In the third and final Polaris bike orienteering event of the year, the 2001 Autumn Polaris Challenge sent riders off all over Wiltshire at the weekend. Competitors in teams of two hunt across a huge area for vital checkpoints, or equally vital teashops depending on their tactics. It was Team Santa Cruz who won event for the second time running.
At the end of the first day Team Santa Cruz finished 55 points ahead of a class field. The duo, made up of John Houlihan and ex-Schwinn rider Gary Thomsett, shunned scones for high scores and seemed to have retained their dominating form from the Trailquest relay championships. On the second day they played it safe to come in 25 minutes early on the 5 hour time limit but still leading by one of the largest Polaris margins ever.
Second place went to Czech riders Kamenace and Radavan Mach (Czech MTBO World Cup squad captain). The pair took a gamble to gain last-minute extra points in a bid to catch up with Houlihan and Thomsett but they ended up losing most of them by coming in 8 minutes overdue.
After the race Houlihan revealed that racing against his long time partner Kamenace was not the only extra motivation for winning; “It’s a good job we won” he said, “I’d forgotten to bring the trophy
back from last time…”
Full results and report on www.polaris-apparel.co.uk later today.