Thursday, May 20, 2010


Apologies for the lack of news in the last month – we have just arrived home after our ‘big month’ of events…..starting with Bribie Multisport – then Anaconda NZ, Anaconda Forster and Red Centre Mtb Enduro…..phew…we’re exhausted!....and now are heading off today to sample one of the Blackheart Adventure Races which will be held in the shadow of Mt Warning – yes, we’re going back there – hope it’s dryer than last time…..Anyway, here’s a catch-up of our goings on…..

With massive crowds flocking to Noosa and surrounding beaches over Easter it was great to get out in the hinterland and leave the tourists to fight over car parks and space on the beaches…..We really enjoyed our 3 days of activity and hope all who came along did as well….Here’s how it all panned out…
FRIDAY – Paddle/Run
Gathering at the canoe launch at Elanda our group of 7 adventurers saw Lake Cootharaba looking quite serene….so, not wasting too much time we headed out on our skis across it to our first landing at Kinaba station. A quick stop for a snack and a stretch, and we were on our way again, turning left and heading up Kin Kin Creek. The long paddle was very pleasant and we only saw one other finishing boat as we got to our landing point at the site of old bridge. The exit on the mud (very deep!) bank was rather amusing and with a team effort we managed to get all the boats safely up out of the water…..after many of us thought we were going to be lost forever in that stinking black mud! For those who didn’t wear paddle shoes, getting the running shoes on was rather interesting – not wanting to waste water on washing, Corallea managed to dangle her feet in the water, one by one, and got them on with minimal mud. Lucky no-one else would smell us! After arming our bodies with full-strength mozzie spray, we headed off on foot for the most beautiful jog along the Cooloola Wilderness Trail down towards Figtree Point. The going was slow, as the trail was quite littered with debris but we all enjoyed the beauty of the area and saw the most amazing owl on our way there! We turned around and ran back at a certain time….and all regrouped back at the boats for the long paddle down the creek and then over the lake to Elanda… Hayley was feeling tired before we had even hit the lake….she has only been training in adventure sport for a couple of months, so this was a very long day for her. When we arrived at Kinaba the lake was a mess of chop – not the worst we have seen, but we all knew it was going to be a very difficult hour of paddling the side chop and strong winds back to where we came from….. Hugging the shoreline was a good option as when a boat capsized, it was easy to stand up and get back in, rather than struggling in the deep water and using way more energy. George was brilliant and got a long way before she ‘lost it’ this time. But continued under the watchful eye of Gina, and made it back much happier than her last experience here! Wayne and Corallea toughed it our and came back pleased with their efforts, but poor Hayley struggled with the very tippy old Dolphin ski, and was resigned to the fact she was going to walk the lake home….so a boat swap was in order and Aunty Jan relinquished her Epic and then had a very testing, but successful, paddle back in the Dolphin with a broken foot-strap…. We were all very relieved when we finally reached the shore…and plenty of chat was had as we enjoyed the culinary (and verbal) delights of the Top Shop and Boreen Point….Home to relax then get ready for tomorrow!
With the Aunties arriving late for the 7.00am meeting time, everyone was getting restless and wondering what was going to happen…. Extracting ourselves from the Easter family gathering at the farm was more difficult than we expected! A quick rush to get organised, and we were on our way with 11 other riders to experience the trails (and hills) in the Pt Glorious area… We turned in at the trail-head off Cooloolabin Rd and started to make our way upwards towards Bottle and Glass Rd…. This little climb was just a warm-up for things to come…..and when we regrouped at the start of our ‘new’ single track everyone knew they were in for some punishment……but before the punishment was the most spectacular series of creek crossings we had discovered on one of our outings and we really wanted to show it to everyone!! Down we went on the lovely winding single track…and we found ourselves in this magical creek paradise that hardly anyone else would have been to….over a few creeks carrying the bikes, then we made sure everyone had a quick snack as the hike-a-bike to come was going to sap the energy of all of us…..and make a few of them wonder why we decided to have Easter with the Aunties – I’m sure!! Reassuring everyone that we ‘loved them’ we started to make our way up the rutted single track. A very exhausting climb followed and we were so proud of everyone for getting up there with a team effort and minimal fuss…..These are the sort of experiences that take you up another notch in fitness and mental strength…..we all discover it’s amazing what you can accomplish when you just ‘keep moving forward’…..Well done to all of you!!

Popping out on the main road to Pt Glorious we rested and refuelled before continuing our ride out to the Pt – which is the north-eastern point of the ridge that looks over the Yandina-Eumundi area….what a view when we got to the lookout….recent rains had greened up the valley below – and it was like looking at a picture-postcard…..and a bit like NZ according to Marie! Duncan had a quick nap on the steps, we posed for a couple of pics then we were off again, back down (up and down) to Blackall Rd where we took the single track by the side of the road to our turn-off point at Bottle and Glass Rd. This was a bit testing after motor bikes had chopped it up and rain had filled all the holes, and was quite a challenge, but we all made it in-tact….

Next bit was all fast downhill….and we acted (and sounded) like young kids as we made our way down the descent….didn’t anyone ever tell you mtb-ing keeps you young?…..Kim took Terry on a little exploration at one point and the rest of us keep going back to Yandina…..and they met us back there not long after…. Our usual café was closed for Easter, so we took ourselves over to the very funky little organic café behind the pub…..and I think they were a bit overwhelmed by 13 dirty, smelly, old mtb riders, who were needed some refuelling instantly…. Nevertheless, we all got fed – some not too happy with their choices (or the café’s choice…) and we had a good chat about our morning and what we had achieved. Once again….we Aunties had a very rewarding outing with all of you like-minded adventure seekers! Thank-you….. 
SUNDAY – Easter Egg Orienteering
A ‘not so traditional’ egg hunt was on offer Easter Sunday morning at our local forest….and it was great to see some whole families taking part….We Aunties set the course earlier that morning and got back in time to set up for the 9.00am start. Maps were given out and most participants set off on foot except for Richard, Hugh and Ellen who took the mtb option. Jane (mum of the Foster family) teamed up with Geogann, Mel brought along Teagan her daughter and Novak and Jo arrived with the boys to challenge themselves with a run in the bush on Easter Sunday. Mel and Teagan were first back and won the day with 440pts …. Mel always has a knack or arriving back dead on time…..George and Jane arrived a little while later, pleased with their efforts. The Thompson family scored a high result (with kids in tow) but got a harsh penalty from Aunty Kim for arriving back too late! We thought we were going to have to send out a search party for Richard, Hugh & Ellen…but they finally arrived back 45mins late thinking they had an extra ½ hour! We all enjoyed an sausage sizzle and some tea and coffee from the billy…..and everyone took home some Easter eggs to eat later….except Finn and Kai who ate most of there’s out on the trails! After packing up we were joined by Jules and four of us went out to retrieve our CP’s and what was left of the Easter egg stash.

Huge congratulations to our good friend, and Tri Adventure regular, Geogann who participated in all of our Easter activities…..Hope you had as much fun as we did – and had a relaxing day on Easter Monday!

We had a very successful day at the Bribie Multisport with Aunty Kim taking the win for the 2nd time in its 4 year history…. It wasn’t an easy victory for her though, with 2 rival competitors breathing down her neck for the whole 100km….. Unlike 2008 when she battled through the final paddle with weed on her rudder, this year she forged into the gusty head-wind and chop and got onto the final run still in the lead – phew! Then it was only a 4km run to the finish – which is harder than it sounds after the huge day beforehand – and luckily she managed to stay ahead of them and crossed the line in the very quick time of 6hrs 21 minutes… Earlier on, our Hervey Bay friend Jason had come in 2nd male (wow, Jase, that’s awesome!) ….and our Coffs friend Tim had won the Veteran male category (that’s awesome too!..) Other fantastic results from Tri Adventure regulars were the gorgeous Bronny Platz overcoming her demons from last year when she crashed and dislocated her elbow and took 3rd place in the veteran women’s category (way to go Bronny!)… Shona Walker (another of the Coffs connection) crossing the line 50 minutes faster than her time last year (you go girl!)… also racing were the Noosa Girls team of Jules, Alison, Jules & George and they took the win in the female team of 4 category…. and Kaza Clarke (Coffs) coming in 2nd veteran female in the Bribie Half!…. The Ville Girls (Caz & Alli) had a fantastic race with a podium finish in the women’s team of 2… Katy and Erin gutsed it out to finish the full course in a team of 2 and Aunty Jan being the only ‘super veteran female’ took out 1st place just for finishing….and had a great time doing it!!

Special mention to our awesome support crew – Hayley &Steve – who took on the job not really knowing exactly what was in store for them…..They were superb all day, splitting up when they had to and getting us going through all our transitions….Thanks so much you two – we couldn’t have done it without you!

Also great to see some interstate friends rock up to Bribie this year – Steve Nichols who won the Half last year in the Tri Adventure Epic Sport was back in a team and some other of our adventure racing friends made the trip up to compete in this iconic Qld event….. We were very happy to be able to sponsor the race and it was great seeing everyone wearing our Tri Adventure hats at the presentation….

Our trip across the ditch was rather successful (to say the least…) Aunty Kim managed to clock up another win (yay!) but she also got the long sought after ‘fastest female run split’ (this is very good work when it is won by an individual…) which provided us with $NZ100 to shout drinks for the whole crew who supported us throughout the event…!!!! A bit further down the field Aunty Jan had a cracking race and came in 4th female overall (and the first ‘vintage’ female to ever complete an Anaconda Adventure Race…!!!) Our gorgeous friend Di – who provided her whole extended family for our support crew – proudly crossed the line as 2nd ‘vintage’ female to ever complete an AAR and 9th overall female….It was a pretty good day for all of us! The NZ scenery was incredibly spectacular on all of the 5 legs and we delighted in looking at it for 5-7 hours in our racing… couldn’t not, really….. We both backed up very well from the previous weekend racing at Bribie, so are relaxing and getting some good body maintenance to help with next weekend at Forster – the big 2-day finale…… It’s always a bit daunting, however we have nothing to lose – and Kim has already won the series for this season….so hoping for a nice day and not much surf! Hmmmm....

Just a couple of other things to mention – Our new paddling ‘addict’ Georgann has smashed her previous T/T by another 40seconds on last Wednesday’s paddle – George has been coming to our sessions twice a week since the beginning of the year and in her first ever T/T was over 3 minutes slower than she was last week! We are very proud of her and her determination – even though we thought we’d scarred her forever by a couple of testing paddles over Lake Cootharaba – well done George!!!

Another achievement we must mention is from Brigitte (our awesome junior…) who has just won the Gatorade Tri Series in the Open Female division – Brigitte raced in 6 out of 7 of the events and was consistent enough to take out the series last weekend when she came in ahead of Loretta Harrop!!! This is quite unheard of for a 14 year old – we are very proud of Brigitte too as she has shown not only amazing talent this season but a great attitude and understanding for the sport she is embarking on – and is still a ‘straight A student’ as well…. 

Probably should start this story with our arrival in the beautiful seaside town of Forster NSW….picture perfect and a cloudless day….slight offshore breeze and a tiny little shore-dump on Forster Main Beach….that was Thursday…..We sat on our balcony overlooking the beach thinking we were in paradise……a little too soon, it seems….

After backing up from wins in Bribie and NZ….we were a bit tired and anxious about racing at Forster – but it looked so perfect on Thursday….Friday morning dawned perfect again – so we thought we’d take our Epics out for a little paddle in the pristine water….noticing that shore-dump had gotten a little bigger overnight… We made it out with good timing of the sets and enjoyed paddling around where the swim and paddle course would go the next day…. We were noticing the swells were increasing and Aunty Kim was silently very nervous about our landing back onto the beach – she shouldn’t have been the one worrying…. Thinking our timing was perfect again, we followed in a rather large wave and pulled up on the beach quite relieved to make it in-tact…..and it that split second it takes to get out of your boat, everything changed…. Aunty Jan, getting out of her boat, somehow got the paddle leash wrapped around her leg and couldn’t get free of it. She was standing there in limbo when the next huge wave suddenly came crashing down on her…..still tangled in the leash she could do nothing but get swept off her feet by the smashing wave……and when it finally subsided a horror sight was confronting us…..Jan’s beautiful Epic was broken completely in half and the front part was smashed to pieces like a wafer biscuit….. The rudder had snapped off, but Aunty Jan was still connected to the ill-fated boat by the menacing leash. We stood on the beach – completely gob-smacked about what had just happened…..Kim had been able to get free of her boat and it popped up and she rode it sideways high up on the steep beach…, luckily hers was okay….. We stood on the beach not really believing what had happened and held up the parts of the boat to show some other paddlers what might happen to them…..they were very, very cautious on their beach landing – and came in ok.

So…… that was that. Aunty Jan now did not have a boat to paddle – and, had to admit, she was silently happy she wouldn’t have to do that very daunting swim and paddle the next day!! However, smashing up the boat was not really the best way to get out of it…..!!!! She decided that she would be great at being support crew for Kim the next day – and try to find a spare boat from somewhere to complete the longer, but safer, Day 2 course…..but Aunty Kim was very nervous. The fateful paddle had really spooked her and when on Saturday morning she withdrew from the race after the swim – we were both silently relieved. The swell had increased again, and many boats were struggling to get out from the beach – let alone land at the other end on a huge open surf beach (after rounding the treacherous Cape Hawke….) Once again, we felt we made a sensible decision…..or chickened out…..we didn’t really care at that point. We were safe and had one boat still in tact…..and when we watched the carnage at the paddle exit where many boats were destroyed we were so, so relieved not to be part of it……watching was terrifying enough!!! The day was cold and drizzly, and we were happy to be spectating – knowing Kim had won the series already….

Saturday night we were treated to a wonderful dinner prepared by our Coffs Harbour friends and had a couple of glasses of red (which is our normal pre-race strategy..) and woke up Sunday morning to perfect weather…. On the way down the beach to the swim-start Kim decided not to ‘race’ the day so we Aunties could race together, which was wonderful! The swim start at Seal Rocks was spectacular and Aunty Kim did her slowest 2km swim in history while she backstroked and waited for Aunty Jan (who was struggling as she always does in any swim…) We exited the water about 3rd last and got dressed for the beautiful 16km run that followed. Running along we chatted to others and enjoyed the course immensely – especially Aunty Kim who saw things she had never noticed before….. She even used a bit of towing to get Aunty Jan up the last big hill…then it was all downhill to the Mtb transition….In no real hurry we got ourselves organised for the bike and set off on the 30km ride quite relaxed…well, Aunty Jan was actually quite tired, but was still moving forward ok…. We pulled in quite a few other competitors as we went along…and it was a very nice, fun ride. Almost at the finish we came across our Coffs friend Shona who was frantically trying to change her back tyre which had punctured…. The efforts of the 3 of us eventually got that tyre off the rim…..a very sticky one…and had the new tube in and pumped up in no time after that…. We all rode the last 5 or 6kms to the paddle transition and were greeted by Shona’s fan club ….. The 17km lake paddle was extremely beautiful and we all paddled strongly towards the finish. After a few stops for de-weeding rudders we finally made it to the last TA in just over 1.5hrs…which was a really good time for our end of the field. All that remained was a 3km run to the finish over the picturesque Forster Tuncurry bridge, then onto the beach (it’s never easy…) and up the soft sand to the finish chute…..We made it and ran over the finish line holding hands….which was very a time of 7hrs 12 minutes….very glad to have finished happy, albeit a little fatigued after 3 consistent weekends of multisport racing….Not long after that the gorgeous Shona crossed the line to the cheers of her family and support crew….. Phew, it was over! And what a nice way to finish the 5-race Anaconda Adventure Race series – together and knowing Aunty Kim had won the series – which is an amazing feat for a Veteran female…..and Aunty Jan had achieved her goal of being the first Vintage female to complete an Anaconda Adventure Race

So that was it – they presented Aunty Kim with the perpetual trophy (a massive cup….) and we sipped champagne and had left over pizza before sleeping very soundly that night….

We are finally back from our crazy month….and no, we’re not feeling too bad from the 5-day Mtb Enduro adventure in Alice Springs….surprisingly……The Rapid Ascent folks are like family now...we have been present at their last 3 events!  Here’s how it all panned out….

SAT 8th – Arrive in Alice Springs… some like minded folk travelling with bikes in the ‘check-in’ queue. After a smooth flight on Qantas we arrive in the red centre and linked up with our airport shuttle service – the very groovy Harold and his lovely wife…who would be ferrying us to our various hotels in town….Harold’s wife was driving our bus and after informing us she hadn’t driven a manual car for about 30 years we were a bit wary as to weather we would make it in tact…but a ‘yes’ answer to Andy Fellow’s question on whether she still retained a manual license….eased our anxiety momentarily…..until we nearly rolled into the car behind on a failed hill start and then dodged a few road trains while following the fast-moving Harold in the ‘troupie’ up ahead…. phew…after a few stops we arrived safely at the Chiefly Hotel resort – our temporary home for the next 8 days….
Bikes unpacked…. We are very quick at this task now… we headed off to check out the town get some groceries. Interesting that we had to show ID (thought they we querying my age…!!....) to buy our wine at the bottle shop…..
SUN 9th – Big breakfast in the hotel – carbing up the for gruelling week ahead – then on the bikes for a ride out to the Telegraph Station – original site of Alice Springs – where the Trig Pt was placed for the overland telegraph…. about 150 years ago…. Had a check of the hill climb (Stage 2 of race) where we sprint to the top of Anzac Hill in the middle of town….and then back for Rego in the arvo….Meet up with lots of old friends from the Mtb world….and make some new ones too….
MON 10th – Stage 1 – 40km (very questionable…) including the infamous Hell Line….then back through town (just to make you think it was over…..that’s a JJ thing….) before heading out onto the single track ‘roller coaster’ (get me off this crazy thing…!) to finish at Alice Springs Velodrome – doing a lap of same…… My speedo read 51km at the finish….and then we had to ride back into town to the hotel….so about 60k the first day….and we still had the hill climb to go! Results – Kim: won in a sprint finish at the velodrome (yes, those super-quads come in very handy…) Jan – 3rd Vintage….and crash No 1……
Back to hotel – shower and lunch…then make our way out to Anzac Hill for the 300m sprint to the top…. Line up in reverse finishing order from morning stage…and before I knew it I was being held on the line and counting down….remembering to pedal this year (as last time they let me go and I forgot to…) got some good momentum from gear choice and remained seated till almost the top…. Legs like jelly I was out of the saddle for the final surge and crossed the line in a time of 1min 41seconds…. Not that great but managed to get my first Stage Win here – obviously didn’t go as hard as other vintage girls earlier that day. Aunty Kim sprinted to the top for the win in the veteran females…. 2 stages down – 5 to go… A surprise victory was had by Andy Fellows in this stage – he is more accustomed to riding 24hrs straight – but he smashed it to take out first place overall…..the Aunties were impressed Andy!
TUES 11th – Stage 3 was the ‘showcase’ single track day (didn’t we have enough of it yesterday..?..) apparently not….Starting at the Telegraph Station we rode an almost accurate 49km of ‘quality’ single track (determined by the quality of the rider I think….) and finished at Lasseters Hotel Casino….boy were we getting used to rock riding…. Results – Kim 1st again….Aunty Jan crashed and took the top off her thumb – Had to stop at the aid station for some doctoring up….Then gear changing was almost impossible – but managed to do it like a column shift on a car which required taking the hand completely off the handle bars (terrifying on some of this course…) and using the butt of the hand below the thumb….It got me to the finish line in 3rd place vintage girl….again…. We lunched at the Casino – not very swanky in our grotty bike gear covered in dust and blood…..then rested up in the afternoon for the big day tomorrow…
WED 12th – Stage 4 – the big day. We were bussed out to the remote location of Trephina Gorge – 95kms east of Alice Springs. Here we found our bikes which were shipped out by road train the previous evening, replaced our pedals that were removed for the journey and lined up for the huge ride ahead…. Besides a couple of Km’s of tar at the start – it was all on the dirt (err…sand…) …..and this was the make or break point for many riders during the week…. Luckily the weather was kind to us – clear blue sky, but cool temps and this did help in the whole scheme of things…. We Aunties actually loved this stage – being used to the strange places we are sent in our Adventure Races…we had no problem with the sand and river crossings… and were happy to get off and run when we had to….most mtb-ers not happy to get off anywhere….so this was our stage…. Very happy to finish back at hotel – Kim was surprised to see me only 20mins behind her on this one…..Results Kim 1st veteran, Jan 1st vintage!
THURS 13th – Stage 5 – the Time Trial starting and finishing at the Alice Springs Golf Club…. Plenty of single track in between though…and rocks….and sand….. We were set off at 30 second intervals according to our GC at that time (in reverse order…) So for Kim it was a bit of a wait as I started quite a bit earlier….She amused herself taking photos and videos of the scene before lining up herself. We both enjoyed this stage immensely – I had my gear cables tweaked by the local bike shop (so made it much easier to change gears now in the absence of the end of my thumb….) and came a very close 2nd in the stage (hundredths of a second actually…if only I hadn’t stopped to let those other riders go ahead….) and Kim smashed the stage to take her 5th win…….!! Recovery afternoon as we needed to back up that evening for the dreaded night stage…!!
Stage 6 – Armed with our Ay-Ups…(as were about 75% of the riders…) we headed to the Golf Course for the second time that day….This time it was a mass start and following the same course as the T/T that morning – you’d think the track would be a bit familiar – but, oh what a different world it is at night….Distracted by other lights in the distance I was constantly running off the track, and got myself into some sticky situations including another big crash….convinced my feet were too big as they were hitting all the rocks – I slowed down to a comfortable speed…and let lots of riders through – including another vintage female who was having a great time not seeing anything she was riding over….!!!! (the failing eye-sight thing worked a treat for her….) Limping in at the finish with more blood I was a little disappointed in my performance this time….just got a bit girly and slow after the crash I guess…..It was interesting to see how some folks just loved this stage – especially Andy who notched up another stage win – those guys are incredible….Kim also notched up another win – even though she said she took it a bit easy….Aunty Jan was 3rd vintage again…but still 2nd in the vintage GC after a very good Stage 4….
FRID 14th – The Finale – The briefing by race director John Jacoby had everyone a little on edge. This stage was hard, he said…..and very rocky….really!!!! And he was sorry for the last 4-5km before the end that was really, really rocky – excessively rocky……Oh dear…it sounded like we were in for some extra special John Jacoby punishment…. The stage began at our hotel and headed off to follow some single track of the T/T and night stage….just getting a little familiar with it now….then we were over some hills and quite near the Telegraph Station…..Crossing the Todd River (and walking through water!) was when Kim made the break on her fellow female riders….Me… I was happy to wade across and marvel at this unusual sight….and chat to the photographer poised on the edge….We rode some hilly fence line and then a bit of the old Stuart Hwy (not really tar any more…) and then encountered the excessive rocky section we were all warned about. Yes, it was difficult – but Kim & I strangely enjoyed this part of the course….. Some handy hike-a-bike skills got us ahead of others around us…and I found just running down some of the descents a bit easier than riding them…. JJ wasn’t kidding when he said it was hard, but, once again, doing adventure racing we had encountered ‘tracks’ way more difficult and seemed to get through it with a lot better attitude than those around us… Before we knew it, we were at the ‘2km to go’ sign (this was everyone’s favourite sign of the week!)….and it was all easy from there. Gliding into the finish chute beside the beautiful Todd River at the Telegraph Station I was happy and sad that our week of riding was over…..Happy that I’d made it home without any mechanicals or tyre problems (which seemed to plague many riders throughout the week…) but sad that this was the end of a super-fun exciting week of riding and socialising…. Happy that I’d managed to take 2 (almost 3) stage wins during the week and sad that this was the end of our amazing holiday…. But we still had the ‘gala’ (we think more like ‘galah’…no ball gowns here…) dinner ahead of us – and didn’t waste time getting into a glass of champagne over lunch….Then a little nap before the big night…
We walked (bit over the bike at that point…) to the Casino for a fantastic night out with lots of like-minded people. It was great to hear the stories of luck and bad luck some folks encountered over the week…but one of the best ones was the guys who missed the bus on the big day and were faced with a cab fare of $170 to get them out to Trephina Gorge for the start….you’d think they would have just gone back to bed – but they didn’t want to miss one bit of this iconic event – and rightly so I think…

On another note it was really great to see some local guys from Cycle Zone in Mooloolaba up there riding in honour of their departed friend Tavis Johannson….They rode together and supported each other all week and were great to meet and be around for the event…..

So….stay tuned for the next update. We will tell some more (hopefully dryer) tales from the Mt Warning area….and give you an idea of how Blackheart shape up with their events…..

See you out there!

:)  Jan & Kim