Monday, 30 November 2009

Causeway Coast Adventure Race

Glens Of Antrim Race
Saturday 28th November

Photos by: Jon Patterson
We arrive at watertop farm with the fog clearing and the sun shining bright. A really cold crisp day perfect conditions for a winter race. We got signed in and got our kits checked. The bikes were left at the transition area just off the car park. Down to the farm cafe to get a race briefing by Ivan. A really good atmosphere and everyone was in good spirits despite the bitterly cold morning. Ivan briefed us on the course and what lay ahead. 5km Run with two secret tasks. 15km Bike with two check points. 5km Kayak with 3 checkpoints. 2km run with a secret task and two checkpoints. 11km Bike with 3 checkpoints. 1km run with two secret tasks and two check points. Ivan introduced Marga from Barcelona and she got a big cheer.
The Race
We lined up at the start finish area and on the air horn we were out and running. The run was a mixture of trails and roads. Following a trail we ran around the small boating pond. Over bridges that were still slippy from the nights frost. Out onto the concrete lane which was very icy in places. Then onto a twisty trail with steep climbs and descents. Continuing on from here it was onto the roads. We ran at a steady pace taking in the beautiful morning. On turning back onto farm lanes we got to the first task. Make a Sheep pen with fences 2 sides 5*4 and 2 sides 4*4 Tie the sides then take it apart again and stack the fences. Down hill run back to the farm and the obstacle course. This was a series of rope activities tunnels balance beams and high walls. Marga decided to let me do the tunnel and she done the small zip line. Finishing the course we got our route maps.
The bikes
Out of transition and followed the lane back to the main road. Turning left we headed for the forest. Marga shouted out the directions and we turned right into the forest. It was a bit of a climb through the forest looking for the check point which was at an old grave site. I pushed on a head and got the check point turning to meet Marga and back track to the road again. Out onto the road we headed for the vanishing lake. The lake was so calm and still with a mirror like surface. We got the check point on the road sign and pushed on up the hill. I had assured Marga after this climb we had a fast descent all the way to Cushendun village. The descent into cushendun was fast and seemed to go by in a flash. On reaching the transition area we were told there was a kayak section and a run. As there was no available kayaks we done the run first.

2km Run
We started into the run which was a series of trails and roads around the village. Halfway round I asked Marga were the punch card was. We had left it with the bikes so I jumped a fence and headed back to get it. The check point was on a bench in a wooded area. we crossed the road and down onto the beach. Secret task Space hoppers. I went first and bounced my way up the beach. Then Marga took her turn and went back down the beach. Falling off once but laughing the whole time as this was a funny task. Punch the checkpoint and back to the harbor for the kayaks.
We had 3 check points in any order. One was up the river and the other two were out to sea. We decided to get the river checkpoint first as this would be harder if we were tired. We headed for the bridge and took the middle arch. (Big Mistake) We didn’t have enough room to paddle and the fast flowing water meant there was no chance of getting through. We push back wards and turned into the first arch. We had to get out and lift the kayak over rocks and back into the river. We were both laughing at how we got stuck but still paddled on up to the beach were I jumped out and got the checkpoint. Turned the Kayak back down stream to the sea section. We went right along the coast looking for a cave. I spotted a stony beach before the cave so we decided to beach it and run for the checkpoint. I was looking left and right of Marga and could see the stony beach. Paddling hard next thing I know the front of the kayak is going up onto a large rock. Marga kind of forgot to tell me and she assumed I seen it and was heading for it on purpose. The laughing began and it continued as we tried to hop the kayak backwards of the rock. Eventually getting lined up for the beach we got out the water and I ran to get the check point. The instructions said a orienteering kite in the cave. I couldn’t see one so tried the other little caves. On going back into the first one again I found the checkpoint on a gate. (No Kite to be seen) Running fast back to the beach. Marga had the kayak turned and ready. Paddling hard out away from the beach we ran aground again. The water was deceiving with seaweed covering the rocks and we just didnt see the rock. The laughing started again and made it harder to get free. I used the paddles to push as I hopped and we got free ready for the paddle across the bay to the harbor. The checkpoint was on the ladder and meant we didn’t have to leave the kayak. Quick turn and back across the bay for the transition area. We got the kayaks up the slip way and headed for the bikes again.

11km Bikes
We got back onto the bikes and ready for the climb. We would follow the road we had come down. I tough climb out of cushendun heading for another check point. The route took us across a mountain track that was very boggy and wet. I stayed on the bike for most of the climb with others deciding to get off and push. There was many deep puddles that the bike just stuck in and took a lot of effort to get through. Next check point at the top of the climb and we could see the farm. A great down hill section with small jumps and deep puddles made for an exciting descent. One last climb up through a farm and onto a tarmac lane. We followed this back to the track we had ran at the start and headed for the farm. Picking up a check point Marga found her legs and was pedaling like Alberto Contador. Back into the farm we thought we had finished. Only to be told we had another run and two tasks.The final bit of madness
This task seemed simple get a boat paddle across the boating pond pick up the check point and get back to the jetty (Wrong). We weren’t aloud oars and had to get there by any other means. I held the boat and Marga jumped into the front. I held the back and bounced into the water. It was only up to my knees so I pushed us off and jumped into the back. We tried using our helmets to paddle but seemed to be turning the boat in circles. I decided it would be easier just pushing the boat. Jumped in again only to get a shock with chest high water. Marga had a good laugh and made me start laughing aswell making it a bit easier. I kicked my feet and marga got the check point. I was wet now so stayed in the water and kicked my feet getting us back to the jetty. We were told it was a run back along the trail we had taken at the start. Of we went and I tried to run fast to get some feeling into my legs again. We got to the next check point and this was an abseil down the small drop to the river. I got the harness and helmet and dropped over the side to the bottom. Hooked off and ran back to get the bags and back to the start finish area.
The race was excellent and we had a great laugh from start to finish. Funny moments from beaching the kayak (Twice) to the space hoppers. This was an enjoyable event well planned route with something different around every corner to keep us on our toes.

Thanks to Ivan, Shirley, Joan, Steve and Keith and everyone else that helped on the day. See you all in 2010 for the full series.

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Duathlon (Cam Forest)

Team Eire-Cat got an invite to a mini Duathlon held by the triangle triathlon club. Sunday 22nd November 2009. We took the hour and a half drive up to Cam forest. Conditions were not great. Heavy Rain and a cold wind was to get worse as the day went on. I got the bikes ready an took a ride out into the forest roads. Just out of the car park was a very steep climb. Was this the route we would take? I would find out soon enough. I spoke to a few friends that had arrived and they confirmed my suspicions that the hill was the start of the route. Not knowing the forest which was all new to me. Sometimes this can be a good thing. Peter Jack organiser briefed us on the route for today’s event. The course was a 2 mile loop all Left turns. We would do run the first lap bike 4 laps then run the last lap. The junctions were well marked and a warning of slow painted just before a tight corner. With everyone warmed up (Yeah Right in this weather) The race was about to begin. Peter give a warm welcome to Marga and introduced her as an international racer from Barcelona (Go Marga)

The Race
The race starts and we are off into the forest and up the hill. I picked up the front group and we got into a steady pace with a group of 5 of us. The hill started very steep on a gravel forest road. We continued to climb but the hill wasn’t as steep at this point. As we reached the top of the hill we got a shock with the wind. This part of the forest had been harvested and was very open. On what should have been a nice flat fast part we had to work hard into a strong head wind. The group started to open up at this point and everyone was on there own. I tried to keep a steady pace a take this as a sighting lap to see what was to come. First left turn and down hill. Just in time to get the breathing working again and pick up the pace. At this point the biking line was coming into my head. Stay right of the corner then stay left on the road down the hill. We continued down the hill towards the next turn and with a large white Slow painted on the road to warn us of the tight corner. I tried to take in track conditions and a good line for the bike. This was an off camber corner and mucky to the inside. As we turned the corner there was another climb. This wasn’t very steep but dragged on a bit. Over the top and a fast downhill with a left hand turn just before a stream crossing. As this was the first lap I wanted to try keep the feet dry so I jumped the stream making it to the other side. Another left turn and up hill back to the transition area.Lap Two and time for the bikes
Helmet on and onto the climb again. I had the saddle set perfect nice and high to get full use of the legs. I pushed it on the climb knowing the windy open section would be slow. Head down and into a tuck to pedal hard along the flat and out of the wind. Turned the corner and onto the decent. This is were I hoped to make time. I pushed hard pedaling and picking my way down the hill. It wasn’t anything technical just rough some big holes. Coming up to the corner I tapped the brakes but kept the speed up. Leg out the side and around the corner getting a bit sideways but still in control. (I loved that corner) Last climb long and slow getting to the top I picked up the speed again. Pedaling hard down the hill pushing around the corner and towards the stream crossing. The photographers were out in force on this part hoping to get someone taking a swim (As if we weren’t wet enough) I didn’t brake instead I wheelie through and kept the speed going on the hill on the other side. Around the corner and back across the line. Already we had competitors dropping out through injury or mechanicals.
Lap Three
Much the same as lap two. Head down pushing hard battling through the wind and rain.

Lap Four
On the climb I rounded the corner to see Marga pedaling strong up the hill. It give me a real boost to see Marga pushing on well. A quick word of encouragement as I passed and I got the head down for the climb. First place rider now passing me on his final bike lap. Jonny Dempsey a machine on the bike was doing amazing.

Lap Five
I pushed on hard and on the last bike lap. I was well warmed up and this lap seemed to fly past. I seen someone in front of me and made them my target. Dropped the bike off I took my rain jacket gloves and helmet off to lighten the load. I didn’t want to leave the bike as I was enjoying the pedaling and getting stronger at this stage.

Last Lap
Into the climb and heard a few shouts of encouragement from the Chain Reaction Cycles Crew. (Cheers for that) A hard climb on tiring legs but the wind at the top made the flat even harder. I pushed hard on the descents and could see I was catching the competitor in front. On the climb the gap remained the same but on the decent I was closing it a bit. Next the river crossing and this was my time to pass. I wasn’t worrying about keeping the feet dry this time and ran straight through it. Passing and running hard up the hill to cross the finish line. Really pleased with how I done and really enjoyed the event. When I had a bit of a break I turned and ran the opposite way to give Marga a bit of encouragement on her last lap. It was great to see her running hard and in good spirits. Really good strong finish from Marga and happy to complete her first Duathlon in Ireland.

Hopefully I will have photos of the event uploaded soon.

This was just a warm up for next week. We are teaming up for the Causeway Coast Adventure race in the Glens of Antrim.