Bryan Singleton reports on their success....
This years British MBO Middle Distance and Sprint Championships were organised by Walton Chasers in early May. LOC riders Charlie Somers-Cocks, Nick Howlett and Bryan Singleton made the trip down to compete in two new and very different areas. The middle distance (60 min winning time) was in a new area of forest previously only used for foot o, whilst the sprint (25 min winning time) was on a military base.
Both venues provided contrasting riding in terms of technicality of riding, navigation and hills.
After a period of very heavy rain Swynnerton Forests rooted single tracks proved to be quite slippery in places and a number of riders were slowed on the technical terrain and steep sided hills. With the first few controls being roughly downhill many found it a challenge getting into the map due to the speed at which junctions approached and hence decisions needed to be made. It was crucial at this point to stay in touch as many good riders lost valuable time which could not easily be made up on the rest of the course. After the first few ‘fast’ controls a longer leg followed allowing some time to get control of the map and plan ahead. Always a challenge at speed off road! A combination of fairly fast forest tracks contrasted with the slower narrow technical single tracks, many of which had been developed by downhill riders and consisted of jumps and deep holes! Luckily it was possible to bypass these, but it required total concentration to keep riding smoothly. Plenty of route choice around the edges of the map meant that splits between riders were very different and the amount of hills favoured those who could climb.
In contrast Swynnerton Base was almost totally flat with only a few banks to change gear for! Accurate
navigation was more crucial than out and out speed and with no hills the racing was going to be fast. Riding off-track was allowed and we were assured that all live rounds had been collected in! The event would be best described as ‘technical’ in terms of navigation and though the tracks were mainly tarmac and loose hardpack the closeness of controls meant that riding was pretty intense. A large section of the area was made up of steep banks surrounding compounds and barracks which proved to be very tricky to orienteer through.
In the Middle current W50 World Champion Charlie, having lost some time behind a forestry lorry on the first descent quickly found her stride and rode strongly throughout. She won her class and placed high overall behind winner Em Benham, one of the best W21 riders in the World. In the sprint Charlie, used her excellent all round orienteering skills and qualified easily for the A final, eventually going on to another class win and a consistent high overall position.
Nick who has only been riding MBO for the past few seasons finished 10th in the M40’s, a very creditable performance as this is the most competitive of all the classes in the country. On the second days sprint Nick’s foot orienteering experience proved invaluable and after an intense ride he placed 6th in M40 and 14th overall.
For me the Middle Distance was my main target, but having not raced at this level for over a year I was unsure of my fitness. With all of the top riders at the event it was going to be very tough to get a result. I rode throughout at the very edge of my navigation, concentrating on executing legs fluently. The hilly terrain suited my riding and though it was close and came down to the last few controls I managed to finish first in M40 and win the Championship overall. Day 2 in the sprint was less successful, the intensity of the terrain did not suit me, coming from a cycling background. I finished down the field, but had a fantastic time avoiding tanks and mine fields!