18 October 2014
TriHards in the Top 10 Again!
Like TriHards, the name Mountain Designs is synonymous with Adventure. Known for selling excellent gear to get to you places you’d rather be, they don’t just lend their name to any race. And the team at In2Adventure are just the right people to come up with a race worthy of the Mountain Designs name. With an In2Adventure event, even entering is a race!
For a great many of their events, In2Adventure have several levels of entry, depending entirely upon how soon you enter. So, in the case of the adventure race, the first 10 entries get free shirts, and the early bird rate. The next 10 entries (until four weeks prior to the event) still get the early bird rate. So you can be a winner before you even put your shoes on!
When the race was announced at a location just south of Sydney - between the TriHards heartlands of Sydney and Canberra - it seemed time to finally put together a TriHards mixed team. And by mixed we mean representatives from Canberra (Cyborg and Mr GPS) racing with a Sydney TriHard (Engine). With the team decided, the TriHards raced to secure their t-shirts.
In the weeks leading up to the event the location was narrowed down to 3,800 hectares south-west of Sydney, otherwise known as Belanglo State Forest. Yes, yes, that Belanglo State Forest - the home of the Mountain Devils Orienteering Club, known for putting on several mountain bike orienteering events. In fact, Engine and the Cyborg had been to Belanglo before to compete in a Duo Orienteering event (foot and mountain bike) - so knew full well what they were in for. The Cyborg was happy to have two Canowindra compasses with him for this race!
Sunday, 12 October started as a fine day, with clear skies and a forecast high in the mid-20’s. With the race start scheduled for 8:30, and expecting to take around five hours, the TriHards would experience a bit of that heat before the day was out. After registering and receiving the maps, Engine - who was going to be the primary navigator for the day - began planning out their day, while the Cyborg and Mr GPS sampled some coffee provided by the van at the HQ. You’ve got to love and respect any race organiser who can talk a coffee van into turning up in the middle of nowhere on a Sunday!
Fuelled up, and carrying plenty of water, the TriHards set off on another bold adventure!
As usual the race started with a thinning of the herd. Locations of the first three checkpoints were printed on maps which were located on trees on the other side of the dam from the HQ. In short time Engine had transposed the locations, and they were off! The first two checkpoints fell readily enough, with Engine guiding the team down some fire trails to the locations.
It was en-route to the third checkpoint that Engine once more showed his navigational prowess, taking the team cross country towards the checkpoint, rather than running the longer course on roads. And in typical Engine fashion, despite not having any bearings, or landmarks to aim for, he brought the boys right out onto the checkpoint. From there it was a quick run back to the HQ to grab the bikes for the ride leg.
With advertised riding distances of up to 35km, in the undulating terrain of Belanglo, the ride leg was nothing to be sneezed at. The first two checkpoints were found quite close to fire trails, so the TriHards did their best roady impressions - despite their baggy pants - and formed into a single line to draft behind each other along the straight stretches.
Checkpoint three provided a bit of single-track, before returning to some nice, smooth road for checkpoint four. It was here that two teams passed the TriHards as the Cyborg returned from punching the control stick. Talking amongst themselves, the TriHards considered that perhaps these teams were on the raw course and, upon finding them searching for a checkpoint up the next hill, they asked.
So while two teams backtracked uphill towards checkpoint four, the TriHards walked their bikes through some very rough track, before starting on a long, fast descent for checkpoint five. Unfortunately, what goes down must come up, and the TriHards wound up taking their bikes for a walk again to reach checkpoint six.
Checkpoints seven and eight were grabbed in a blur of undulating, sandy trail, before finally arriving at TA8, for the adventure leg of the race, which turned out to be a the adventure race equivalent of a three-legged race. Through an obstacle course.
The three TriHards had to rope together using loops of shock cord. Each loop had a carabiner, which they used to lock onto a rope. They then had to follow the rope around an obstacle course without undoing their carabiners. Now, that sounds easy, until you factor in that it included crawling under cargo nets, through inflated inner tubes which, oddly enough, were nowhere near the muddy slush puddles. But the big test came when all three TriHards, had to swing on a rope across a little ditch. And, by test, we mean it was a test for the poor sapling the rope was tied to, which was nearly brought to the ground from their combined weight (though, in retrospect, they probably could’ve used it to catapult them to the finish!)
With the fun and games over it was back on foot - well, mainly - for checkpoints Y and Z. This leg of the event required at least one team member to ride, which naturally fell to Mr GPS. That gave Engine time to navigate, and left the Cyborg free to continue with his Checkpoint Charlie duties. But, within a few minutes - 20ish - all the TriHards were back on their bikes and riding to checkpoint nine, and the HQ.
It was somewhat cruel to bring the racers back to the HQ around this time. Well, the TriHards (the winning teams had already finished by the time the TriHards arrived to start the final leg). After all, the coffee van was still there. Still making coffee. But the TriHards resisted the siren song, and set off on the last leg-a rogaine.
In this case, there were three checkpoints marked on the map. Each of those checkpoints had directions to another two checkpoints. Teams had to travel to six checkpoints in all to complete the section. That made it hard to choose the best course, and the TriHards decided, initially, to visit the closer checkpoints of A and B. If they had checkpoints which led to the further checkpoint C, they’d go, otherwise that would suffice for them.
And once more Engine’s navigational skills came to the fore, despite leaving his compass with the bikes. He led the TriHards through the bush and straight on top of checkpoints. Letters fell fast; A, B, H, D then G. G as in Gee, I wonder where that checkpoint went! The TriHards scattered and began to walk in a line to 50m from the track, but to no avail. After a brief spell of wandering around, they turned to the Cyborg’s camera - as he was in the habit of taking photos of all the checkpoint maps, just in case. In this case, the Engine had made a transcription error, and, with the correct location revealed to him, brought the team once more to their orange and white nirvana. From there the TriHards had a bit of fun bouldering a rocky escarpment for checkpoint I, before heading back to the HQ via a quick dip in the dam.
All in all, it was a fantastic outing. Sure, the event is timed, and teams are ranked, for the TriHards it’s more about getting together and hanging out (although, we did come in the top 10!); talking about topics of immense interest that we can only discuss once out of earshot of our respective partners, families, and general public. Important things, such as what we all think of the new Doctor. And we get to have an adventure. And, we came in the top 10!
We’d like to send a big thank you to the team at In2Adventure - they spent a week in Belanglo coming up with, then marking the course, and they did come up with a good one! And, of course, all the marshals out on the track who were happy and friendly, especially the ones at TA6 who greeted everyone after that shocking climb back from the creek! Finally, and all importantly, we’d like to thank the coffee van who hung around until presentation meaning the TriHards could have pre- and post-race coffees!
It’s well worth keeping an eye on In2Adventure’s site for their forthcoming events and entry conditions, to take advantage of some of their great entry deals on offer. As another example, there was one free, and numerous half-price entries available for their forthcoming Snowies MTB Festival.