Had a lot of fun today at the Castlemaine round of the Vic MTBO (Mountain Bike Orienteering) Series. I’ve participated in both 6 hour Cyclic Navigators (on unicycles!) but never a standard MTBO event where unlike the Cyclic Navigator riders must pass through control points in a set order and get to the finish in the shortest time possible. I guess in some ways it makes things easier as while you still need to find the control points, a key part of the puzzle is taking the fastest route to each, rather than guessing how many control points you can reach within a given time limit (though the latter is a good challenge).

Being an MTBO noob one thing that made it a lot easier for me was being familiar with the section of bush today’s event was held in. It meant I could look at the map and pretty much visualize where most control points were located, but it also meant I tended to take routes between control points that were the most fun and familiar vs being the fastest. Including poor navigation choices I guess it added around 30 mins to my overall time.

Here’s a snippet of the map – MTBO is a fun puzzle, you’ve definitely got to be switched on, not just grunting away pedaling.

Map snippet, Vic MTBO Series, Castlemaine Round
Map snippet, Vic MTBO Series, Castlemaine Round

Unlike XC style racing where typically a bunch of guys huff and puff round and round in circles, in MTBO riders are scattered all over the bush, everyone on their own adventure and strategy. Funny to cross paths with other riders, sometimes 3 or 4 at an intersection for example with everyone heading off in their own direction.

There were 16 control points all up, with each rider having a little SI gadget so each time you arrived at a control point the SI gadget was placed into a dock. When you finish the ride your overall time, intervals etc areĀ  immediately available. By the time I reached #14 I could smell the sweet coffee reward waiting at the finish line. I had planned to stop and take photos along the way but that didn’t end up happening.

Many thanks to the Hill family and the MTBO community for putting on a great event, and lending me a map board gadget!

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