The annual Danish MTBO camp has been and gone once again. This year, on the island of Bornholm just south of Sweden, and east of Denmark. Considering the ‘remoteness’ of the location, 250 athletes turned up (which felt like a lot on the narrow, twisty, super fun singletracks).
Hans Jørgen and I usually try to get mobile internet for our trips away so we can write blogs, but this time going into town to top up our SIM card meant dragging ourselves away from all the fun. So we stayed out pedalling instead!
The training camp kicked off with a night race by the sea. A flat area with many complex paths and some sandy patches (being next to the sea what do you expect!). This was my first MTBO training of the year and I certainly felt rusty during the event. I had my race plan and stuck to it, but nevertheless finished feeling that I hadn’t read the map enough despite not making any errors, and only a couple of small hesitations. With food and a warm shower calling, we left the event before finding out the results. We joked on the drive back and during our analysis session that it would be funny if we both won, but neither of us felt our performances were truly worthy of a win. I had felt a little rushed and scrappy at times, but clearly set myself a high standard for the first event!
The next morning came the World Ranking Event long distance, and first up was a stroll to the results board and a sprint back to inform HJ that we both won the previous nights’ event and by large margins; 90 seconds for him and 4 mins for me!
I had a plan for the event, which focussed on map reading rather than speed. I faffed at the first control slightly by thinking the men’s control was mine, and only stumbled upon the correct one on my way out. I was just too eager to get going but then fluffed the second by not remembering my plan. After this I settled down into a good rhythm, only making a few misses for some seconds when the path junctions were a little indistinct. Once the course hit the long flat straight sections I began to get bored, but still tried to keep the pace up. A push up a steep hill on the way to the 14th caused my legs to cramp, and from there it was all I could to do to make it to the finish. I lost some time through small mistakes here and there, but most of my time loss came on the straight track sections and after the 14th. Looking at the splits after, I am where I want to be at this early season. In fact, my 4th place is only a reflection of moderate HR not race pace, so that I led through until the the halfway point is a good indicator for me.
Sunday was the WRE middle distance and Crying Mile. On analysis this performance wasn’t nearly so bad as I felt at the finish, but during the race I missed some route choices and junctions due to concentrating on the wrong thing at the wrong time. I was generally riding well, with a good pace but at the finish I felt I hadn’t been near to my maximum. HR analysis shows this was the case, so again, my 3rd place shows there is more to come once I get back into the flow and find the pace again. I felt stressed out at the end and had no gauge as to whether I felt the performance was good, bad or just average. It certainly wasn’t bad, and I beat HJ on some controls and was within 5 secs on many others, so it was an averagely good performance. The splits show that again I was leading for significant portions of the race, which is a good sign. I just failed to carry it through the last 4 or 5 controls to the end.
An actual fact, my orienteering is leaps and bounds ahead of where it was last year when I made sizeable errors in each event. I had certainly evened out my orienteering, but the early season and lack of MTBO training means it is taking me a few sessions to get all the mental processes back in order, checking off the right things at the right time, and reading the map enough while getting the speed in the correct places.
The Crying Mile event is a personal favourite. In 2010 I loved the intensity of having a 1.6km course with 20 odd controls in a very very dense network at 1:2000 scale. I am sure Stodge and Sandor will have something to say about mine and HJ’s discussion in the start queue as to who should start first and why. In the end, we settled on HJ starting first because in theory I shouldn’t see him, while having the added pressure of trying to chase.
Having no internet meant we hadn’t read the bulletin, so while HJ went past control 1 to number 6, I started 15 seconds later and went via 13 to 6. When we met there I suddenly remembered the control numbers went in order, 61, 62, 63, 64 etc, so found my way back to the first control. We then met again at the second when I mentioned to HJ about the codes. Sometimes he led, sometimes I did. Until I made a big mistake and then lost him at the half way point. His time of 10.58 was enough for 3rd place, while my 11.25 (I started 15 secs behind) was enough for 1st woman and 5th overall. We took a trip again later at a slower speed but it didn’t make it any easier!
I tested out my new bike for these two events as the terrain was dry enough that it wouldn’t get too dirty! Love it! Having a smaller frame definitely works for me, but I just need to get the fit sorted. I’m looking forward to getting my new Orifix board sorted in matching colours too 😉
The final day was another middle distance with the start just 200m from the ‘housecar’. Thinking the last start was 12.15 we had a leisurely morning until we realised it wasn’t. Major panic! This became the scrappiest race I had while also being the most controlled. I’m not sure how I managed that. For the majority of the race, I was controlled in my head, taking good routes and making the choices based on the information available. In a few places I was very much the opposite, eg, control 1.
Overall, my two first places in the night and crying mile events secured my enough points to take the Camp Cup title for a third time. (I won the aforementioned races by a total of 7 mins over 6.1km, thus I took the win by over 300 points). Taking the overall title is something that requires consistent races over the 5 events, as only one event can be dropped. Most of my performances left some areas to work on and improve over the coming month before the first World Cup events in Denmark. But looking at the camp as a whole, I’m where I should be, not necessarily where I want to be. I’ve got areas to work on, and areas to maintain. With a little more focussed orienteering training, I can be where I want in the coming months.