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Race Report 2011

Mountain Designs GeoQuest 2011 - Race Report Team Midnight Sun - Facing Adversity.

Original Report at

Our Geoquest story begins with XPD. We had the team organised and Geoquest was to be a bit of a trial run.

Rachelle decided to put the first spanner in the works by trying to see if her mountain bike frame was stronger than a wall in the Capital Punishment 100k. It wasn’t and the side effect was a broken scapula and related damage. So Rachelle was out. No matter Ben came on board. Ben is a great team mate to race with so all good. Rachelle was going to support too – bonus.

Then Anna decided to have her turn. She managed to fracture her wrist. No problems it was going to be healed in time for Geoquest. However, slipping over in the wet and avoiding hurting her wrist further meant landing hard on her backside and injuring her back. Anna was out and only weeks to go. So we put the word out to get another team member and Anna was a second support person.

Mean time I decided to pull a calf muscle. No worries, 4 weeks and it should be healed. After two weeks not looking good, so back off any running or walking get some physio and massage, and fingers crossed. Maybe this is an excuse to avoid running during the event.

Justin was found as our fourth so things were coming together again. Then the Monday before the race starts I get a phone call from David: ‘Hi, just ringing to give you the heads up …’ Oh oh. And not good news. Anna and David had a funeral to attend on the Friday Geoquest compentency checks were supposed to happen. Bugger, I thought that was it and Ben, Justin and I would be starting unranked. But no, David was going to drive up with gear and fly back on Thursday, attend the funeral and fly back on Friday afternoon. Email to Craig to get the OK and awesome – we are back on track to start.

Friday morning and I pick up Ben early to drive up. Both of us sniffling away – two colds. Unbelievable. We just figured when the race started our bodies would not have time to feel off and the colds would go. We’ve run out of fingers to cross but here’s hoping.

Then, Friday afternoon Ben decides his brakes need bleeding. After some mucking around there is this fluid stuff coming out around the brake levers. Mmm. Luckily I had put a spare bike in so some quick canibilisation and the rear brake from spare bike moved onto Bens bike. Whew, what is next.

David and Anna arrived and we completed the kayak compentency and swim in the dark and we were ready to go. Dinner at the club and contact and organise maps and we are all good to go. Epic and we have not even started the race.

Race starts. Justin has only been kayaking a couple of times so this ocean thing is new. So to top things off a nice set came in just as we launched off the beach. Justin and David got toppled by a wave – not a good start. After getting some help moving to the side of the break they eventualy got back in and emptied. Oh, I forgot to mention that David’s pump battery died on the Friday as well so they had to pump out with the manual pump. Oh well. A slow start but we all got organised and off we went.

Turns out while the swell was not that big there was a bit of a messy sea (chop) around. Justin was feeling a little tippy in this unfamiliar environment but was getting the hang of this ocean thing. About half way up the kayak leg David and Justin fell out again, so we moved the battery from my kayak to theirs so they could use the electic pump, got organised and then Ben noticed a paddle in the air a few hundred metres off. Man – were we ever going to get anywhere?

So over to the paddle in the air to find two guys beside their swamped kayak – the rear hatch cover was off and one of them was already cold. Turned out they had been there almost 30 minutes, and no sign of their team mates. Phone call to Craig to get rescue boat on its way. Put the cold guy into one of our boats then mucked around trying to get a double mirage full of water empty. Not easy with the rear compartment flooded. Rescue boat arrived and we handed over. We will always remember the shivering guy saying ‘I hate the ocean. I’m from the country’. However, it was a reminder that things can easily get serious in these races.

Time to make some progress. With all the mucking around we lost track of where we were and ended up heading way further out than we needed, but spotted the surf club and headed back in. One leg over, 9 to go.

Off on the mountain bike leg right at the back of the field. We can only improve from here. But then 100 metres off the bitumen a stick went through my deraillure. Carbon fibre cage stood no chance. I have no idea where the second jockey wheel ended up. Fifteen odd years of mountain biking and adventure racing this has never happened to me or anyone on my team. Why now?

So 30 minutes of bending and chain breaking and I have a single speed. Good, lets go get the second check point. Not quite so good. I could not push up the hills and the chain jumped under any decent load. We had decided to do a four way split at CP2. Justin the pack horse was going stright through to blow up the rafts and lilos, carrying the big pumps and two split paddles was well. I like this guy – I’ll race with him any time. Ben, David and I were going different ways to collect the check points. Seeing as my chain was playing up we changed a bit so I got the shortest route and off we went. As it turned out I had to stop and tinker with the single speed a couple of times but arrived just in time to avoid blowing up any lilos or rafts. And the guys had worked out a good system. Maybe things are looking up.

The rafting, next kayak leg and next trek leg went pretty smoothly. Got to hear the story about David following Ben across a river only to find out after he stepped in that Ben had actually swum across and was not walking on the bottom. David should have taken that as a hint because on the trek leg David decided to follow Ben’s lead to dive onto bushes only to completely disappear. We could hear his voice buy could not see him. Eventually this hand appeared up from the bushes for us to drag David out. Very entertaining for a Saturday evening.

Our support crew had also gone back to get my spare bike and found a bike mechanic to swap the derailleur and chain from the spare bike over so my bike was good to go. Can’t say I was going to miss the jumping single speed and walking up mild gradients.

The next legs were pretty straight forward and our confidence was coming back. We started moving up the field too. Duncan managed to put is front wheel in a hole, went over the bars, and the front tyre was pushed off the rim. Thankfully Ben had a CO2 cylinder and after cleaning a few leaves out of the rim, a quick squirt from the cylinder and we were off. Saved mucking around with putting a tube in and maybe luck was turning a little. Put in a unnecessary small dog leg on the trek leg up to transition at CP 13 just to make ourselves realise we should not get too cocky.

From CP 13 it was the car move due to the risk of flooding in the Bellinger river. About halfway down the car move Ben started making noises about his race bib. After some scratching around there was no sign of it. Bugger, back to the transition to find it. Also turns out that our support crew had left a bike wheel at another transtion. There goes 2 hours. We had been getting closer to the lead male team – oh well.

All that sorted and off we went from CP 18. Another straight forward leg if we ignore the little bit where Duncan put the map 90 degress out from the compass. Focus boys, still a way to go and we could catch that lead male team yet.

The next trek leg and we were getting back to racing. No more mechanical or logistical issues out here. We messed around a little at two places on this leg but kept things moving. We came out near CP 26, the last CP on this leg, to find an official yelling across the river – the course was closed due to the weather. WTF? Craig closing the course because of a little rain? That did not make sense. Anyway we reluctantly gave up on CP 26 and headed over to the official who then explained the vehicles getting bogged and rising river levels. Oh – that made sense, but still a little disappointing to have to end the race.

So lots of good stories for us. Great racing with Ben, David and Justin. Huge thanks to Anna, Emily, and Rachelle.

Next time, no mistakes. We will nail it.













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