Rome Orienteering – Day 3

Finally after 2 days in Rome’s outlying parkland came the main reason for the trip, an urban orienteering race in and around the old city of Rome. The finish start and assembly area were all adjacent to the Colosseum, a beautiful although slightly bizarre setting teaming with tourists on a Sunday morning.

We had a strange incident at the start when a whole load of police motorcycles suddenly came piling through the park gate where the entrance to prestart was located – followed by a few Lancia Thema’s with blacked out windows and more police outriders. They headed out into the park….. – someone important I assume?

Knowing I more or less kept it going the day before I went out hard, managing to plan well ahead and getting good flow through the controls. The first section was fairly straightforward route-choice decisions and trying to keep the pace up as we looped our way through the parks, streets and squares. I lost about 10 seconds on one control, not seeing it where I expected, I carried on, then double backed and the kindly restaurant owner stepped out the way with a mischievous smile on his face having been stood in front of the control…. The second part of the course took us down into the tourist honeypots and it was a really challenge trying to navigate at speed, dodge the tourists and avoid getting sold a selfie stick, a laser or a squashy pig! I decided on a round about route #14 to #15 to avoid the climb, complication and crowds of a direct route – I’ve since walked it and spotted an even more direct small staircase – the splits will show what the right decision was….

I made a small mistake on the next control losing about 20-30 seconds, the map showed steps where there was in fact a ramp, which confused me and I then compounded it by miss-reading a code before realising I had been correct in the first place gggrrrrrrrr…

It was then a case of keeping the gas on, dodging the tourists and not making a mistake – crossing the line on an uphill finish by the Colosseum.  It was a fantastic experience, the crowds of bemused tourists I think just add to the experience, although being extremely frustrating at times.

Rome Orienteering – Day 2

Day 2 was in another large park in Rome – this time Villa Pamphilj , the weather a little warmer and this time slightly longer courses, planned as a middle distance race. As we had split start times, whilst Holly was out I enjoyed a coffee, a pastry and a dose of autumn sun in the park, again listening to the friendly commentary. Soon after Hol was back I wandered up to the start and stretched in the sunshine perusing a map they had on show in the prestart.

Being just over 5km I decided I should run flat out – ‘parkrun’ style and see what happened. I flowed through the controls well not making any mistakes but did find my technique was starting to fall apart at the end, tired with a few controls to go I found I was not planning ahead and had to make a conscious effort to stay in touch with the map and keep the gas on, particularly on the ups.

I was pleased with my result but I was still a long way off the pace – need to do some training!

Rome 2017 – Day 1 – Sprint

We arrived in Rome on the train from Naples and it was a simple journey on the Metro up to Caffarella, a parkland. After handing over a Doctors Certificate (as is normal in France and Italy) buying a T Shirt and saying hello to a few people (Brits and a few Danes) We headed off to the start some 1.5 km away, using a warmup map. In the start lane it became apparent that the race map was a different scale to the warmup – lucky I noticed!

The race was fast and furious, 23 controls in 20 mins is pretty full on, the course twisting and turning. It was the sort of course when jogging round would be sooooo easy, but at speed on the ragged edge it is all too easy to make a mistake. I struggled a bit each time I refolded the map, it being a challenge to stay in touch… I ran well until the last few when I lost touch going into #21 and blew a good minute or so completely overshooting – a massive mistake in sprint orienteering 🙁

I was slow to #22 as well playing safe after crashing through the bamboo before sprinting into the finish to Mike Edwards on commentary. Other than my biggy mistake I had a clean run – such a shame …

Off to Rome!

Holly and I are off to Italy on Monday to for a few days R&R and then 3 days of racing around Rome.

The Sunday Urban is around the ancient centre! for more details

World Games 2017 Sprint – Wroclaw

Randomly we found ourselves in Wroclaw for a couple of days at the same time as the World Games – completely unplanned! The World Games is full of sports that don’t quite have the worldwide oomph to get on the Olympic Stage! On the Monday night we tried to get tickets to the men’s synchronised trampolining but in the end saw a couple of ‘ends’ of boules as the tickets were all sold out! There was all sorts else on – from tug of war to speedway and sport climbing!

Tuesday morning however brought the sprint distance orienteering races from a square in the old town of Wroclaw! First up were the Women, with Brits Megan Carter Davies and Tess Strain separated by a few minutes in the start list. We hung around the start finish zone and watched them both start and then again as they came through the spectator control before finally seeing them come in for the final time after the final loop. The finish area was surrounded by fairly grotty flats, in total contrast to the gorgeous main square where we knew from the GPS tracking the competitors went on their second loop.

So as the final few women started we headed for the main square and were treated to Maja Alm flying through before we took a well-earned break in a café before the Men started to appear in the square.


We moved about the square managing to see the same competitors a few times as they looped about, also keeping one eye on the Live O app which showed us the GPS tracking. Peter Hodkinson and Ralf Street were running for GBR. Ralf had a cracking run taking a great 7th place overall. I also got an interesting photo of Jerker Lysell being photobombed by a pigeon!

The courses looked relatively easy but we did see a number of people making mistakes – the sheer speed of the competition and the winning margins being so tight you had to run clean.

The World Games has a Middle Race tomorrow and a sprint relay following but we are now off to the Bohemian 5 day in Czech!

Ride Staffs Sportive and Cycling Festival 2017

I’ve never done a sportive before, the thought of paying to ride around some open roads to be honest hadn’t appealed to date but I thought I should be it a go and it was another chance to show off the #pichampion kit 🙂

The event was based out of Chillington Hall, a location I know well from planning an orienteering event earlier this year, the courtyard in the model farm is a great start finish venue. I started at 8.35, fairly late I think for the long route, and set out to the major climb of the day (its quite little really) up on to Cannock Chase. The route as far as Hixon I know well, from a combination of Mammoth Monday night rides and my normal training loops.  I’d decided to use a camel back with just over two litres in, a couple of bars and a jam roll and eat and drink on the ride rather than stop at the feeding stations so whizzed past the first at Wolesley Bridge. The Medium and Long routes were common as far as Great Heywood and lots peeled off towards Tixall, heading form home.

I think I went out a bit too fast so on the route to Uttoxeter I backed off a bit, enjoying the quiet lanes and pretty Staffordshire villages. I spotted a couple of nice looking pubs I might go back to!

Winding through Uttoxetter took us to the second feed stop but I rode on past confident I had enough liquid in reserve. It was then out along a rolling B road to Stone.  I had 3 enforced rests in Stone, first the railway level crossing, then the traffic lights in the middle of town and then again on the climb out at some 3 way roadworks – all very frustrating. We had been fighting a head wind as far as Stone but as we turned for home the wind was behind us and I knew there were  no more significant climbs. 

I dug deep for the next hour, slowly overhauling small groups of riders before coming into the back gate of Chillington. Knowing the site I new what to expect, the track is very rough, I was fine but there were a few grumbles coming from people on expensive machines and a couple of grumpy people walking in with punctures.

The finish was beautiful, up the hill across the estate’s parkland towards the house – I took about 4 hours 20 min for the 70 mile route and was all in at the end.  The atmosphere afterwards was great, munching a Freshwood Pizza and enjoying a beer in the sunshine watching the #TDF in the courtyard.
So would I do another – probably, I went much faster  much further and dug deeper that on a training ride. 

ridestaffs results 2017 here

#pichampion # endureandenjoy365 

Poland Cup – MTBO World Masters Series – Long

The long race was to the north of the previous 2 days, characterised by very steep sided  valleys and spurs and a complete mix of track ride-ability from flat out to a shoulder carry. After my middle epic of over 90 minutes I was prepared for a long one out in the hot sun – with my camel back full and even a couple of bars tucked away just in case.

We started down hill, the full sus bike was a great platform for map reading at speed but even then I could only take snatching glances, the track was really sketchy. I cut through the trees to #1 and rode well to #2 but missed the tiny turn off and had to cut through the woods after turning round. At #3 I was lucky that a stray dog took off after another rider, rather than me and at #5 I missed a single track and ended up running down a slope, digging my heels in. It was so steep if I had simply dropped the bike it would have ended up at the bottom. The climb up to #6 was awful, the map says 60 meters straight up but it felt like soo much more with the sun on my neck!

The big route choice legs that are the hallmark of the long course then began as we worked our way around the valleys before dropping down at high speed for a couple of kilometres losing 8 index contours (200 metres). Trouble was I knew from looking ahead I’d be coming back up it later!
After a couple of controls in grassland, in the valley, the climb back up was brutal. I was careful to keep well over to the right in case someone was rattling down but ended up off the bike a walking a couple of times and Peter Simmonds who started 6 mins after me came storming past as we crested the hill. We turned for home and the decent back to the finish. I opened up the suspension lockouts and managed to just catch Pete on the finish line but he had beaten me by 6 mins and I was down in 5th.

Surprisingly it was not too long in the end  ( more of a middle long) and I was only out for 99 mins but the winner took 25 minutes out of me!

Polish Masters Sprint Championships 2017

A hot afternoon brought us back to the same start as the middle earlier in the day. We watched as most starters turned right up the 60 metre climb and wondered how ‘sprinty’ the event was going to be. Apparently the organisers bounced in and out of permissions to use the touristy parks which would have been amazing but in the end we ended up back in the same forest as the middle race.

The route to number one had me off the bike, pushing and then the bike up and on my shoulder as I negotiated a really steep rocky gully. I was drenched in sweat at the top! The course was fairly straightforward with a lot of climb but there were some good route choice options including #5 to #6 where I took the ridgeline, a fantastic singletrack, whilst fellow Brit Pete Simmonds took the southern route. The decent into 7 was sketchy and fun before the road crossing onto the last couple of controls before the finish. I had to pause at the junction to double check the route out and then made a little error forcing me to cut through the trees for 50 meters to #13. I think with so much doubling back in the last few controls, if there were more competitors, it could have been dangerous but it was fine.

I finished well, enjoying the SI Air contactless punching which saved significant time on some of the legs but was 17 seconds down on Pete who won.

The numbers were low but the M40 and M45 age classes were combined and we were surprised at the prize giving that we qualified for the Polish Masters Sprint Championships  – Brits taking Gold and Silver….  The medal is lovely, almost a piece of artwork.
Not really a sprint, more of a short middle – but enjoyable all the same!