19 May 2017
A Tale of Two Sequels.
A good sequel is a hard thing to pull off. All too often they just seem like a tawdry, money-grabbing exercise, cashing in on the surprise popularity of the original. So, when Guardians of the Galaxy 2 was released in April, the TriHards raced out to see it with great excitement. This feeling was bolstered by the fact that one of the TriHards, McFly had a hand in the creation of this new masterpiece, which certainly didn’t disappoint (though, it did nearly result in whiplash as the viewers attempted to spot his name flying by in the credits!) Guardians two built on the story started in one, fleshing out characters and relationships, without losing any of the original humour or charm – it’s well worth a watch.
But there was another sequel in April which the TriHards were looking forward to even more; a sequel which would see the long-awaited return of characters introduced in previous events – delivering more of the fun, mystery and excitement of its predecessor. It was the second running of the Urban Polaris under the new management of the National Heritage Trust. And this sequel certainly didn’t disappoint!
As with all good sequels, the 2017 Urban Polaris was bigger than the 2016 – at least in TriHards terms, with three teams entering. The Canberra TriHards consisted of local boys Mr GPS and Cyborg, returning for more. Representing Sydney were Engine and Gearbox, entered as the NSW TriHards, a fearsome combination of excellent navigation skills and brand new bikes. Rounding out the TriHards were Doc Runaway and the Silver Fox, racing as Blands. With two of the three teams consisting of married couples, no doubt this sequel would delve somewhat into the relationship testing genre.
It all started well, with the Cyborg finding Mr GPS already on location marking up the map when he arrived. Naturally, this meant it was the Cyborg’s duty to buy coffees, before coming back and dictating checkpoint locations for Mr GPS to mark onto the map. They were just about finished, with maybe 20 minutes to spare, when the NSW TriHards turned up with about 10 minutes to mark their map. The Blands – who at least have the excuse that their babies ate their alarm clocks – found themselves in a similar position. But everyone was there for a good time, not a stressful one, so nobody was really concerned about any lack of preparation of the maps.
The NSW TriHards and Blands headed off first, in an earlier start group. Fresh from house-hunting around Sydney, the NSW TriHards chose the leafier inner southern suburbs of Canberra as their starting point – house prices there being much closer to those of Sydney than the outlying suburbs.
The Canberra TriHards embarked into the chill on a similar course to last year – riding through cold fog to the World War 2 trenches, before moving onto their first great test of the day – the Pialligo Checkpoint. No, this was not a test in terms of navigation, but of moral fibre. It was a cold, cold morning, and while the TriHards were rugged up, the cold still felt as though it was penetrating into their bones – especially as they rode. And, bear in mind that one of their stated goals was to sample coffee from as many places as possible during the day. So, they were sorely tempted when riding past a cafe in Pialligo, advertising coffee and all day breakfast, with the accompany smells not of bacon – but of wood fire. Visions of sitting around the fire, sipping from hot coffee whilst awaiting the fog to lift filled their minds. But Mr GPS was strong, and rode straight past, calling the Cyborg on.
Then there were the fish fossils, protected by less than half of a netball team (yes, they even had a ball, the TriHards were quite concerned that this may be a challenge stage involving balls and hoops – or, worse, not running while holding a ball! As it turned out it was just decoration, and the TriHards escaped easily after a quick conversation about Guardians of the Galaxy 2...
Then it was back to Duntroon for the TriHards, where they visited the grave of General Bridges – and, just for old time’s sake, they rode to canons atop Mt Pleasant by the road (because last year they’d gone cross-country). Whether it was because the ride had warmed him up, or he’d just discovered a new found love of riding up inclines – Mr GPS then elected to take the team up Mt Ainslie! You know, that dirty great mountain overlooking Canberra where those religious fanatics held an exorcism years ago. (Don’t they know there is no power in heaven and earth to drive out politicians?)
As they were riding up the hill – marvelling at how fast people were coming down – the Cyborg began to remark to Mr GPS that he’d actually been wanting to do some bigger hill climbs for a while, and didn’t really understand why he’d been putting off so long. Just as the words came out of his mouth, the fog lifted, revealing the peak of Mt Ainslie, which was actually over to their left, and much, much higher… Nevertheless they pressed on.
And it was well worth it! No, not for the checkpoint, nor the views, not even for the fabulous sense of accomplishment of actually riding all the way up Mt Ainslie. For the ride down! The TriHards took the back way down to gather checkpoints in Ainslie and Hackett – and what a fun trail it was. Even the bit where the Cyborg confirmed his theory that his brakes don’t work very well at all, just in time for a challenging rocky turn. It was almost enough fun to want to go back again.
Except, there was coffee in Hackett. Nice coffee.
From Hackett, the TriHards rode though Ainslie collecting various checkpoints, as well as coordinates for a bonus checkpoint. Then they were in Braddon just in time for lunch (priorities!) and a strategy discussion. Rather than get a bus out to one of the outer hubs – per their original plan – they elected to ride around and visit the remaining checkpoints containing the coordinates for the bonus checkpoint – around Yarralumla, Deakin and Griffith. So, bellies full, they set off.
That’s one of the great things about the Urban Polaris: you can do whatever you want. In the case of the TriHards; they’d had enough and just wanted to check out the mysterious bonus checkpoint. Other teams had different goals; some tried to collect all checkpoints (freaks!) while one team ventured out to the four most distant checkpoints in all directions.
On their way down Adventure Street, the Canberra TriHards stopped by the Ride Shop to pick up the checkpoint there. They noticed quite a few teams riding around looking lost; it seems that not many put it together that the checkpoint was located in a bike shop. Fortunately the previous year that shop was giving away free coffees with the checkpoint, and the TriHards always remember where to get good coffee!
On their way south they discovered something interesting- the Yarralumla fitness trail has been upgraded! Gone are the coppers logs and rusty rails – replaced by nice equipment that looks much more like it belongs in a gym rather than beside a bike path! The TriHards would have stopped to try out this equipment, however every station was a work in progress and still fenced off (maybe they knew the TriHards were coming!)
With time running short, the Deakin was skipped they proceeded straight to Griffith, where they discovered a mislabelled checkpoint. The organisers claimed this was a mistake on their part – but deep down we suspect they were just getting into the sadistic spirit of Wild Horizons – redirecting everyone from a marked checkpoint to a mystery location!
It looked as though the bonus checkpoint could be nabbed on their way back to the HQ, the TriHards set off. Though, without a ruler, they were estimating its location on the map. As it turns out, the all-male team of TriHards overestimate measurements, and found themselves doing a couple of laps of Telopea Park when, in fact, the checkpoint was on the side of the Old Bus Depot Markets – the HQ! They would have kicked themselves but, you know, they had only just ridden up Mt Ainslie a few hours ago...
The NSW TriHards met them back at the HQ, missing the Blands who had to run off home. Tales were told, notes compared and beers drunk (seriously, they gave us beers at the end! How good is that?)
Just like Guardians of the Galaxy 2 – the second running of the Urban Polaris by the National Heritage Trust was a huge success – and all the TriHards teams – maybe more – will be back next year for more comedy, fun and adventure. Though maybe not climbing Mt Ainslie again. A heartfelt thank you goes out to the organisers at the Trust, and all the volunteers on the course for yet another fantastic event. We look forward to returning (with rulers) next year!