For those of us who haven’t orienteered or competed in a Polaris challenge in the past, this race isn’t about setting the fastest time – it’s all about collecting points at checkpoints. The more you visit in the time, the more you score. This being a random adventure, organiser Dan has also added a few twists to the event, though.
Entrants won’t know any of the checkpoints until two hours before the start, limiting the amount of planning that can be done. Each checkpoint will also have a unique point value, depending on how hard it is to get there, based on how isolated it is and the terrain getting there. A mountain pass or summit will have more points versus a road or gravel track etc. Checkpoints are graded by three colours:
- Green, accessible by a road bike/short walk from a road.
- Red, accessible by a gravel bike and a competent pilot.
- Black, mountain summit/pass that will require a mountain bike and a competent pilot.
So far, so good, but there’s some real strategy involved in making judgements about how far you can cover in the time – and riders have a lot of time. The event departs on 19:00 Friday 3 May and finishes at 19:00 on Bank Holiday Monday 6 May. The event is designed to that no one will be able to hit all the checkpoints in the 72 hours, so riders will have to select the route that best balances score and the amount of hurtiness that they can face.
If all that sounds a bit straight forward, the event has a few extra twists. Organiser, Dan Jones, is also the man behind Local Bike Shop Day. This just so happens to be held on 4 May this year. To mark it, all points scored on the Saturday will be doubled. Plus, riders will be able to claim a point for every pound spent at a bike shop that day.
Extra points will be awarded for:
- Summit camping 100 points
- Island camping 200 points
- Cool bothy 50 points
But, beware, failure to return before 19:00 on the Monday will incur a percentage of points penalty. Up to one hour late incurs 5%, two hours 10% and over two hours 50%
Rather than physical checkpoints, or using receipts like an audax, Random Adventure Quest uses a more social method to record your route. Riders are encouraged to post a photo of themselves with their bike at each checkpoint and post them to the Facebook event group. We imagine that it will be good fun following at home and see where riders reach.
Of course, riders must obey national laws and guidelines regarding cycling, so routes must not use footpaths in England. This is also the first event that we’ve ever seen that states that “water crossings must be made by public ferry”. It probably goes without saying that no outside assistance is allowed either.
Dan provided a list of the maps that all the checkpoints cover. There are a whopping 10 to the north of the event start in Clitheroe and 11 to the south. We’ve also heard rumours of a couple of outliers as well, but we wouldn’t want to spoil the fun on the day.
Get out there
The event is mind boggling in scale and we love the, well, randomness and sense of fun – as well as the tactics and sheer endurance involved. Good luck to all the competitors. If you want to find out more, or even enter, check out the Random Adventure Quest Facebook page.
The event is sponsored by: