Last time we heard from the BMX Bandits, they were focusing on the final race of the Inaugural Australian Adventure Racing Championship series. After finishing 3rd overall, the BMX Bandits are home and are here to tell us why they have to literally rely on the gear they carrying to save their lives.
Every expedition race I do I go through about 10 shirts… give or take a few. The pile of funk-riddled linen that accumulates at the end of an expedition race is truly impressive. Even my dogs, who love nothing more than rolling in rotting kangaroo or feces, stare sideways at my quivering pile of mouldy lycra, wool and nylon, as if to say “Jeeeezus no, I am not touching that thing”.
The fresh, fluro orange Ultra Tee that arrived on my door-step was a beautiful thing. Fresh, soft and supple – it smelt as luxurious as it felt. Dare I ruin such a beautiful virgin shirt? Yes – I dare.
The fit was grand. Sporty but not skin tight. Super comfy really. It was long enough in the torso and arms, there were no strange pinchy bits or scratchy tags and the neck was comfortably loose. It smelt and felt like Merino, soft and stupidly comfortable. But perhaps best of all was the wild, bright orange. Evidently not everyone’s cup of tea (because not everyone has a sense of style), but it was perfect for the BMX Bandits and I was instantly in love. But really – who cares – you’re not reading this to find out whether or not I love being a fashion icon.
Wildside is a 400+km, non-stop expedition length adventure race. It’s several days of running, riding, paddling and generally grinding away through untracked bush – all on about two hours of sleep. It’s tough on your body and it’s tough on your gear. This time round, we would be racing hard to cement our place in history in the inaugural Australian Adventure Racing Championships, and I chose to wear only one top – my ioMerino Ultra T. What could possibly go wrong?
As it turns out – nothing. The Ultra T was super duper comfy, durable and issue free. Despite bashing through endless kilometres of dense scrub, being ground up beneath a pack, dragged across rocks and being poked with sharp bike bits, it pulled through without so much as a single frayed thread or stretched panel. I have a reputation for breaking things: bikes, watches, clothing, children – I’m good at it. Merino is particularly easy – jag it against a single sharp branch and you’ll get yourself a hole. But this tee took it like a champ. I was genuinely surprised. The endless application of sunscreen, grime, bike grease and litre after litre of sweat did stain the neck hem ever so slightly, but otherwise it’s still beautiful. The merino/nylon mix was a real surprise. The damp merino smell and extended periods of moist, sweat-soaked t-shirt were all but gone. Yep its still merino, but whatever magic the IO wizards have woven into this shirt (they say 12% Nylon and 5% Elastane), has changed the dynamics of wool beyond compare. Same feel, no smell, but dries three times quicker. Only magic could do that. At the end of Wildside I gave this shirt a comfortable 10/10.Suitably impressed, this shirt is now my go-to adventure shirt. (Click here to read the benefits of ioMerino’s MicroMerino fabric.)
As for our quest to win a giant novelty cheque? Well we came out with one of those, stories to tell the grand-kids and were crowned the 3rd best adventure racing team in Australia.
Words Rohan Kilham
Photos Ben Cirulis