Tuesday, 2 September 2014

MTBO season underway

Our mountain bike orienteering season is up and running with once-a-month events between now and November. The MTB rogaining event at the end of July got things going with this past Sunday's event getting the ball rolling even more.

As my club was hosting the event, with mapping and planning by Brian and controlling by William, I was through at the venue - in Broederstroom - to help setup and with the starts. Starting late, I decided to do the middle-distance course so that I'd be back in good time.

I enjoy MTBO far, far more than just bike riding. I think of it as 'mission-orientated' mountain biking.

I had a bit of an issue with my map board. I got this map board many years ago when I had another bike with skinny handlebars. My current bike has fatter handlebars so the bike-board mount doesn't fit. For the rogaine, I put on a handlebar extender, which worked perfectly. But on Sunday... the handlebar extended jiggled loose and so it was bouncing and flapping my mapboard all over the place. This was from about control 9. I'd been having such fun until then... At one point nearing Control 10, the board flipped up, caught the wind and almost flipped me over. Fortunately I wasn't going too fast so I did a rather elegant slide-fall. I've got an improved idea to sort out my mapboard for the next event.

Overall my routes were fairly decent. Only one bloops near the end... Let's see the overall map.

Overall, MTBO navigation is easy because the controls are on paths, not hidden in pits and bushes. But, as you move faster on a bike than on foot, you've got to really watch because distance is covered really quickly so it is easy to overshoot. In MTB O you're required to stay on tracks - no bundu bashing with your bike.

I use a lot of features like rocky mounds when I navigate and so adjusting to the lack of detail was quite different. Brian did a good job with the mapping and putting in some vegetation. If you can read contours, that helps too. The amount of route choice in MTBO really depends on the venue and how many tracks are available. In reality there were more tracks that what you see on the map - just cattle tracks. Now in winter they look fairly clear but in a few weeks when the vegetation is up they'll disappear.

Control 7 to Control 8
Brian spoke at AR Club this week about his recent participation in the MTB O world Cup event in Sweden. In foot O we plan courses aiming for no in-and-outs and to have 'flow' in the course. Apparently this isn't a big concern in MTBO with routes often doubling back. Brian's course didn't have much of this, but there were some in-and-out controls.

The best route from Control 7 to 8 looked to be going via Control 9... but as I don't like re-tracing my routes I decided to swing around. The route was fine, but it wasn't the fastest option. An O friend was close to me going through the gate; he took the route via Control 9 and got to 8 just before me (he cycles a bit slower than me too, which verifies that this was the better option).

Control 12 to Control 13
I know, I know. You can say it... "What were you thinking?". Evidently, I wasn't.

With my mapboard flapping I wouldn't ride-and-read, as I usually do. So leaving 12 I took a quick look and thought "first left". The '0' of the 12-80 had caught my eye and I was aiming for that. Doh! Interestingly, there was a control there (for another course) but I'd realised on approach that I was in the wrong place so the control I saw was irrelevant by the time I got there. A better route would have been to stay on the track from 12 all the way to 13...

I overshot a little after 13... I didn't see the right-turn and realise a little further ahead that I'd gone past. Not a big bloops, but one nonetheless.

It was good fun being out on my bike, which I don't ride often. I'm looking forward to the next MTB O at Northern Farm on 28 Sept. (click on my link for the event sheet).

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