Thursday, 23 August 2012

Chris's Middle Distance Race

In preparation to the middle distance I had a pretty ordinary start to the day on little sleep due to the heat that makes it difficult to sleep in. When we (the team) arrived I wasn’t very organised for the race, I had to attach a new retractable cord to the bike for my SI stick, which broke in the sprint the day before. I had to pin my number on to my jersey and fix my breaks because one of the pistons was stuck. So I felt rushed and it was fairly hot on the ride out to the start area.

My race was fairly clean compared to my sprint, which was one of my most terrible rides I have ever ridden. I slowed my self down considerably compared to what speed I would usually race off at. I knew the middle distance courses try to trick you with short and medium length legs set on a semi-technical map. I was surprised when I flipped the map to find what looked like a generic forestry road network and didn’t struggle with planning my first half of my course. Feeling as if it was too easy, I made sure I to execute my legs well and roll through the controls fluidly.

As I said I didn’t storm off or ride excessively hard even when I had the opportunity to let out the power. I raced all my routes clean and fast, making use of recognising track junction detail as I would ride past intersections on the way to controls. So when I exited a control back out the same way so I could just roll through messy intersections without thinking. Knowing I was having a clean run I felt I was going to ride a competitive time. That is if I kept it clean. That is when I had my first mistake, which held me up by 30 – 40seconds accidently turning too early at a clearing. Realising fairly promptly and corrected my mistake. After collecting the control I know I had to drop the pace as the course was heading into the small village where a lot of time can be lost. I think I would have given up almost a minute in this area for riding slower but in doing so I didn’t make any errors.

I accidently stopped much too early on a road just before the control to check my map then realized my brain faded and I had to ride a to the road, but kept my speed tamed knowing the faster you go in these hard areas the bigger loss in time you will make. I executed the last few controls with a steady pace and brought it down the finish chute.

It’s not a nice feeling sitting in first place knowing there are a bunch of high classed riders coming in who race MTBO through out the year and get quadruple amount of race time with all the same competition. Alas, four other very skilled and fast riders who raced excellently bested me. The support via the Facebook page has been excellent and keeps the team moral at a high. I felt really proud to represent Australia at the 5th Junior World Championships and being my last year in the Mens 20, I was stoked making it onto the podium in 5th place.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Middle distance success for Chris

Although today was no less hot, we had some welcome respite in the forest where the middle distance race was held.  The Australian camp was generally happier with their performances today, but the first mention has to go to Chris who got the first individual podium placing of Australian junior MTBO team when he finished 5th less than 2 minutes down on the winner, Krystof Bogar (CZE).   Chris will write a bit of a summery of his race during the rest day tomorrow, but in the meantime I (Mel, again) can report that he had a smooth 43min 22sec ride, and he kept is speed manageably slow through the technical areas.

Tom also had a better ride although not without mistakes and finished 13th in 45:06, 4min 41 secs down on the winner.  One of the most important things in MTBO is to not "let your legs get in front of your head" and often this means that you need to ride substantially slower than you are capable of so as to ensure that you don't overshoot or take a wrong turn.  This is something that Marc has done really well in the last 2 days!  Today he had a clean ride, but felt like he was going pretty slowly at times.  He ended up in 21st position in a time of 46min 18sec.  (Note here that he is a mere 1:12 behind Tom and 8 places back, the juniors are getting very competitive and tight).  Heath and Karl ended up in 32nd and 36th, respectively.

The Australian senior men suffered from several errors.  Steve was the best ranked finishing 68th a tad over 12 minutes back on the winner.  Oscar and Ricky finished in 79th and 80th, respectively, within 13 seconds of each other.  Finnish rider, Samuli Saarila, regained his world middle distance title in a time of 50:49, nearly a minute clear of Anton Foliforov (RUS).  There was a tie for the bronze between Samuel Pökälä (FIN) and Jan Svaboda (CZE), who were both 4 seconds behind Foliforov.

The women's podium was an exciting mix of women, some of whom are previous podium placers and others who are more often in the 10th - 20th position.  The middle distance champion is Ursina Jäggi of Switzerland who won in 46mins 40secs.  Ingrid Stengaard (FIN) got silver, 55secs behind, and Nina Hoffmann (DEN) got bronze.  The (orienteering style) podium was rounded out by Ramune Arlauskiene (LTU), Laura Scaravonati (ITA) and Gaelle Barlet (FRA).   There was a mere 8 seconds separating 3rd and 6th position!!!  I had a much better ride, however made a few errors that cost me 3-4 minutes in total. I ended up in 23rd position in a time of 46:26.

In the masters, Carolyn won the W50 by 1min 16sec which she says was mostly down to one particular  route choice mid way through the course.  We were stoked to be stand to the Australian anthem at the prize giving this evening, even if the flag was an interesting interpretation where the southern cross was standing upright when the flag was hanging vertically. The masters will be doing a (mostly) urban spring tomorrow in the local town of Balatonmadi.

Other placings in the masters were: Tamsin Barnes (9th, W40), Peter Cusworth (23rd, M40), Richard Robinson (40th, M50), Bruce Patterson (40th, M40 after some substantial mechanical issues).   A special trans-Tasmin mention goes to Rob Garden who won the M60 category.  

Again photos are being uploaded on Facebook and the official website has some video images from the races.  Tomorrow is a rest day and relay is on Friday. The champs will conclude with the long distance final on Saturday.  

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Sprint done and dusted, now for the middle

Todays sprint was a very interesting experience for MTBOers. There were multiple controls off tracks, the track network was thick woven through generally open paddocks – I highly recommend looking at the route gadget which is available through the official website. It was imperative to stay in contract with the map, and small navigational mishaps could quickly become confusing. This is reflected in the results which are unusually spread out for a sprint race.

Marc learnt from his difficulties yesterday and focused on navigation. He says his ride felt slow, but backing off the pace obviously paid off as he rode into 16th place, a little under 7 minutes off the winner, Grigory Medvedev (RUS). Karl made some small errors, and placed a promising 27th place in his first junior world championships. Chris made some early errors, however couldn't . Tom and Heath were disappointed with some substantial errors in the complex network of tracks and open ridable areas. They finished in 45th and 54th respectively.

The senior men was won by Tobias Breitschadel of Austria, who won his first world champs gold, and the medals were rounded out by Marek Pospisek (CZE) and the ever consistent Ruslan Gritsan (RUS). Steve made large errors on the 4th and 5th controls before he settled into a good pace and rode solidly for the rest of the race. He is recorded as a ''mp'' after one of the controls failed to read his SI-stick and then his back up punch strip fell out of his map board. Apparently, the units have been affected by the heat and have either failed or taken a long time to record.

The women's race was won by Christine Schaffner (SUI) and silver went to Emily Benham of Great Britain who had an impressive ride in her first major international event for the year. Anna Kaminska (POL), gold medalist in 2010, got the bronze medal. I (Mel) was pretty disappointed with a very messy race, with a combination of poor route choice early and confusing myself with a control in a parallel gully through the middle of the course.

I think everyone in the Australian camp is happy that tomorrow will be a return to more conventional MTBO with controls on tracks, but we have learnt some good lessons for the relay which will again be approximately 40% off road riding.
This evening was the official opening ceremony, which had been delayed to allow the masters categories to participate. I think Heath was the most enthusiastic participant of the Australian team and was heard afterwards saying: ''The opening ceremony was not only riveting, but a cultural experience. One was immersed in a myriad of authentic Hungarian aficionados, which included gum boots, a g-string and Queen sung by a Jesus look-alike. I am truly looking forward to Estonia equivalent.'' Chris just remember the middle dancer.

Start times for Middle distance:

Karl: 10:59 (6:59pm)
Oscar: 11:00 (7pm)
Chris: 11:09 (7:09pm)
Tom: 11:39 (7:39pm)
Ricky: 11:40 (7:40pm)
Heath: 11:53 (7:53pm)
Steve: 12:22 (8:22pm)
Marc: 12:25 (8:25pm)
Mel: 12:30 (8:30pm)

The masters start tomorrow with a middle distance race in the same area as the elite and junior athletes. They are starting earlier than the elite riders. I personally am really hoping to see some great riding from Carolyn Jackson. Her age group has been dominated by a British rider over the last couple of years, so it would be good to see her have to work a bit harder.    

Monday, 20 August 2012

Long Qual wrap up and Sprint start times

The long qual today was run in a largely open area, and with the temperature rising to about 36 degrees there were many riders who suffered physically and mentally in the heat.  The Australian team had mixed results.

In the senior classes only Steve and myself (Mel) qualified to the A/final which will be run on Saturday.  Steve had was one of the very first starters off this morning.   This was potentially a big disadvantage because of the tracks that form quickly through the open grassland areas where we are allowed to cut across. Steve rode safely to secure his place in the A/final.  He estimated that he had about 3 minutes worth of errors and gained himself some nice scratches on his legs to prove it. Oscar and Ricky were disappointed to narrowly miss the A/final, when they finished 22nd and 24th respectively.  I had a couple of minor errors, but managed to pick some good route choices and rode into 3rd place in my heat.  The women's qualification is not as hotly contested as the mens given there are fewer riders, so the pace is a lot more relaxed.  However, I was hoping to get a later start and am pleased that the last 3 weeks in Cyprus have reset my understanding of what is hot.

The junior men also had a qualifying race today with 2 heats and 30 going through from each heat.  Tom again demonstrated his ability to step up the navigation and speed in the big races and finished 2nd in his heat, not far behind one of the Czech junior men.  Chris also qualified comfortably despite a couple of mid race errors, placing 16th in his heat.  Marc had some large errors towards the end of the race and so will be starting earlyish on Saturday.  Karl felt like he had an "ok" ride, qualifying in 28th position in his heat.  Heath has learnt a hard lesson today after he finished, only to find he had mispunched one of the controls in the open area.  He is, of course, disappointed and will be double checking all numbers from now on!

For those of you who haven't discovered this yet: there is live results and streaming of commentary available via the official website (see link above).  There will also be GPS tracking, however this will not go live until 13:00 (9pm AEST) to ensure that competitors can not see the course prior to entering the start quarantine area.

Start times for the sprint - local times (AEST in brackets):
First start is 11:00 (7pm)
Ricky: 11:43 (7:43pm AEST or 5:43pm Perth time)
Marc: 11:59 (7:59pm)
Chris: 12:25 (8:25pm)
Heath: 12:29 (8:29pm)
Tom:12:53 (8:53pm)
Oscar: 13:05 (9:05pm)
Karl: 13:21 (9:21pm)
Mel: 13:34 (9:34pm)
Steve: 13:41 (9:41pm)

An finally, in the news from the masters competition:  It gets underway on Wednesday.  In the meantime we are all cheering that Carolyn Jackson received her bike today after it went for a journey (to goodness knows were) courtesy of Qatar Airlines.

Photos are being put up regularly on Facebook, as are comments throughout the day.

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Long Qualification Start Times...

After a few more training days, relocation to Veszprem and a model map ride yesterday, the long qualification race is upon us.  There will be live tracking of some athletes (no Aussies today) and hopefully live results going up throughout the race. 

The senior men have 3 heats and the top 20 will go through to the A-final, whilst the senior women and junior men will be racing in 2 heats (top 30 go through).  

Start times are as follows (with AEST in brackets):

Steve - 11:04 (7:04pm)
Marc - 11:09 (7:09pm)
Karl - 11:18 (7:18pm)
Heath - 11:51 (7:51pm)
Tom - 12:06 (8:06pm)
Oscar - 12:07 (8:07pm)
Ricky - 12:25 (8:25pm) - 6:25pm Perth time 
Chris - 12:30 (8:30pm)
Mel - 12:35 (8:35pm)

Report to follow this evening :-) 

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Training Day 3

After the relaxing thermal spas yesterday the Australian team was feeling fresher for the days training. On the way to training today the convoy had zero mistakes in navigating to the event venue. The venue was at Iharos (Hosszú-rét) which was the north eastern part of the map of the Hungarian Championships. On arrival we parked in the car park but was quickly told to move along by a Hungarian road worker trying to explain to us that they were re-spraying the parking lines that we had parked into.

Todays course was a flatter and shorter, it was on a 1:15000 scale map with 10m contours. The team was practicing their pre-race routine and getting into their race mind set. Ian was sending off the Aussie riders in two minute intervals as one would in a proper race. Having to flip the map over in the last minute and plan as much as we could and race the first one or two controls. This was a perfect event to fine tune anything that anyone felt needed to be practiced more.

The course was a fairly fast course and provided a decent amount of tracks and route choice. Unfortunately Chris on the way to his first control had a little bit of a fall. Paying too much attention to his map and the terrain that he didn’t realize his front wheel had dropped into an over grown rut and soon found himself on the ground. Luckily he only received some minor gravel rash and a bruised leg and arm.

Everyone in the team has improved each day with their navigation, having been in Hungary for almost a week now we are finding our bearings and looking forward to the world championships that are not too far away.

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Training Day 2

The second day of training was just north of Csillebérci, where the team is staying. Riding as a team, the Aussies shot down the side of the mountain and road across to the map, which was roughly 10km away.

The days training was again set up by the event organisers who had provided maps and hung controls out in the forest. They had setup SI units and computer print outs for the riders. The Hungarian organisers had set a Short and a Long course that only varied a few kilometers in length.

The terrain consisted of very steep hillsides and a mixture of typical Hungarian forest with open fields. There were small patches of residential housing in the middle of the map and on the out skirts.  The scaling of the map was at 1:20 000. It really showed the climb/descents with 5m contour lines bunching up hard against each other in places, although it did make it hard to see some minor tracks at times.

On the map there were plenty of minor track networks that kept you on your toes to navigate through. It was tricky to navigate fast and fluidly through sections of these tracks. Everyone had their small moments of being a bit lost finding small connecting tracks that sometimes didn’t exist.

After the training everyone was starting to look a bit weary and tired from riding every day since the Hungarian Championships and still had to ride back up the hill to Csillebérci. As it turned out the climb up was very pleasant and fairly quick, and the team could relax and clean up after the days training.