You are herePolaris Challenge 2006

Polaris Challenge 2006

Justin's picture

By Justin - Posted on 19 March 2006

Well, the 2006 Polaris Challenge is done and dusted and it was certainly dusty. It's the 10th Polaris Challenge in Australia, and was the best that I have been to (albeit only my third)

The location this year was Delegate, right on the NSW/VIC border. Huw tells us they actually had to officially declare the Black-Allen line for the event as no-one had bothered before...

Liz and I drove down on the Friday, 6 hours with stops. We'd packed the car and actually managed not to overflow this time, the whole approach for the weekend was to be minimalist. Old Man Mountain racks already attached to the bikes, all the gear double and triple checked and 458 rolls of contact - check!

We set up on the Delegate footy field near the goal posts. The landscape was rolling hills and dry, brown scrub. First impressions were this was going to be a great location. Mt Delegate could be seen in the distance - you bet there would be a great checkpoint up there...

So we registered, picked up our bag of goodies, including score-card, power-bars and for the 10th Anniversary Huw had generously supplied a couple of bottles of Polaris 10th Anniversary beer (still in fridge...). The next three hours were spent marking the checkpoints on the map, debating how best to mark the checkpoints, bit of to and fro, pull the contact off and stick it on several times and by 8:30 pm we were both happy with the map marking. Our start time - 08:50 - was very pleasing, a late start makes for a much less rushed get-away and also gives you a lie-in on day 2.

The usual starting procedure the next morning, starts commencing every 10 minutes from 8am. We rode off and grabbed the 'give-out' which tells you how many points each checkpont is worth. All the strategy in the world falls to pieces at this point as there will be a low-scoring checkpoint just where you dont want it to be and a really high-scoring checkpoint where you really didnt want to go. So, we decided that it was up to the top of Mt delegate for the 70 points.

The rest of day one went by in a blur - Liz had a headache, but some pills cured that and my legs felt strong all day. The camp-site was at Craigie, so we ended up doing a big U south from Delegate, East, then winding North to the campsite. Last checkpoint was a struggle - I under estimated the distance so we had some extra riding for the last 10 points and made it in with 1 minute to spare!

Well - settled in, drank two powerades, a coke, and two litres of water and ate a yummy bag of apricot delight, put up the tent and wandered over to check the interim scores and found we had collected 190 points, which we were pretty pleased about - this put us in 5th out of 13 in our category - not bad, we thought. But we double checked our ride for the day, and after a tough struggle with arithmetic realised a 30 point checkpoint had not counted in the interim scores! 220 points - this would put us equal first on points and second by only a few minutes on time (i.e. the other team collected the same points, but faster). So we filled in the 'score query' form. I read another teams form while I was at it - they had saved a marshals tent from the river after a wind caught it, but gotten so caught up in that they had forgotten to clip their card at the checkpoint... no points for them! So, Team 130 put in a claim for 30 points at checkpoint 30 - I could see what might have gone wrong in the counting.

A couple of tense hours passed until the response came and new scores were placed - Yay! it had been a glitch in the count which was corrected - 220 points - wow - that was equal to my entire score for two days on the first polaris I did!

A great nights sleep and up for the 8:20 start (Day 2 start is 30m earlier than your day 1 start). Legs still felt good and Lizzie was raring to go. We followed the same route in reverse, skipping a couple of checkpoints and adding a couple of easier ones close to the camp that were worth more points day 2.

We rode hard and well - came into the finish 4:46 later, collecting another 120 points for the day.

After a great feed, we settled in for the presentations - we were pretty sure we had placed 2nd - and yes we had! A great bag of goodies - an old man mountain rack, nalgene pack and bladder, chain oil and bike tool and a nalgene bottle - all this for second place in Mixed Vets - Over the moon! We could not believe we had done so well.

Then the drive home - but it seemed to pass in an instant as we de-briefed the weekend, congratulated ourselves, back-slapped - no navigation errors (to speak of), no mechanicals, good strategy that rode us to the limits of the time allowed...

Always remember:
- Stick to the best roads possible even if it seems longer - bush-bashing is not, never, ever quicker!
- Avoid ANY hills unless the points are really, really good!

2/13 in Mixed vets
48/211 overall
9h57m45s riding time (of 11:45 total race time out of a possible 12:00)
Max 53.9km/h
Avg 13.1 km/h
total dist 130.57km

We'll be back next year and if you are not there then this is what mountain biking is all about!

Justin & Liz
Team NoBMoB


Best Mountain Bike