Saturday, November 28, 2009

CCAR Antrim Hills - Close but no cigar

A crisp, cold, still day was the perfect back-drop for the CCAR Antrim Hills race from Watertop Farm on 28 November. It was great to see a big turn-out for the last race of the 2009 series, nearly 30 teams, and hopefully it proved encouragement enough for Ivan to put on another series in 2010!

Delighted with our performance on the bikes after a dodgy foot section, we were third to finish, nine minutes behind the unstoppable Passing Wind and two minutes behind Deliverance Cousins, after just over 3.5 hours of racing.

Results are not yet clear. We were timed out at the abseil waiting unduly long for the terrified, squealing Deliverance Cousins to do the abseil, and we reckon that after time adjustment, we have managed to just hold onto second place.

(Edit 1 Dec: Joint second on the results, but it seemed clear on the day that Deliverance Cousins had just nicked it.)

Deliverance Cousins Enda and Sean bask in the glory of nearly beating us.

RACE REPORT - If you did not attend Watertop Farm on 28 Nov, don't even bother!

Once Joan had worked out what side of the start/finish line we were to be standing on, the hooter sounded and we all took off on the foot section along paths, roads, and slippery bridges.

Passing Wind led from the start, showing a clean pair of heels from after 50 yards. We, however, maintained very dirty pairs of heels throughout the foot section, completing it in about 15th spot, having mistakenly thought that it was a mandatory walk.

During the assault course, Davy initially attempted to go through the pipe, but had to resort to the zip-line instead, cracking some poor sod in the balls with the harness when passing it back to the top.

We were on the bikes with no messing, passing a couple of teams in the process, and were up and across the road into the forest, stamping hard up the hill.

We met Deliverance Cousins on the path, utterly bewildered and completely lost at a junction, so we took them under our wing and guided them up to the checkpoint at the chambered grave. Passing Wind headed back past us as we approached it, so we realised we had suddenly found ourselves up in second place. We guided the Deliverance Cousins out to the next checkpoint out on the road, before the big tarmac descent down into Cushendun.

Heading downhill, our singlespeeds were no match for the Deliverance Cousins’ geared steeds, and they disappeared out of sight quickly. We got to the boats as quickly as our little spinning legs would carry us, and were surprised that we were so close to the guys in front. We took our chance to beach Passing Wind on a rock and drench the unsuspecting Deliverance Cousins on our way up the river.

We lost a wee bit of time hunting for the checkpoint in the cave, which we tried to make up for on the way back from the pier by taking a short-cut onto the beach, but Ivan wasn’t in the mood for any entrepreneurship, and sent us back round to Steve at the jetty on the river.

We made short order of the run round the village, but didn’t see a soul during it. On the beach, Ann congratulated us on being both the fastest AND the slowest competitors on the space-hoppers.

Glad to be back onto the bikes, we were soon carving into the lead of the guys ahead. Things got technical on the rough track, and we could see the guys a couple of minutes ahead of us making slow progress, which spurred us on – they even had to get off and walk a few times, so we knew they were bound to be really suffering!

Over the back of the hill, we pushed on as hard as our legs would spin, but again, on the singlespeeds this was not as quick as we wished.

We arrived down at the wee lake just as Deliverance Cousins were leaving. Passing Wind’s technique across the pond had them now well ahead. Billy stood in the boat and held Gerry’s legs wheelbarrow style, whilst the ginger Dervish did the butterfly stroke out front. Genius!

All that was left to do was to get up to Keith, Jonny and Greg at the abseil, wait for Deliverance Cousins to do their bit, and get back to the centre sharpish.

Karen Duggan and race partner Richard had a great old tussle with Barry and Didi for first mixed team and, despite Karen tearing off towards Dublin with 100 yards to go, they just managed to hold on to take it.

A massive thanks to the whole CCAR team, crowned by Joan and Shirley's superb spread afterwards. A brilliant day’s fun, and definitely a format that suits the majority of folks. Another wee bonus loop for the first few teams back would have crowned it – maybe in 2010?

On a final note, history is what was written, not what happened! ;-)

Monday, November 09, 2009

Cuchulainn Challenge 2009

An unsatisfactory day at the office for Tango & Cash with Pimm's & White on 7 November, at the 8 hr Cuchulainn Challenge, understudy to the 24 hr Cooley Raid. We don't know how we did, but it was well short of our exacting standards due to a range of factors, all of them our fault!!

(Edit: turns out we were 1st team of four, and 3rd overall in the 8hr race, but loads of teams doing the 24hr race skinned us, so it's not actually much to shout about!)

(Another Edit: there was supposedly an error in the results, and we were actually 1st team of four and 2nd overall in the 8hr race - the bad day at the office turned out pretty darn good!)

Highlight of the day was watching Billy and Gerry of Passing Wind paddling their canoe for about 100 metres sitting BACK TO FRONT, wondering why it wasn't handling so well, then nearly ending up in Carlingford Lough trying to get turned round - brilliant stuff!

We struggled in the kayaks (even though we were sitting the right way round), losing about 10 minutes or so on the front-runners, then really suffered on the initial climb on the bikes until we got warmed up. By that time, we were about 30 minutes off the pace, and never to regain it.

Davy took a nasty tumble off the bike not long after the kayaks, trying to avoid some chap who just stopped in the middle of the road whilst Davy had his nose in the map, so at least that gave us something to talk about! We hardly saw another team all day, so the usual banterous exchanges were kept to a minimum.

By the time we had finally found our mojo, we knew we hadn't a mission of catching those in front. So, we took a gamble and went for the foot orienteering instead of the bike bonus, in the vain hope of aliens abducting anyone they saw on bikes, to leave the way clear for us. This section through a misty, barren, featureless wasteland removed any remaining energy and enthusiasm for life, as well as most of Enda's epidermis (due to him breaking in a new pair of shorts - ouch!!).

It was pitch black when we were dropping back into Carlingford on the bikes after a tough enough final section, so we even skipped the easy bonus at the end and were delighted to finally arrive back at base after about 8.5 hrs on the trot.

Thanks to Ivan and the rest of team CCAR for another great race, albeit it wasn't our day.

Gerry Kingston from Passing Wind hones his pony-trekking skills