World ranking events in Denmark
Tuesday, 25 May 2010
(The lovely new growth of spring in one of the forests used for the European champs last year)
I have just spent the last week in Denmark for a combination of training and racing in the world ranking events (WREs) held over the weekend. I was kindly invited by a Danish couple, Johan and Pernille, to come a few days earlier and practice on some of last year's maps from the European champs which were held near their home in Farum, north of Copenhagen. As luck would have it, I also got to do a local xc-mtb race and enjoy some fun single track (something that is sadly lacking where I am now living in Norway). The MTBO races themselves were also fun and a good experience and I thought I should share some valuable lessons:
Lesson 1: Check the control numbers (Friday evening at the sprint)
This is a piece of advice frequently given in relation to sprints and relays because of the large number of controls in close proximity. What many of you may not realise is that not only do you need to check the number hanging on the control (which I did religiously and correctly) you need to check that you are doing the controls in the right order! After starting a bit like a startled rabbit and overshooting the first control, I settled down into a good controlled, but brisk, pace and rode smoothly to the second. From here the line between controls 8 and 9 passed close to the second control and I unwittingly headed to the 8th control (in my defense, weak as it may be, the numbers were particularly difficult to read with the printing). I continues to controls 7, 6, 5 and 4 carefully checking each flag number and navigating smoothly through the urban terrain and into some small indistinct forest tracks. I was generally feeling very good about the whole race until I realised my enormous mistake at the 3rd control (now my 8th!). I turned and retraced my tracks and finished last in 30min 47secs (although 4 riders DNFed because they either roe through an out of bounds area or missed a control, again because the printing was difficult). Results, Splits, Map: sprint_denmark.pdf
Lesson 2: Take care in small dotty tracks (Saturday at the long)
Again, a common piece of advice, that is all too easily forgotten in a race, particularly when you've been riding fast on good roads and then have to negotiate a smaller network of tracks. My largest mistake of the day was on the 5th control where I missed the junction of two indistinct tracks. In hindsight (such a common musing in this sport!), it was better to take the safer but slightly longer route choice because the mistake ended up costing me about 5 mins. Unfortunately, the rest of the course had very little route choice and so there was little to distract you from the fact that the legs were getting tired, confirmed by the cruel uphill finish. I finished 5th in 1:57:22 with Line Brun Stallknecht (nee Pedersen) winning in 1:46:36. Results, Splits, these results have combined all riders each course ("bane") so there are also Mens 20 and 40 results in the list. Maps (did not fit on one scan): long1_denmark.pdf and long2_denmark.pdf
Lesson 3: Those who talk about aiming to achieve flow and a "happy speed" are wise people to listen to (Sunday at the middle)
This was my best individual race of the weekend. I was particularly pleased with my speed which I managed to control according to the difficulty of the navigation - speeding up when it was easy and sure, and slowing down through the trickier sections. I did lose 2-3 minutes because of poor route choice, but I executed the poor choices very well. Curiously, it is a far more satisfying race this way than when you have poor execution of a good route choice, even if it results in the same amount of time lost (too confusing?). Results, Splits, Map: middle_denmark.pdf
(The white chalk cliffs on the island, Moen, helpfully they have been marked as "dangerous terrain" as you can see by the red hashes on the map)
Lesson 4: No pressure and a nice forest makes for fun MTBOing (The relay on Monday)
The last race in Denmark was a 2-man relay where each rider had to do 2 legs (ie legs 1 & 3 or 2 & 4). I was initially entered to ride with Anke, a German rider, but she had been unwell and after 3 days of racing it was best for her to head home and recover properly. So, I ended up riding with Erik Knudsen (in the mens course) who was also without a relay partner. Erik is one of the fastest MTBO riders internationally, but even so there was little chance of us doing well as the only mixed team. Therefore, after Erik was the first rider to return after the 1st leg I headed out without the usual pressure of a team leading the relay. And I didn't feel demoralised or flustered when I started seeing other M21 riders around the 4th control. Erik very nearly managed to bring us back into first place and send me off for the final leg before the other teams. Overall it was the most fun and the race I had the least mistakes on! Maps: relay1_denmark.pdf and relay2_denmark.pdf
I am now in England to visit friends and family before heading to Poland for the second round of the World Cup (3-6 June). In the meantime some of the team will be participating in the Capital Punishment race in Canberra so keep an eye out for their report.
Finally, apologies if the website formatting is not working on your computer, there should be a Portugal WOC logo in the top left corner (but I think it is only working on macs!?!).