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Trig's Polaris challenge
by Trig on 13th April 2008
I've been meaning to get round to entering a Polaris for a couple of years now, its just never been convenient mainly due to the DH calendar, but this time I ran out of excuses and got my name down.
You probably know the format, but if you don't its basically orienteering on MTB's: getting points at check points within a set time period, for 2 days with no support carrying everything with you.
This was the Spring stage and based in the Brecon Beacons in deep Wales, starting from Llanwrtyd Wells (near Builth Wells for the DHers). On arriving on Friday night, its been raining so much already that the camping venue has been moved as the original farm is flooded - not a good sign. Anyway, register, then early start on Saturday. Get packed and get started.
Blake pacing in his own "essentials"
The rain is set in and only gets heavier through the day.
Get through plenty of check points and clock up 160 points on day one.
Manage to find a sheep barn for a slightly sheltered but brief lunch.
It's still raining - harder than ever now, but some of the forest riding is really great fun and super sketchy with 1.5" tyres at 60 psi and heavy rucksacks and bike mounted bags.
Front wheel skids are go!
Later stages are tough and we decide to stick mainly to the road and fire trails for the last 3 hours. Finally we trudge through a final bog march, involving my whole bike getting washed away in what turned out to be a 3 foot deep stream, to the campsite.
Note Shankie laffing in the background. Bastard!
Not laughing now is he!
Err, the proper technique....
My heart sinks when I see that its a complete bog and on a hillside. Get set up and get inside as soon as possible. My entire bag is soaked, including my £6 Asda sleeping bag and all my 'dry' clothes for tomorrow. Balls.
Still, we in for this to the end and never even consider quitting, not even when about a third of the entrants ram half made tents into Taxi's and f**k off. No-one has prepared for this, not even the old timers with expensive and proper kit. Everything is wet and muddy. Everything.
I've always considered survival bags just as ruck sack filler, so I haven't brought one. Hmmm, starting to regret that as everyone crawls into theirs like angry hermits. I managed to blag one off one of the retreating - thanks so much to the posh med student girl, I'd have been screwed without it. Hope your early bath was as good as you fantasised. Didn't get any pics of Saturday night - too much trauma.
Sunday morning and the clouds have finally broken, but I have no dry kit and there's frost on my boots that have been in the awning. The campsite looks like The Somme. Keeeeerist I'm tired. Its really cold. Right, chin up, stop moaning, you're tougher than this - get packed up and ready to ride. Eurph, cold feet into wet socks and boots - that was horrible. C'mon, grit your teeth.
Braving a smile.
As we start riding again, we soon realise that everyone is absolutely nailed from the onslaught of yesterday. We pick up a measly 30 points, before finding the valley road back to Llanwrtyd Wells. Its a decision that I'm still happy we made.
Definitely not gonna be near the top spot, but we didn't DNF like so many and we can all laugh about it now.......just.
Thanks to my Canadian - which is different to being American apparently? (snigger!) - team mate Andy Shankie, and the hommies I rode with Andy Nelson, Blake Prime, Ben Allen and Welsh Dan - you were awesome.
Also thanks for the support from Mtb-direct.co.uk and Solidbikes.de - the Pine ruled.
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