Dawn - Sometimes An Ultrarunner

Dawn - Sometimes An Ultrarunner

March 5, 2012

AR Team Training, Peak District

Got some long adventure races planned this summer, including the 2-day Adidas TERREX Swift and Expedition-length Sting.   These 4-person team races require a lot of teamwork, so it's good to get to know the guys and gals you'll be racing with.   Our team (Jon, Gavin, Tony, Sarah, and I) has a few geographical challenges, so it rare for all of us to get together at once, nevertheless, we managed it this weekend for some (big surprise) biking, running, and canoeing, the staples of AR. 

Photos courtesy of Sarah Keast
 Saturday started early with a long MTB in the Peaks.  We hit all the weather groups, including rain, fog, hail, rainbows, wind, cold, and sunshine.   Starting and ending in Glossop, our route included the infamous Jacob's Ladder descent, which I had no intention of riding.  I got down a little of it, then managed to upclip both of my feet from the pedals, resulting in saddle and handlebar contact points suddenly seeming quite tenuous with my feet dangling in midair!   Walking commenced shortly after I screeched to a halt.  Whereupon I noticed that my back wheel had almost come off, probably due to a rock hitting the quick release.   Narrowly escaped damage on that one, but the bottom of the hill was in view.  Whew!

Bumped into Clair Maxted in Edale, (who snapped this photo before sinking into the bog on Edale Skyline)
Gavin's route planning was excellent, lots of hills but mostly rideable bridleways (except for Jacob's Ladder of course).   We happened to come upon a checkpoint for the High Peak Marathon, which is a 42 mile night navigation challenge for teams of 4 through the notorious bogs of the Peak District.  With the fog of the previous night I was doubly glad that my team hadn't gotten selected to compete this year! 

I'm helping, really!
 Somewhere in the middle of the ride one of us (who shall remain nameless) lost a front brake, which ensured a few lectures on proper bike maintenance, and a quick stop at the bike shop in Hope.  I was very helpful and laid down in the sunshine, while the bike mechanic called the remains of the brake pads "the worst he'd ever seen".  In fact the brake fluid had drained out from the extreme wearing, so we were down for the count.  Our remaining route (of necessity) took on a flatter profile (we were all grateful) and we spent not a few miles along a canal towpath.  Where, I'm not sure, as I had no map.  One last steep hill, with great views of sun on the Peak District hills was still on order.  We finished off with a final "wheee" down the tarmac from Snake Pass into Glossop, managing to break the speed limit coming into town (on a bike, which must be legal). 

But the day wasn't done yet, first a quick change into running clothes for a fell run, which I was dreading.  I advertised my reluctance by not carrying a pack and hoping that would be a hint to get back quickly!   A couple of miles into the hills, Jon and Tony started talking about rounding out our 51 mile bike with enough distance to make 100 kilometers on the day.  I quickly added that up in my head and it sounded too long.   We took a vote, the team split up, with Sarah, Gavin and I sticking to the shorter route.  In fact, as soon as Tony and Jon were out of side, Gavin said "Right you lot, let's head back for early showers and a beer".  We didn't argue as the darkness and rain arrived simultaneously. 

After crashing in Jon's living room for the night, we had one last session planned, a canoe training day on Torside Reservoir.  Unfortunately for us, it was just above freezing and raining.  Wetsuit, full waterproofs, 3 pairs of socks, etc....didn't begin to keep me warm.  And that included the prior decision that falling into the water might be a bad idea.  Gavin and I paired up in a boat, I took the power position at the front, with less steering responsibilities.  Unfortunately Gavin's shouted directions of "power, power! Power!!" did nothing but make me hysterical with laughter, and my paddling suffered greatly with me rolling on the seat instead.  We did get down to business eventually (mostly in an ineffectual attempt to stay warm), and we managed several lengths of the lake in a more or less straight line. 

One by one we wilted in the cold, with first Sarah, then me, then Gavin calling it quits.  Jon was still gung-ho and managed 5 hours out on the water...I learned a few more pieces of kit that would have been handy to keep me warm.  Yet again (and probably many more times to come), I regretted the switch to canoes from kayaks in this summer's adventure races.  They are much harder to steer, much colder than covered kayaks, and a darn sight clunkier to carry around. 

But a good weekend together as a team for sure.  With a few more sessions planned before the Swift AR in June, we should be ready to go!

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