Mark Stodgell, (also known as @stodge ) has taken Bronze after 2 victories recently in Belgium secured his 3rd place overall in the Men’s 50+ category.
The series is scored from taking the best 7 results from 14 races held within Europe and Australasia.
This year Mark competed 8 races in Denmark, Norway, France, and Belgium. With the logistics of getting a mountain bike around Europe in one piece being as arduous as the races themselves at times. Mountain bike orienteering involves is the same as foot orienteering only on a bike. The maps are slightly different, slightly simplified to remove clutter the map shows the speed, difficulty of the track network, out of bounds, and dangers. Some countries allow off track riding but most you have to stick to the tracks.
Maps tend to be carried on a rotating board on the handlebars. Experienced riders do not stop to read the map, it is all done at race speeds, often on gnarly single tracks, tying to glance at the map, plan ahead and not crash in the process! Contactless punching using SIAC or EMIT enables very fast control flow (literally 20-30 kph punching)
There are similar race formats to foot orienteering, shown below, which make up the series:
• Sprint – often using urban environments these involve huge levels of concentration and are often won by just a few seconds. This type of race has a winning time between 20 – 25 minutes.
• Middle – characterised by complicated track networks where it is easy to make a mistake. This type of race has a winning time between 45 – 55 mins.
• Long – big long sections of the course with large route choice decisions – i.e. up and over a mountain or 3 times the distance to go round. This type of race has a winning time between 100 – 120 mins.
• Mass Start Long– same format as Long but everyone starts together with fast and furious head-to-head racing.
This year there was also a Masters relay in France (just for fun).
Weather can play a huge part during races. Torrential rain halfway through the Long Distance format race in France this year brought muddy and slippery conditions making it much harder for riders starting later. The flatter and highly technical (riding and navigation) areas tend to suit Mark better (he does not have the racing snake physique he used to have that is better suited to the hills). Next year’s World Masters Championships are in Denmark and are more of a flat race format, so Mark is hoping for a good result.
See MTB Orienteering | International Orienteering Federation to find out more about Mountain bike orienteering.