BCN Challenge 2011 - we made it!
31 May 2011
Links to the BCN Challenge 2011 posts:
Post 1 - This post
Post 2 - Wolverhampton
Post 3 - Tipton to Smethwick
Post 4 - Birmingham
Post 5 - Salford Junction (Spaghetti Junction)
Post 6 - Walsall
Post 7 - Getting out again
We entered this madcap canal boat race with some trepidation.
Whilst its all terribly friendly and good natured, its also rather competitive and we weren't quite sure what to expect. We had 24 cruising hours available within a 30 hour window, which started at 8.00am on Saturday. Cruise wherever you like withing the boundaries of the old BCN and accrue points for miles travelled and locks worked and then overlay bonuses for certain starting points, weightings for the number of the crew, a factor for the depth and length of the craft, then there are bonus factors for tricky bits and still more for answering questions right, mix it all together and you have a scoring matrix which is more labyrinthine than the northern BCN itself!
As Steve Haywood observed - it takes several weeks for the winners to be named, by which time no one really cares! As I said, its a madcap boat-race and an unforgettable way to spend a bank holiday weekend.
Is hard to work out a "best" route so most competitors seem to work form the premise that they have a known starting point and have a particular bit that they want to do - and work all the rest from there. In this respect Wand'ring Bark was no different and our home base on the Staffs and Worcs dictated the bottom of the Wolverhampton 21 as a start point. With just the Perry Barr flight needed to complete our exploration the whole BCN, the rest of the route just fitted in, for better or worse.
I will do a proper set of posts on the ups and downs of this trip in the days to come. However, just for the record, the 2011 BCN Marathon Challenge threw up tree landmark for Wand'ring Barks crew:
1. We finally completed our exploration of the whole currently navigable BCN system - all 100 spectacular miles of it.
2. We beat our previous single day lock record by 34 locks by cramming in a probably never to be beaten total of 86! (Oh how I hated the Aston Flight at half past midnight after 16 hours of cruising)
3. The enthusiastic crew of three BCN Challenge newbies finshed the course and whilst we may not win, made a valiant 1st attempt.
Its an amazing experience and one that every boater should try at least once.