Cycle Rogaine Organiser's Report
The area for the cycle rogaine is always a subject of speculation and discussion in the months leading up to the event, so I was hoping to come up with something new. Since scoping around for last year's event, I had my eye on Stromlo Forest, but the big problem was the lack of a suitable map. The CMA Canberra 1:25000 sheet is almost completely useless - obvious at a glance if you track down a copy, however most parts of the area have been used for orienteering over many years. Last year's "Westward Ho'gaine" utilised the eastern part, which was also re-mapped for the '98 MBO champs. I tracked down ACT Orienteering Association mapping guru Bob Allison, who had already done a great job on the Kowen Forest Paddy Pallin 6 hour map and course in March. I put the proposition to him of stitching together the various pieces of the patchwork and filling in a few gaps. He was enthusiastic and would have the time to fit it in amongst the multitude of other projects he was working on. Things looked good.
Learning from last year I took things in the correct order and talked to ACT Forests and the other landholders before I started locating controls. There were some small areas of out-of-bounds and some past sensitivities to be aware of, but I had the broad canvas of Stromlo Forest including Dairy Farmer's Hill, Deek's Drive, Mt Stromlo and Bluett's on which to lay out the course. Bob had sent me a set of O maps covering the area which I used for course-setting. Also an overall master map, put together on the office photocopier by reducing the various maps to size and good old cut'n'paste with scissors and tape, to keep tabs on the overall course structure. My goal was to set a course with plenty of route choice for both foot and cycle competitors. Big enough for the top teams to be stretched but enjoyable for even the most recreational and novice teams.
Control taping proceeded smoothly with only minor modifications to my original plan to allow for areas of forest which had grown up or been torn down since the maps had been made. Ten years is a long time in a working pine forest! Even seedlings grow at nearly 1m per year. I was ably assisted in setting and vetting by Steph Maxwell and Dave Searle who had planned European holidays which would prevent them from competing - at least they got to see a fair bit of the course before they flew away. Needless to say at the MBO event at Deek's Drive at the beginning of August there were a few of us having to speak in very vague terms about the cycle rogaine, while sitting at the exact hash house site we planned to use! Fear of discovery meant I had left the last section through East Stromlo until last, and predictably I was sprung by a MTB group late on a Sunday afternoon with a mapcase around my neck!
We were hoping for a turnout over 200 for the event, and good publicity would be key in that. Duncan Kelly of Jesner and Kelly Printing, a regular competitor at the cycle rogaine, produced a very professional two colour entry form to go out with the CORC, ACTRA, NSWRA and Pedal Power newsletters with further info in e-mail bulletins and a website also set up. Most competitors were local, but a good number from the region including Boorowa, Sydney and beyond. The unfortunate clash with the ACT foot orienteering champs cut out a number of local teams who would otherwise have competed.
Canberra Cycles have been a great supporter of the cycle rogaine right from its inception. Ben Harvey coordinated administration, processing entries and money, and also provided water bottles for every competitor and prizes - vouchers for the winning teams and product from Raceline Bicycles. It would not have been possible to offer such great value without such an excellent sponsor - many thanks indeed! Catering was arranged with Alan Sargeant and his scouts who did a great job at the Paddy Pallin 6 hour in March. Simon Robinson at Red Belly Black Cafe on Mt Stromlo was keen to get involved and generously donated some vouchers. He also set up a food stall on the day with great coffee and a selection of food to go. With everything moving along smoothly, I spent an evening with Bob Allison finalizing map details and control placements, taking away an updated draft for control hanging and fine tuning. A family reunion and the NSW 24 hour rogaine champs took up the 2 weekends before the event, but the convenient location less than 20 minutes from work or home meant I should be able to hang controls piecemeal when the opportunity arose. Given the high use of the area I didn't want to hang controls too far in advance for fear of them being stolen. I arranged with Tom Walter to hang controls in the Mt Stromlo area on the Wednesday before the event. After a mild panic attack when we had a mixup with meeting that morning, he set off with about 15 flags. The following 2 days I hung another 25 before work and at lunchtime. Potential disaster averted! Saturday was spent getting final details arranged and the last few controls into position. The weather forecast had been steadily improving all week, and a perfect day was on the way! Entries had been flooding in and over 90 teams and 220 people were on the start list.
Sunday dawned clear, cool and fine as predicted. Tents were quickly erected and the first competitors started arriving about 7:45am. Amelia Witheridge and Allan Harding provided excellent admin support throughout the day. Maps and notes were handed out to teams who hustled off to plan their day. The control cards were hung out and after a short briefing the event was underway at 9:30am. The faster teams streamed off in all directions, but the last control card was not retrieved until some 15 minutes had passed! Allan and I headed off to place water drops, with me heading into East Stromlo in my trusty Subaru. Along the way I noticed several sets of bicycles in places beside the track, nowhere near controls - a few teams taking a bit of time to get familiar with the map! A pity one area they'd chosen to explore was so infested with blackberries.
At the water drop I spent a bit of time roaming around with my camera taking pictures of passing teams and chatting. One team gave a fine demonstration for the camera of crossing a gate, then a minute later decided they'd give another demo coming back the other way! Kevin Moore provided a fine display jumboing up to #51, hurdling the fence as he went. Tearing myself away from such antics, I headed back to the HH. Amelia was comfortably ensconced with a book, and the catering crew were starting to set up. Nothing for it but to head up Mt Stromlo on my bike with camera and some cash for a snack break at Red Belly Black. It was a beautiful day and the views over the course were sensational. I kicked back and chatted to Simon Robinson at the food stall - his first customer for the day. The steak pies were so good I had to have seconds - no surprise to anyone who knows me I'm sure! Michael Flood and Tony Nairn dropped in for an espresso and after a chat I headed on to #101 for more fine views. After a few more photos I steered my bike down the hill for Bluetts.
Passing over the hill above #67 I bumped into a few more teams and enjoyed riding down the steep hill which the triple tri course comes up - a much easier way to go! The northward straight heading to #102 was like Pitt St with bikes everywhere. I bumped into the Sri Chinmoy team near #58 - they were having a great day! Further down the road were Luke and Marie Wensing, Pedal Power stalwarts and organizers of the Great Canberra Bike Ride. Snapping away merrily at every opportunity, I headed across Coppins Crossing into my favourite part of the course around the back of Dairy Farmer's Hill, where I bumped into Jane Pulford, our newsletter editor. I was starting to run short of time by now, so hurried on back across the river and up to the HH.
With about 50 minutes to go there were already teams starting to return, and soon the trickle had turned to a flood. Geoff Mercer and David Singleton joined the admin team. Three of us stood out the front marking finish times, then teams added their score and handed in their cards for checking by Amelia and Allan. As the time ticked away to 3:30pm the favourites in the Men's category were nowhere to be seen. Finally, just after time had run out Simon Tilley and Rod Higgins appeared pedalling hard up the last hill. Rod looked a wreck, but they had found all but 3 controls, and missed those only by minutes. An awesome effort! Once we had posted everyone's score on the results board we re-checked the top place-getter's scores. Combined with the dry weather, the admin was much more streamlined than last year. There was heaps of tasty food to keep people busy, and lots of satisfied smiles.
After some barrel draws the prizes were presented. The category winners were a fairly familiar line up, with Mel McIntyre and Gaye Camm winning the women's, David Austin and Rachel Storey the mixed, and Simon and Rod the men's. This year all the veteran categories were combined, and Judy Jenkinson and Gary Caitcheon won, also placing 2nd in the open mixed. There was a very satisfying turnout of junior and family teams, with Steve Garlick, Rosemary Austen and Matthew Goonan winning the family category and Richard Dupe, Bruno Alduk and Nathan Moses the juniors. A strong effort from Adrian Sheppard and Hugh Jorgensen in the foot category placed them 3rd overall! Congratulations to everyone who participated, and many thanks to Canberra Cycles and Raceline Bicycles for generously donating prize vouchers.
Everyone pitched in with cleaning up, and we were away by dark. With the area so convenient, I had a good number of volunteers helping to bring in the controls. Many thanks to Paul Mason, Adrian Sheppard, Mel McIntyre, Gaye Camm, Judy Jenkinson, Jeremy Learmonth, Simon Tilley, Julia Graczyk, Luis Severino and Brian Evans and family. Unbelievably, one control was stolen - #64 hiding over the back of Mt Stromlo! A big thank you to everyone who helped with the event in whatever capacity. It would not have been such a great success without your help.