MTBO Camp 17 – Map Memory Training

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.

MTBO Camp 2017 – Middle Race #3

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?

MTBO Camp 17 – Route Choice Training #2

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.




MTBO Camp 17 – Middle Race #2 Svinklov

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!



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