After a lapse moment I’d entered a Mountain Bike Orienteering event run by Black Mountain MBO starting at Govilon. Some research prior to the event and it seemed you have to visit as many control points during the 3.5 hours time limit and that different control points are worth different values, from 10 to 30 and that there are a maximum of 500 points.
You need to plan to cover the best routes between check points, distance, ascent and trail are all factors. You get a preview of the map area and you’ll get an idea of the structure and layout from it. It also helps to know the terrain where you are going, making sure you are not going up too many stupid hills.
Not been on the bike for a while, so spent some time of Saturday going through it and cleaning it. Bit of play in the rear wheel bearing but gears all selecting and brakes all in good order. Plenty of heavy rain on the Sunday morning so did contemplate staying in bed, but stopped around 07h30, so up for breakfast and headed over to Govilon and signing on, due to open at 09h00. A few people around and got chatting to a few people for tips and advice for the first time rider. Couple of things I found out:
- you get the map with the control points after the start time, so good plan to work out the first few control points and get a general idea of where you are going to end up. I made my mind up to tackle the first 3 checkpoints before taking the route up Gilwern Hill via the road, rather than the steep track. I’d then do a circuit of the Blorenge check points before working out how many more I could do before heading back on the canal via Llanfoist. I spent the first 5 minutes doing a more detailed look at the route (and debated taking my glasses for the map)
- you get a description of where the control points are located and they are marked with black/yellow tape. The electronic control points are small and slightly hidden and its more geocaching than normal orienteering. Hiding means they don’t get nicked and the electronic system means that the token holds the timings.
- you can start at any time between 09h30 and 10h15 and you have 3h30 to complete the route, with time penalties. You obviously want control points with the higher values, but these are sometimes harder to get to and further away.
First control point was 01, and then I went for 03, before 02 (most people did it the other way round) and then I headed up the tarmac road as planned. Probably the longer way round, but easier and no pushing required. I did 04, but took a few minutes to find it and overshot. Most people were coming up the other way and then followed a group up to checkpoint 12. Rather going over the top to Blaenavon, I headed up to the radio masts on the Blorenge before doing the circuit round. Some great tracks and the weather stayed fair, with no further rain. The descent down from the Blorenge was great and managed another 4 controls. I decided to not take in a last control with 50 minutes and headed back on the canal for the final 3, but ended up back in Golivon with 20 minutes to spare. Bit of a misjudgement and should have done the last one for an additional 20 points.
Checked in on the final control and then downloaded the controls and times from the SI Dibber and got my results printed, and it went straight into the overall results. I’d managed 14 controls and scored 285 points. Shame I’d missed the last CP as would have scored over 300. There were a few scores over 400 and the leading score was 485, which requires some pretty serious fitness and good navigation. I’d taken the last hour relatively easily, partly as there weren’t too many options for last minute controls. Ended up 25th in the the final results, which was okay for 1st time out.
The bike survived, though I did have two broken spokes which was a testament to some of the rough terrain and possibly the poor maintenance on my bike. A thoroughly recommended event to do, though fitness is a strong part of it. Something different and good fun. Getting fitter and smarter on the bike is a good idea though !