The previous post described this event and the preparation work :

As I had recently purchased my own van we went down to Spain in a two van convoy this year, rather than trying to squeeze everything into Dougie’s van.

All loaded and ready to go…

Austin had booked an entire hotel complex (The Liguerre Resort) for this year’s event as it was the biggest he has ever organised with over 130 competitors and the event being run over 3 days. However, we decided to sort out our own AirBnB nearby to give us more flexibility – we both hate the breakfast scrum in the morning, when you have to queue to get your food and are in a hurry to get going (start time is 8am). The journey down to Spain over the Pyrenees was very pleasant and we had time for a few stops on the way to admire the views.

This could be Windows XP, apart from the white van…

The place we stayed was very comfortable with a great view and space to fettle the bikes.

View from Casa Lecina in Palo
Pre-VINCE bike faffing…

Although it was bright and sunny on our arrival at Casa Lecina we knew that the forecast for the event was pretty grim with heavy rain and thunderstorms expected. We were using GPS so didn’t have to worry about getting maps wet, but were concerned about the water tightness of our phones and electrical connections. I had a small tank bag on my bike (see pic above) which has a transparent map pocket that I was able to use to insert the checkpoint (CP) sheets – these are the sheets that provide additional details and a photo of the exact location of the CP, plus telling you which digits/characters you need to record. Dougie had a “map board” on his bike with two phones and his running order/control sheet. He managed to “waterproof” this arrangement with a plastic bag that slid over the top.

Our usual method of working, based on previous events is that I take the lead and completely focus on following the route and finding the CP. Once found I get off the bike and find the necessary information and then give this to Dougie when he arrives so that he can record it on his running sheet. This gives Dougie more time to take a wider view and consider our overall strategy and options – he records the arrival time at each CP and compares that to the plan so that we have a running delta on whether we are ahead or behind schedule. He can then work out whether we should drop some CPs, reroute or even add extra ones. Having this information to hand is essential to being competitive but requires a great deal of preparation and planning in the weeks leading up to the event.

As we are totally focussed on keeping moving and accumulating as many points as possible we never have time to look at the view. On our post-VINCE trail riding covering the same area we have a running joke – Dougie will say to me “Do you remember this trail, with the ruined church just over there” and I’ll say “Never seen it before, but I know there is a CP behind that signpost over there!”.

Our original plan was to run for 3 x 10 hour days, which is less than the 12 hours allowed but would give us more time for bike prep, getting something to eat and getting to bed at a reasonable time before doing it all again the next day. Of course this meant we were not seriously expecting to win, but wanted to achieve as much as possible of our plan. As it turned out we quickly fell behind, partly due to the conditions – it was wet and quite muddy and slippery in places, but also due to the trails being more difficult than in previous years so our average speed was lower than planned.

Missing CP !

The picture above shows a very distinctive ruined building which was supposed to have a sign on the tree, but it was missing. The photo was to provide eveidence that we had visited the correct spot.

Still smiling in spite of the conditions, just picked up a CP behind the sign post.

The bikes ran perfectly throughout but I did have some failures of the bits I had bolted on. The first one was the Quad Lock mount that I use to hold the phone on the bike – it snapped !

Snapped phone mount.

Fortunately the phone was OK and I was carrying a spare mount and allen key to replace it, so not much time lost.

The second failure was the charging system – I had rigged up a USB port powered by the bike battery, but this packed up. Fortunately I had also prepared for this eventuality and was carrying a power pack in my tank bag and was able to power the phone from that.

The third and final failure was the phone itself which just died – possibly due to water ingress, or maybe the shock of being jettisoned from the bike when the mount snapped? Again I was prepared as I was carrying a spare phone.

On top of the world at CP 704.
Dougie Digging Deep to get to CP 751.

Over the three days we ran for a total of 31 hours (compared to the 36 allowed) and covered 720Km of the 850 we had originally planned.

There was a prize-giving dinner in the evening and we were awarded second prize in the GPS class (doing a quick pro-rata calculation showed that we would have won if we had run for the full 12 hours each day!).

Prize-giving dinner at the Liguerre Resort.

As this was his biggest ever event and may not be repeated on this scale, Austin had arranged a live band for the evening…

VINCE 2022 Live Band

So that’s it for another year – what does the future hold ?

Well we can argue that we won the map class last year (but were disqualified) and on a pro-rata basis we “won” the GPS class this year(!), the only class remaining that we haven’t yet tried is the “Twin Shock Trailfinder” – this has to be done with maps and using a bike with twin shocks, which effectively means it will be a bike from the 70s. I can’t help feeling that machine reliability might be an issue in this class. Dougie already has his bike – a Kawasaki KLX250 trail bike, but I will need to find one – all part of the fun !

After the VINCE we stayed on in Spain for some more leisurely trail riding which I’ll cover in another post.