Dawn - Sometimes An Ultrarunner

Dawn - Sometimes An Ultrarunner

December 11, 2012

Dark/White MTB Orienteering, 9 Dec 2012

What a wacky weather weekend!   On Saturday morning, I was up in the Dales for a short run, and it was cold, calm and clear with few inches of snow on the ground.  Unexpected, really, as there is no snow in Harrogate at all.  It was cold enough I actually wrote my teammates in the Peak district to ask if conditions were icy down there, as the next day I was supposed to ride my mountain bike in a race.  Never recommended when black ice could be around! 

The Peak district wasn't as snowy, and indeed one of my teammates was racing in the Dark/White event as well.  So we met up early the next morning for the 3 hour orienteering event.  I was miserably huddled in my car, as conditions were definitely not icy anymore.  The temperature had risen considerably above freezing, but with it had come buckets of rainfall (isolated over the Peaks, from what I can tell of the radar after the fact).  It was also what I call gale-force windy...the kind of wind that should not happen unless a hurricane eye is nearby, but somehow does anyway. 

We convinced ourselves that since we were there, we should get out of the car and go race.  Gavin and I stuck together for company in our miserableness, along with Nick, who left us behind on the first big hill.  Starting out of a valley town called Hope, as in I "hope" I get back to the car so I can warm up and dry off!, so our only option was to go up a hill.  We choose to go up a hill into the wind, and struggled just to go forward.  At one point, I was pushing my bike up the hill, and a big gust of wind stopped my forward progress, and pushed me back down the hill a few steps.  Impossible to describe how scary that is. 

Gavin met a woman halfway up the hill who had lost her map to the wind (it was probably in London already) and gallantly gave her his map, so he was stuck with riding by my navigation then.  She went on to beat us, how fair is that!?!

Once at the top, our route choice took us along country lanes flooded with rainwater.  Except that the day before they had been frozen, and still had large ice chunks floating in them.  At that point I bitterly regretted not wearing my waterproof socks for warmth!  Although after riding through a deep puddle with water up to my bike axles, it would have gone over the top anyway.   My feet started a slow decline into a state of frozen numbness. 

Our route choices kept leading us farther from Hope, only to be taken partially literally.   In a few lucky sections we flew along with our backs to the wind barely touching the pedals with our frozen feet.  With an hour to go, we turned for home and found that there was a lot of downhill between us and Hope, and even the wind wasn't an issue.  At some point the sun had even come out, which between the wind and the puddles we hadn't really noticed!  I guess there is hope for us after all.  We finished 10 minutes early, which wasn't a minute too soon to save my wooden feet, which I thawed out with dry socks, warm tea, and the car heater.  Plus I gave Gavin a ride to his in-laws and got invited in for a meal! 

Postscript:  After taking my map off my mapboard, which had been folded on fairly carefully to avoid losing it to the gusts and wet, I noticed that we had missed a nearby control which was under a crease.  Bummer.   The trials of wind and rain.  

But it was fun anyway.  Did I just say that?

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