Open 5 Hope

Bit of a belated post this one as the Open 5 was the first sunday in December, 11 days ago now but we have been very busy with all your Christmas orders and preparing for the VAT change.

This was the 2nd Open 5 in the winter series, short report of the first one here. The day was very mixed weather wise, not warm but not proper winter freezing. There were some very heavy showers and blustery wind but nothing like the continual downpour we had at Hawkshead in November. We elected to bike first and it went pretty well. Out of transition on the run at exactly 3 hours with only a couple of checkpoints dropped. On the run our route selection was poor. The siting of the dummy control points led to last minute change to our route and we didn’t pick the best alternative. We ended up at the far side of the run course with a 6km run, past the finish to get to more points. Not the best strategy.

Thankfully we had done quite well up to that point and ended up 5th in the Male Pairs competition with 440 points.

We have ended up 2nd in the overall standings for the Male Pairs. This sounds good but our position is tenuous, there are about 5 teams who have scored more heavily than us in a single race but have not yet completed 2 races. Best 3 out of 5 count as your series score. I think we will need a good race in Feb (South Pennines) to hold onto 2nd spot but not impossible. We finished 6th overall in 2008 and 5th in 2007 so really gunning for a podium spot.

I am lucky to be testing a few bits of new kit in this series. Things that Facewest will stock in the spring but we don’t have yet. The first is the Inov8 X Talons.

X Talon

The X Talons are incredibly light and great for racing. It really is a physcological advantage when you are knackered going up a long drag to know you have the lightest shoe possible. The grip on wet rock is better than most fell shoes due to the softer compound. They will wear more quickly but then they are meant to be ‘racing’ shoes. The laces are a bit thin but a some people seem to replace them with the Xtenex elastic laces. I will test these before the next race.

Next is the GoLite Slipstream. Coming into the Golite range for Spring 2010.

GoLite Slipstream
GoLite Slipstream

The Slipstream is a sub 300g day pack. Stretchy water bottle or food pockets on the sides and a good big pocket on the back ideal for a layer,hat & gloves. The main zip is annoyingly small for getting bulky items in and out but apart from that it’s a good bag and really comfortable. Lighter than a Deuter Speedlite 10 (just)

The next things are not really tests just 2 products that make a big difference in races like the Open 5, Polaris and MTB O. The Miry Map Board and Silva 19NL Compass. Seen here as used in the actual race. I brought the 10QL a few years ago but decided to stock the 11QL as the map board is 1 inch wider which fits more of the map formats that you get without inhibiting the cover poppers. The 19NL is such a simple compass that just slips onto the edge of the board. I only use it for orientation on the move. Rotate the board to be correctly aligned for direction of travel and if you map grid lines and the needle line up then it’s another confirmation that you are on the right track. The compass can also be moved around to secure a flapping map if the map is bigger than the board.

Miry Map Board

Lastly is another compass the Silva Jet 6 Spectra Thumb Compass. A thumb compass is great for situations when a really accurate bearing will not be needed. If the visibility is really bad I do consider taking my Jet 5 instead but not often. One of the best things about a thumb compass is that it really helps you to ‘thumb the map’ as you run. This is keeping the point of the compass on your rough location so each time you look down your eyes focus on the correct spot more quickly. It saves several seconds each time you looks at the map, and that adds up to minutes saved in a race. I don’t really use the Spectra coloured markings much but think that the Jet needle also saves a couple of seconds each time you look at the compass and you can’t have one without the other. We are going to stock the more simple Nor thumb compass because the Jet6 is pretty pricey and too much for some but for me the Jet needle system is worth it.

Silva Jet 6 Spectra Thumb

That’s it, see you at the next race.

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