Monday, 22 December 2008

I hate your SUV!

Raced CX yesterday. Oli won, which surprised me- he must have peaked twice this season: This weekend and The Olympics. ;-) I bagged fourth despite repeating my errors of the last round (too big a gear and crashing!).

I also borrowed a Surly Big Dummy from Cass, who is away meditating in Asia. Ten days with no talking. I can’t imagine it, but it’s certainly a challenge! Anyway the bike is great! Really stable but equally more nippy than you’d imagine. It’s just really fun, and I want to play with it more! Dummy up!

World Team Challenge- Cyprus

Sorry for the gap in postings but it’s that time of year and between Christmas parties, work and trying to get some riding and running in I’ve been pretty busy.

The World team Challenge was a great event. I really liked Cyprus and it was definitely the best venue I’ve been to for one of these events. The journey build up is always a little tense, but this time at least the journey went smoothly. I got picked up at 3am and made for Heathrow, terminal 5. We effortlessly cruised through security, seeing no evidence of the chaos the media had led us to believe in. The journey was long but pretty un-eventful, so by the time we got to the hotel and grabbed dinner it everyone was pretty much ready for bed.

Thursday was spent preparing for the event- assembly bikes, a quick ride and then a ride to loosen up the legs and stocking up on supplies. By the evening we had time to have a swim and a bit of relaxing before the event briefings started.

Friday morning saw us start the first stage high on Mount Olympus the area was lovely and the weather was beautiful and sunny but with snow hiding in the shade. Challenger stages are never easy to explain (that’s part of the attraction of the event!) but the general format of this one was a four hour ride and run with twelve “challenges”. The challenges could be done in any order but you had the added complication of having to collect points to allow you time in each of 3 zones. We set off at a casual pace but kept going steadily, slowly knocking off one challenge at a time. Some were puzzles, one was hill sprints, one was carrying people, good performances gave you time bonuses. In the end we managed eleven of the twelve and comfortably won the stage.

The next stage was back at the hotel at night. We had to solve puzzles and run around to get materials in order to construct canoes. Again we had a solid performance, winning the stage. Finishing quickly would have allowed most teams to go to bed early but instead we went through course notes and strategy for the stage the following morning. Unfortunately this didn’t pay off.

The third stage saw us split into two pairs. The two pairs had to communicate using flags and then run to appropriate checkpoints to “buy” goods and then run somewhere else to sell them. Unfortunately, despite a generally good performance one silly error landed us with a huge penalty (excessively large in our view). This knocked us down to sixteenth in this stage, which placed us third going in to the final stage. For the final stage the ranking equated to a penalty; nothing for first, five minutes for us, and increasing as you move down the table. You have to sit out the penalty towards the end of the stage. I’d already seen the map of the final stage so knew it was going to be tight. 1km run then 25km downhill on the mountain bikes followed by a 5km run and punctuated by 4 “Brain Cells” where you had to answer a puzzle or sit out a further penalty. We got off to a good start, leading the field to the first Brain Cell. Then we got the puzzle wrong. As we sat out our five-minute penalty several teams passed us. So off we chased. The second question we got correct and put us back in the lead on the ground. We chain-ganged along the coast slowly extending our lead, right up to the third Brain Cell. Where we, once again, got the question wrong and we lost the lead. Now we knew that it was going to be super close. We still had to sit out our five-minute penalty (for qualifying third) and the leaders, Sanlam Investment Management from South Africa, were in front of us with no penalty. By the transition into the run we had made up a fair bit of time and we came almost together. We sat out our penalty as they made almost three minutes on us- quite a margin to make over 5km! Those few minutes were tense. We set off at a quick pace, and as the weakest runner I opted to get a tow from Pete. Team before pride. There wasn’t much talking going on- just time splits when we caught a sight of them. Slowly we got closer. Then is a rocky-as-hell section we caught them. Showing their sportsmanship they let us past without a fuss and wished us luck. We then hit tarmac and the pace quickened. There was a long straight, but no one looked back there was no point- we couldn’t go any quicker. We got to the hotel with them out of sight and headed to the final Brain Cell. We knew this one was an observation question. We had to put a series of photos from the course in the correct order. It was a tough call, so we made an informed guess. Wrong. The South Africans came in about 2 minutes down. The now knew if they got the question right they would beat us and win the event. If they got it wrong, they couldn’t make up the time. So they deliberated over it. All we could do is wait. But they got it wrong. Then the US Air Force came in, and again got the question wrong. As we counted down our penalty we knew we had it in the bag! 4 of us ran around the harbour while Chewy had to swim across. We helped him out and ran over the finish line together to claim the title for another year!

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Challenger Worlds 2008

In a couple of hours I’m of to Cyprus for the Challenger World final. Teams from all around the world have qualified for this event as a culmination of a years worth of heats held as far apart as Singapore, New York and German. The event runs Friday and Saturday, but we don’t know the format until it starts. On past experience it’s likely to include cross-country running, mountain biking, canoeing and orienteering while all the time having to solve tough puzzles and crack complex strategy! It’s not easy!

We’ve won the event for the last 4 years, although I’ve ‘only’ done 3. The rules have had a bit of a tweak this year but once again we are out there to win it. You can keep up with the results here.

Snow + Rocking!

I realise I’ve been very quiet on the topic of my clothing selection, there’s been a reason for that: I’ve been trying to sort out a sponsor. At last I’ve got there! Snow + Rock are going to be providing me with clothing and much of the Survival gear I’ll be taking with me. I’m really excited! They have a store very close to my work and, even before this was organised, have been a great help at selecting kit. I’ll be getting a few bits soon (boots!) but I still need to deliberate over some other stuff so expect more news soon.

Sunday, 7 December 2008

Fuel for adventure!

Mule Bar sent through a load of bars for me to take out to Cyprus. Included were the new Apple Strudel and Liquorice Allsports. The Strudel is a new firm favorite. Yum.

Friday, 5 December 2008

Gears of War

I got a little package through the post the other day. My gears are here:

On-one Stainless steel Chanring 32t

On-one Groove Armada Sprockets: 1 x18 t, 2 x 20t and 1 x 22t.

They are all very nicely finished. I’m especially impressed with the chainring. I suspect I'll get some more of these in the future. On the Pug I’m intending to run a 18 and 20 on one wheel and a 20 and 22 on the other. I'll space them outboard as far as I can, but space them a bit further apart from normal.

Is it still a single speed when I have 3 different gears? Does any one care? I suspect “no” for both.

Spoke and nipples also turned up, so, hopefully, I'll get the rims drilled, and the wheels built up this weekend. I’d better check I've got a suitable long bolt and enough spacers to dish the hub in the jig.

As an aside Brant from On-one completed Iditabike a couple of times and wrote some great articles about it in, now defunct, UK mag Mountain Bike Pro. He’s been a great source of information about how I “might not die”. Cheers Brant.

Currently I'm trying to sort out a big pile of old parts and clothing for tomorrows bike jumble at Mud Dock. Hopefully it will add a bit to my flights fund!

Thursday, 4 December 2008


I just noticed that Alpkit have started their Christmas competition. You can win a one-off SMEG fridge. The one in the picture. "The competition is not open to Alpkit employees, family and especially not Alpkit sponsored athletes." Killjoys ;-)

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Ghost Trails

I just got a copy of, Iditarod Invitational racer, Jill Homer's new book- "Ghost Trails". If her blog is anything to go by, it will be great. Get it here.


Sorry, more rubbish camera phone pictures. I was supposed to be racing...

Saturday I headed up for my first attempt at a Dynamic Adventure race. I was feeling a bit under the weather, with the onset of a horrible cold, and probably should have stayed in bed but a chance to stretch my legs was too tempting. The Intelligent Sport World final is less than two weeks away so I wanted a bit of a test of my navigation skills and a nice run in the countryside. Although as Challenger team mates Chewy and Pete are out injured and ill respectively above all I really needed to stay healthy!

Tom and Big Dave paired up and I raced solo. I opted to run first, with half a mind to skip the cycling entirely in an attempt to avoid the sick list. It was a lovely frosty day and the wildlife was out in force. I had planned a conservative start with options of how much to do on the return leg, depending on how I was feeling. Due to this choice I soon found myself breaking new trail through the frost and ice. I lost track of the number of deer, pheasants and foxes I saw as I ran alone through the mist. Overnight ice had formed on all the trees and long grass. When the wind blew it would flake of and it seemed as if it was snowing huge flakes. It was all very pretty. Visibility wasn't great but a couple of hours in it lifted for an hour or so, just long enough for some fantastic views.

My legs felt good but the cold was hampering my breathing so I took it easy and enjoyed the day. The navigation went well, with only one over mistake. I cleared all checkpoints in 3hrs 20. I got back to the transition to re-evaluate. In the name of conservation I opted out of the ride section, a move that was a little disappointing, as I thought I had a good chance to win my category. It turned out my run time was only 15 minutes slower than Tom and Dave who went on to win overall, so not at all bad.

It was a very fun event and I'll have to have a look in to doing more in the future.

photo by Lipsquid.