Now that I have biked in about 20 mountain bike orienteering (MTBO) events, 17 of which were Israeli MTBO league meets, I’ve reached some conclusions about my relationship with this esoteric sport.
Insight Number 1. For me there are two kinds of events: the ones that make me say, “That was beyond my ability. I’m not going to do another MTBO event again”; and the ones that make me say, “That was a great challenge. I’ll be back for more.” It would be wonderful if every event could evoke the latter response, but that’s not the case. I’ve taken stock, and have counted 5 of those 17 events made me want to quit.
In those instances, a combination of two or more factors were to blame: (A) The trails and terrain were beyond my riding abilities, meaning I had trouble with rocks, sand, or steep uphills/downhills, not to mention my lack of skills on single tracks. (B) My actual total climb exceeded 350 meters, meaning I spent a lot of time off my bike pushing it up hills. (C) My actual riding distance exceeded 15 km. (D) Extreme heat.
But the statistics are in favor of continuing. The next few insights are really the strategies I’ve adopted in order to succeed and enjoy MTBO as a rider who is very much an amateur.
Insight Number 2. For ascents, it’s easier, and probably faster, for me to push my bike up a short, steep hill rather than ride a longer, gradual incline. Likewise (or contrarily), for descents, it’s easier for me to ride a longer, gradual downhill trail rather than attempt riding down a steep single-track.
Insight Number 3. Hat tip to David Lotz, who recently told me, “Most of our energy is expended in the first hour, after that we’re running on our reserves.” Having noted the truth of that statement (after nearly collapsing an hour into the ride at Herut, with only water in my bottle and no energy snacks in my pocket), I made a point of putting an energy drink in my water bottle for the event in Misgav. I drank most of it at control #5, which I reached at exactly the one-hour mark. It really gave me a perk, and helped me through to the finish half an hour later.
Insight Number 4. Avoid crashes and injury at all costs! I slow down, stop, and even get off my bike if I have even the slightest doubt of my ability to stay on it when the riding gets tough.
Insight Number 5. Do it for the challenge. Do it for the fun. Ironically, I keep getting medals for my efforts although that is not at all my motivation. I’d be happy to see some other W40s enjoying a visit to the podium.
Most important, and especially, thanks to my riding partner and husband, Yuval, who keeps me going.