MTBO CAMP 2014, crying mile

Johan’s bonkers training race – 19 controls, 1.6km on a 1:2000 map with 15 second start intervals…
I rode ok for the first few but then started to make mistakes. Not a great result but great fun all the same with some excellent singletrack riding in the sand dune forest.


MTBO camp 2014 – middle race

Classic Baltic sand dune forest with a dense track network is what middle race mountain bike orienteering is all about, today was brilliant,  a smile on my face the whole way around the course.

Organiser Johan had asked if I would mind riding with some TV station go-pros on, it was a bit of a phaff getting it to zip tie on to my helmet and handle bars but it definitely made me attack some of the singletrack sections to get some good footage.
I had a great ride, two small mistakes, firstly on number one when I was trying to get into the map scale and later number 19, where I went in too early, probably a minute lost in total.
I was probably riding faster than I should have done but it was great to be back riding properly, I hope I don’t regret it later!



MTBO Camp – WRE Long race

MTBOCAMPLongrace14We woke this morning. To glorious blue Baltic skies and crisp sea air. The camp long race is a world ranking event for the elite riders and reading the final bulletin I was glad to be only riding 1/2 of the elite men’s distance.

After lots of chatting and catching up with old friends I headed out, to be honest a little apprehensively towards the start. The route to 1, involved a slow climb option on a fire road which I took, avoiding the steepest of the climbs. I was feeling a little depressed as rider after rider overtook me. I wasn’t working that hard, trying to be careful with my back, but soon found the red mist coming up and starting to push the pedals a bit too much, particularly on the road section to 2. I paid for it straight away with an over the handlebars into a wet ditch and then after hauling myself up onto a fire road and  relocating a realization I’d missed a track junction (my only real mistake of the course) which ended with me in a swamp splashing around in some brambles off track.  I calmed down, enjoyed the sublime views of forests and little lakes, the low sun reflecting fantastic light through the trees and concentrated on a mistake free ride and the faster riders stopped worrying me.

Although a little muddy in places, some of the single tracks were great and I enjoyed my full sus Whyte E5 for the first time properly chucking it about. At the half way stage I was starting to feel tired and was temped to bin it but the 2nd part of the course was a little less hilly and all to soon I was rolling into download.

So no win today but to be honest that shows I am on the right course for my current capabilities and I am more than happy with 5th – 10 mins down on the old men.


MTBO camp – sprint

No warm up, no mental prep, just rocked up at the start line, said hello to a couple of people and then zoomed out into the night.

A great little sprint area, Gallokken, next to the sea, but that meant sand hiding in the shadows, ready to make your front wheel go squiffy, exciting stuff in the dark.

I rode well, making only a couple of little errors, until the end when I lost touch with the map and messed up 11 and 13 big style but didnt lose more than 1.30 I suspect. The touch free punching was great, I wore it on my wrist and loved flying into a control, pulling a big skid turn and then powering off, my wrist beeping and flashing. Chatting to others afterwards it rewards good entry and exit to controls, affecting route choice, meaning you can save a few seconds if you come in at the right angle. Perhaps my views on touch free are now changing?

I just had a fantastic time, and now feel so alive! I can feel my back a little now, but nothing a little pilates before bed won’t sort.

Update: I’ve won Men’s Short 🙂   oops, though everyone else is at least 10 years older than me……

MTBO Camp 2014 – Day 1


My travel day started with a very antisocial 3am alarm, what was more antisocial was the M40 to London being shut, meaning a massive detour back round Birmingham and Coventry to get on the M1.

I’d resigned myself to missing my flight but the M25 London ring road was quiet at 6.15 and after a frantic scramble through security I raced into the gate, just as the last few people were getting on board and made it with a couple of minutes to spare.

Luckily Sandor who I was travelling with from then on had everything under control and I could sit back in the hire car and snooze as we crossed the bridge from Copenhagen over into Sweden. We had a huge Pizza in Ystad and a lazy afternoon in coffee shops before getting the late ferry across to Ronne in Bornholm the island in the middle of the Baltic Sea where MTBO Camp is being held this year.

After building bikes in the morning we cycled 12km against a drizzly headwind to Hasle and the event centre to register.


We had a play with the new Sportident touch free punching system which we are using this week. I can see the benefit on bikes and ski–o but I’ve never been that convinced about touch free punching other than for the finish line for foot O. It will be interesting using it on tonight sprint, I think its placement on the bike is worth a rethink though; I don’t think the top tube by the headset is the right place… Looking down between your legs as you ride through a control might mean not spotting an incoming rider which might make life interesting if both people have their heads down…

I might stick it on my left wrist if I am allowed or on the handlebar grip perhaps.

I am looking forward with trepidation to this week. I haven’t MTBOd for 2.5 years, its  not the navigation I am worried about, its my fitness. After just 25km of riding today I really struggled up the final climb coming home this evening, lets hope my legs are up to the short course I’ve entered.



Carsington Christmas MBO Score

carsington1My back has been getting better week on week recently. Is it the 4 months of Pilates? Is it the fact I am not driving 32 thousand miles a year in a worn out car seat? Or just time? No idea, but it means I am feeling confident enough to ride for a little longer and up steeper hills and, for the first time in 2 years, have been thinking about Mountain Bike Orienteering again.

I had originally intended to do the Military Challenge but this year it doesn’t seem to be taking place. A quick look at the BMBO website showed a fun Dark and White Christmas event on the Friday before, just up the road from me at Carsington Water adventure centre – perfect.

The weather forecast was terrible and, to be honest, I felt terrible too, with what I know now to be a good dose of man-flu.

Rocking up in the cold and dark, it was great to see Adrian and the Dark and White team again after so long and it was great to be finally doing my first event as a Vet, two years in!

I got some advice from Adrian about bumpy tracks to avoid, strapped on my long unused hope vision 4 ( now 4 years old and still going strong), Orifix mapboard and compass and headed out into a vicious head wind, intending to stay on the roads.

I’d decided I wouldn’t push my luck and go out for the full two hours allowed and the combination of my man-flu and my sensible head brought me in nice and early in time to catch up with a few old friends over some coffee and cakes. There were some serial comedy moments as people tried to make coffee and tea with the tea urn that actually contained mulled wine….

Lets hope this is the start of a recovery season!

Results available here


Rome City Race 2013

Originally I wasn’t planning on joining Cath and her cohort of WCH juniors on the trip to Rome as it was looking tight for a project in work, #buildsydneylive, and not conducive to a bad back. (You have to have a medical certificate to compete in Italy)
In the end I got a late flight to spectate at the races and see a little of Rome.
Day 1 was held in a city park, full of Roman families enjoying the autumn bank holiday sunshine. Bikes, kids, segway’s, people everywhere. The event was a series of mass starts, the juniors and oldies going off in the late afternoon, middlies at dusk and the Elites in the dark for head to head night orienteering with some butterfly loops to split up the packs.
Everyone came back buzzing having had a great time.

Day 2 was in a more forested park which apparently was very challenging but I spent the day reliving some Architectural History and Junior school classics lessons pootling around Rome’s ancient Architecture “Caecilius est in forum” I’ve always wanted to see the Pantheon and it lived up to expectations with the sun casting its light through the oculus.

Day 3 was the signature event, urban orienteering through the streets of ancient Rome, the start and finishes overlooking the colloseum.
I managed to get hold of a map for a walk with my camera, did a few of the route choice legs and took lots of photos. Again everyone came back with a buzz of excitement. I certainly watched a few big names confused and befuddled trying to work out their way down off a hill top garden surrounded on all sides by huge walls.
Replacing the Venice street race this year Rome had a lot to live up to but judging but the comments at the finish the organisers managed it.
Results available at



brompton2I started a new job at the start of September – I now work for BIM Academy – a Building Information Modelling and Project Technologies consultancy based in Newcastle (upon Tyne).

In my new role, although I am travelling a fair bit, I am based from home and the train links from Stafford and Derby on the West and East Coast main lines are great to get to nearly everywhere I need to go. One of the drivers for a career crossroads was my old bonkers commute which was only sensible by road. Well I am glad to report that although I have, in my first 6 weeks been to Switzerland and Hong Kong, Manchester, Newcastle, London and …. Uttoxeter… my annual car mileage looks to have reduced by at least 16,000 a year!

With so much train travel it seems a little mad to be driving the 4 miles to the station and then catching taxi’s, tubes or leaving extra early for long walks at my destination so I looked into folding bikes.

After looking at Dahon’s and other makes I kept coming back to the British Brompton – practical yet very cool. I kept an eye on ebay and luckily I got one for a snip and on delivery realised I had bought one that had obviously hardly been used. Its a 2 speed apple green with brooks saddle and grips and the flat bar. Not for the shy!

I could talk about the fact that its light and folds down small, has 4 ickle wheels to push it about at stations but that’s boring! whats it like to ride?

brompton1Well small wheels are definitely twitchy and getting back onto a 26 inch wheel afterwards , you can really feel the heaviness of the handling. With only two highish gears it needs some grunt up the hills and steep slopes are a real challenge but the higher of the two means you can really fly on the flats and downs. Ill put a GPS on at some point and get some stats but it feels really fast. At those speeds its not for the faint hearted but great fun.

The rim brakes are excellent, and as long as the rear bushes are done tight the frame quite stiff and responsive.

I am keeping a log on the number of car miles I am saving and how much I am saving in car parking fees for the year but I have to balance it a little with safety and comfort and the practicalities of turning up at a client site soaked to the skin as the winter quickly approaches.