This team of hardcore Aussie Adventurers, better known as the BMX Bandits, recently competed in the 2016 Adventure Racing World Championships (ARWC) here in ioMerino's homeland, Australia. And boy did they give it their all, finishing as the 2nd men's team and the 24th overall out of the 99 teams! For those of you aren't familiar with 'Adventure Racing' you can find out more here, but for those of you who do already know, well you'd understand what an amazing achievement even crossing the finish line was. We're proud to have sponsored the BMX Bandits during this event with some of the softest, warmest and most comfortable Merino thermal layers on the planet! They spent a total of 121 hours and 42 minutes racing through a range of conditions and landscapes, so let's just say they were glad to have their io! Check out their race recap below.
Words by Ro Kilham and pictures by Ben Cirulis - BMX Bandits.
"After over 5 days of racing we dragged ourselves across the finish line of the 2016 Adventure Racing World Championships. That hallowed arch represented the end of our epic 630KM adventure by foot, mountain bike, packraft and kayak. What sweet, sweet relief.
Sleep in these races is a rarefied commodity. The third place-getters clocked a paltry one and a half hours for the entire race! Inevitably one descends through a sleep-deprived cognitive haze into madness, and will power alone becomes the only way of getting one foot in front of the other.
Rarely is the arduous nature of adventure racing more evident than at the finish line. In contrast to the perfect coastal surrounds, bruised, bleeding bodies limped across the finish line, while others lay motionless in the grass, their ordeal over but bed just too far away.
Five days earlier couldn’t have been more removed. We mingled with 400 other excited athletes on the white sands of Jervis Bay, clad head to toe in exuberant fluro. Not the timid splash of blue, but the sort of 80's fluro that gives you whiplash - proper eye-watering, rock star flair. Some looked at us in disgust, some squinted painfully and some just stared gormlessly - minds blown.
This race, we partnered with ioMerino who adorned us in plush MicroMerino®. And wasn’t it glorious. Not the sort of let’s-give-our-sponsor-some-lip-service-glorious, but genuinely luxurious stuff. Enough lycra that it fitted perfectly, flat sewn seams, the best thumb loops we've ever seen, tag (and scratch) free printed details and the finest Merino known to man, women and sheep. Throughout the race it would prove itself time and time again.
Ro and Olly were the perfect test pilots. Ro is powered by a small thermonuclear device. In arctic conditions, Ro wears a T-shirt. Olly is his cold blooded antithesis. He relies on hot things for power.
Departing Shallow Crossing in the frigid, wee hours on day three, we set off for a 58km ride: Ro in a Merino T-shirt; Olly in ioMerino Altitude leggings, long sleeve Altitude top and the Chaser neck tube. Had it not been for ioMerino that morning Olly, like a brown snake in a freezer, would have died.
Ro's Achilles heel is that he is a pasty white Canberran shade-seeker. On the 45 km Budawang Trek from Yadbro to Nerriga, full length Altitude leggings and a long sleeve zip top saved him from burning to a cinder. Despite the heat, under a baking afternoon sun Ro sauntered on carefree into night and then day.
But the real feature in these world championships was water, from the salty seas of Jervis Bay, to the dark lonely flatness of the Clyde. The 45km packraft down the Shoalhaven River from Bungonia to Tallowa Dam on some fine wilderness whitewater was a scenic stand-out. The following 56km paddle down the Shoalhaven River stood alone as the most gruelling leg of the race, badgered by the pervasive, wet, unforgiving coldness of 3am. In matching ioMerino garb, minds blown, and wrist literally creaking with the crepitus of 20 hours of non-stop paddling, we counted our Merino blessings. It neither clung to us nor sagged with the weight of saturation. It was warm and it was comfortable, saving us from certain hypothermia if we had been dressed in anything less.
As day five dawned we remained comfortable and cheerful. Cresting a sandstone monolith, we watched a golden sun rise over the Ettrema Wilderness. It was soulful and magnificent. But it was also accompanied by some loud and pungent flatulence, our digestive systems straining from the race diet. It was the BMX Bandits way, and it was a fitting act to see the race out. With fluro glaring, legs hurting and an established sense of self-effacing humour, we left the sunrise behind and set off for the final leg.
And so 121 hours and 42 minutes of jokes, poo debates, wilderness exaltations and stories of one-armed eunuchs, came to an end. The adventure is our raison d'etre and our consummation. The moments between the start and the finish are uniquely ours.
Joints still creak, bruises ache, scratches sting and the head is foggy. But amidst the tick and leech bites, the bruised feet and sunburn there’s a feeling of fulfillment and complete satisfaction that can't be replicated. It was a race to remember. Thank you for being part of the journey, ioMerino".
Like a lot of people, Stevi-Lee wasn’t convinced our clothes were good value. So naturally we figured she would be the perfect person to reviewer them. If we could convert her, perhaps other customers would believe her rather than the usual claims all companies make about how good their products are. Did we change this ioMerino sceptic into a believer?