You’ve got it all planned out: on Saturday you’re going on an orienteering bike rally. Super weather is preparing, there is a family route, cool surroundings…. Nothing but to take the bikes and the trailer and hit the road. Hola, hola, and are you sure you have a trailer?
Well we did not have :( From the beginning we rented a trailer for a fee from one company in Lodz. Unfortunately, buying a decent trailer is a big expense that pays off if you really use it often, so we decided for the time being to rent when we need it and see how it works out for us. Probably, if we had bought it right away we would have definitely used it more, but we preferred to find out first rather than throwing money away.
The last few weeks have been pretty busy at our house and it slipped our minds to book a trailer in advance, and after all, this is the peak season for bicycle escapades with the year-old. Imagine what my disappointment and sadness was when it turned out that there were no more free trailers for the day of the rally. Instead of looking for a rush and buying anything we decided to take part in the rally…. On foot! Yes, exactly :) The organizer allowed this possibility, so why not try it?
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IT Orient – Jeziorsko Lagoon, Pęczniew 2017
Why were we so desperate to attend IT Orient? There were several reasons for this: the organizer provided a family route, and lately we have been very sorry that as part of our favorite Bike Orient rallies, there was no such route. We also needed motivation to go somewhere farther away from Lodz, and the Jeziorsko Lagoon is a great place for cycling (areas we are already familiar with from this angle). And, and perhaps most importantly, proceeds from the event go to charity!
Yes, all the money raised from the entry fees will be donated to the Elephants on the Balcony Foundation, which supports mentally challenged, traumatized children who have been victims of crime and various misfortunes.
It was strange for us to ride without bicycles, and even stranger to pass participants who rushed at break-neck speed with their start numbers and maps pinned on. The Mega and Giga bicycle routes started earlier at 10:00 am, and the family route quietly at 11:00 am. When we just arrived, there were only a few dozen people at the start getting ready for the walking and family routes (you know, family routes are quieter ;-)). However, the vast majority of participants in the family route were cyclists, so we felt quite alone with our idea.
With a carrier at a bike rally
From the beginning we didn’t care about winning :) We knew that even with the trailer we were going just for fun, because we love orienteering in the countryside (okay, maybe more Paweł than me), and for the last year we missed this type of sporting event. Even more so on foot, we knew we had no chance. The only thing left for us to decide was how we would travel: whether with a stroller or a carrier, as there was a route of about 25 kilometers ahead of us, and by no means on paved roads.
We decided to set off with a carrier, with the intention of changing from time to time and making frequent stops. As a result, when choosing a road, we were not at all interested in where the paved roads were, but only in how to get there most easily. We chose routes through the forest, sand, mud. The kind that we would not be able to overcome with a trailer and would never choose to ride our bikes(!).
On the maps we got from the organizers there were 9 checkpoints in the area of Pecenwo. We decided to move north along the lagoon to PK 2 and PK4. Initially, we were full of enthusiasm and strength, but the road through the heated fields, in the full sun gave us a hard time (although the weather after the recent rains was wonderful!).
Although we took the shortest possible route and had no trouble finding points, we envied the families moving by bicycle. On the other hand, this was our first rally of this kind so it was an interesting experience nonetheless, especially since we don’t go on such long walks every day.
Other than the heat, it was quite ok. Immediately after the first PK Olive fell asleep in the carrier for us, so we tried to get to the next ones as quickly as possible. The points were relatively easy to find and didn’t give us much trouble. Surprising to us was the location of the PK named: Window Seat, which turned out to be a seat in an old, rusty bus! Cool idea, but are you sure it’s right and safe for the family route?
When we already had 5 checkpoints on the list we looked at our watch to estimate how much more time we needed to reach the remaining points. Unfortunately, it did not look optimistic, because most of the time was behind us (let me remind you that there are time limits on the route), and we needed about 3 hours to reach the remote points (remember, we were moving on foot :)).
I can’t hide the fact that fatigue and heat also bothered us so we gave up on the other points and headed straight for the finish line. Walking with an almost 10-pound toddler on my back is an added burden, although I have to admit that with the Tula carrier, it wasn’t felt as much anyway. Olive was probably quite comfortable because she endured the entire route in the carrier, and we only had one 15-minute break along the way. I think we would have been able to do the whole route if it had been a little cooler and the time limit had been a little longer ;)
More rallies like this!
Despite the fact that we probably took last place, I consider this participation very successful :) It was nice to see a different perspective – distances that by bicycle are covered in a flash, on foot take quite a long time and require more effort, although the walk itself is very pleasant!
If it weren’t for this rally, we probably wouldn’t have hiked in this area. Walking, we also had more time to admire the views and enjoy the peace, tranquility and nature around us.
The family route itself was also super. The points may not have been super easy to find (a bit of hardship has to be there) then the journeys to them themselves were quite simple (remember, by design, the family tour also includes young children riding bicycles).
We regret that this year it’s actually only one such event, because we would have been more eager to participate! :)