Staffordshire Summer Series – preview

Its just two weeks to the first of the Staffordshire Summer Bike Orienteering series, organised by Walton Chasers and Lichfield CCC, supported by Cycle Shack ( Heath Hayes)

Online entry is now available at for all events.

More details and links to details of each of the events at

2011 GB Kit has arrived

At last the new GB kit has arrived. Thanks to the sponsors


Sweden World Cup / World Masters Preview

Thurs 16th June will see a large team of Brits flying to Sweden to compete in the 2nd round of the 2011 MTBO World Cup and World Masters Championships. Sweden although being one of the top nations in the world in foot orienteering is relatively new to MTBO and it is hoped that hosting a World Cup round will increase participation in the country.

Full details at

Dark and White #5 – Monsal Trail

Heavy showers punctuated the afternoon as I travelled up to the 5th round of the Dark and White Summer series 2011, centred on the newly finished Monsal Trail, complete with old lit railway tunnels. Another feature of the Monsal trail is that it nestles in a huge valley with outrageous climbs out to the north and south meaning that route choice would be very important.

I headed out south hoovering up controls but was a little hesitant with the navigation through Brushfield though noticed a few people steaming past me obviously knowing exactly where the correct trails lay from previous knowledge. We then had a seemingly unending series of farm gates to negotiate.

The decent to Monsal head viaduct was a little hairy and I enjoyed the stopping power of some new SLX brakes I have acquired to get me through the season whilst Avid look at my Elixirs under warranty.

It was a fairly straightforward route until Tideswell, where with time running out it was a matter of taking controlled risks as I was never going to complete the circuit through Wormhill in the time available.

I got it about right though steaming down into the finish just over 2 mins late.

Looking back I probably should have left the number 1 – 10 pointer which would probably have given me the time to complete the Wormhill loop.

The newly opened tunnels on the Monsal trail were great and make this a fantastic place to ride for all ages and abilities.


Combining a long ride with a trip home in the car can be a good way of munching up the training miles without impacting too much on family time, cycling to where we are off to, or getting dropped off 3 hours from home!

So, at the end of our Cornwall holiday I found myself dropped off  just off the A30 south west of Exeter, on a lonely lane, with an 80-odd kilometre to ride back to my parents house near Taunton.

Last year I rode from Exeter Services via the A38, which was very boring, so this time I picked a more interesting route via Crediton and Tiverton through lots of back lanes and rural roads.

After a quick warm up on a more major road I dived left into a warren of little lanes, twisting and turning towards Credition, past curious little villages, old farmhouses and a patchwork of fields.

The road rolled over a seemingly never-ending series of short climbs and descents, before a fast drop into the market town of Credition. The last time there was about 20 years ago for the 100 th run of Kirton Hash  (set up by a couple of pals from the South West Junior Orienteering Squad), one of the many Devon Hash House Harriers groups now running. In fact I think it is now possible to hash every night of the week in the county (for those not in the know a description of Hashing can be found here).

From Credition I had a long slow climb up in to more typical Devon rolling countryside, with hills and dells sprinkled with farm houses, small woods and very little traffic. It was simply sublime as the sun slowly dipped towards the horizon.

Unfortunately, from Tiverton I had a 20 minute section on a very busy dual carriage-way, which was very unpleasant, before rejoining more familiar roads through Wellington and on to Taunton.

Parts of North Devon are just so far off the beaten track that time seems to have stood still and remind me of the area around Taunton 25 years ago. I look forward to a more relaxing ride through this beautiful area one day.

Climbing in public

Down in Cornwall for the week on holiday I spent a while pouring over an OS map trying to find a big steep hill on which to do a series of punishing low cadence reps on.

I found the perfect incline a few km down the coast from Treyarnon where we were camping.

The climb up from sea level to approx 80m at Mawgan Porth is vicious and has a very steep hairpin towards the top before a gentle gradient for the last 100m which makes for a brilliant thigh burning session.

The added plus was that there could be no wimping out once started as it was a very public hill, circling a pitch and put course, and with a slow stream of beach goers trudging back up the hill to their cars and caravans giving me very strange looks as I slogged my way up and wizzed down the 3.5 min climb.

Memory Lane

church, cheddon fitzpaineI’ve had a couple of weekends down at my parents in Taunton recently and have spent a few hours training in the lanes and old villages, soaking up the memories and enjoying fine views over the Vale in the May sunshine.

Quantock Orienteer’s were holding a‘JOG’ (Junior Orienteering Training event) one Saturday afternoon, organised by Judy Craddock who with her husband Roger introduced me to Orienteering in 1982. I thought I would drop in and say hello and after a natter ended up scuttling around a sprint score event in my cycling shoes skidding around the corners on my cleats, trying to beat 12 mins, as well as helping out a bit before continuing my training ride up into the Blackdowns.

Queens College was a great little map and the planning caught me out forcing me to retrace my steps for one control I could not get too because of uncrossable walls and fences. It was good to see lots of old faces and I will try to make a few more QO events in the future when I am down in Somreset.

Dark & White Summer #3

The third round of this summers Dark and White evening series was a little closer to home South of Buxton near Longnor. I even managed to nav my way through some tiny lanes to avoid Ashborune’s rush hour (a sly route Julie P had suggested) and got there for a fairly early start.

There was a stiff wind blowing from the South and I had a feeling this would be an issue out on the course affecting route choice as the area is very exposed.

I decided that the valleys to the West would be fairly sheltered so headed off anticlockwise with the wind behind me. I completely cocked up my first checkpoint with a right schoolboy error. I always carry my control descriptions stuffed up my shorts, only resorting to them if I can’t see a checkpoint when I get to the centre of the circle but this time I paid for it, standing on top of an old railway bridge looking down to my first control on the cyclepath far below. Muppet! I should have known the organisers wouldn’t have put the control on a main road !

I had no choice but to leave it and cut my losses but I’d just thrown away 10 points !

I rode fairly well, and missed out a few controls not on my route, knowing there was no way anyone would clear up on this bigger than average map and finished strongly up the old railway line to the finish 4 mins late.

Those 10 points cost me 2nd place and I ended up 6th – Doh!