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Tales from the Other Side

6 October, 2013

6 October, 2013

Tales from the Other Side

Now, the TriHards are not normally known for idle gossip, but scuttlebutt has it that there may have been a reason behind Cyborg’s accident at the Back Yamma Bigfoot. After all, there was no decent explanation as to how the Cyborg could so crash so thoroughly on such a clean section of fast, flowing track- and crashing so fast, and so hard that, amongst other injuries, he managed to crack a rib, resulting in racing incapacitation.

Some suggested that Groucho - who was scheduled to partner Cyborg in the Sydney iAdventure - had gotten cold feet about the event, particularly as the Cyborg had managed to get lost on Stromlo. Again. Not wanting to hurt the Cyborg’s feelings, Groucho thought it would be easier to hurt him physically.

As usual the simplest explanation is the best and, much as such conspiracies make for interesting stories the far more probable reality would be exactly as it appears - that he just stuffed up (again), and a month later was still recovering and in no shape to take on an adventure race.

So, the Cyborg did what all good broken adventure racers do: he became a volly. No, not a cheap shoe (which, it’s worth nothing, were minimalist before it was cool to be minimalist!) A volunteer. After all, the arrangements were already made, accommodation booked, he may as well go up, check out the course, and see what happens behind the scenes at an adventure race.

Fortunately, Engine had a spare weekend, and could fill in for the Cyborg, so Groucho would not be let down. In fact, many would say racing with Engine would be a far better introduction to adventure racing, as following the Cyborg’s navigation is tantamount to doing laps...

So, with all arrangements made, Groucho and the Cyborg left Canberra on a bright, sunny day for a weekend in Sydney. The race was to be held around Narrabeen Lakes, headquartered at the Sydney Sports Academy; and iAdventure had arranged for accommodation at the facilities, which included dinner and breakfast - so there was no chance of being late for the race! The TriHards turned up with enough time to check out their room before heading to dinner. And what a feast it was - this was no pasta and salad bar; this was a bbq buffet, with three types of meat - and we’re not talking pork, bacon and ham. No, there was steak, chicken and sausage - with optional salad; and dessert! Engine arrived in time to join in, and the three set about seeing how much they could fit on a plate.

Race Day arrived as a warm, sunny day; Groucho and the Cyborg, having the advantage of being on site, didn’t have to get up too early, nor rush to the start. They had a leisurely change, followed by breakfast, before heading across to the headquarters to register meeting Engine - who’d already arrived, along the way.

The briefing started right on time, and Cyborg thought he’d make himself useful by taking some pictures; so he placed himself not too far from the start, where competitors (and in particular the TriHards) would be running through and started to take some preparation photos. Right on time, again, they were off, and the Cyborg started snapping, badly. Then he was off to checkpoint one to see if he could take some better photos there wishing, not for the first time that day, that he could be racing along with everyone else.

Adventure racers running
Cyborg has since been taken off camera duties...

Once the TriHards had picked up their bikes and left for two long legs, Cyborg returned to the race hub to render his assistance. In no time at all, the Cyborg had changed from broken adventure racer, to TA 1, ensuring all racers swiped their card before moving on to the bike leg. Some came from the run, some from the paddle, but all came with smiles on their faces!

Adventure racers riding
The hill is that way!

The number on question at TA1 was: “Can we please get another map?” as quite a few of the racers who had set out to get the bonus kayak checkpoints on the first leg didn’t contact their maps, or put them into cases - and this was just the first kayak leg. The first of several kayak legs. With multiple bonus kayak checkpoints. Of all the races the Cyborg had to miss, it had to be the one with most kayaking - the one adventure racing discipline was actually kind of good at!

Without a hint of envy, the Cyborg headed over to the start of the kayak leg, or TA3, where he found another volly, who wasn’t a broken adventure racer, but a pre-adventure racer who had volunteered for the race to see what it was all about. Naturally, the Cyborg regaled her with all he knew about adventure racing. When that two minutes was up they sorted the PFDs into size order, talked about the merits of single vs double kayaks, and had just started to polish the trailer before teams started to show up - some of whom appeared to be far too happy!

With teams arriving for the fourth leg, and the first already cleaned up, it was time for someone to head up the hill to gather the ride leg checkpoints. And the iAdventure crew, no doubt wanting to ensure the Cyborg knew exactly what he was missing, sent him out, with a map and a couple of bottles of water and the offer of a bike which was reluctantly declined in favour of his still-mending rib.

So it was off to TA 2, collecting checkpoint 7 along the way where another jovial volunteer, Brendan, was watching over all the bikes, and pointed the Cyborg in the right direction, advising him to take his time, as not all teams had returned yet. Taking time finding checkpoints was not a problem the Cyborg had experienced before, and he set out for checkpoint eight, which was fairly straightforward to find.

Part of an orienteering map
We'd draw Cyborg’s course on, then it’d be more like colouring in!

Checkpoint nine was a bit of a different story; sitting on a bend in some single track which was best approached from the main track. Now, a better navigator may well have been able to spot the point at which checkpoint nine was closest to the main track and just bush-bashed. But it was the Cyborg out there chasing down this checkpoint, not a good navigator. So he followed the main track around to the start of the single track, then followed that until he easily found nine - although a little further in than he had expected - as usual, the Cyborg has no sense of scale!

The next checkpoint was more or less on the same path, just a bit down the track. As the Cyborg walked towards it, he imagined how good the track would be on a bike! As he kept walking, he imagined how good it would be with that second bottle of water he left back at the transition. Rounding more turns, bends and berms, he imagined how much better it would be with a compass and, thinking he’d gone too far, retraced his steps back to checkpoint nine. Of course, this was a good thing - teams who may have been lagging behind would have more time to collect checkpoint 10.

This time, he took the more eastern fork of the single track, which felt very long, and didn’t really match where he should go. But he continued for quite some time anyway, thinking that at least if he followed this one long enough, it would bring him back to a larger intersection and close to checkpoint 11. Or alone, standing on a hill top looking over the ocean... So back to checkpoint nine he went, and considered a new strategy.

Checkpoint 10 was right next to a distinct bend in the firetrail which led to the single track of checkpoint nine. Furthermore, after that, the firetrail went almost directly down to checkpoint D, which he also had to collect. So, after spending about an hour under the hot sun roaming around single track without a bike, the Cyborg head back off down the firetrail. Sure enough, he found the bend, and bush-bashed to checkpoint 10 - which was sitting about 10m further down the track from where he was the first time! There’s that sense of scale again! Then it was back out onto the firetrail for checkpoint D, which was easily found - on some more trail which looked like it would have been great fun to ride. At least some motorcross riders thought so too...

From D, 11 was almost a straight line down, turning onto the second section of single track would took the Cyborg straight to it. From there it was a matter of following the single track back to the firetrail and then down to checkpoint F. Brendan had warned him that not many people found F-something about two cliffs. Sure enough, when the Cyborg reached the Y intersection of track which marked around where F should be, he moved in and walked all the way along the cliff line, to no avail. Spotting another cliff a little further down, and still having some skin on his shins, the Cyborg set off once more; returning with no joy, and less skin.

By now the race cut-off time had come and gone, so the Cyborg had to turn around and head back - after all he had the key to the TriHards room. The late checkout wouldn’t last the extra three hours it would take the Cyborg to collect checkpoint E, so back he began.

He crossed paths with some riders on his way back, and complimented them on their tracks; he thought he was spoilt in Canberra, but the little network in this reserve looked to be great fun, with some challenges that would no doubt keep the Cyborg occupied (and quite likely injured) for many moons!

The Cyborg returned to the TA to find Brendan on the phone to the iAdventure team. Fortunately, they weren’t about to send out a search party; unfortunately they were asking Brendan to return two pairs of hire bikes which some racers couldn’t collect. So, the Cyborg grabbed a pair of bikes and headed out. A pair of heavy, rental bikes; and the question came to the Cyborg’s mind - what sort of racer would leave a bike behind? Then he began to suspect the truth: the iAdventure team, concerned at the Cyborg’s inactivity of late, and how he may deal with the forthcoming Husky, had put them there as some twisted form of weight training exercise...

With the bbq already on, the Cyborg had little trouble finding the HQ again - he just followed his nose (and it was downhill - a direction heavy rental bikes readily travel in!) In no time at all, he found himself with a plate full of bbq food, catching up with Groucho and Engine, both of whom had smiles that spread right across their faces - much like the rest of the field. It seems a great time was had by all. The TriHards then made use of the late checkout, showering and gathering gear at their leisure, before heading off in their separate ways.

At least until November, when the newly-minted combination of Groucho and Engine will pit their speed, skill and enthusiasm against the relaxed recreational racers Mr GPS and the Cyborg.

Once more, iAdventure have put on a fantastic event, which was fun just volunteering. The course looked challenging enough for the more experienced racers, while still being easy enough to tempt the Cyborg to return as a navigator some time... And the packaged accommodation, including meals, made life much, much easier. So, a big thank you goes out to the iAdventure team, the other volunteers, and all the racers who always seemed so happy at transition areas, and on the course!