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Author Topic: Open Adventure; Open 5 – Kirkby Stephen  (Read 2250 times)


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Open Adventure; Open 5 – Kirkby Stephen
« on: February 07, 2011, 08:31:08 PM »
In contrast to last month’s event, I had a good feeling about this one. I travelled down to the Northern Dales at some silly time on Friday morning, getting to Kirkby Stephen earlier than I normally make it into the office! The plan was to go out for a ride, see what the trail surfaces were like and get a feel for the general shape of the hills. Unfortunately, the weather had other ideas. I set off anyway, with the wind whipping stinging rain onto my cheeks and blowing me all over the road. This recce turned into a survival tour of the minor roads and a much welcomed stop in a chocolate factory where I was plied with soup, hot sweet drinks and, er, chocolate! :) I made it back to the B&B in one piece with a certain sense of satisfaction.

It transpired that this was a perfect prologue for the race on Sunday, when the day dawned very grey and blowing another hoolie!!! In fact, it was so bad that several competitors packed it in halfway round, doing either only the run or the bike The pictures on Open Adventure’s facebook page give a good idea of what it was like out there!!/album.php?aid=623606&id=190613530502

As usual, I ran first and was soon looking enviously at lithe runners in 3/4 length tights and hip packs, as my leggings sagged round my ankles, my waterproofs kept falling down and my bag shuggled around on my back. Regardless, I had a blast and found that recent orienteering practice was helping to keep me moving quicker and locating those controls off the paths and tracks. At one trig point location I had trouble actually steering myself to the control as the wind was blowing me off my feet!

Back into transition and off onto the bike, I could see no sensible way to avoid going over the fells, and the high points values lured me southwest on what I knew what would be a slog of a route. I was truly enjoying having my breath taken away by the wind, attempting to ride the hills in a constant weaving battle against the wind and swooping in with glee and singing motivational nonsense to myself when I spotted the controls! Luckily no-one was in sight for large chunks of this section, else they’d have thought I was nuts ;D One of the funniest moments occurred coming through a gate and being faced by a raging torrent between me and the continuation of the track – two guys coming the other way stopped and watched me wade in up to my thighs before they risked it! I only had 1.5 hours left after collecting 4 bike controls and I had to hastily reassess my route choice for something sensible and high scoring as I rode up a road with the wind behind me. I took a slight risk, knowing I would have to belt it to get back in time – it paid off, as I was only slowed by an unexpectedly rough and muddy bit of bridleway leading to the finish, coming in just under 4 minutes late.

Chatting to some people I knew in the hall, they said my score was good and I should be on the podium – but I didn’t dare believe it until it was announced. I won with a clear margin and a score that would have put me in the top 10 of both male categories – cue excitable little dance! :D Bad weather obviously works for me, though I managed to keep out the navigational and strategic errors that have held me back in the last two events and some slight alterations to my planning approach seemed to work. Still room for some improvements, but this has been a big boost for me and my first target for the winter season has been achieved. ;D Jayden Thrush from ERC also put in a respectable score in the men’s solo category.

As an unexpected bonus I also won the random prize draw for a free Suunto training watch, and was fed some truly excellent homemade cake on the way home – taking lifts from strangers with cake-baking mothers has its advantages! Roll on events four and five!

Results here:


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