Ian is working on a fabulous race report for the Adidas Sting in Stirling Race, unfortunately 4 weeks after the race his great masterpiece is still not finished. Something to do with getting back to work and having a life outside racing. So here are a few pictures from the race.
Relaxed chat before the start
Shame we didn’t complete the race as a competitive full course team but we gave it our best shot.
A few photos from our team training last weekend in the Lakes. Not that much in the way of trekking and biking but upteen transitions and a couple of paddles in the boats. Met up with Ben Bardsley to pick his brains about his Saab Saloman days, which was very good and generally ate a load of pringles (which is training if you think about it).
Night nav and tent practise. Thanks to Hope for the great lights.
Montane know how to make clothes reflective
Paddle upwind on Windermere
Ian and Andy practise support strokes!
Thanks to Julbo and Lyon Equipment for supplying the team with Julbo Ultra Glasses. Rather than having glasses with multiple lens options, the Ultras have a photochromic lens which can adjust from very light (cat 1) to pretty dark (cat 3). Now we don’t have to think about clear or dark lenses, one less thing to think about is always good!
There is a slightly more in depth review done by Stu on facewest here.
Last week Renee and I [Stu] went on a 3 day sea kayaking course with Adventure Elements. We went to improve our pretty meagre kayak skills for use in general adventure racing, even though the Swift and Terrex will use Canoes rather than kayaks this year, we thought any time in a boat couldn’t hurt.
Day 1 in the straits
Based not far from the Britannia Bridge, Elemental Adventure use which ever bit of Anglesea is most appropriate to the weather and your skill level. On the first day the wind was howling and the only option was to hide in the Menai Strait. So no atmospheric seas, cliffs or beaches but we spent the day working on general stroke technique especially an efficient forward stroke for long distance racing.
Renee leads the way
Days 2 and 3 were a different story and we used the northwest coast of the island as our training ground. Day 2 was spent on steering whilst maintaining forward speed, examining the effects of the wind and the obligatory rescues.
On day 3 the weather was just about perfect and allowed us to explore the NW coast a bit more and venture into a couple of small races not far offshore. We also spent time on improving our support strokes and I proved that a support stroke done poorly is just rolling practise in disguise.
It was a great 3 days with James and we both came away with better technique and more confidence. Bring on the Ocean Kayak Race next month!
It’s pretty safe to say that paddling is our weakest discipline and needs plenty of work. To this end Renee and I took to the Leeds and Liverpool canal in Silsden on a pretty dreary Saturday for a 2 hour paddle up and down.
Canals aren’t the most challenging paddling environments but they are pretty good for continuous paddling at an aerobic level and basic muscle adaption for those who haven’t done much. If fact it is quite challenging to get under a bridge with only 40cm of clearance. After nearly capsizing, it turns out the best trick is to lean over on one hip and hang on to anything you can under the bridge and pull yourself through.
In 2 hours we paddled to Skipton and back with just one 10m portage. At the end my core and shoulders had been worked but my legs felt like new. However when I went biking on the Sunday, it out turned out you use your legs more than I had realised.
I don’t think Montane thought about sea kayaking much during the design brief of the Athena Jacket but like any good piece of clothing it can do many things pretty well. I would also recommend a waterproof cap like the pace cap to keep off the rain! I’m sure there will be many more little workouts like this one.
Had an amazingly clean and dry bike ride on Tuesday night. The frozen mud furrows were a bit tricky but the complete lack of water and mud mid winter was just a joy. Andy got a bit carried away bunny hopping the drainage curbs on the Keithley gate road mid loop but we climbed back up and carried on. A full team turn out for a 2 hour night ride around Ilkley Moor and then tea and toast back at my house for general team admin.
My first paddle with the Leeds Canoe Club and a great day out. Listed as a beginners trip, which as far as whitewater is concerned I certainly am, but there were a couple of grade 3 rapids that were safe enough for us to have a shot at if we felt up to it. The leaders chose a section that began with some grade 1 water and then a few bits of grade 2 for us to warm up on.
Easy water to warm up.
As we paddle down there was plenty of eddying in and out for us to get the hang of and the obvious challenge of getting a river boat to go in a straight line. The water and air temperatures were both very kind for the time of year.
White water but only just
All the action came in the bottom third of the river. There were several more complicated and sustained rapids for us to cope with, although I didn’t always cope that well!
Top section of the best/worst rapid
Two thirds of the way down but I capsized on the last drop and had to swim to the waiting group!
As far as adventure racing goes whitewater skills aren’t that important but I figured any canoeing will help, plus give me more confidence and knowledge around boats and rafts. Next will be some more of this and some time in the sea kayak. If you are local to Leeds check out the Leeds Canoe Club.
I think I might be the might be the worst paddler on the team, or that could be Ian, anyhow I need to improve my canoe skills. I’ve done a few pool sessions with Leeds Canoe Club and it was time to get out on the river.
Nice day on the Wharfe
Why did I enter a winter series?…again!
Last sundays Open 5 in Bacup was another survival classic. The air temp was just a few degrees, it rained, sleeted, snowed and the wind blew. All that made things difficult, but not quite epic, what really made it biblically unpleasant was the surface water on the bike. There was a lot of track that was paved or cobbled and it was covered in running water. Your wheels sprayed that icy cold water on you continuously as you rode, making any descents totally bone chilling. There were plenty of retirements from the under equipped and those who just thought it wasn’t worth it but not us! That’s not to say we didn’t suffer from the cold and I should have had another layer with me but we got round.
Pretty much sums up the conditions - Photo James Kirby Open Adventure
This year in the hills west of Perth, mainly between 500 and 800m in height. Not a particularly popular area for walkers so large areas without much path. The ground was a combination of quite runnable grass, marchable mid height heather and horrible peat hag. Day 1 was very wet and combined with the surface conditions made for very tough conditions for the feet. On Day 2 the weather and ground were better, plus the packs were lighter so more pleasant all round. Despite the temperature being average for the time of year, the rain and wind combined to give many teams problems with the cold and there were a fair number of retirements both on Day 1 and the morning of Day 2. Needless to say not from Team TotalXC. Three of the team were out with Ian still protecting an improving knee.
Renee and Andy raced together in Long Score and I raced with a mate, Nick, in A. Renee and Andy had some problems on Day 1 and despite scoring well were pretty late into camp and picked up a large (but nowhere near the largest) penalty. Nick and I had a good day with one pretty bad nav error in the middle but came in 6th, which put us in the chasing start for Day 2.
Day 2 for Renee and Andy was good and they placed 33rd in their class for Day 2, however the Day 1 penalty was too much to overcome and finished 75th overall. Nick and I caught the team in front of us on Day 2 but never managed to overtake them. We were 4th fastest on Day 2 but still finished in 6th overall.
Everyone enjoyed themselves and the all important process of turning 4 experienced people into a team took another step forward. It was my first chance to test out some Montane equipment and I was hugely impressed with the Spetkr Smock. A full eVent 3 layer jacket at a lean 210g. I had the Spektr on from start to finish on both days and as always the eVent was really comfortable. The jacket does not have much in the way of features which is just the way I like it. Really looking forward to getting some more of their kit.
Prizes go down to 6th!