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The Route (Midlands)

I was assisting with Sportident timing Walton Chasers contribution to ‘The Route’ on Saturday. The Route is a new idea by British Orienteering to attract newbies to our sport, targeting a different demographic. There are three ‘Routes’ on offer at each of the events all with a 1 hour time limit.

  • Route Runner: is traditional score orienteering (but on an OS map)
  • Route Breaker: is again score orienteering but with the added challenge of having to collect the checkpoints according to snooker rules – ie a red control then a colour.
  • Route Camp: Involves coming back after each checkpoint to the event headquarters to do a gym exercise.

 

The branding and atmosphere at the event was great. Small orienteering events have a lot to learn from other adventure sports: feather flags, a podium, lots of gantry banners etc together with kicking music gave the event a great feel – even though the numbers were low.

The demographic has completely new, attracted mainly through social media adverts, the competitors were mostly new to orienteering with a high percentage were women, who in the most came in groups.

Also great to see were people who were still fairly new to running and were looking for something less daunting than a 10k or an obstacle course to try as an event.

All in all a good event, a little poorly attended for the effort inputted but all seemed to have a great time, however a couple of experienced orienteers who attended and raced route runner felt a little short changed as they finished their courses I under 30 mins! I know the organisers will be looking at this ahead of the next event.

MTBO Camp 17 – Route Choice Training

The heated set in my kindly upgraded 3 Series BMW hire car from Budget came in very useful whilst driving over to the afternoons training. It was a beautiful setting besides a lake. I teamed up with John Houlihan for the training which was all about long legs and routechoice, each person trying a different route and then meeting up at each control to exchange notes! A sort of navigation meets interval training!

 

To be honest my legs had had it and I was struggling up the climbs but it was useful seeing the different route choice options playing to our strengths. 

Below the map shows two of the route choice legs – Yellow for me, Pink for Houli… Strava Flybys will be interesting on this one!

Afterwards we visited the WW2 batteries at Hanstholm before well earned cake and coffee in a nearby cafe.

 

MTBO Camp 2017 – Middle Race Vandet

Today was middle distance day and part of the World Masters Series! It was cold and manky with the odd shower so again really difficult to work out what to wear but in the end as usual putting up with a bit of brrrrr at the start paid off as the sweat started to build over the first few controls.

    

Vandet is a working forest with a dense track network, great for a middle race. I rode well, pushing as hard as I could, fairly cleanly, suffering a little on the hills and the grassy rides but I had a nightmare at number 7. I can now see exactly what I did – mistaking a corner for a junction and then off on a 90 degree parallel error. I knew from the compass quickly that I’d gone wrong but when I stopped and set the map with the compass nothing made sense. I carried on saw a control and piled into it – just in case but it wasn’t mine – I got a look at another riders map and then knew where I was. Trouble was everytime I set the map with the compass it seemed to be different. I was riding up and down with nothing making sense, just wanting to get out. I eventually moved my hand away from the bars and suddenly saw the compass needle swing 45 degrees away. I tried it again and the same thing…… I set the map with my arm straight, away from the bike and then headed out to relocate on the road to be double sure, took a deep breath and then carried on – 6 mins lost !!  I made doubly sure at the map change this time after last nights debacle.

No idea what on the bars was affecting the compass but I checked again when I got back at the training and the same thing was happening. Not sure what to do, nothing has changed in my setup! 

I rode the rest reasonably clean  the the combination of the mistake and lack of fitness meant I was well down 🙁 Great area and good course though – really enjoyed it.

 

 

MTBO Camp 17 – Night Sprint

After a looooong day, getting up at 2.30am, driving, flying, driving, bike building to be honest I just wanted to go to bed but no, 9.15pm was the  start for the first race of the mtbo camp cup. It was a sprint around the town of Fjerritslev, taking in the edges of the town and adjacent woods as well as the complex gridded town centre. It was also getting cold, as soon as the sun set the temperature fell away causing lots of phaffing as to what to wear! 

I queued up to get an early start and got off with a little daylight still remaining at about 9.30. I rode smoothly through the first 4 controls except for 1 wobble trying to find a track which wasnt someones from drive but then tried to be clever, refolding the map whilst riding along. Big mistake, I ended up getting ahead of myself and riding off down a parallel road. It didn’t feel right and I quickly relocated but I then compounded the error by retracing my steps when there was a quicker way to the control from where I relocated. (GPS shows I lost 2 mins 20 secs – huge in sprint racing)

Luckily I calmed down and got straight back into the map and rode well for the rest of the course with just a few wobbles a couple of perhaps dodgy route choices  and one more mistake. I think a few people struggled with no.17 (140) down a very narrow track to take us behind a factory, it was mapped properly but impossible to read on the bike in the dark and I lost another 45 seconds or so.

It was a great race and I am typing this now totally awake – that’s what adrenaline and exercise does for you! Competitors who did it in the daylight have 15 mins added to their time and I am not sure how the results were stacking when I finished but I was about 6.5 mins down on the leader at the time…..

I’ve used quick-route to show my speed over the ground as well as my route. It shows a small mistake near #3, the biggy on the way to #5 and the one at #17, but also shows some red in the town. This I think is mainly from having to stop to get my Emit touch free close enough to punch when it was on the wrong side from my right wrist but you can also see some yellow where I am not able to ride flat out while navigating.

A great start to the week – Tomorrow I am racing at midday, bring it on! #endureandenjoy365

 

 

MTBO Camp 2017 – Preview

Along with a large contingent of Brits I am off to Denmark at stupid o’clock tomorrow morning to train, race and generally have a good time at MTBO Camp 2017. 250 competitors from all over Europe are gathering in northern Jutland, Denmark near Aalborg for a series of races and training activities.

MTBO camp has been running for a number of years and continues to grow in stature and numbers from just a training camp to now hosting important World Master Series races and from time to time Elilte World Ranking events.

We kick off on Wednesday with a night sprint race – time to get my Hope light on charge, pack my bike up and get out the scales!

For full details see http://www.mountainbikeorienteeringworld.com/

 

Milton Mayhem – Midlands MBO Score

Sunday brought yet another gorgeous spring morning. It was Midlands Mountain Bike Orienteering‘s turn to hold a national series event just down the road from me near Burton on Trent. I took advantage of the weather and took the Spitfire again which was lovely but I did end up greeting friends with very cold hands when I got there!  The area was completely new to me, which was a nice challenge. It is a proper British rolling countryside of meadows, woodlands, pastures and little lanes with a couple of large old country estates and rape seed in full bloom dotting the landscape. I think with my #pichampion kit on with the floro highlights on I matched well with the terrain!

I started out fairy scrappily finding it difficult to pick a good order through the well-planned course and missed a control I really would have taken no extra time to get. There was a good mix of offroad trails and fine navigation needed on an accurate map.

Mid-course we had been given permission to ride the wrong way up a 5km or so long estate road. It was fairly busy with the public arriving to enjoy the estate but I managed to keep on the edge of the Tarmac just edging into the grass for big vehicles. I did, however, have to swerve onto the grass when an older gentleman in a 4×4 started shaking his fist as he came towards me gesticulating I was going the wrong way. He then deliberately drove at me forcing me off the road!!!!!

My legs were in bits towards the end and they were finished off by a recently ploughed field which had destroyed the bridleway. Off and running, dragging the bike – thank goodness it wasn’t raining or it would have been a quagmire!

I was pleased with the result – 6th behind some of the best in the UK, seems, at last, my endurance fitness is starting to return. 

Day 4 – Easter 4 Slovenia

The sun came back out for the last day of Easter 4. Before heading to the airport, we had one more event. A stiff climb to the start took us to a high rounded ridge and plateau high above the village with amazing views of the Slovenian forested valleys, snowy peaks in the distance.

I made a mistake straight from the off, confused by the mapping of the vegetation, the vague contours on the top, and indistinct tracks. I was scrappy for a few more controls, struggling to get into the map, the vegetation extremely dense in places, forcing me to retrace my steps and find another way through, disorientating in the process.

I made a few more silly mistakes before dropping down the bonkers steep sides of the valley (cath had to pick here way down the cliffs!) and the last few controls. Again the combination of dense vegetation and indistinct tracks made the nav very hard.

Downloading I was pleased to see I’d ended up 6th overall for the week and enjoyed a ridiculously cheap lunch in a local café before we headed back to the airport.

A great alternative to our normal JK orienteering Easter weekend – I do like Slovenia!

Easter 4 Orienteering Day 3 – more Karst!

Day 3 and the rain of yesterday cleared into glorious sunshine. We were back at the same start finish area but using a different part of the map today, better visibility and runability but the same intense Karst navigation through numerous sinkholes. There were a few paths to help things along today too.

I ran well through the first 8 controls but was starting to tire and had a quick drink at #8 which seemed to break my concentration. I promptly messed up the #9 but quickly realised what I had done and got back on track but managed to lose time on the to long legs 11 and 12 on the way back in. I am not quite sure why the planner subjected us to a load of grotty forest for the last few minutes after spending so long in amazing woodland. 

I think it would have been quicker 11-12 to drop down to the major northern track than going direct, but I remember thinking at the time I haven’t come to amazing terrain like this to run along easy tracks!

Overall an OK run, slightly frustrated by my mistakes and 8th place. Fellow mountain bike orienteer, the Swiss, Beat Okle had a storming run taking 20 mins out of me, winning today but he is only running today and must have fresh legs 😉

The map below has an overlay of my route and speed across the ground and shows the mistakes.

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