Monday, November 09, 2015

Misadventure racing: Open5 Muker.

So, Sunday was my first race of the season. Okay, I'll admit it, it was first race in a very long time, so this will be my first race review in a while where I go "well, I was pretty rubbish yesterday..." (though I suspect not the last). It will also be very boring and factual. The race, for those concerned with these things, was the first of the Open5 adventure race series, 5 hours of run and bike score orienteering, based out of Muker in Swaledale. For the geographically challenged, Muker is a small village in a relatively steep-sided valley. That meant lots of up.

My race preparation involved: no training; a Chinese and a night of heavy drinking on Friday; a hangover, a day kayaking the Tyne, a curry and a night in a cold camping pod on Saturday; a coffee, a tea and a Danish pastry for pre-race nutrition. Because, you know, I'm one of those finely tuned Adventure Racer athlete types, obviously.

One of the small positives, though: I got my kit selection about right. Base layer top and tri shorts, bike jersey, gilet and arm warmers. 3/4 tights for the run, swapped for bike shorts for the ride and pulled on my waterproof at transition as well. Just as well I got it right, the weather was bad: intermittent showers and gusty winds on the run; heavier rain, horrible wind and fog on the bike, just to add a frisson of excitement. I was warm enough, but only just - the short enforced stop on the bike leg could have got nasty, but I managed to shelter myself a bit.

Run -

'Run' is probably over-egging it a bit. It was a slow and steady plod. It's only now, plotting it into the computer, that I realise exactly how slow it was. I know I'm lacking in fitness, especially running-wise, but it definitely wasn't pretty. My route was generally okay, but I made a couple of nav cock-ups, missing a stile on the proper, if slightly vague, footpath and contouring on rough ground through some old quarries. Frankly, just a general lack of fitness and speed on foot was the main issue, though. I haven't been out for a run in a good while, so no surprises there.

Bike -

The bike leg was a bit of a comedy of errors. The first couple of CPs went okay, but as I started the loop up from Ivelet the chain got gritty and I started getting chainsuck. Further up, the chainsuck got bad enough that I snapped the chain, I think breaking the original snaplink. Put in one of the fastest chain repairs of my life, because frankly it was cold, wet and miserable, and sitting still for any length of time got very unpleasant indeed. Carried on upwards but more chainsuck meant I was stuck to keeping the chain in the big ring (24-38 double setup, for the techy geeks out there) to keep tension on the chain, which meant the steeper climbs were a push. Started on the descent, feeling slightly glad I rode the loop clockwise - think the climb would have been a longer drag anticlockwise, but it's debatable -  then had to stop part way down as my left crank had started working loose. Got back down to Ivelet in decent time, stopped just below the road junction to help a gent who'd also snapped his chain and was having trouble getting it sorted, re-tightened my crank again, then headed home as fast as I could go. Got in with just under five minutes to spare, so no penalty points, fortunately.

The later small positives were mainly seeing a few people afterwards, to have a chat and a cuppa, and to catch up with a few old friends. I didn't win anything, to my complete lack of surprise, but had a good natter and some excellent soup and chilli, courtesy of Joe Faulkner and Nav4 Adventure Catering. I'm entered for the full Open5 race series over this winter, one race a month, so I guess this is one down, five to go. I'm left with a lot to work on one way or another, but then again I always knew that would be the case. Onwards and outwards to the next one in North Wales in December!