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Recent Event Reviews
Pete's Cycling Weekend
On 10th September an elite crowd of SHOT members gathered for the group's first ever cycling weekend at Kilnsey in the Dales. Saturday started out really sunny and most of the group pedaled their way off on a 50-odd mile circuit past Malham. Pete was chief mechanic and Swiss Steve provided the world's best pump. During the fixing of one of the two punctures we were entertained by a flock of dancing sheep.
After a number of easy miles on the flat we encountered the first of the real hills of the day which soon stretched out the group. Most of the time we were cruising along en masse which was excellent fun because it is both easier and more sociable.
A chance meeting with Darren and Gus at lunchtime was followed by a pub visit and then a race back to the bunkhouse. The race was between Mashy and Yvonne in a car and the quicker of the cyclists. As I recall the cyclists won thanks to a slight intervention from nature. Other members of the group found their way to the Cray Inn by various means, including Mark Stevenson who felt compelled to run there!
On Sunday, the rest of the group decided to visit the Cray Inn on bikes to see what all the fuss was about. Katherine very bravely rode on the back of one of the tandems as Mashy had his first try at riding on the front of it. It brings back memories of a ride that once I did with Rachael...!!
To conclude I must say a huge thank you to Pete and Katherine for a very enjoyable weekend! (The actual distance travelled is a vague memory).
Dorset Despite the gale force winds and rain that were sweeping the country, Dorset experienced the last hot weekend of the year. The perseverance award goes to Curly Chris. His car broke down in Ipswich in the morning, so he paid £50 for a train ticket to Dorchester and then hired the only taxi man in town who didn't know where the hostel was.
Wedding photos and even more wedding photos of Chris and Rachel, freshly back from their wedding/honeymoon in Mauritius, circulated the lounge for much of the weekend, although there didn't seem to be many snaps of the country beyond the hotel complex.
Gustav, Darren, Howsey, Julian and Curly Chris completed a 16 mile, 4pub walk along the coast path to the Oldie Worldie village of Abbotsbury, although Julian's pint of shandy in each pub doesn't qualify him as one of the 'boys' yet. Lulworth Cove proved the attraction for many on Sunday where Katherine and Lisa braved the waters for a swim whilst Pete and Steve braved the ice creams on the beach. Baby Wadds had to be restrained from both.
Gustav, Julian and Nessie went Granny spotting in Weymouth on a promise of a glass or two of sherry and only received tea and one biscuit instead. Meanwhile, Howsey was giving a greater insight into the history of the Cerne Abbas Giant chalk figure complete with its phallic symbol. Quote of the weekend goes to Nessie who, on seeing the Cerne Abbas Giant for the first time says, "It's not as prominent as I expected". Obviously Nessie must be spoilt for choice these days.
All in all it was a very enjoyable weekend for a select band.
Chris Musson - See Dorset Article.
Mark Hows - Mark has recently undergone surgery to donate his bone marrow to a sick child. It certainly made me think about the lack of donor card in my purse - how about you? If anyone is interested about joining the bone marrow donor list I'm sure Mark can give them information.
Accounts - Our funds have suffered a recent blow. Rules and Regulations see later.
Millennium Madness - Where will you be counting the 000s?
Your Newsletter Thank you all for your recent articles. I have been inundated with accounts of members' latest adventures and even poems. Tom has be running up hills, as usual. The Girls took a long distance stroll in Yorkshire and Cat has been ghost hunting in Cornwall. In order to retain their content I am adding them as attachments this time but it looks as though I need to expand Over the Hill in the new Millennium.
Remember, this is your Newsletter so please keep sending me your articles about recent trips or details of forthcoming ones as well as anything else you want to share with everyone.
Also, don't forget the Website at http://www.homeusers.prestel.co.uk/hows/inter/shot/shot.htm Contact Mark H if you have any pictures or articles you would like to add to the site.
If you wish to find out what Lynne has been up to in Japan then visit her Website at http://www.donaldsonl.freeserve.co.uk/home.html.
Finally, may I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year,
Congratulations to John and Jill on the birth of their daughter Rachel. Also, congratulations to Mr. and Mrs. McCarthy on their wedding in Mauritius. Welcome to Cara, Heather and Tara who recently joined SHOT. Cara joined in a moment of madness on the 'Girlie' weekend, while Heather and Tara, who travelled to Dartmoor for the April trip have decided that they could possible stand another SHOT experience! The Boys versus Girls debate has been hotting up. Is it sexist and exclusive to have 'boy only' or 'girl only' trips? Should we judge them by miles or pints? Should we mention them in the Newsletter? Well, as these trips are private it is up to the organiser who they should invite and anyone who doesn't see that the rivallry is all a bit of fun should go and find a sense of humour!
Rules and Regulations
Unfortunately due to the reduced attendance on the Dorset Trip we had to subsidise by £100. As the yearly income to the club is approx £150 per year this placed a hefty dent in our accounts. In order to prevent a recurrence of this I am suggesting we should apply some simple rules.
If you have any suggestions or comments on this then please let me know.
The Last Word.
And Malt does more than Milton can
To justify God's ways to man.
Ale, man, ale's the stuff to drink
For fellows whom it hurts to think.
A E Houseman
We drink to one another's health but spoil our own.
Jerome K Jerome
Sigg 24hr Adventure Race
My heart pounded in my chest. Where is it? I said to myself. With trees barring the way, I'd been crawling up the stream-bed for 10 minutes. Cuts and grazes covered my arms and legs. I was up a certain creek and with no paddle in sight. I knew I should have taken that other turning
You'd be forgiven for believing that this is part of a new Hollywood "Indiana Jones" style blockbuster or an Army assault course. It's not, just a nice weekend out at an Adventure Race. Of course, being lost and crawling up stream-beds is entirely optional and not recommended, yet somehow I seem to end up there all the time.
Adventure racing is growing fast in the UK and ACE Races has established itself as the premier adventure race series within the UK with six events this year. The Sigg 24hr Adventure Race was the 4th ACE Race of the year and would take the form of a 24hr "Stage" Race, the first of it's kind in the UK.
The weekend race was split into five stages and encompassed paddling, running and biking, with a fair dose of navigating. Three events were to be attempted during the Saturday - Canoeing, Orienteering and Mountain Biking (MTB). The idea was relatively simple, well simple compared to Nuclear Physics. You could do the three events is any order and at any time up until 9pm. A total of 500 points were available in each event, collected by punching a card at various controls, each worth a different amount. They consisted of a punch and a small, sometimes very small, flag. The choice of how much to do and which order to do it was up to the competitors.
This would be followed by the mysteriously named stage 'The Planets'. The details of which were unknown until 8pm that evening, but it would include biking and orienteering - at night. This would continue through the night finishing in the early hours of the morning. The decision to sleep is up to you. The race would finish with a 5 hour MTB Orienteering event, just to make sure that you'd had your money's worth.
After marking all the controls, my partner Keri James and I decided upon our course of action. We would start with the orienteering course before the day became to hot and while the legs were still fresh. To let our legs recover we would then go canoeing, finishing off with trying to get as many points as we could from the MTB section in whatever time remained. Well it was a plan you always need a plan.
The start line was a somewhat bizarre and unique situation being made up of competitors either on bikes or running kit. In best Ted Rogers style the starter counted down 3-2-1 and the competitors all headed off in seemingly random directions, all with their own plan. We headed off toward an area of forest and moorland for the orienteering stage. The controls were placed at strategic points within the area. Typically controls were placed within ruins, some on junctions of streams others on hill tops. Being slick with the navigating is crucial with these events. Regularly, slower competitors beat seasoned sprint merchants by using their heads and concentrating on navigating. This is especially true on the orienteering sections where the navigation tends to be more technical. As for night navigation, well that takes a special type of sadist.
After the orienteering we headed back to the event centre for my favourite discipline….mid race refuelling. The time you take to stuff your face between stages is up to you. The question is…do you stop and rest, then try to make up the time, or do you keep on going? Taking slightly longer than a Maclaren pitstop we were on the road within 20 minutes.
Next was the Canoeing stage. An 11km bike ride was required just to get to the lake. Upon arrival the canoes required inflating. Since the pumps didn't work properly we had to inflate by hand, or rather by mouth. Anyone who has used a Sevylor canoe will know of the lack of space in what is essentially a 7ft inflatable Banana. Luckily for us, neither Keri or I are blessed with height and so managed to fit. We tried to get to grips with paddling a banana and soon found that it had an optimum speed - slow. Any attempt to go fast meant a lot of effort. The controls were usually located on spurs and re-entrants, but a couple were actually on islands in the lake. Obviously the organiser had fun putting those out. Upon return to the shore we had to bike back to the event centre.
We were now to learn our next lesson - don't assume you understand the instructions. A misunderstanding of how long we had to finish the canoeing left us with less time than we had planned. Now the race was on. Could we cycle 11km with 250m of climb, half of which was off road in 30 minutes? Well actually no, but we did do it in 32 minutes, which cost us only 4 penalty points. Just to add to the complex organisation, any team back late would be penalised points based on the amount of time over the deadline.
Next was the MTB stage. This is a relatively new pursuit and mixes cycling with navigation, usually around forests. Most people would think that you need the latest kit and fancy full suspension bikes, this is all well and good, but what you really need is a map board. This handy device saves a lot of time, allowing you to keep riding whilst reading the map. Unfortunately it removes the "oh got to stop and look at the map" excuse for a rest.
A Thunderstorm had appeared and was intensifying, rain was belting down and thunder crashed along the valley. It was one of those "Why are we doing this?" moments. Our nadir was whilst collecting a control along a bit of singletrack. Suddenly the sky turned white and a deafening clap of thunder ringed in our ears. Never one to overstate a situation Keri merely said "Spooky". I was thinking more of changing my cycle shorts. Back at the event centre, Keri remarked, " It's was bit scary, especially when you've got 20lbs of metal between your legs." for some reason he was very popular with the ladies after that.
With the rain continuing, the organiser took the wise decision to postpone the overnight section. The revised schedule would mean starting 'The Planets' at 6am and finishing at noon. No fifth stage would be used.
A surprising, but very welcome night of sleep was enjoyed and six am came too soon. So what awaited in the last six hours? A trip around the solar system. Each planet contained controls, with the event centre as Earth. The further the planet from the sun the higher the points value. i.e. Mercury was worth 100 points and Pluto 400 points. You had to choose a planet, mark the controls, plan your route and visit the controls. Then you had to return to Earth, pick another planet and repeat the process, until the time was up or you fell over from fatigue. Some of the planets required a long ride and in it made sense to get all of the controls once there before returning to start the next one. We decided to go for the highest points and so we were off to Pluto.
The thunderstorms had been replaced by that penetrating drizzle only found in Britain, the Eskimos have hundreds of words for snow, we have hundreds for rain, and used most of them during the race. Some of the controls were off the main tracks and so required some running as well as biking. After 2 hours we returned to ACE Base with Pluto done and deciding which planet to do next. Mainly for all the poor jokes it allowed, we plumped for Uranus (it was also worth 350 points).
To get to Uranus (ho ho) we had to slingshot past Mercury (The organiser had come up with all the technical terms and a career at NASA beckons). I can tell you now Uranus is huge, and after an hour and a half we had got the controls and completed re-entry back to Earth.
Saturn was located by the Coed-y-Brenin café and so promised some technical riding, or for me running with the bike. For those who don't know this area it is an MTB dedicated forest, where bikers have priority and a number of excellent technical trails have been constructed. After an hour and a half of running with the bike we returned to the event centre. With a few minutes remaining we had a quick trip to Mars. Upon finishing we were shattered after 17 hours competition in a 26-hour period. I wonder what we would have been like doing 24 hours straight?
The last stage was the hardest, the post race massage. Phil Green supports these events with a tremendous massage that will have you screaming in pain on the couch, but reaping the benefits as soon as you get of it.
All in all a brilliant event, enjoyed by all the competitors, despite the weathers best efforts and anyone looking for a fresh challenge and fun, would have to go a long way to beat an ACE Race. In fact they'd have to go out of this solar system.
Herriot / Penny's Way
"This is going to be a piece of piss!"
Surprisingly, to many of you, these were the famous words of Penny, our intrepid explorer, as we were setting out.
Unsurprisingly, to many of you, she ate them later.
The first morning brought rain but we didn't mind (much). First stop, 3 miles into the expedition, we managed to gatecrash Bolton Castle (well we weren't going to actually pay the 10p entry fee were we?).
A further half a mile, our intrepid explorer pointed out the short cut we could have taken. To which she was replied "We're not going the short way, we're going the Herriot Way...". Yet another quarter of a mile ensued and our intrepid explorer was begging to be allowed to "get a taxi".
Later that night, as we took a long cut to Grinton YH from the pub, amidst jungle-rainstorm type rain, we were all (secretly of course) beginning to agree with her... Not least when we found ourselves running through the YH in our underwear because the drying room was outside housing our soaking wet clothes. Talk about raising eyebrows..............
The next three days mainly consisted of:-
· being filmed at Reeth Market
· Penny being smitten by Keld YH warden
· Zoe and Cara annoying the wildlife with constant hysteria
· Justine sprinting up a cliff
· Jayne being told she was "up for it" by some strange mountain men.
And of course, Daisy's Dollops!
Not forgetting the essential pink nail varnish, excessively late nights (and white pumps), pool chalk, happy ham and a wild and kicking pub crawl around Hawes.
An exceedingly good time was had by all, EVEN our not-so-intrepid explorer! More girly times are on their way......
Zoe and Cara.