My Blog

Adventure Racing recap & Welcome to 2019

13 February 2019

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The last time I dutifully updated my website blog was August 2018.
It seems periodically I fall in a writing rut and some sort of catalyst in life saps away all my creative juices.

In June my maternal grandmother passed away, it hit me very hard.
Then we bought our own place, which was kind of stressful.
I must say, just these 2 events left me with that feeling of why bother?

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Just today, Wednesday 13th Feb 2019, Normie boy suggested I do an update, but you know...when you leave something so long, where the bloody hell do you start?

I thought, ok Jess lets have a look at what you have been up to in the past months.

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  1. Alice Springs Skills courses - August
  2. Around the Bay - October
  3. Move house - October
  4. Many many road races - Aug, Sept, Oct, Nov, Dec.
  5. Bright Cycling Holiday - November
  6. State Champs XCO You Yangs - November
  7. After Glow 21km Trail run - November
  8. Women's Handicap Road race - December
  9. 2 day Bike packing trip with Rishi - December
  10. Coaching MTB/Road camp with crew in Forrest - December
  11. Two Bays Trail run - 28km - January
  12. Alpine Quest Adventure Race Falls Ck - January
  13. MTB De Femme weekend at Falls Ck - February

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Ok...just a tad busy.

Oh and I am also getting a surf ski in a week or two, new toy to have more fun with.

So this year, in short:

  1. Many road races, crits, mtb races big and small.
  2. Surf Coast Century 100km Trail Run - Sept
  3. Surf Coast Trail Marathon 42km - June
  4. Otway Odyssey 100km MTB Marathon - February
  5. Great Ocean Road Gravel Grind 120km - February
  6. Falls Ck Peaks Challenge 235km road ride - March
  7. Gippsland Gold 200km Mixed Terrain Audax ride - March
  8. Veterans Road champs in Maryborough, Road race, crit and TT - Easter
  9. and then we are into winter with some Vic CX races for something new and different!

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But...in between all of this I have some news.

Norm and I will be grandparents on or around April 21st and our daughter Saskia is also getting married in October.

Huge year ahead.

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I have said it before, but even more important now is the desire to do whatever looks fun, whatever option looks like it will be enjoyable and so will continue to mix it up with a bit of everything.

But in the meantime, here is a recap of the Alpine Quest Adventure Race I did back in January. I would do this again thats for sure! So much fun.

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Alpine Quest Adventure Race - January 2019

In September 2018, I was asked to join a mixed team in the Alpine Quest AR by Trevor of Tiger Adventure.
It was not the first time I had been approached to be in an Adventure race, but I have always been committed to my cycling goals and not in a position to say yes.

This time, I made sure I was free on the Australia Day long weekend and started to up my running and being the process of learning to paddle.
I joined the Geelong Canoe Club and started doing 10km paddles regularly as well as head out on the ski on the ocean with Tim Altman to get some good technique base.
It turns out I really REALLY liked paddling, now to find the time to fit it into my busy schedule!
 
I am not a stranger to an overnight endurance effort, having raced at an elite level in the 24hr mountain biking scene nationally and internationally so was looking forward to this aspect.
I was told not to worry about the navigation aspect as we had 2 lead nav’s - phew! 
 
So with about 5 months leading up, I just focussed on doing what I could and ensuring that the paddle leg of the AR wouldn’t kill or injure me as well as staying strong on the trekking leg by doing trail runs and hikes with a pack. 
The cycling was already sorted.
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The Alpine Quest AR was on the Australia Day long weekend in January, with the race hub at Falls Ck. OMG, it was around 28 -30 degrees Celsius on top of the mountain. It was HOT.
I met the 3 other team members on Thursday night, it was insane working out the logistics, my place in the team and sussing out the goals and intents of everyone. 
We had a prologue event on Friday which was a rogaine style run, bike, paddle, bike - choose your checkpoints in order of what you think works best for the team.  It took us around 5.5hrs and gave us 6th place. A few navigational errors on the paddle leg cost us around 15-20mins. I started to work out my place. Even though I really had no idea how to use a compass I was very aware of my surroundings and landmarks and proved a good sounding board for decision making in our forward progress, I realised whilst I didn’t want to second guess their decisions, it was good to act as a team and make a group decision.
Day 1 Prologue was tough,it was hot, windy, with some pretty big mountain biking efforts in there as well.
We didn’t have much time to prep out gear for the next day, shower, eat, stretch, plan, go to the briefing, packing bikes, putting in trucks, and just try to chill. I found this the hardest part of the whole race weekend.
The buses were departing at 5 am the next day to get to the Mitta Mitta River so we could start the race at 8 am.
Five hours of sleep was about as good as it got, and then we were on the bus, Race Day.
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Our team, Tiger Adventure, went at the 3 min mark, as we came 6th on day 1, each team started 30 seconds after the team placed in front of them. 
First time ever I had paddled a river with rapids, even though the river was low, we still had loads of fun and made for even more tactical decision making.
We caught the team in front and were able to see if they were successful with their line through rocky chutes. We wanted to pass them but we just couldn’t find the right moment. I was happy sitting behind knowing that eventually they would make a bad decision and we would pass them but the ever-competitive and rightly so, Trevor was keen to get a move on.
Unfortunately, he broke his carbon blade on rocks and all our good work went to ruin at that moment, with about 1/3 of the river leg to go.  He took my shorter paddle and I scored the single bladed paddle. I learned a lot in these next 30 -40 mins.
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Eventually after making sure we got the 1 checkpoint on the river, we arrived at the TA to assemble our bikes, pack up the paddle gear, shuffle a few bits of gear, put loads of sudocream on my feet with fresh socks, oh and loads too on my undercarriage to prep for the bike leg.  A full 2 litre bladder in my backpack and an extra 1.5lt in bottles we were off for a 30km mountain bike leg with 3 checkpoints along the way.  
30km on the mountain bike, in the alpine region, on an adventure race, its got to be bigger than expected, and don’t worry it was.  
Firstly the heat was unbearable. The slight rises felt hard. Drinking was solid. We were easily going to need more water than what we had. 
After checkpoint 2 we crossed a creek and refilled bottles, thankfully, and even laid down to cool off as well.
 
And then we met the hike a bike from hell. It just went up and up and up. I remember saying to our team, don’t worry, if we are suffering then so is everyone in front and behind us.
So we chose to break up the climb with a few short breaks.
It was at this point we could see the cracks appearing in our lead navigator, who was really suffering from the heat. When we got back to riding he struggled up even the slightest incline. 
We eventually got the TA 2 at Mt Wills hut and it took a long time, maybe 5 hours? Anyway, it was like a war zone, many teams were taking a long break to regroup from the heat and get some proper food in.
Our team started to pack up bikes and prepare for the trek as Laurent, the lead nav said he couldn’t and wouldn’t be doing any more of the race.  We took our time and gave him time to eat and drink and rest. 
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Then he vomited and the suggestion was he walk up to the next CP at the top of the hill and decide.
We had been 2hrs at that TA but we certainly weren’t the only team with people falling apart and calling it a day.
Laurent called it a day after that CP and as a team, we had 3 left to conquer the trek.
This was huge, maybe 45-50km and was going to take all night long.
Eat, drink, talk, stay on track, find the next CP, tick. Then…Trevor starts to crack.
Wanting to stop, wanting to sleep, cannot eat or drink. So we rest, allowing him to close his eyes, but also to keep eating and ensure he kept drinking.
It was hot still.
Christine and I were fine. Chatting the whole time, asking Trev about drinking and eating, keeping him engaged, moving forward, allowing him rest.
The deeper into this leg we got the more Trevor wanted to stop and sleep. And then the cold change came. Rain, wind, cold rain and wind. 25 degrees into 5 degrees in a matter of minutes. That's the alpine region for you.
We stopped and put on our gear. And then that's when we had to make the call. We could no longer stop and rest and had to keep moving, it was too cold, but Trevor had to rest, and so we called on the Satellite phone to race management and found out another team was at the hut we were going to and a plan to get out would be hatched in the morning.
 
We are now out, but not done.
We must now trek back 4km on T-spur tk to get to the hut part way up Mt Bogong and we are out in the elements with a sick and tired team member who is suffering every step of the walk back.  It is cold, it is wet, it is pitch dark.
And then we finally arrived to find a hut full to the brim of campers and now 10 withdrawn Alpine Quest Adventure racers. 
Our come our crinkly noisy space blankets and some floor space and a couple of hours sleep.  Trevor hit the ground and was snoring, within seconds, finally, he got what he needed.
 
In the morning Maria had organised for 2 cars to come to get us but we had to trek for a couple of hours up and over Mt Bogong to get out and it was still raining and the wind was fierce.
It was probably the most magical part of our entire race, and we all agreed even though we missed out on a result, we were well looked after with such an exit.
 
Would it do it again? hell yes.
Lessons learned of course. 
It was so much fun. I can see why people get totally consumed with the AR scene.
 
Big thanks to Trevor, Laurent and Christine for having me on their team.
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