A bad day at the office.

Event report – Dark and White Winter League rd 2 – Hope / Castleton

My first 3hr event since my ‘proper’ training began in July of this year. To be honest I had high hopes of doing well, although I am considering the league as good training as opposed to a target for this year as 3hrs is much longer than a normal MTBO.  The weather was fine, with great views over the Peak District and beyond and I was looking forward to a good day out in the hills. The D&W events are consistently some of the best ‘Trailquests’ in the UK, which are well planned and use acceptable mapping on fairly accurate 1:50 thou OS maps. The controls are not hidden and are well marked on the ground with red and white tape. These differ to MTBOs by being score events, ie there are approx 20 -30 controls worth differing values are spread over a large area and the aim is to bag the most points in the 3 hr time limit visiting them in any order.
My normal technique is not to hang about at the start, just make a decision which control to visit first and get going, probably in less than 30 secs of getting the map, then plan my route on the fly. If you are going to be in the top few you really have to get most of the controls anyway, so this normally works for me.
BUT – Sunday was different; it was very well planned with lots of options. You would have had to been Superman to clean up, particularly with the condition of some of the tracks after the previous week’s weather, therefore I essentially blew it. I should have left out two lower value controls, towards the beginning of my chosen route at Mam Tor, which took in large climbs, rather than scooting around trying to get them all. When I realized this it was too late, I was already committed. I then compounded it by desperately trying to collect controls on the dash for home to improve my score when I was already late.
I could roll out some excuses about a dodgy bit of mapping by a dam which was obscured by the control circle which lost me a few minutes, or about the 20 or so horses I had to stop for, or the busy road I could not cross and the nightmare chain suck on the granny ring, but it was the same for everybody and it evens itself out over the 3hrs and is part of the event.
In ‘trailquest’ events with a fixed time you are penalised for being late on a ramped scale, i.e. a couple of mins late is fine, more than 10 and you start haemorrhaging points. Suffice to say I was 13 ½ mins late and lost 35 of my 205 hard earned points and ended up well down the field.
So time to take some positives forward, I felt I was very strong on the hills, particularly the climb up to Mann Tour from Castleton, and I’m sure if I had picked a different route I would have been up there with the leaders. Lesson learned, perhaps spend another 30 secs looking at the map before starting and don’t assume I’m going to get them all but a couple …..
Oh and to rub salt into my wounds I lost my Garmin 305 – GPS tracker and heart rate monitor – I had one small crash and some of the tracks were extremely rocky and it must have fallen out of its bracket – like I said, a bad day at the office….
Results available here….
Mark Stodgell