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Race Report 2011

Mountain Designs GeoQuest 2011 - Race Report The Cowgirls Ride to the Fireside.

The mighty Cowgirls have finished 4 Geoquest events…. In 2005 we won the Half outright….first time for an all girl team to do that – ever – in an Adventure Race! In 2006 we finished the full course in 53hours….the horror race (until this one) with the hike-a-bike from hell up the steep side of Mt Yarrahpinni…. In 2007 we did the full course and won all-female division…. In 2008 we finished the full course in 42hours and came 2nd to Girls on Top….. In 2009 we raced for 40 hours before having pull-out with a team member in trouble with hypothermia…. In 2010 we went to race in Vanuatu instead… 2011 was very interesting, as you will read….. Now all vintage – we had a completely different attitude to the whole thing….

Everything was going really well for us Cowgirls – we stayed as a herd as Cowgirls don’t like to split, you know – up till we decided to copy Guy & the CBD team with their pack-raft idea and carry 4 bikes on one raft and 4 Cowgirls on another… was a recipe for disaster from the start…… Our little rafts were way too small to fit all 4 Cowgirls inside (we found out Vintage Cowgirls don’t fold up easily….) and one Cowgirl was out the back kicking and trying to keep her torso out of the water…..that worked really well when the river got shallow…..she just walked along pushing the rest of us…..and our bikes overtook us a few times….luckily that load was tied around Aunty Jan’s waist! Just over half way (when nearly every team had passed us..) we decided to stop and rearrange ourselves….the unfolded parts were stiff and numb with cold…..and there was no way we could all get back in again… we pushed and waded and then our bikes tipped over (lucky we had the forethought to secure a bungy around them otherwise they would have sunk to the bottom at that point…) when we finally made it to the TA we were cold & shaky – but fired up again because that was the worst part over…..and we were right! we didn’t really get to the worst part of the race – unless you call fighting for space beside a warm fire with an arrogant cat a problem….

Onto the paddle….. We handled this really well….and probably made up a bit of time once Jules & Lee got the hang of paddling the Sevylors….We took the south fork of the river and glided into the TA to the delight of our crew who had thoughtfully brought us 4 hot Cowgirl coffees!!! Our trusty pack-rafts had to make one more trip before we could stick a knife in them… with hysterical laughter we took off again….at least we didn’t have to take the bikes this time. One of the funniest memories of the race for me is my vision of us bashing through the scrub on the way out to the beach…..following a line of pack-rafts….. We were carrying them on our heads at this point and they looked like a worm making it’s way over the small hills…but occasionally one would collapse into the scrub…then we would all collapse with laughter behind it…. Out on the beach we decided not to deflate our boats so we ran most of the way (still in our paddle shoes) carrying them under our arms…..It was late in the day and about to get dark. Making our way into the TA (the locals must have been most amused…) we were greeting by our wonderful crew who had got us some hot chips (Mmmmm, yum….) and some coke. This was perfect and we tucked into it as we changed into dry clothes for the bike leg that followed…..even though it had just started raining…..the beginning of the end probably….. Riding off with lights blazing we were amongst a lot of other teams at heading to CP 9….and it was a great light show….. The other Cowgirls struggled a bit on the sandy track – that’s why we do sand riding at home – but we got through finally and were on a solid road before long. We were happy to be around Hayley’s team here and there – and we ran into them again after CP9 when yours truly stopped to change a flat in the front tyre…..having tubeless tyres, this involved a simple task of taking out the tubeless valve in the rim and then putting a tube in and pumping it up….easy-peasy….we were riding again in no time…..on the way to CP 10 (where we would spend quite a lot of time if you were watching us on the live tracking…) My back tyre had a hole in it too….. I had noticed it on the start line (goo bubbling out….) but gave it a bit of a spin to hopefully seal the hole….it made it through the first bike leg – and I got the crew to pump it up again before we started the 2nd….. I didn’t think to ask them to change it completely and put a tube in…..they had other jobs to do like getting us hot chips…. Anyway, at CP10 we noticed it had gone down again quite considerably… I thought we might as well stop and change it properly – as the front one was all good now….. When my vintage fingers would not budge the ring to release the valve I engaged the help of the boys on Hayley’s team who tried everything to get it off… no avail….in fact every team that came along had a go at it….even a bike mechanic with pliers in his pack could not budge it…. We tried to bash it out from the top….no go….we tried holding the top and using pliers on the bottom…..we tried every known way to get that thing off besides a hack-saw or a welding machine… was just not going to move….. We weighed up our options…. It was about 20km’s to the next TA at Bellingen if we pushed the bikes and didn’t go through the OOB area….it was dark and raining.. What could we do????? We walked our bikes out to the highway….we were still in the race when we crossed over the wire fence….and like true Cowgirls we jumped at the change to go for a little ride while on the way over …Yee-ha….we cracked up as we tried to get Di over the fence and all collapsed in hysterical laughter when 4 Cowgirls and 4 bikes were finally on the other side…..

At the highway we made the decision to ring our support crew…. We couldn’t get into the tamper-proof bag that the phone was in….When we finally got the bag open we found we didn’t have their number! I rang Louise Foulkes as she was in my phone…. She notified our crew and they would be about ½ hour or so. I ran into a guy who knew me waiting at the highway – told you, it happens everywhere! We have fun while waiting to pull out of the race….well, we just kept having fun as we got to Bellingen (Gary our crew lives there….) and we spent the night in his lounge-room drinking wine and sleeping beside the fire….it was still a happy race….even though we weren’t in it any more. We watched the tracking into the night….and in the morning saw that our Apprentices had finished in 2nd…..Yay for them…..we were overjoyed. We spot MD’s on the trek heading for Brierfield Hall – so we jump in the car and drive up there. First team to come along were Australia’s Next Top Models….they are shattered…..we give them encouragement, food, hugs and I play them a song on the old piano before they continue on….they tell me later they were going to pull out but didn’t have the heart when we were so encouraging….. A+ Cowgirls! Team Blackheart come and go, then the 2nd team… then our friends CBD Cycles….we faun around Andrew as he was our support crew at M2M….Jules even puts his socks on for him. They head off and we await the arrival of MD’s….. I look at the tracker and see MD’s are heading north….I wonder why….then all of a sudden they are in Bellingen…..oh dear….something’s wrong. My phone rings and it’s Kim saying they have pulled out cos Pikey’s sick and had to be taken to hospital…. I drive down to Bellingen and find Kim and Gary sitting beside a fire….Gary was cooking cheese and vegemite sandwiches on a stick….funny! Kim looks terrible, so I bundle her into the car and take her back to Nambucca Heads…..The race is called off at midday Sunday…this has never happened before in a Geoquest…..the weather is unbelievable…

You know the rest of the story… rains and rains and rains….our tent floods….we evacuate to Gary & Kylie’s unit where we all sit around the bed and drink wine….Happy, happy times….even though our races were not that successful! It was great to go to the presentations and see our Apprentices so chuffed and happy – they toughed it out and deserve the accolades….!!!!

Next day we pack up the tent in the pouring rain and drive to the Gold Coast – only just making it through before they closed the highway… What an amazing adventure……that’s all I have to say! Thanks to the other Cowgirls who were so good when we had to pull the pin on the race…..I’d love to race with you all again at some point….Yee-ha









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