Photos in Compass Sport Magazine !

It was very good to see a detailed report of the European MTBO Championships in Compass Sport Magazine this month. Emily Benham did a great job of writing it up and the editor has used many of the photos taken by myself and others.
Compass Sport is the premier UK Map sport magazine covering Orienteering, Mountain Marathons, MTBO, Trailquests and Adventure Racing. The low res versions below open up a full resolution 2.2Mb PDFs of the article, reproduced by kind permission of the editor.


Christmas Runs & Rides

The great thing about the Xmas break is all the day light available and time to play!
Ten am sharp in the school Christmas holidays brings the Walton Chasers runs, including on Christmas morning. Even though it started 200 metres from our house on Christmas day, we still managed to miss the alloted time and I had to really hammer it to chase down the pack and get them to wait for Cath and her dad. Its was a good sized group, ranging in age from 18 to 65 and ability from national level fell runner to occasional orienteer. We spent a great hour running through Brocton Coppice and Sherbrook Valley in the cold morning sunshine, back in time to gorge ourselves on Turkey, trimmings and playing with our presents.
I went out on the mountain bike on Boxing Day and managed to avoid the crowds mostly. The Chase was very busy, but, as normal, as soon as you got away from the car parks and major tracks it was deserted.
I finally got Holly out with her tag on Saturday morning, although it was bitterly cold. After dropping her home I went out for another hours blast with instructions to pick up a loaf of bread on the way home. I came up with the great idea of elastic banding it to my map board to carry it home although I’m sure I looked completely daft.


With Sunday came a houseful of old friends from uni. In the 90’s we used to be part of a group of about 60 friends that met up for New Years partys in various Outdoor centres every year for a week or so of outdoors combined with social. Four of them joined us for a big walk on the Chase (about 12 miles) combined with various tea shop stops. There was far too much whiskey and Risk playing that night (after the obligatory curry), though not before a quick hours blast in the early evening darkness on the mountain bikes. I had my Orienteering Mila Headtorch ziptied to my helmet, battery and all, and after about 30 mins my neck was so sore from the weight I had to swap it for a Silva LX Fraser had with him for the remainder of the ride.

I was a good test of the old halogen technology of the Mila against the LED of the Silva, as both used identical batteries. The Mila had a much better spread, but the light was very yellow compared to the tight white beam of the Silva. I don’t think there was a lot in it, and I suppose a combination of both would be ideal. I know you can spend as much as £700 on a bike lighting system and with the massive advances in LED technology over the last couple of years new lights are always coming to market. I would like to try the new Silva Alpha when it comes out in January which promises to be the panacea but for the time being I think I carry on using the Mila but with the battery in its bag on my back !


Event Report – Military Challenge 3hr MTBO

The Military Challenge is an event born out of the Around Aldershot races of the last few years. It takes place on normally out of bounds Army training areas in the South East closed for the Christmas Break. It consists of Ultra Long Mountain Bike Orienteering or long foot Orienteering races, this year based at Longmoor Camp, near Petersfield.
Organised by BAOC (British Army Orienteering Club)the MTBOs of previous years have taken place in freezing conditions so the mild weather of the weekend before Christmas this year was a pleasant surprise, with temperatures around 12 degrees.
The 2008 event was a 3 hour score with a map exchange once the first map (1:15000 Orienteering map) had been cleared, so well worth the long journey down south. The quality of the field was also very good with at least 6 recent members of the British Team present.
I really shouldn’t have ridden as I was still not fit post Man Flu, but MTBO opportunities are so thin on the ground I decided to ride anyway but to take it a little easier than normal.
The controls were well spread out across the map, with plenty of route choice. I decided to head north into the less complex terrain first, and although I should have collected a couple of controls in a more efficient order was riding well with no mistakes. I had no repeat incident this year of trapping my EMIT brick between brake lever and handlebar, which came as bit a shock on a steep decent last Christmas !

The riding was great, with lots of steep descents and rolling tracks formed by years of tank and vehicle training, although some of the tracks were so sandy and muddy it was like trying to ride through soup.

I was feeling particularly rough about 2 hours in, but decided at the map exchange that as there were only a few controls left I would complete the 3 hours. I thought that rather than risk being late and losing points I would leave out one control, however I ended up finishing 10 mins early, so easily could have bagged it which would have brought me up one place.

Overall given the state of my lungs I was very happy with 6th, although Killian (winning by clearing up in 2.5 hours) is so far ahead of the rest of us at the moment it is going to take some serious training commitment to wind him in.
Full Results here….

Mark Stodgell ( stodge )

Man Flu & Rifle Ranges

What a week. I really shouldn’t of done the Dark & White Trailquest last week. I felt horrendous with a temperature all day Monday and ended up off work on the Tuesday. Man Flu, a terrible affliction.

So most of the week was spent trying to decide whether to race on Saturday down in Hampshire and servicing my bike just in case. The chainset although only going on in late September for the European’s has taken a complete hammering in the mud of the Cyclo Xs and Trailquests so a new chain and granny were required.

The Military Challenge is always on just before Xmas and is one of the very few MTBOs in the winter so I really wanted to go (see event report for more details). I ended up not deciding till late on Friday night and ended up staying at friends in Romsey that evening, as trying to drive for 6 plus hours and do a 3 hour race in one day would be a bit daft even without the Manflu. Bizzarely however Alan H ended up staying at my place in Stafford that night to break his journey from Shap and got to the event before me on Saturday morning……………
Even on Saturday morning I nearly didn’t race, and thought about retiring after 2 hours or riding. Its difficult when there are so few races in the UK, the temptation to do it is overwhelming even when you probably shouldn’t.

Writing this on Monday I do now feel that after 3 weeks I should now be able to get back to training again, but someone wants a kitchen floor finished by Wednesday, so Ill take it easy for the first few days back 😉

Mark Stodgell ( Stodge )

A much, much better day at the office

Event report – Dark and White Winter League rd 3 – Grindleford

My training diary on Saturday showed no training for 10 days due to a cold I picked up off of Holly. With the cold still there I wasn’t sure that I ought to race today really. Manic bike maintenance on Saturday night after driving home from Somerset didn’t help either but I put the bike in the car anyway and decided to make a decision on Sunday morning.

Trips up through The Peaks are always a pleasure early on Sunday mornings with no traffic on the road and this morning was no exception. Arriving at the event centre in Grindleford it was good to see Emily Benham, Britain’s current MTBO superstar who bagged a silver out in Lithuania, though being a poor student she was forced to cycle to and from Sheffield to take part. After my last effort at a Dark and White Event I spent a good 1.5 mins having a look possible routes and realised that again it was not going to be possible to get them all.

I decided to leave the lower value controls around Eyam to the end and headed out up on to Baslow Edge, with stunning views out to the west.  The day was characterised by vicious climbs and very fast descents, but as I am still without a replacement for my GPS I didn’t get a total height gain or max speed.
I decided to put a physcological demon to bed my diving down into Cressbrook and attacking the long climb out after bagging a control. A bad experience in the past given me the knowledge that the climbs are much bigger than those indicated on the map and I was a little hesitant at going back down there.

Looking at my watch I was ahead of schedule so a quick bit of re-planning brought in another huge climb at the end up through Eyam to Sir William Hill, again with stunning views back across the valley. However the climb told and I arrived at the control with no time left so I let rip on the final 250m decent into Grindleford.

A mistake on a road junction added to my lateness  by a minute or so but I was only 51/2 mins late in the end.

Now full results are published and I was 3rd (several Vets upgraded themselves into Open) which I am very happy with.

Mark Stodgell ( Stodge ) 


Chilling out – literally

With no competitions this weekend, a house full of visitors, and a cold which started on Wednesday night I admitted defeat and chilled out for a few days this week. The upshot, however, was I ended up having three fantastic recreational mountain bike rides on Cannock Chase with various combinations of friends, bimbly walks with kids and, finally, a trip to Wolf Mountain.

Cannock Chase was gorgeous on Saturday with hardly anybody about (off Christmas shopping no doubt), with lots of frosty vistas and long reaching views under clear blue skies. I lead John and Nicky on separate rides (they have a 4 month old) & tried to take them to little used parts of the Chase where the local trail fairies have been busy. We had a great time crunching along the icy tracks.

Sunday brought more of the same. Following an early morning walk with the kids around Oldacre with chilly misty views out towards the Wrekin, Nicky & I had another ride, but this time with Fraser in tow on his trusty Cotic Soul. There were lots more people about so we avoided the busy areas by nipping over to Abrahams Valley and did some old singletracks I’ve not been on for ages.

Sunday late afternoon was spent at Wolf Mountain Indoor Climbing wall in Wolverhampton. This superb facility encourages all ages and the kids had a great time scaling the walls and bouldering on the side of a continuous overhanging slide nick named ‘Spider Pig’. My old ~1988 climbing boots brought a few smirks from the better climbers but they still seem to work OK!

I think the few days relative rest has done me good and I should be back on the drive steaming away in cold evening air on my turbo trainer on Monday night.

Walking on Sunshine 118bpm

Monday night is normally my fast long road ride with a group from Mammoth but as Cath had to go to an Orienteering Club Committee meeting I had to miss out this week and stay at home. I needed a session so I dragged out my little used turbo trainer and gave it a go.

Cath suggested just before she left that I borrowed her ipod Shuffle which is crammed with her ‘running tracks’. After a few adjustments I started my session outside on the drive in front of the garage, temperature -1 degrees, shorts and winter shoes, what I must have looked like to passing motorists!

After warming up I switched on the shuffle and decided as I don’t currently have a heart rate monitor or cadence meter I would just pedal at the speed of whatever was playing.

The first track was ‘end of the world’ REM – talk about going straight up to max effort – 105 bpm
then Green Day’s American Idiot   – 96bpm after that Green Day again – ‘when I come around’ – 50bpm – up through the gears and out of the saddle it being a bit slow
Robbie – Hot Fudge – 100bpm, and so it went on, not much rest but I was having a great time and dripping all over the tarmac even with the low temperature.

After 40 mins on came ‘Walking on Sunshine’ Katrina and the waves. I got stuck in remembering it was the ‘first dance’ at out wedding where we just grabbed everyone out of their seats and on to the dance floor (Cath and I don’t do that whole smoochy dance stuff). I then thought this is quite quick, then the turbo trainer collapsed and started squirming side to side. I stopped mended the turbo trainer, reset the shuffle to the start of the song and started again. I only just made it through the track, legs and lungs burning with the effort of trying to stay with the beat.
I warmed down to Supergrass’s ‘alright’ and then went to go and find out what cadence I was trying to achieve for 4 mins – 118rpm

I now need to put my own realistc spinning music together, anyone any ideas……

Mark Stodgell

West Midlands Cyclo-X Rnd 8 – Solihull

I nearly didnt get to the race. A huge pile up on the M6 Toll in the horrendous weather completley blocked the motorway. It must have just happened as I was one of the first cars in the queue that quickly built up. As I didn’t witness it and there seemed plenty of people milling about getting things sorted I got going as soon as the motorway was partially clear. The weather all the way down was a combination of hail, lightening and torrential rain, but it eased off a little as I got to the event. The Vets/Ladies/Youth race was still in progress, so after I signed on I watched and cheered on my new clubmates. After lots of pondering I have finally decided to join Lichfield City CC. I can’t wear my own sponsors logos etc at Cyclo Cross and other British Cycling events once I get a racing license for various reasons, so I thought I’d join a club where I already know a few people.
Donning the club Jersey, quite a few club members introduced themselves and seemed to know who I was, I made to feel most welcome, and am glad I’ve joined.
The race itself was a bit star studded. Liam Killeen was in attendance (watching Mammoth’s Mechanic Darrell competing at cross for the first time on his old bike), and a Columbia Rider Roger Hammond. The mud was sticky and disgusting, the course tough with lots of running and huge head winds, plus the rain started again. I enjoyed the course, particularly outbraking the cross bikes on the slipperly decents, and other than being laped by Hammond mid race I only got lapped by the other top riders on the last lap. The gears just about held together only causing me a problem on thr last lap, but I didnt lose any time to them. I ended up 18th ( out of 44) which I am very happy with, I’m not sure how much quicker I would be on a cross bike, but I have decided to finish the season on the mountain bike. Results