Navigation training with TriAdventure (Sunshine Coast, Australia)

I joined the Tri Adventure group before I went to Indonesia. The club is an adventure racing and multisport training group organised and coordinated by two experienced and friendly adventure racers and multisport athletes. I joined because I need to get fit again and also because I have friends in the group who always look to be enjoying the training sessions and atmosphere of the club. Today the planets aligned and I was able to attend my first training session with the club.
 photo 12002878_10153526876786181_1871285720552013689_n_zpszxkpnf5z.jpg
It’s a 120km (80 miles) drive to Noosa where the training session was being held. A 1.5 hour drive is a long way to go for training but it was so worth it. We met at the marina where the view across a short jetty over the water was a beautiful calm sight. I felt excited just being in this location.
 photo 12002248_10153526876996181_9176513377615709645_n_zpseg9nk4ug.jpg

There were about ten of us out training today. We set off on an almost two hour bike ride along roads, fire trails and single track to the start of the navigation section of the session. I had no idea what to expect: struggling up the long 3km road climb but loving the long muddy sections of fire trail we followed. It starts to rain but at least it’s not cold today. Spring is definitely in the air and the annoyance of wet weather is tempered by the way the water darkens the tree trunks, accentuates the patterns on the scribbly gums and brightens the greens.

 photo 10421369_10153526877076181_3081931368366813661_n_zpsl4h1qqvb.jpg

At the transition from bike to navigation we receive our rogaining maps. There are two disciplines we need to complete: bike and trek. It’s up to use to decide which route we want to take and which checkpoints we want to collect. I am paired up with PE who is an experienced adventure racer and navigator. He encourages me to navigate and pushes me a little to help me learn how to speed up on the course. This isn’t an aggressive push but a calm and gentle encouragement not to stop too long to discuss navigation decisions and to run the trek leg. He shared lots of small tips to help me navigate more accurately and to save time in a race situation. I appreciated this because it was like having a private two hour lesson with someone experienced who is way more advanced than me.

 photo 12003355_10153526877536181_1329433112258668128_n_zpsljqy7jmf.jpg

We bashed and crashed our way along the overgrown trails. There’s lantana to push through, resulting in scratched legs that are the mark of a Queensland-based rogainer or adventure racer. We got caught in the inevitable wait-a-while, which grabbed at our packs, shirts and skin to hold us in place. It’s a reality up here around South East Queensland and all you can do is try not to get frustrated or stand still while your team mate detaches the hooked plant fronds to free you.

 photo 12002836_10153526877526181_8367650503985435894_n_zpsarf41v2v.jpg

The challenging flora is the price we pay for playing in this fantastic landscape and climate. There’s moss-covered fallen trees with iridescent soft green coverings. Swampy creeks cut through the dense bush. The checkpoints are hidden in interesting spots like creek junctions and just off the track between the various timbers: tall old and thick, and thin and tight.

 photo 12003156_10153526877586181_747465720557420108_n_zpsl9oneoet.jpg

It’s wonderful fun to be out exploring and improving my outdoor skills with this group. The Aunties (as the coaches are affectionately called) are welcoming, patient and I never feel like my current lack of fitness is a problem. On the long ride home I bonk and struggle a lot. I fall behind the group and have to walk up some relatively easy hills (I must bring better food with me next time to refuel). But always one of the Aunties waits with me and encourages me. I feel a huge sense of achievement when we return to the car park after about 6.5 hours out on the course.

 photo 11221290_10153526877296181_6839312149806530164_n_zpscf2qdw7y.jpg

My bike and I are covered in mud – something that is always a sign of fun times that have passed. I can’t wait for the next opportunity to join the guys from Tri Adventure for another session. It was fun and even in this one session I learned ways to improve my skills.