Hay Bike Fest – MBO Score


The organisers of Hay Bike Fest’s MBO score asked me to give some advice on timing, there was also a kids MTBO being run at the outdoor centre which the event started from so I took Holly down too. Unfortunately the terrible weather put a dampener on the whole festival but the riding was fantastic. I just went out for a two hour pootle, my back not being yet up for a 3.5 hour hillfest.

More details of Hay Bike Festival at http://www.haycycling.org/


JK 2014

Sprint and day 2 maps below. Had a really good ‘run’ on Merthyr Common, just losing some time on number 14, not concentrating.


MTBO CAMP – Micro Hoke

The last day of MTBO camp is a non competitive ultra long event, similar in style to a British trailquest but with fixed order and free order sections. On offer was a 75km a 50km and a 35km route together with a nano Hoke option for the ‘cool kids’ class.
My 35km route started with a free order section which I took in a daft order as I was confused about which fixed order control I was to take next. I eventually realised what I was doing and found myself at the back of a long crocodile as we climbed up into the centre of the island. I tried to be clever picking a complicated route avoiding extra climb yo get ahead. It nearly worked but as I got closer to the control my tracks turned horrible and I spent a while taking part in the local farming and forestry industry. We then had a series of controls on the coast, beautiful riding but the map really wasnt up to competitive riding. I didnt find the second last control and rather than thrashing around trying again I headed for home finishing after 3 hours, an hour longer tham anything I have ridden for two and a half years and my back was just starting to stiffen up.
I was glad in the end I had cut it short, just as I was getting changed a storm blew in, soaking most of the riders on the 50 and 75km routes.


MTBO CAMP 2014, crying mile

Johan’s bonkers training race – 19 controls, 1.6km on a 1:2000 map with 15 second start intervals…
I rode ok for the first few but then started to make mistakes. Not a great result but great fun all the same with some excellent singletrack riding in the sand dune forest.


MTBO camp 2014 – middle race

Classic Baltic sand dune forest with a dense track network is what middle race mountain bike orienteering is all about, today was brilliant,  a smile on my face the whole way around the course.

Organiser Johan had asked if I would mind riding with some TV station go-pros on, it was a bit of a phaff getting it to zip tie on to my helmet and handle bars but it definitely made me attack some of the singletrack sections to get some good footage.
I had a great ride, two small mistakes, firstly on number one when I was trying to get into the map scale and later number 19, where I went in too early, probably a minute lost in total.
I was probably riding faster than I should have done but it was great to be back riding properly, I hope I don’t regret it later!



African adventures 3 – The Drakensberg Mountains

9We arrived in Didima camp in darkness after a few hours drive from the coast after briefly visiting Durban, the last 20 mins quite scarily avoiding locals and cattle wandering up each side of the road through the villages of circular thatched huts. Lines of flame lit up the night as the farmers burnt off the previous summers grassland to encourage fresh spring growth.
Didima camp sits nestled on a spur and consists of individual “bungalows” with fantastic views out to the mountains and a central small conference centre and restaurant all beautiful bits of architecture, sitting so well in the landscape.
The following day we climbed a steep switchback trail to Tryme Hill. This 1800m top on a large rounded ridge sits 500 metres above the spectacular gorges on both sides that wind themselves up to the higher 3000m Drakensberg tops such as Cathedral Peak which were a bit beyond Holly and my current back problems being a 9 hour round trip.
Vultures circled above us as we stopped for an early lunch on top and the views were spectacular.
The following day we hired a guide for a gentle walk to Doreen Falls. You have to have a guide to visit the bushman cave paintings the Drakensberg are also so famous for. We climbed above the falls to the cave and he gave a great insight into the significance of the ancient rock art. We then retraced our steps for a very cold swim below the stunning waterfall before returning to Didima camp for a relaxing afternoon reading in the sunshine with fantastic mountain views in all directions.


10  12  13  14

African adventures 2 – Whale Watching.

6Holly and I set our alarms for bonkers o’clock and were at the “whale office” in St Lucia at 5.50 for our tractor ride which would take us the few kilometers to the beach as the sun came up over the Indian Ocean.
St Lucia does not have a harbour, it sits at the mouth of a very shallow estuary which is part of a huge wetland national park and game reserve where hippopotamus and crocodiles roam in great numbers.
We donned some waterproofs and lifejackets before climbing into the back of a smallish boat with about 10 others past the huge twin 300hp engines. After a briefing when the captain basically said hang on and then hang on some more a tractor pushed us off the beach into the surf. Almost immediately he gunned both engines to max revs and we launched forward over the breaking waves, crashing down after each one, water pouring over us. It was all we could do to stay in our seats. After a few minutes he throttled back and chatted for a bit before we took off again in search of the humpback whales that were on their migration route just off the coast.
7The trip out was punishing and very very wet in the rough seas. To be honest it was becoming beyond fun, head down, eyes closed with waves breaking over the open boat just hanging on, soaking wet.
Suddenly he throttled back and got us to move to different parts of the boat where we could get a better view and still hang on. It was all holly and I could do to make our way to the bow as the boat pitched and tossed. We spent the next 20 mins stalking a whale and its offspring but all we saw was its hump as it came up for air and soon the captain said he could see some whales splashing someway further out to sea. He left us in the bow as we turned pulling away before again gunning the powerful engines. Soon we were crashing through the waves, taking big impacts through our bent knees and of course getting waves crashing over us, a real adrenaline ride.
8It was worth it though, we soon were following 2 or 3 humpback whales fairly closely, who seemed to be showing off, breaching (jumping out of the water) and sticking their tails in the air.
It was impossible to get a camera out. Even if it was waterproof, just hanging onto the boat took two hands most of the time and all too soon it was time to head for home.
The trip back in wasn’t so rough but of course there was no harbour to return to. The solution…. Ride the waves in, giving it full power again and then beach the boat up on the the sand. A very exciting way to end a fantastic experience.