Jeremy Sainter has sent us this report from Round 6 of the Trailquest Winter League mountain bike orienteering series, which took place in the Northern Peak District. As he write, it combined the best and worst of winter and spring…
“For the final round of the Dark & White 2010/2011 Winter Series it was a fairly inauspicious start to the day as it dawned cold and very damp with a decidedly chilly wind; there were reports of wintry conditions on the higher ground en-route to the event. The forecast however was for an improving picture with sunny spells later in the day but at 8.30 a.m. I don’t think anyone would have been taking bets on that! By the time registration opened it was also raining heavily, but it didn’t put off over 160 starters who streamed steadily through the doors of the Hathersage Memorial Hall to register and brace themselves for the hills and mud to come…
Hathersage proved an ideal location as no matter which way you decided to go there were going to be some stiff climbs to collect a decent points total from the 22 checkpoints and 340 points on offer. People studied their maps intently trying to work out which way to go: clockwise or anticlockwise? bits in the middle first and then decide? Or maybe straight to the café?! But whichever way you decided to go there were some tough climbs – Sir William Hill, Shatton Moor or Stanage Edge take your pick. Luckily the westerly wind although cold was relatively light, given that the competition area was basically all to the west of the start.
A few people hung around as long as possible hoping that the weather would improve but it was not until later in that conditions did get better, maybe the forecast was to be believed after all. Out on the tracks however the overnight rain had created some very interesting off-road conditions. Tracks which had been in great condition the previous day were now covered with a layer of greasy, slippery mud – you really had to watch the corners as the front wheel could easily wash out.
Personally I decided on an anticlockwise route, why because I didn’t want to have to climb up to Stanage Edge after 2 ½ hours of hard riding and I just didn’t fancy starting with Sir William Hill. So decision made, I set off and promptly made a navigational error turning right instead of left adding a good kilometre to the 1st checkpoint. I decided to give the next planned checkpoint a miss (10 points) and try to get back on track with the 25 points under Stanage Edge. That achieved it was down to the south side of Ladybower and another 20 pointer, before heading to Aston, Brough and the killer climb up onto Shatton Moor. For the climb the forecast sunshine had arrived and I had to remove the “boil in the bag” jacket as I dribbled steadily up the hill.
The points were mounting nicely but now I had to make a decision with less than an hour to go (52 minutes & 22 seconds to be precise) do I cut short and head back early or go for broke and head out the Abney & Great Hucklow? Oh what the hell it’s the last event in the series let’s go for it 70 points here we come. As I climbed back up from checkpoint 9 near Eyam (another 20 points) I was not so sure I had made the right decision….it hurt!
I made my last checkpoint bang on 3 hours, OK plus 1 second. Now it was a race for home to preserve as many points as possible. Obviously I was late back, 5 minutes & 24 seconds with the resultant deduction of 7 points so not a bad end to the series and I’m still in one piece physically and mentally!
By the time I returned the sun was out, the sky was blue and the birds were singing – everyone sat outside with their well earned post event cuppas soaking up the warmth…..what a contrast to earlier in the day!
As for everyone else how did they get on? Well it was a cracking performance from Andrew Douglas in 1st place who cleared the whole course 340 points in 2:55:49.
In the Vets category Dan Cook also cleared the course but lost 3 points for being slightly late back, Oliver Cox was 3rd overall with 325 points.
Top lady was Sally Lee in the Vet Ladies with a brilliant 254 points with Ruth Shedden 2nd on 232 points closely followed by Teresa Billington on 230 points.
In the Male Super Vets the evergreen Derek Appleton amassed 310 points; Steve Willis cleared up in the over 60’s with 215 points.
Mixed Class – Helen Gilbert/Neil Longden 190;
Vet Mixed Team – Vanessa Bourne/Mark Condliffe 195;
Super Vet Mixed – Geoff Moorhouse/Andrea Foster 200,
Generation Class – Peter & Alex Williams just edged the with 215 points.
For a full run down of all the results plus Route Browser and Route Gadget go to the website HERE.
To everyone who came along throughout the Winter – thanks for making it another great series – we hope we managed to challenge you as well as provide plenty of enjoyment and entertainment! We’ve got a plenty of events up and coming over the next 2 or 3 months before our well earned summer break – a Peak District MTB marathon with 40 or 75km route options, a two day South Lakes Trailquest event in mid May plus the 11th running of the Trailquest summer evening series – for all event details see HERE.