RR: Isle of Man Polaris

Discussion in 'Mountain Bikes' started by Huw Pritchard, Apr 22, 2003.

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  1. Andy Chequer was supposedly going to have an RR up on AMB by the time I got home, but I guess he
    just got some kip instead, so here's mine:

    A bit of background for anyone who doesn't know what the Polaris is first. It's an orienteering
    event with checkpoints to visit where you gain points for visiting them. The organisers reckon that
    about 10% of the people who enter do so for the competition, the other 90% do it for the fun of it.
    No prizes for guessing where I fitted in. Originally I was due to ride with my mate Adam (the short,
    blonde Brummie for those who attended AMBUK at Nantmawr) but he was forced to drop out at he last
    minute leading to a phone conversation with Chequer which took surprisingly little effort to
    convince him to join me.

    We arrived at the base campsite for the event around 11pm. There was no lighting, so we had to
    figure everything out for ourselves. Sadly neither of us had a clue about the spare tent we'd
    brought with us, so we had to make do with the lightweight tent I'd brought along for the event
    itself. After a night during which Chequer whinged constantly about how he hated tents, we packed
    everything back up and headed for the start line. A minor problem manifested itself in that we
    apparently hadn't registered properly. I could have done without finding this out five minutes prior
    to start. Much running about like a madman later, we were sorted and started on time, heading down
    the Douglas seafront at pace in an MTB peloton towards the giveout area where we were presented with
    the list of which checkpoints were open. A quick glance at the map and all the teams headed their
    separate ways. The climb out of Douglas saw me overheat due to a poor decision to wear a fleece and
    windproof in weather more suited to just a base layer. Having sorted this out I proceeded with the
    best mistake of the event, running my own team mate off the road. Eventually I got the hang of
    looking at the map and riding at the same time, much to Chequer's relief, although he did avoid
    riding too close to me for the rest of the event.

    We soon(ish) arrived at the first checkpoint. As only an eight figure grid reference is given, the
    checkpoint could be anywhere inside a 100m square, so the description of "Thorn bush 50m South of
    field gate" was quite helpful, although "In the middle of a crowd of mountain bikers" was a more apt
    description of most checkpoints. The next checkpoint was easy to find, just following a long line of
    other people who seemed to have the same route in mind as us. This one was marhalled to prevent
    cheating, something which helped to formulate my theory that all Manx females under the age of 30
    are extremely good looking.

    Taking in a few more checkpoints, it was time to head North towards the overnight camp. As you might
    expect for a rock in the middle of the Irish Sea, the Isle of Man has some rather nasty slopes up to
    the middle bit. We rode a bit, then pushed for a very long while until we got to our second from
    last checkpoint for that day, with spectacular views over the South of the island. A bit more
    pushing/riding and we were on the A18, which also happens to be part of the infamour TT course.
    There's nothing quite like grinding up a hill and being passed by a motorbike at 150mph.

    Coming off the main road we headed onto what is referred to on the Isle of Man as a Greenway Road,
    something UK riders will recognise as a Byway Open to All Traffic. As with many such tracks, this
    one featured deep wheel rutts from 4x4s, tractors and motorbikes. I hate rutts at the best of times,
    but rutts combined with tiredness, a headwind and an improperly secured map holder was a recipe for
    disaster. Heading down at a fair speed, the map holder lunged for me. Panicked, I attempted to steer
    the bike along the rutt with one hand whilst securing the map holder.

    It didn't work, and I crashed. I'm not entirely sure what happened during the crash, but I'm told it
    was impressive. I ended up getting hit at the top of my left buttock very hard with the nose of the
    saddle, leaving a nice bruise which hurt when my rucksack rested on it. We grabbed another
    checkpoint, and hit the campsite. Late. 52 minutes late, in fact. The finish marshalls told us that
    other teams (who had started after us) were still out there, and that they'd have to try very hard
    to be that late. They were all much later than us, saving some face. We managed to pick up a fairly
    respectable (in our opinion) 210 points for our first day, but picked up 300 penalty points for our
    tardiness thus finishing on zero.

    Overnight camp was lovely at first. Sitting in the sun with my little stove/afterburner cooking our
    noodles and having a worrying amount of difficulty drinking a can of beer. We put up the tent,
    noticing that the wind was picking up somewhat.

    After a while, the wind had really picked up and everybody retired to their individual tents to get
    some shelter. At this point I realised the full horror of our campsite. The tent was on a slope and
    the next morning virtually everybody was heard to complain about having to drag themselves back up
    to the top of the tent at intervals the previous night. The wind made things interesting, the noise
    of the tent flapping around being tremendous. Coupled with the noise of Chequer snoring (although
    I'm sure he'll tell you that I'm just as bad) this all did not make for a good night sleep.

    The next morning it was still windy as hell. By this point virtually everybody had donned their
    waterproofs as an extra layer to protect against the wind. Taking the tent down was really fun.

    Heading off again, the plan was to take in a token number of checkpoints to save finishing on no
    points and get back to Douglas and find a pub as soon as possible. This in mind we took things a bit
    more relaxed. The first two checkpoints we missed entirely, instead revelling in a rare bit of
    singletrack pointing down, going straight past where we wanted to go. So much for navigation.

    The two checkpoints we did hit that day were on the other side of the hills that run across the
    centre of the island. Getting to the top we'd climbed up to 1500ft and we bimbled happily across the
    top of the hill happy in the knowledge that Mother Nature had to pay us back that 1500ft somehow. We
    grabbed the two checkpoints (one of which happened to be in the middle of a gorse bush... ouch) and
    headed off for Douglas on the road. After all that time in the saddle even manholes made me whince
    when I hit them, but eventually we found the familiar looking downhill through Onchan into Douglas,
    coming to the finish to find out that we were the first team in. Everyone else had decided to
    actually score points, it seems.

    We handed our control card in, and headed off to the event centre for the food which had been laid
    on, before heading back to the campsite for a shower, then back to the seafront for a night of food
    and drink, along with two other teams, none of whom we'd met before the event (hello Will, Rob,
    Darren and Chris, if you're reading this). The posting of the results revealed that, apart from a
    couple of teams who manged to get a zero score through either retirement or arriving extremely late
    both days, we were the lowest scoring team, something which was rewarded with a prize of free entry
    to the next event, an event which I fully intend to take part in and, after a bit of persuasion, I
    think Chequer will join me in.

    --
    Huw Pritchard Replace bounce with huw to reply by mail
     
    Tags:


  2. Sorni

    Sorni Guest

    "Huw Pritchard" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:[email protected]...
    > Andy Chequer was supposedly going to have an RR up on AMB by the time I got home, but I guess he
    > just got some kip instead, so here's mine:
    >
    > A bit of background for anyone who doesn't know what the Polaris is first. It's an orienteering
    > event with checkpoints to visit where you gain points for visiting them. The organisers reckon
    > that about 10% of the people who enter do so for the competition, the other 90% do it for the fun
    > of it. No prizes for guessing where I fitted in. Originally I was due to ride with my mate Adam
    > (the short, blonde Brummie for those who attended AMBUK at Nantmawr) but he was forced to drop out
    > at he last minute leading to a phone conversation with Chequer which took surprisingly little
    > effort to convince him to join me.
    >
    > We arrived at the base campsite for the event around 11pm. There was no lighting, so we had to
    > figure everything out for ourselves. Sadly neither of us had a clue about the spare tent we'd
    > brought with us, so we had to make do with the lightweight tent I'd brought along for the event
    > itself. After a night during which Chequer whinged constantly about how he hated tents, we packed
    > everything back up and headed for the start line. A minor problem manifested itself in that we
    > apparently hadn't registered properly. I could have done without finding this out five minutes
    > prior to start. Much running about like a madman later, we were sorted and started on time,
    > heading down the Douglas seafront at pace in an MTB peloton towards the giveout area where we were
    > presented with the list of which checkpoints were open. A quick glance at the map and all the
    > teams headed their separate ways. The climb out of Douglas saw me overheat due to a poor decision
    > to wear a fleece and windproof in weather more suited to just a base layer. Having sorted this out
    > I proceeded with the best mistake of the event, running my own team mate off the road. Eventually
    > I got the hang of looking at the map and riding at the same time, much to Chequer's relief,
    > although he did avoid riding too close to me for the rest of the event.
    >
    > We soon(ish) arrived at the first checkpoint. As only an eight figure grid reference is given, the
    > checkpoint could be anywhere inside a 100m square, so the description of "Thorn bush 50m South of
    > field gate" was quite helpful, although "In the middle of a crowd of mountain bikers" was a more
    > apt description of most checkpoints. The next checkpoint was easy to find, just following a long
    > line of other people who seemed to have the same route in mind as us. This one was marhalled to
    > prevent cheating, something which helped to formulate my theory that all Manx females under the
    > age of 30 are extremely good looking.
    >
    > Taking in a few more checkpoints, it was time to head North towards the overnight camp. As you
    > might expect for a rock in the middle of the Irish Sea, the Isle of Man has some rather nasty
    > slopes up to the middle bit. We rode a bit, then pushed for a very long while until we got to our
    > second from last checkpoint for that day, with spectacular views over the South of the island. A
    > bit more pushing/riding and we were on the A18, which also happens to be part of the infamour TT
    > course. There's nothing quite like grinding up a hill and being passed by a motorbike at 150mph.
    >
    > Coming off the main road we headed onto what is referred to on the Isle of Man as a Greenway Road,
    > something UK riders will recognise as a Byway Open to All Traffic. As with many such tracks, this
    > one featured deep wheel rutts from 4x4s, tractors and motorbikes. I hate rutts at the best of
    > times, but rutts combined with tiredness, a headwind and an improperly secured map holder was a
    > recipe for disaster. Heading down at a fair speed, the map holder lunged for me. Panicked, I
    > attempted to steer the bike along the rutt with one hand whilst securing the map holder.
    >
    > It didn't work, and I crashed. I'm not entirely sure what happened during the crash, but I'm told
    > it was impressive. I ended up getting hit at the top of my left buttock very hard with the nose of
    > the saddle, leaving a nice bruise which hurt when my rucksack rested on it. We grabbed another
    > checkpoint, and hit the campsite. Late. 52 minutes late, in fact. The finish marshalls told us
    > that other teams (who had started after us) were still out there, and that they'd have to try very
    > hard to be that late. They were all much later than us, saving some face. We managed to pick up a
    > fairly respectable (in our opinion) 210 points for our first day, but picked up 300 penalty points
    > for our tardiness thus finishing on zero.
    >
    > Overnight camp was lovely at first. Sitting in the sun with my little stove/afterburner cooking
    > our noodles and having a worrying amount of difficulty drinking a can of beer. We put up the tent,
    > noticing that the wind was picking up somewhat.
    >
    > After a while, the wind had really picked up and everybody retired to their individual tents to
    > get some shelter. At this point I realised the full horror of our campsite. The tent was on a
    > slope and the next morning virtually everybody was heard to complain about having to drag
    > themselves back up to the top of the tent at intervals the previous night. The wind made things
    > interesting, the noise of the tent flapping around being tremendous. Coupled with the noise of
    > Chequer snoring (although I'm sure he'll tell you that I'm just as bad) this all did not make for
    > a good night sleep.
    >
    > The next morning it was still windy as hell. By this point virtually everybody had donned their
    > waterproofs as an extra layer to protect against the wind. Taking the tent down was really fun.
    >
    > Heading off again, the plan was to take in a token number of checkpoints to save finishing on no
    > points and get back to Douglas and find a pub as soon as possible. This in mind we took things a
    > bit more relaxed. The first two checkpoints we missed entirely, instead revelling in a rare bit of
    > singletrack pointing down, going straight past where we wanted to go. So much for navigation.
    >
    > The two checkpoints we did hit that day were on the other side of the hills that run across the
    > centre of the island. Getting to the top we'd climbed up to 1500ft and we bimbled happily across
    > the top of the hill happy in the knowledge that Mother Nature had to pay us back that 1500ft
    > somehow. We grabbed the two checkpoints (one of which happened to be in the middle of a gorse
    > bush... ouch) and headed off for Douglas on the road. After all that time in the saddle even
    > manholes made me whince when I hit them, but eventually we found the familiar looking downhill
    > through Onchan into Douglas, coming to the finish to find out that we were the first team in.
    > Everyone else had decided to actually score points, it seems.
    >
    > We handed our control card in, and headed off to the event centre for the food which had been laid
    > on, before heading back to the campsite for a shower, then back to the seafront for a night of
    > food and drink, along with two other teams, none of whom we'd met before the event (hello Will,
    > Rob, Darren and Chris, if you're reading this). The posting of the results revealed that, apart
    > from a couple of teams who manged to get a zero score through either retirement or arriving
    > extremely late both days, we were the lowest scoring team, something which was rewarded with a
    > prize of free entry to the next event, an event which I fully intend to take part in and, after a
    > bit of persuasion, I think Chequer will join me in.

    Fun read, Huw -- thanks!

    Bill "but you know Rimmer will have something to say about that 'rucksack resting on the
    buttock' part" S.
     
  3. "Huw Pritchard" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:[email protected]...
    > Andy Chequer was supposedly going to have an RR up on AMB by the time I got home, but I guess he
    > just got some kip instead, so here's mine:
    >
    > A bit of background for anyone who doesn't know what the Polaris is first. It's an orienteering
    > event with checkpoints to visit where you gain points for visiting them. The organisers reckon
    > that about 10% of the people who enter do so for the competition, the other 90% do it for the fun
    > of it. No prizes for guessing where I fitted in.

    <snip>

    > We handed our control card in, and headed off to the event centre for the food which had been laid
    > on, before heading back to the campsite for a shower, then back to the seafront for a night of
    > food and drink, along with two other teams, none of whom we'd met before the event (hello Will,
    > Rob, Darren and Chris, if you're reading this). The posting of the results revealed that, apart
    > from a couple of teams who manged to get a zero score through either retirement or arriving
    > extremely late both days, we were the lowest scoring team, something which was rewarded with a
    > prize of free entry to the next event, an event which I fully intend to take part in and, after a
    > bit of persuasion, I think Chequer will join me in.
    >
    > --
    > Huw Pritchard

    Thanks huw, fantastic. I especially like the prize for coming in last! AMB represent!

    Steve E.
     
  4. Shaun Rimmer

    Shaun Rimmer Guest

    Huw Pritchard <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:[email protected]...
    > Andy Chequer was supposedly going to have an RR up on AMB by the time I got home, but I guess he
    > just got some kip instead, so here's mine:

    <snip plenty IOM madness>

    > we were the lowest scoring team, something which was rewarded with a prize of free entry to the
    > next event, an event which I fully intend to take part in and, after a bit of persuasion, I think
    > Chequer will join me in.

    Great stuff! Glad 'y'all' had some fun, ya mad buggers ',;~}~

    Shaun aRe
     
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