The Hicks Lodge CaniX race was one we missed last year and so I was looking forward to seeing the course, albeit rather briefly as I was bikejoring and not running in the race. The venue is part of the National Forest and has been designed with the general public in mind, with lots of wide gravel paths through fields and trees on a gently sloping area of land with good parking and facilities (cafe & toilets).
The weather was dry at least for this one and because mainly on gravel paths we knew we weren’t going to have too many problems with mud! The start and finish chute were along the same stretch of pathway and were closest to the car park, so there was easy access for the racers. As always with the CaniX races the bikejorers and scooterers are set off first at one minute intervals, with the canicrossers going out only once all the wheeled competitors were back in.
The start of the course was fast and furious with a couple of sharp bends in the trail inviting you to either slow down or swing round as quick as possible and in my case hope you stayed upright! This was one of the twistiest courses I have ever ridden on the bike and actually required a fair amount of concentration, not just on the cornering but because it was so quick, you had watch very closely for the directional signs too.
There were one or two mistakes made with the course by a few but with the help of the marshalls most made it back on the right path soon enough. The trails took you across a few fields in the open with long downhill straight runs where you could really pick up speed before creeping back slightly uphill through a fair few switchbacks (tight turns). This kept the dogs interested in the course as they can switch off when running on wide gravel. I will also just briefly mention at this point I booted both my dogs (who were running) up with the Pawz boots I sell: http://www.k9trailtime.com/shop/pawz-dog-boots.html as although the ground would have been ok for canicrossing, due to the speed of bikejor and the abundance of gravel, I didn’t want to take any risks with their pads.
It wasn’t long before we were back on the home run and flying down the long straight into the finish with a good time and having thoroughly enjoyed our time out on the course. I think this venue is a good one for both canicrossers and bikejorers (and scooters) but you did have to be aware of the gravel for the dogs’ paws and due to the speed of the course for the bikes, you had to be able to negotiate the sharp turns.
In conclusion, another well organised and fun race, perhaps not the most scenic venue but very accessible for all and well worth the 2 and a half hour trip there for the yummy food in the cafe afterwards!