Summer 2001 Polaris Kielder Forest
Full results here
2 days of very fast riding trails and mainly great weather saw Jack and Shalli battle out head to head solo in the Senior class of the polaris Challenge.
Endurance moutainbike Specialists Patrick Schalbetter CATS and Jack Peterson NUMPLUMZ.COM travelled to the Scottish Borders together for this years extreme event, but with both entered in the solo senior catagory, intense rivalry soon commenced.
Based at Kielder castle, Northumberland, 40 checkpoints of varying scores lay ahead over a large area, with riders only recieving the actual points value for the day, at a 'give out' point, which was cycled to up a steep climb from the start. Riders started in small groups at an allocated start time, then had to decide on a route to gain the most points.
For the Saturday seven hour Ist day stage both riders, starting almost 1 hour apart, chose to head over the Scottish borders North in search of the big scores. This soon proved to be a tough challenge as riders hit difficult navigation on virgin tracks closed and overgrown after long Foot and Mouth access restrictions.
The weather soon closed in to add visibility problems on the high moor climbs, in the low cloud and drizzle. After 2 hours and 3 checkpoints Peterson decided there was higher rewards to be gained back in England and with the benefit of retracing his route aiding navigation, quickly came back down into Warm sunshine as the border was re-crossed. Now after a hasty route re-plan he set off around the South of the Kielder water on the fast Fireroads at a very fast pace, at one point catching and passing John Houlihan the Santa cruz/Stiff sponsored rider, whilst trying to make up for lost time.
Schalbetter meanwhile continued on a Northerly route and returned via the North of Kielder resevoir and some low scoring checkpoints for a final haul of 12 checkpoints giving 280 pts and an overnight position of 37th. Peterson's change of plan paid some dividends and he finally returned with 10 checkpoints and 290 points for a first day 28th position, it soon became apparent that many riders had opted for the resevoir/ forest South area only and had amased lots of points quickly, on the fast tracks.
Day 2 Sunday
As the second day comenced riders had less choice for the five hour stage ahead, as all the Northern checkpoints were deamed at zero points. The choice now was deciding how far you could push after a hard first day, both riders already having covered over 75 miles.
Shalbetter decided on quantity and having seen some of the tough climbs to avoid on his route Saturday, stuck to the South lake and flew round 13 checkpoints to gain 210 points, aided by meeting up with overnight leader Andy Heading who passed on some valuable local route knowledge on the way, whilst commenting on his unknown riding partners strength.
Peterson went for the climbs and higher points, but in the end suffered for trying to do too much. Coming in 9 mins late, cost 9 penalty points off a 200 point haul, after visiting 10 checkpoints. Poor navigation whilst tiring, proved costly resulting in riding straight past a 10 point checkpoint without collecting it.
So Schalbetters final total of 490 points for the weekend hauled him up to 16th place in the senior event leapfrogging Peterson who at 481 points also moved up, to 18th.
Schalli added " we were both pleased with our ability to sustain such a high pace for 12 hours, as we both covered over 150 miles over very hilly terrain and suprised a few of the more established riders we met along the way" Heading, who earlier this year won the Alaskan Iditarod 1500 mile challenge race, took the Overall honours with a massive 649 point haul.
Great weekend of riding and some mighty fine beer was quoffed, and to complete the Endurance Madness Jack rode home from a Sunday night stopover in Tadcaster Yorkshire, Then fuelled on John Smiths The jouney took 7 and 3/4 hours for 115 miles .. sore bum ...you bet.