Tuesday, October 9, 2012
A year has passed since my disastrous race in England (Devon Coast to Coast in September 2011). My race report was aptly named "Adapt or Die" and can be read on our blog or http://www.ar.co.za/. If you don't have time to reread the report here is a quick summary: I went unprepared for the weather, expecting to race the same way I do in South Africa; I ended up with hyperthermia due to cold temperatures, consistent rain and wind, and ultimately missed the half way cut off.
|Day 1 in Red, Day 2 in Green|
Adapt or Die, Part 2 - The Perfect RaceDay 1: Run 11km, Road Cycle 77km, run 1km, paddle 1km, run 1.5km
Weather prediction: 12-16C, 0% rain, winds SE 35+ km/hr
As no rain was predicted, but the temps were lower than I'm used to at home I went with clothing for cold but OK conditions:
Hi-Tec trail shoes, Compression Socks, Long Lycra Tights, Cycling Bib Shorts, Long Sleeve Top, Cycling Top, Wind Proof top, Buff, Cap, Long finger Cycling gloves
Leg 1: 11km trail run (single track)
Leg 2: 77km Cycle (Road)
Transition was nice and fast using a triathlon style transition area with all the bikes in rows etc. It made it easy to come in, eat something, put my backpack on and to get out onto the bike leg. Day 1 biking was all on road, fortunately my hire bike (a Dawes 20") did not have heavy off-road tread. The whole bike leg was in a stiff wind from the South East, while we were riding South West. This resulted in either a full on head wind, or a strong wind from our left. An abiding memory will be the line of riders in front of me all leaning over to their left to keep upright. Wherever possible I rode with my front wheel on the right-hand side of someone else's back wheel, giving me some protection from the wind. I was feeling good and rode every hill (quite unusual for me), tried to fly down every down hill, had occasional food stops, (about every 45 minutes). However, at about 67km my energy dried up and I started struggling, I crested a hill, quite please I had ridden up it, only to see a hill, far steeper, at the end of the next downhill. In the end I pushed up most of it, and we crested into the strongest wind of the day, the steep downhill didn't even help as when you stopped peddling, you got blown to a standstill. I struggled through the last 10km, including a downhill that would have been very pleasant if the wind had just held up for a bit. Unfortunately near the end of the cycle leg I lost the bite valve of my bladder and had to finish the race without a bladder for water.
Leg 3: Run/Paddle/Run
|Photo taken around 30 years ago in nearly the same spot!|
(Yes, I saw Nessie, he wanted to eat me but said something about tough South African steak or something). Another short run got me to the end of Day 1.
Other than the wind, and the last 10km of the Cycle I had had a great day of racing. I felt reasonably strong once I was off the bike, I felt positive and was enjoying the views when they were there. I saw some of the weird woolly Highland Cows (aren't they just so cute).
Day 2: Off-road Cycle 26km, Road Cycle 23km, Run/Hike 23km, paddle 1km
Weather prediction: 10-14C, High Chance of Rain, Low winds, mostly SW and Westerly
With rain being predicted, and the temps being substantially lower than I'm used to at home I went with clothing for cold and rain:
Hi-Tec trail shoes, Compression Socks, Seal Skin Socks, Long Fleece Tights, Cycling Bib Shorts, Long Sleeve Fleece as base layer, Cycling Top, Wind Proof top/Rain top, Buff, Cap, Glove Liners and Long Finger gloves
Added to my compulsory gear was my Wind proof top, and a balaclava
Leg 4: Cycle
Leg 5: 23km Mountain hike/run
|Ben Nevis on a COLD day.|
Leg 6: Paddle
I felt strong the whole day. My hiking was strong and I probably passed more people than passed me. My clothing was once again suitable for conditions. (I have found a good fleece to be the best possible base layer as it keeps the heat against your body).
I was better prepared for this race than for the race last year. I knew myself and my equipment better, and had taken a lot of time to prepare for the conditions I was going to experience. I was not particularly fitter (I was probably a lot fitter the previous year), but I had spent a lot of time riding when it was cold, trying different kit, I did some running in the rain to see what I needed to keep warm. I cut down on weight by carrying less water, less food, but sufficient for my needs during the day.
|Tired, wet, covered in mud, but Finished!!|
Wednesday, September 5, 2012
|A good finish is a win!|
|Just around the corner from the Abseil|
|Our missing CP!|
Sue: I ask you.....who uses the snooze button on a race......?
Monday, August 6, 2012
Friday, August 3, 2012
|Bad Medicine on the top at breakfast break|
Which is how we found ourselves jostling to NOT be the one to have the responsibility for navigating what is potentially the most difficult navigating weekend we have seen so far! Finally we decided on a democratic view, but Tobie who is our newest addition to the Party offered himself up as Speaker of the House. He had no idea what was in store for him! Three hours later, we were still on-route from Randburg to Edenvale to pick up Larry at home, navigating through rush hour traffic - do I hear Con saying “Guys this is my swan-song, I’m NEVER doing this again!” Actually the drive was not too bad, but got us to Coromandel at the rude hour of 10 p.m. (There goes the plan to be fast asleep by 8!) Luckily Jaco had gotten there before us and organised bunks in plush double beds, reached through a ballroom sized bathroom - no doors, so no bathing done that night! Just race registration, pushing of race gear into backpacks, laying out of at least 15 bits of clothing (for the anticipated freezing 4 am start) and into bed, lights out.
Map plotting was at 3, so we staggered out of bed at 2.30 am, feeling our way past the 80km racers in bed, vainly hoping to sleep until their somewhat later start time. Race briefing ran late, leaving us only 10 minutes to grab our bikes and load them onto the car, before saying goodbye to Mike and lurching out into the dark - last as is our tradition. The maps were pre-plotted on 1:50 000 scale and we were surprised to find that we had only 1 x A3 area to cover - all on the same property! On and up in good adventure racing tradition, took us past the waterfall and above the clouds to the very top of the escarpment for a sunrise view to rival anything I have ever seen! Not before we had spent a fruitless half hour searching for CP 3, lost down a rocky scree, deep in a gorge. When we arrived, Team Geronimo were backtracking, soon followed by Bad Medicine and ourselves all scouting up and down in the same area. My rule is not to spend too much time looking, so when Geronimo left without the point, I decided to gather up the team from the 4 corners of the globe and follow as well.
|This is why we race!|
Still we were happy to be moving forward again and amazed that Tobie was doing so well with the map reading! Unfortunately, he had other problems, his feet had blistered and he was hobbling - we had done around 15km’s so far. We did a First Aid stop and another....and another, but Tobie is tough and pushed on regardless. Clinton had warned us that he was forced to position the CP’s securely, safe out of the wind - we took this to mean ‘hide’ as CP by CP they became more difficult to find.....or was it tiredness on our part?
T2 came late in the afternoon, with the welcome view of Mike and Geronimo passing us on their way back down the mountain on the bikes!! OMG! they’re finishing the MTB leg and we’re just starting ours! We saddled up and rode out determined to make a good push, a push it was...unfortunately straight up a vertical climb! Now we knew why Alex’s eyes wandered when we asked him about the terrain going forward! Yes, the climb was vertical - I discovered my handlebars were above my head in places! On and Up! Tobie who had been looking forward to resting his feet on the pedals, instead found himself doing a punishing route march on foot! Welcome to Adventure Racing - where although it is a bike leg, it doesn’t mean there is a path, or a track, or even a grassy area.....no we found ourselves pushing and heaving bikes through a shrubby thicket, across a grassy ridge, past a dam, and up another hill to the CP. From there we needed to traverse another grassy ridge on foot towards the same road we had walked down earlier. We could see it from where we stood on the top. Unfortunately, the next CP beckoned.....and we could see the road through a saddle far below, where the CP should be.
|Looking for the checkpoint.........!|
|All the hiking is REALLY starting to HURT!|
I have very fond memories of this climb! Normally, I am normally the only one in the team who stays awake all night, but this time (maybe because Jaco and Tobie were reduced to walking) we were moving very slooowly and I was fighting sleepmonsters hard! Larry and I would wait for the guys to pass us on foot and then saddle up and ride past them to the next turn, then flop down in the dust, for a power nap, before doing it all over again! In my memory, that driveway was 100km’s long! Telescoping forward in the beam of my headlamp endlessly! 2012 came and went.....and so passed 2013, 14 and 15! Finally we reached the top, just before the drop to the house. A bakkie passed us saying the guys were just behind...to my horror we discovered that Tobie had gone to sleep in the middle of the road and the bakkie had to wake him up to pass! The stuff that AR stories are made of!
The problem with transitioning at the start is that the beds are really comfy and it is sooo easy to just stop right there! However, Lickety Split prides itself on finishing all races, so we grabbed a 1 hour sleep (dirty clothing and all, straight into bed) and headed out before daybreak. Jaco declared himself done, but Tobie bravely gritted his teeth for the Spitskop climb! Once again we passed Bad Medicine, going home along that long driveway, and picked up some pointers on route choices. We managed to find a path heading in the right direction and changed our plan from following the firebreak burn we had originally picked out. As it turned out, it was a good choice. We followed our noses to the ‘dead carcass’ CP and followed the race briefing tips to the ‘pine tree in donga’, which left only the flag on the top of the koppie to track down! 25 minutes up and 25 minutes down, we were trudging back up the long driveway, passed by racers rushing back to Joeys in their cars after prize giving. Give a thought to the racers on foot, chaps......slow down so we don’t have to eat so much dust in your wake!
Our prize giving was a warm welcome from the Tswane Club and a 2L bottle of coke, then everybody took off leaving us alone in that huge, weird house.
I guess the other racers had managed to find some privacy to wash after the race, because we were left with only cold water, so the dream of washing off all the trail dirt was abandoned and we packed up quickly for the long road back. If we hadn’t had Mike to drive us, we might still be out there in a ditch, as we all fell asleep instantly and Tobie was still asleep 5km’s from home!
Thanks go to Tshwane club for putting on such an interesting, challenging and well organised race. The views were Faaantastic!
Thanks to William, for volunteering your car, compass, map bag and keeping in touch throughout the race, and Mike for driving us and the bikes around all weekend (good help is hard to find), though the scintillating conversation was distinctly lacking on the way home! Thanks to Larry for jumping in and volunteering for all the dirty scouting work - you fitted into the team just like an old pair of shoes!
Tuesday, July 24, 2012
Tuesday, July 10, 2012
Monday, June 4, 2012
Monday, February 6, 2012
RED ANTS RUMBLE – 27/28 Jan 2012
Team Bitterender – Johan, Jaco, William and Sue
Venue: Stanford Lake College near Haenertsburg
It could have been called “The Race where you got your money’s worth”, but anybody who knows the area would have guessed as much! So when Red Ants said we were to get some 3700m of ascent, we knew we were in for a treat! Unfortunately it was a bit of a shocker for the 2 new members of the team, Johan and Jaco, but they ‘rose’ to the occasion magnificently (excuse da pun)
With the clock standing at 13 weeks to Expedition Africa, Lickety Split is hoping to finalise the team members for all the warm-up races. Johan and Jaco were both bitten by the AR bug (and quite possibly some other toothy bugs too) at the last Kinetic Full Moon but had a trying time and were looking to get some quality time with an experienced navigator. So they teamed up with William and I as Bittereinder, a team who’s main goal was to have fun and finish comfortably. Before hand, we organised a couple of paddle, hike and bike sessions, to sort out seating arrangements in boats and forge the necessary team spirit for a group about to spend plenty of time in each other’s pockets.
The trip up was uneventful as we were lucky enough to leave early and miss the traditional Friday afternoon snarl up in traffic. Time not being a problem, we decided to take the scenic detour around the road works to Haenertsburg and got a foretaste of the kind of hills we could expect. Bike drop-off at the village hall was accompanied by phone calls to missing members, still waiting at the detour. Back at the Adventure Centre, we started our tent city on a beautiful grassy bank, as we were to host 5 tents eventually. Here was Nic Mulder waving his camera at anybody standing still and looking like a serious adventure racer – still don’t think we qualify!
So started the mad scramble of registering, pitching camp, unpacking and generally wondering where our all important bits of gear were hiding? Supper soon followed – a much appreciated dish of lasagne! Time for race briefing, only to be told by Brian that we were waiting for several teams lost to the roadworks. So it was back to the tents to look for all sorts of important items which miraculously seemed to be missing! No whistle, no drybag and from the cursing outside, Jaco had lost his bladder too! Anyway, the extra time allowed us to find everything. Who could have guessed..the whistle still firmly attached to my backpack – exactly where it should be!
Race briefing finally rolled around and with maps in hand, William had a chance to use his latest toy. A distance counter to log up leg-time and speed predictions, which were right on the money! Though we did manage to finish a full half hour before predicted time, in spite of our best efforts to make a five day event of the MTB leg!
Leg 1 - 5km orienteering:
True to our team name, we started dead last, having let the rush go. Nic Mulder helped us along with an instruction to get on with it! Unfortunately, by the first OP we had already overtaken some teams. William chose a clockwise route which would have gotten us round very efficiently, if it was not for the usual Orienteering snafu which can occur when I think I’m clipping OP 5 and William believes he’s told me OP 4. Rats! That added an extra km to the outing (but it was still early in the race) which put us back in second to last place at transition. Happy and singing in the dark.
Leg 2 - 10km paddle:
As I’m sure many teams did, a quick rush over the road to put into the nearest water, much wiggling around in the boat and repacking of backpacks, only to take 3 strokes and take out on the far side for a(nother)portage! We had no idea there was a channel until after the race, though it helped to hear that Lickety Split (with their navigator in boat) spent much quality time in that channel! It only took us around 10 minutes to portage, retrieve shoes lost in the swamp and drag ourselves back into the boats. The waterfall was quickly navigated too and then we settled down for an enjoyable paddle. Somehow we had started moving up in the positions, in spite of our best intentions to stay at the back.
Leg 3 - 7km hike:
Nicky handed us the map and having watched other teams set off in completely the wrong direction earlier, made sure we had it facing the right way up before we took off down the road. Her lovable doggies very kindly offered to lighten my trail food bags of all my droë wors, but I hung onto it for later. Somehow, although we usually stick to the road in preference to bundu-bashing, this time we bashed across the river directly to the trail, instead of following other teams up the road and across the river by the bridge. Boy was that a good choice, as it set us up perfectly to find CP 1 onwards! I lost count of how many teams we met going the wrong way along the trail, having missed CP1 completely! Happy and singing in the sun. A quick photo shoot with Eric at the cemetery and onwards we led – speculating on the origins of the town as we passed.
Here started the Real Adventure Race! Bikes collected at the hall, we set off knowing we were in for a bit of a climb, but completely oblivious to quite how hard it was going to be in the heat of the day! One hill crested, followed by another! The team slowed down to a walk, with many stops to drink and pour water over William who suffers on hot district roads! In spite of this, I was determined to ride the whole way and was doing quite well, only to be overtaken by William pushing his bike! I discovered that if I worked really hard, I could just about keep up with him! Luckily, we are training for expedition sized legs, otherwise I might have been a little disappointed in our time of 7 hours for this leg. Needless, to say, we managed to greet most of the back end of the race’s teams as they overtook us. We stopped for a minute to check if a member of a two man team was OK, when passing them in the forest on the side of the road. It seemed he was suffering from heatstroke and was waiting for Aderic and his ambulance.
A highlight was the stop to wade through the icy water in the mine (all 4 of us) and wandering through the cave for an elusive checkpoint. I managed to pass right through and find the back door, before shouts of “Gottit!” brought me slithering back. The quantities of left shoes had us guessing for a bit, before our heat-cooked brains finally made the connection between them and the New Balance flags. More uphills - we met Larry of Team Lava seemingly without his team who, when they passed us picnicing in the cool, declined to stop and join in. I should mention that Jaco hates hills! He said it several times, bitterly and with emphasis…”I HATE hills” Never mind, the uphills eventually came to an end at the next transition – then it was DOWNHILL!
This late afternoon transition, left us scrambling to get out on the hike leg and put in some serious distance before it got dark. The aim was to get both waterfall CP’s done during daylight – a good plan as it turns out! The hike into the kloof saw us meet up with Eric and his camera, for a chat and the exciting news that Lickety Split was doing really well!! Go Guys!
The kloofing was challenging, with every member of the team slipping around on the boulders, but only me actually making a serious dent in one knee. I asked for a bit of spit to rub it better, but nobody offered! The Garfield question put all the men in the water looking to see if there was actually any grafitti on the wall, but we came away without too much time spent looking, leaving only Jaco’s sock lost to the effort. I ask: who goes swimming in their socks? But evidently all three members of Bittereinder do! Jaco was left to make full use of William’s strapping tape instead. Dark descended inevitably and the multiple crossings of the river became a bit tedious. Being so small, I disappear easily; slipping and sliding on large boulders and left a slice of skin behind, on one evil crossing. At this point we had completely lost the trail. We knew where it should have been, but searching upriver only brought banks which were surely wrong, so we doubled back several times (crossing that river again……) I suggested a supper break and I guess the distraction turned William back to into Captain Fantastic, because he disappeared around the reeds and right back onto the trail! We even managed to help other lost souls (Team Assitport was also lost in translation higher upstream) back onto that road that led up out of the valley. Unfortunately, it was here that Johan began slowing down with an old injury to his knee and we limped slooowly uphill and back to transition. 20 minutes and a break…….
Leg 6 – 39km bike:
Midnight brought a cold wind and with Johan limping on a damaged knee, we decided to add an hour of sleep at transition. Since various teams had seen fit to stable their bikes in the warm gazebo, we showed grit and bunked down with one sleeping bag between two on the grass, trying hard to ignore insensitive racers shining headlamps on us. Unfortunately, this was the end of Johan’s race, so we decided to push on. 1.15am saw us eager to be away, off the cold mountain top and warming hands on the handlebars in the forest. It was to be a huge vertical descent between columns of pine trees, like Alice down the rabbit hole! Without the benefit of a sleep I’m not sure I would have roared down the rocky slopes quite so fast, but it seemed OK at the time. We stopped to decide whether Brian would have expected us to enter the private roads with conspicuous ‘Do not Enter’ signs, but keeping to AR tradition, pushed on trusting to the compass and William that we were still on the right track. However, one turn too many to the South when we should have been headed North, had us doubting ourselves and spending a fruitless hour backtracking up the vertical road (hike a bike) before deciding that we were in the right place anyway and heading back down. To our utter surprise, we were never passed by another team during the entire night’s ride!
Sunrise saw a welcome stop for a breakfast muffin (OH for some coffee!) then with no more excuses, onto the tar road and back to the canoe transition. In spite of knowing exactly where the turn-off was, we still managed to overshoot it in our sleepy state.
Leg 7 – 10km paddle:
A warm welcome by Nicky and a not too efficient transition saw us back in the boats and fighting sleep, now that we were sitting down. As we were one short, the obvious solution was for William to balance the second boat with all the backpacks in the back seat and go it alone. Note to self – pack some sort of a leash for towing in future!
It was lucky that the mist had lifted to some extent, but we still found ourselves paddling into the wrong bay, then back out again looking for the waterfall. I was fighting sleep and pink elephants in the front of the boat, but William was paddling like Hercules on his own. Jaco and I struggled to keep up!
Each portage was more than interesting with 2 boats and only 2 and a half paddlers, but with William and Jaco showing true grit and several trips, both boats made it around the waterfall and over the reedbank, then through under the bridge (with a spot of cursing by now) to an excited welcome by Brian and Mike on the bank. Whew! As always finishing is a bit of an anticlimax for me. However, I am always just as glad to have done so! Why do we do adventure racing………because it always feels so good when you stop!
My feeling about this race, is that it was just hard enough to be exactly what a good adventure race should be! Some interesting and exotic sites….and long enough to let you know that you had worked! Well organised with friendly faces at every transition. A big thank you to Red Ants and the other helpers who worked so hard to make it fun for us racers – especially to the marshall in the river. We still have no idea how you actually rode a bike with what looked like everything including the kitchen sink, into that far distant valley!
I look forward to racing with Jaco in future and am equally sorry that the gentleman of the team, Johan will be unable to do the long distances with us. Thanks to William for captaining and navigating a fantastic racing experience once again!
Thanks for the Ant Trail - Die Bittereinde(r)
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
Fantastic weather organized by Nando, made for a perfect evening in the suburbs!
Lickety Split finished 16 out of 40 teams and 5th in our Mixed Team category.
Reported by William - posted by Sue.
Monday, November 7, 2011
50km is further than I am fit enough for J
On Saturday morning we did a 24km run, overall it had about 500m altitude gain, mostly from running around the Fort Klapperkop monument. At about 18 km I really started feeling it, with light cramps in my calves. Basically I had to walk about 100m out of every 300m to keep going. My time for the 24km was 3:00:17. I also grew a blister where the strapping tape had rolled up (same spot as the blister I got doing the Wakkerstroom Mountain Challenge – I think it is specific to those shoes). At about 3km to go I got overtaken by two girls who were running very comfortably and then ended nearly 3 mins ahead of me. At the end of the race I had a great chat with Nando, Karin and Erik (who came to cycle at Groenkloof), I went and spent the day with a work colleague (an ex-runner) which was very peaceful.
The evening run was a very flat run, I started by matching my pace with the two girls who had come past me so easily on the first stage. At the waterstop they really wasted time and I carried on without them. In the end I finished nearly 2 minutes ahead of them. The route was very flat and I suppose I should have finished the 9km faster than 58mins.
On Sunday morning I woke up so stiff, my legs were killing me. Yolande and Kids came along to do the 6km fun run and Loreley tells me I looked really funny at the start of the last 16km stage. This stage was really technical in places, really rocky uphills but with very fast flowing single track sections. I really enjoyed the section along the top of the hill where there were small lose rocks but overall very flat and comfortable running. I kept up with the two girls again until about 6km where I went ahead. I ran out of energy a little later and while eating a packet of raisins they caught up again. However the last waterstop again let me get ahead and I finished about 2 minutes ahead of them. I did the 16km without cramps and I feel finished quite strongly. Overall time 2:11 which I thought quite slow but I don’t know if I could have done much faster.
So overall we did about 49km, and it took me 6 hours 11 minutes. There were only 32 entries for the long event of which 30 started and 27 finished. It was tough but really enjoyable, I think I need to find a few more of these running stage races to do next year.
Wednesday, September 28, 2011
I did a lot of running training leading up to the event as my cycling was doing well. I also knew that I would overall need to increase my normal racing speed by as much as 25% if I wanted to make the cut offs.
I left Johannesburg on the Thursday night, arriving in London on Friday morning, met a long term online friend Wayne who was helping me out with transport and logistics, we collected a hire bike on Friday afternoon, and went to bed early that evening. Saturday morning started with a 3 hour drive to the start for registration and collection of race numbers etc. A short briefing was held but from my point of view was not very good as it contained no information about race logistics, instead was just a run down of the route according to the race book we recieved. My assumption that things would work the same way as in South Africa came back to haunt me later as I did not get the kit I needed when I needed it. I used a small 15l Salomon rivo backpack I won on the last Full Moon race, but covered it with a South African flag.
Before the race started we had a 2.5km walk to the start - this was quite peaceful until the rain started - it was a short downpur but should really have prepared me for what was to come later. In the rain I put on First Ascent Apple Jacket - while not a waterproof top I have found previously that even when wet it keeps the wind out. The start of the race was the most Northerly point of the Country of Devon (Foreland point) where in the middle of nowhere there is a small lighthouse. Looking down at the lighhouse in a terribly overcast day, with strong winds I could see a "sundeck" with chairs etc - and I thought to myslef that there is no way anyone would ever wnat to sit out there.
Leg 1 - 11km run: By now the rain had cleared and the wind had dropped (being protected behind the hills from the southerly wind) and we started the race at about 7:20. Being proudly Lickety Split I let everyone rush off into the distance and run up the steep coastal hills while I strolled along and reached the top of the hills 50m behind everyone else. At the top the wind was howling again and I struggled to start running. Once over the ridge and dropping into the woods I got into my stride and really started enjoying the run. The path led through the trees, up and down a few hills and along the banks of the river. In many ways the wood reminded me of the forests found in Kwazulu Natal and Mpumalanga with gentle undergrowth under the towering trees. Bit by bit I was overtaking the back end of the field and by the time we got back to the tar roads leading into the village of Brendon I had overtaken 15 or so people. Overall I found the other racers very firiendly and accomodating and everyone let me through as soon as I caught up with them.
Leg 2 - 85km cycle: I transitioned quickly onto the bike and got out ahead of a lot of people that had finished the run ahead of me. Coming out of Brendon were a couple of mean hills and I decided to save my strength and pushed up the hills. At one point I was greeted in Afrikaans by a fellow racer so I was not the only South African in the race. Once over the hills I got going and was enjoying my ride, even the short rain shower I had shortly after that did little to dampen my spirits. Unfortunatly I started getting cramps in my lower calf after only about 5km of riding and these cramps stayed with me for most of the cycle, I am still not sure if the cramps were from the cold, or the 12 hours sitting still in the aeroplane the day before. The most amazing thing was how much spaces cars give cyclists on the roads, in many cases cars drove slowly behind me until we reached a section of double lane before overtaking me. I rode along at a good pace and though I was feeling a little cold (being soaked from the rain and the strong wind creating a large drop in temperature due to wind chill) I felt OK and carried on. Even the second shower did little to dampen the spirits though by now I was feeling really cold. By about 50kms into the cycle and the 6th or so rain shower the heavens opened and we had a lot of really hard rain.
By now the wind was really strong, I was soaked and I had not really adapted to the conditions. Being soaked at 8degrees, with a howling wind probably made the ambient temperature about 0Degrees - thats freezing in case you did not know. Only once I started realising that I could not concentrate properly did I stop and put warmer clothes on. (Difficulty to concentrate is a sign of Hypothermia - at the time I was struggling to remember the next instructions I needed to do "Red Hill Cross, Turn left following the sign that says Meldon 4km"). In the pouring rain I stripped down to my pants and pulled a fleece top on, then put my cycling top over the fleece before once again putting on my wind proof top. This made me feel a lot better and I continued at a very slow pace - the cold was just sapping all my energy, making cycling really hard. Slowly and regularly people were overtaking me. At one point 4 guys came past me and I decided to force myself to keep up with them. I rode the last 20-25km with them and they certainly helped me get to the transition, we were all quite tired so other than them asking me a few question about being South African we did not chat much. I made the cutoff with about 10minutes spare.
Leg 3 - 7km hike/run: At transition (no transition bag) I happily had a hot cross bun my friend Wayne supplied, and cake mix supplied by the organisers and left as quickly as possible onto the hike up High Willhays (highest point in South west england) - I walked up to the top trying to recover some heat and some energy. Instead of a trig beacon the highest point was marked by a large cairn of rocks, I added my rock to the cairns before turning and heading back down. The moors are public access land and I saw various flocks of sheep each makred with a different color spray paint accross their backs. On the way back to transition I trotted as much as possible. Crossing the moors was interesting with what looked like dry grass being 10cm of water when you step on it - fine while walking by definitly ankle turning stuff when running.
Leg 4 - 37km cycle: At transition again I got going as soon as I could and the first few kms were wonderful flat riding on a cycling specific tarred track and I pushed as hard as I felt I could to try recover some time. At one point we went over, then under a fantastic viaduct before returning to the country roads. My 4 friends from earlier soon caught up with me again and we rode along together most of the way. With about 15km to go I decided I needed to push again and started going faster. I still felt really cold and the exercise was not enough to warm me up. With about 6 kms to go I had 35minutes to make the next cut off and thought I was reasonably safe, but I came around a corner and was faced with a 2km long uphill - so I slogged up it (pushing most of the way) and reached the top with about 5 minutes to go - from the top I could see a wonderful downhill followed unfortunatly by another 2km uphill. I slogged up it knowing by now that I would not make the cut off but hoping I would be allowed to continue.
Once I reached the top I had about 1km to go to transition and I took it reasonably peacefully. By now I had realised I was far behind the cut off time and had reached the conclusion that I would be almost happy to be told I could not continue.... I passed Wayne just before the transition and he told me he had arranged an extra 15minutes for me - unfortunatly this was about 40minutes after cut off already. I continued to the transition where I was told I was too late to continue. I went into the hall and had some hot food and tea.
About 45minutes later I went out of the hall to collect my bike and started shaking - not shivering but physically shaking from the cold. I could almost not hold my bike due to the shaking. Even after a warm bath that evening and a long sleep in a warm bed, the next day a gentle breeze started me shivering all over again. I am not sure, but I cannot but believe I had reached the point of Hypothermia during the race.
I consider myself an experienced adventure racer. I have done almost 20 races of over 100km in length, including Expedition Africa of 500+kms. I have titled this report "Adapt of Die" as even with all the experience I have at racing under South African conditions I was not able to adapt to the new conditions I was racing in, and in the end this was the reason I did not finish the race. In South Africa I suffer heatstroke very easily and while racing I would rather be cold than warm to prevent it. Under the race conditions I experienced in England, I should have realised that there was no chance of getting heatstroke and switched immediatly to ensuring that I did not get too cold. At the start of Leg 2 I should have been wearing my fleece as a base layer. I had presumed I would get access to my transition bag at each transition and had left warm leggings in the bag - I should have been wearing at least my leg warmers if not my full fleece leggings on the cycle. At home I have a polar buff, this should have been on my head and not in my cupboard.
Humans are creatures of habbit. And the habbits I have learnt over the last 4 years of racing meant I did not finish the race. Adapt or Die!