Tuesday, 3 May 2016

My OMM Bike Peak District

The week before last saw the final preparations for my first ever orienteering style race, and my second bike event of the year (a Duathlon in February being my first).  As part of my OMM Ambassador role I get the fantastic opportunity to enter OMM events and write about them, so I decided to try the bike event rather than the "Lite" (running) event as it was something different and Caz could do it with me.  
Team GVS ready for action!

In the lead up to the event Caz (my teammate) and I got our kit together and put in quite a few miles on our bikes (road and MTB) and were pleased with our fitness.  Caz has had experience of navigational events before in both running and on bikes, whereas I have never had to use navigational skills before, so I was really excited to give it a go!

At the beginning of the week I had my bike mini-serviced at The Bike Factory - who kindly supplied us with gels, bars and hydration for the event, and, on Wednesday, I competed in my second fell race of the year - the Herod Farm Fell Race.

An array of nutritional goodies
Herod Farm Fell Race in Glossop, Derbyshire is a Category AS race covering 3 miles and 340 metres of climb. Having never done this race before I was quite keen to have a go, especially as I had heard it called "Horrid Farm" by other Goyt Valley Striders!  
Me with Estelle and Helen

I found the course suited me down to the ground as it started off with a proper hill right from the off, and it reminded me of a mini version of the Famous Grouse fell race, which I had done well in last year, managing to be first lady Strider home.   
"She's behind you!"

After the first hill came another hill, one which most of the field walked up due to its gradient, little did I know that the next hill would be a monster! I literally had to use my hands to help and not look down as we ascended the nab (slowly!).  

It was with jelly legs that I reached the summit, and it took a bit of persuasion to get them running again!  I really enjoyed the fast downhill sections which followed, especially a lovely steep smooth grassy field where I managed to pass two runners!  I really went for it at the farm track we had started up, as I knew the finish was imminent.  

Again, I was really pleased to be first lady Strider home, 11th lady overall out of 36 and 3rd in my age category with a time of 34:48, full results can be found here. Definitely not horrid, definitely Herod.

OMM Bike Peak District

Map boards were a brilliant addition to our kit
I was really excited waking up on the Saturday morning, the sun was shining and I felt that I was as prepared as I would ever be, Caz and I looked the part in matching outfits to represent both of our clubs - on Saturday we opted for the Chinley Churners (our cycling club) in our "Beer, Cake, Bikes" tee shirts, buffs and hoodies (which were a good talking point and much admired), and on Sunday we opted for our Goyt Valley Striders kit.  

Caz owns a workwear embroidery and printing company and supplies both of the clubs with merchandise so we were kindly kitted out by a&c workwear for the weekend.  

Wearing my Rotor Vest
Obviously, I also wore my new OMM products which had arrived just in time!  - namely the OMM long sleeved tee which served as an excellent base layer, and I actually washed and dried it overnight and wore it both days.  My new Kamleika Jacket was absolutely brilliant, it is soft, doesn't rustle at all and fits perfectly.  I stayed warm and dry both days when wearing it.  

Team Churners!
The second day was much cooler with stronger winds so I wore my Rotor Vest as an insulation layer, which was really good as it is so thin but lovely and warm, in fact I had to remove my jacket after the first climb!  My trusty OMM Last Drop 10 backpack served me well yet again and fitted all the necessary kit in (just!).

Dexshell overshoes in action
wore Dexshell overshoes on both days - I found they were quite hard to get on, and Caz had to help me with the zip, but once done up they fit really well and my feet stayed clean and warm both days - on the first day we encountered a calf-deep river crossing and it was a few seconds before the water seeped into my shoes.  They dried out over the course of the day so I was really glad of the neoprene keeping my feet snug.  I really gave them some hammer up the boulders of a green lane where we ended up pushing our bikes and the bottom of the overshoes stayed relatively in tact - a big ask!

So, we had all the gear, but did we have any idea what we were letting ourselves in for?! The answer is yes and no, we both anticipated that we would push ourselves and get as many checkpoints as possible, but on day 1 we managed to spend too long getting a 50 point control and it really set us back.  
Control 31 was our nemesis!
The map covering a wide area

We had decided to try to map a vaguely circular route taking in as many controls as possible.  This we did but the terrain was unknown and we found ourselves taking some paths which were slower than taking longer road options. We were also less confident at knowing whether we would be going up or downhill, it was tempting to think north is up and south is down!  We got quite adept at reading contours and meters by the end of the competition!

Eating my way to more space!

Our bike map boards were a Godsend, we could navigate on the move which was brilliant, and we managed to keep moving most of the time.  We had been really organised with food and made everything bitesize and mostly accessible - though at one point I literally had to eat a load of food to make room in my pack for my jacket!

We managed to get 12 controls on the first day, passing through Hurdlow, Glutton Bridge, Hollinsclough, Hardings Booth, Fawfieldhead, Hulme End and Biggin. We were pleased with our route and we ended up doing 27 miles which wasn't too bad considering some of the steep and technical terrain.  Going into day 2 we were well up for the challenge of another go!  In fact, we both said we would have liked 5 hours on both days rather than 5 on the first and 4 on the second!  

Caz with Parkhouse Hill in the background

On day 2 we changed tactics a little and decided to forget trying to get to tricky 50 pointers.  We headed north of the start at Parsley Hay crossing the A515 and heading to Alport.  We seemed to be picking up controls much more often and we were pacing ourselves well.  We saw some lovely places, the village of Alport was stunning and we loved the scenery around there.  After about 20 miles it started to rain slightly, and the wind seemed cooler.  We were crossing exposed arable moorland so we put our jackets back on and continued to our next control.  In the end we managed to get a couple of bonus controls - a total of 11, again covering around 26 miles.

The organisation of the event was excellent.  All of the OMM staff and volunteers went out of their way to accommodate everyone and it was really simple to know what to do - basically get your wrist SPORTident dibber at registration on day 1, have it cleared by "dibbing" it in the little box on both mornings, choose a start time for both days and off you go!  All really relaxed and fun.  The food provided was lovely, especially the cakes!

After the event - tired but happy!
Checking my compass!
I was relieved not to have to wear a competitor number as I didn't want to put holes in my new gear with safety pins!  All of our information was stored on our dibbers which was great!

Overall, our aim was to get as many controls as possible without getting lost, and without coming last! We really pushed ourselves and felt we couldn't have tried any harder. Out of 29 entries we were 21st overall, which for our first go wasn't a bad attempt and the main thing is we had fun!  

Since the event, we have printed out all of the splits to see what the more experienced competitors did differently, the main difference being that they went for as many 50 pointers as possible and travelled further than us. 

Our route planning however was good and we followed similar routes to others so that was reassuring.  On the whole we both really enjoyed the weekend and would definitely do it all again!  Thank you OMM!  

My next blog will cover tips for first-time fell runners, along with more race reports, until then, happy running!


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