Saturday, August 15, 2015

Learnings from a MTBO Champs Beginner

Whew!  As a new teammate for the U.S. MTBO team, I wasn't sure what to expect of the 2015 MTBO Champs.  Well I've made it to the end of our first week here in the Czech Republic, but not without making some of the classic MTBO errors in each of my training camp courses.  The good news is that it was training camp, and I get to learn from them before it gets real for us in a few days!

The first day of training camp was the sprint course.  I lost a few minutes on my third control just through a little confusion, but otherwise was doing fairly well and felt good.  However, I was having trouble following the pink lines between the controls and making sure I was going to the right control, and ultimately punched a control that I'd already been too (thought "8" was "18" even though I should have been going to "17," whoops!).  After I mis-punched, I thought I would be disqualified, so I went on and finished the course without going back to get 17.  So, lesson number 1: you won't get disqualified for an extra punch, so go back and get all of your controls in order and your finish will count!

The second day was the long course.  I made a route choice that turned out to be uphill for 300 ft, instead of the downhill that I thought it would be.  Lesson number 2: make sure you read the contours correctly while planning your route!  I also realized after talking to others about route choices that I have a tendency to look for straight line routes, which causes me to overlook some shorter routes that consist of a few stair-step type turns.  For example, on my long course map I've highlighted my route.  Between controls one and two, my brain immediately read the straight angled route I took, completely missing the faster one with the paved and gravel roads to the north and west of my route.  Lesson number 3: learn to look for all the possible route choices before making your decision.  Your first gut instinct may not be the fastest route.

Long Course map with my route highlighted in pink.  Check out the hill I chose to hike my bike up from 2 to 3 (not on purpose..).  Yes, that is, in fact, 20 countour lines.  Also see if you can find the more optimal route from 1 to 2.

And (my) last day was the middle course.  I was dreading the middle course because it was my worst course a few weeks ago at O-Ringen in Sweden, where I dropped from 4th overall to 6th due to some poor map reading and lack of quick route choices.  This time, I did okay for the most part, but still made some of the same errors.  I took the wrong trail at times, took a slower route choice from 16 to 17, and crashed into a branch on the way to 18 that almost took me out of the game for good, but more on that later.  But, after looking at the map afterwards, the learning from the day was bushwhacking. Now, I actually had done some bushwhacking, unintentionally.  I'm talking short bushwhacks to get to the control from a faster trail than the one it is on.  It would have worked for me at control 9 and 17.  So, lesson number 4: Don't discount the bushwhack option!

Middle Course map with my route highlighted.  I tried to put red X's where I know I messed up (missed a turn, turned around, stopped to read the map other than at a control, hit a branch, etc.). 

I know I'm missing many more of the lessons I've learned throughout this past week, but that will do it for now.  I know I will still be learning even more as I try to put this all together on Tuesday, along with over 1500 feet of climbing..yowza!

Until next time!

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