Spring has sprung into early summer and the long evenings bring back the 17th year of Dark and White summer weekday mountain bike orienteering series!
I’ve been doing these for the last 10 years or so – slowly getting to know the Peak District and particularly its steep bits year on year!
This year there are only 3 events 🙁 and I know the series is under pressure for the future if numbers are not up a little on last year.
The events are simple – 2 hours, get as many checkpoints as you can…… and don’t be late!
See you there! If you want to know what its like take a look at an event at the same venue in 2009 and this one just up the road in 2011
- Round 1 | Castleton | 14th June 2017
- Round 2 | Peak Forest | 21st June 2017
- Round 3 | Holmesfield | 28th June 2017
For more details see the Dark and White website or BMBO website
MTBO Camp ultra longs are legendary – mixtures of maps including tourist and google maps are not uncommon and the spring weather in Denmark and Sweden often unpredictable – bonkers hot or windy and sleet! This year in Northern Jutland everything was great, good maps, fine weather and fantastic views over the North Sea.
The Brit masters filled up the front row of the grid for the mass start, banter abounding ahead of the starting whistle as we received our A2 sized maps! We all streamed out turned right and pelted down the road in a large peloton before forking off to pick off the various free order controls which were designed to split the field. I was with a small group on I think a good route choice and I soon scooted round a dense network of tracks between Danish summer houses before heading for the first of the fixed order controls – number 8, feeling I may be out in front runners. On the way out from #8 down by the coast I realised my mistake, why I was on my own! – I’d missed one of the free order ones. I returned to #8 some minutes later slightly frustrated with a mini GB masters train now in tow (me knowing the way for some reason!). I put the hammer down, the red mist rising, trying to claw back some time only to make another mistake, this time putting me at the back of the GB train – choo chooo…. And then I was dropped, my legs couldn’t handle it on the long fire road section. I caught up through the next couple of controls through the singletracks and eventually over-took and pulled away after picking a lucky route choice to some WW2 gun emplacements as we headed out to the point on the coast. There was a route-choice of a long road climb around or a run up what felt to me like hundreds of steps up a sand dune. At the top the view was amazing (I returned later in the car to take it in properly) before I turned for home…. The GB group caught me again on another long fire road section after I had a wobble losing a track and ending up having to ride back around to the control but an unfortunate puncture stopped the train in its tracks and I got away again.
I kept the hammer down as hard as I could into the last section – a move to a 1:7500 maps for the final few controls on single-track.
I really enjoyed the race and it was pleasing that although I don’t have the fitness to keep up with the peloton yet I can at least keep going hard on the longer races (without too much climb)
I rode back from the finish chatting to the legend that is Lasse Brun Pedersen 2008 World and European MTBO Champion. It was good to catch-up but to be honest it was all I could do to keep up with him as he cruised back to the camp – my warm down more of a sprint as I tried to get the words out between breaths!
The Brits as usual sneaked off for a lunchtime café stop nearby following the middle race and a few of us returned to the mornings venue for the afternoon training – map memory.
A blank map was given out to carry around face down on our map boards to act as a safety net, in-case we lost the plot, but essentially there was a 2 leg little bit of laminated map hanging from a tree at each control and you had to memorise your route.
To be honest as we had been there in the morning and as we wound our way round again it was also a bit of terrain memory but excellent all the same. I tried 4 times to remember double legs, ie not stopping for two controls and memorizing the route the whole way. I managed it twice and had to resort to the backup map close to the control on two occasions to finish the leg.
The area is crisscrossed by dedicated MTB singletracks and we had a great time too enjoying these outside of race conditions before heading back to base before heading out for a team meal.
It was a bit of a drive to day 3’s middle race to the South. Sarah B was sharing my car and handily brought a satnav with her. We had no edge of childish giggles listening to the anglicised pronunciations of the road and town names. Our favourite this morning sounded like ‘arse veg’ with ‘fast veg’ a close second bringing thoughts of cabbages and leeks racing across the road!
There was a map on display at the start with an extra path marked. I noted the race map was split into two – complex to the East, big tracks to the West separated by a steep incline. I resolved in prestart to give it everything on the climbs and on the fire roads and just keep the power on for the full hour or so else I was going to be last!
I rode well and cleanly through the first few, getting out the saddle on the hills but I was too all in, puffing and sweating after the long leg and fluffed #5 taking the wrong track, losing a couple of minutes.
I didn’t lose too much time in the complex stuff, first time around, but didn’t notice the track from #11 was U shaped. I was good and retraced my steps but I could see tyre marks showing others not having the same scruples!.
At the map changeover I wasn’t sure what was going on – totally confused by the turn over control then becoming the centre of a butterfly loop….. Soon I worked it out and was off again, and rode the rest cleanly but I was shattered when I finished – too many mistakes, probably because I was giving it loads on the legs and the nav suffered.
There was a fair bit of criticism of the planning in the complex area, some calling for a blow up, some calling for tapes to stop the blatant cutting through that was happening. To be honest a couple of little bits of tape and a marshal in a high viz jacket would have probably helped but it was very hard to work out what was going on… Perhaps just a couple of controls max might have been better in there?
The sun shone for the afternoons training on Hollerup. We split into groups of three of similar ability and rode a series of route choice legs with a left, right and middle option. There was normally a fast long option, a straight technical navigation or singletrack option and an option avoiding climb. I rode with Houli again and Tim. At every control there was a gaggle of brits and swedes discussing the results of our efforts and a great atmosphere.
I’ve put an example onto the map to show the vast differences in options – mostly only 30 secs to a minute difference between them….
We called it a day at #8 and rode some of the singletrack all the way back to the car.
Another morning of showers and manky weather but the day brightened into sunshine! Svinklov was another brilliant area for MTBO, a really dense track network of varying ride-ability including zoomy (and not so zoomy) single-tracks, lots of route-choice and a need for the brain to be engaged. The trouble is for the first 2 controls my brain was definitely not engaged, phaffing about with lots of stopping and little mistakes, but probably not losing more than a minute or so. On the way to #3 I got going and into the map and rode OK for the rest of the course except for a few wobbles. I did a little bit of forestry work on the way to #8 taking a difficult to ride track that disappeared! I lost a few minutes dragging the bike through some undergrowth, retracing my steps… pulling sticks out of the rear wheel! I cocked up number 10 misreading a track junction however it did mean I got to ride some great singletrack!
A strange inclusion to the course was a bonkers bit of singletrack with boulders and roots, steps and dropoffs which had most people off and running with the bike for a couple of controls between #19 and #21. Bits were fun but I think it should have been marked as difficult to ride and part of a route choice leg perhaps?
I was mid-table again, a few minutes back on the other Brits – I need to have my head in the game tomorrow morning for the next race – another world masters series!
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.
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.