass to stop them! Then it was back onto fireroad, around a corner, and the HQ was in sight. As were the lycra lads, who hadn’t even had the decency to put some more clothing on whilst waiting... (Of course, the fact that everything was locked in the adventure truck, for which the Cyborg had the only keys, had nothing to do with it!)

Adventures in Lycra
The Lycra Lads.

The Lycra Lads achieved an excellent result; and it seems that newby Groucho is now an AR convert; the numerical results were not as good for the Baggy Boys, but their smiles were wider and both were much more relaxed than they had been the day before; all those flies must have carried their stresses away...

Many thanks, as usual go to iAdventure for organising Subway and cookies at the end of the event - and a Solo can to crush in a manly manner! Oh, and the race was good too! And many thanks go to all the volunteers assisting as well - they did a great job and always had a smile and friendly word for the field.

Race Stats

Date: 24 November 2013
Location: Googong Dam, near Queanbeyan NSW
TriHards: Groucho, Engine, Mr GPS and Cyborg
Adventure Rating: 2: Reasonable Adventure, sure it counts when your gear is covered in flower goo!
Event website: iAdventure site
Results Time Overall Category
Lycra Lads 4:25:39 15 / 56 11 / 27
Baggy Boys 5:28:50 48 / 56 26 / 27
(Yes, 27! We can’t be held responsible if a team doesn’t start. They still count!