Last week I had my coldest cycle to the station since moving to Cambridge earlier in the year. Finally we’ve got some proper weather, and just in time for Christmas too. There’s frost on the Fens and winter has arrived! Even Bruce was tweeting about playing in the snow. It will certainly make the Quantocks Open 5 interesting at the beginning of January!
That will be the first event of next year and I’ll be racing under the Tri-Adventure banner. Johnny and Sam at Tri-Adventure have added so much to this season with their races and support. 2012 is taking that up a level again. There are five of us racing for Tri-Adventure and, together with the guys and girls at Camracers and some other fast friends we’ve got a pair of entries organised for the expedition length Adidas Terrex Sting race and its little brother the 48 hour Swift next summer.
In the meantime I’ll be focussing on conditioning myself for long hours on foot, in saddle and canoe. And there’s the first of the team training weekends to organise too. The ‘Planning a Beasting’ and ‘Training for an Exped’ posts on my own blog, www.GNJoutside.wordpress.com, have warmed up this topic, and I’ll try here to paint the story.
The whole idea of the weekend is to get out on the ground together. It will be the first time the twelve of us have trained as a group and picking a weekend in January guarantees tough conditions. That’s not solely what we’re aiming for though. We need to understand how we all work, particularly on little sleep and long exercise.
First of all, and always most important, are the people. We have eight racers in two entries and four others who are hoping to put in a team for one of the big races at least. The idea is that whatever happens we’ll have two teams on the start line of the Sting and really I think we’d all like to see three there. This twelve will be the nexus of a training group as we move through the season. Clearly it’s vital to start early and get to know each other and typically it’s next to impossible to find a date that works for us all. The who dictates the when, which is why we’re training in the darks of winter!
Next question then is where. At any other time of year the next question might be what, but when most of the country are sleeping off the mid-winter booze and there’s ice on the ground, a lot of the traditional training areas are frozen off limits. Knowing that the water-bourne weapon of choice for the Sting will be a canoe, it’s important to get some relevant boat time into the plan too. So we need comparative warmth and flat water and hills, of course. Purbeck, Poole Harbour and the hospitality of Brenscombe Outdoors Centre. The where is sorted.
So onto the what. The all important what. Clearly we will have to train up all the races disciplines over time, from rope-work to subterranean nav, but at this first stage, and bearing in mind how unpleasant it could be to stand on a belay in the snow, we’ll be sticking to the hardcore. Trekking, mountain-biking and canoeing, come hell or high water.
Someone, I think it was Russ, suggested we start as soon as we arrive on the Friday night “when we’re tired, like in the race.” This is a cracking plan in a mad sort of way. We’re training for a five day, non-stop event so why not start knackered? So that’s the plan. We arrive Brenscombe on Friday evening, kit up and head out hiking. Four or so hours later, at the witching hour of 2am, we’ll pit-stop back at base to switch to the bikes. Then, as dawn and high tide make their timely appearance, we’ll be into the boats and off round Poole Harbour mixing in some orienteering on the way. An easy 15 hours of work before the Centre’s finest unleash us on their team building challenges. And then finally, 18 hours in, we’ll be done and it’ll be twelve hungry racers who gently defrost for dinner chez Brenscombe.
Question is though will this be enough to light a fire under our training? For me, yes. There is no doubt it will hurt and every certainty I will be happy to finish. Above that though will be the enjoyment of tearing around with a bunch of friends and pushing each other to the limit. I am hopeful too that the plan will be challenging enough, but not too much. Time will tell!
Tri-Adventure, Camracers and friends are training in January, nominally at Brenscombe Outdoors Centre in Dorset, but mainly in the surrounding countryside, as is the way with this sort of thing.
Watch this space for updates or follow @GNJoutside on Twitter for irregular comment from the ground.