Photos by Andrei Ignatov
In the ongoing controversy within the Israel Sport Orienteering Association (ISOA) over the future of mountain bike orienteering (MTBO), the concept of marketing has been tossed around. I think some dissenters are confusing marketing with advertising (and the expense of the latter). Marketing may require expenditures, but a lot of marketing can take place without any cost. Non-professionals can do it. All it requires is a passion for the product you want to promote and a willingness to devote your time to the effort.
Listening to the discussion at the ISOA general assembly this week, I heard a lot of good marketing ideas. Too bad they got lost in the heat of the debate. Driving home, I began to formulate an idea, inspired by Varda who said, “why don’t you go where the bikers are?” Yes, indeed, we need to bring MTB orienteering to the bikers. Like the hostesses at supermarkets who offer shoppers a sample of new foods, we need to give bikers a flavorful taste of MTBO.
What: MTBO Promotional Event (to be repeated weekly)
Who: Passionate MTBO volunteer organizers
Where: Entrance to Ben Shemen forest at Mitzpeh Modiin
(or any location where hundreds of bikers have parked their cars and are preparing to ride)
When: very early Friday morning and/or Saturday mornings
(1) Set up MTBO course: (controls must be in place by 6 a.m.)
Preferably offer 2 courses: difficult (lots of singles) and easy (main trails)
Use all or part of the course from the MTB WOC – “Ride a World Championship Course!”
(2) Set up the O club gazebo with flags and signs (in place by 6 a.m.)
(3) Provide an MTBO course map (FOR FREE) in exchange for contact details: name and email address. Print the MTBO 2010-2011 schedule on back of map.
(4) Offer use of map holder (FOR FREE), in exchange for driver’s license/ID card until returned.
(5) Talk to riders before and after their MTBO ride. Get feedback. Find out what they liked and didn’t like. Timing is optional.
(6) Repeat, repeat, repeat. In the same location. Using the same map. Get 40-50 different riders to try MTBO every week. If a rider returns for a second try, well then, you’ve enlisted a new MTBOer.
I suggest manufacturing 20-30 simple map holders that have rotational capability. I have done MTBO with and without a map holder, and I believe this piece of equipment is vital to the MTBO experience, whereas a compass is rarely needed. My husband Yuval, a mechanical engineer, has already designed and produced several of these holders; to produce a series of would cost about 200 NIS each. This would be a wise investment for an O-club, like Modiin, since the holders can be loaned to riders and reused continuously.
I am willing to participate in this marketing experiment and help make it succeed. But it needs a leader to take charge. You know who you are. Who’s going to take the initiative? I’m waiting for your call.
My husband Yuval and I have been riding MTBO events together for the past two years. While Yuval is a good rider, I am very much an amateur. Often we ride the course with a couple friends (who may or may not have a map). I wear a Garmin Forerunner 305 and keep a log of my sporting activities. So I know our route choices on last month’s Kivrot Hamaccabim short course (defined as 15 km) totaled just under 14 km with a climb of 240 meter, and took us just over 2 hourse to complete. In comparison, at the Eshtaol event this past Friday our route choices for the short course (defined as 10 km) totalled nearly 18 km with a climb of 420 meter. We finished in just over 3 hours.
When we rolled into the finish at nearly 7 p.m., Noam, the event organizer and course planner, was taking down the streamers, and was surprised to hear that we had done “only” 17.9 kilometers, as most riders had logged at least 20 kilometers. We have learned it is easier (and faster) for us to push our bikes up a short, steep hill rather than attempt (and likely fail) to ride a longer but more gradual climb, and that was the strategy we’d used on this course.
Back to the beginning. Yuval and I had planned to arrive at 14:30 and start early. But we were delayed and arrived about 15:20. We, too, got caught in the traffic jam at the start waiting for more maps to appear. Eventually we were given a Medium course map with some of the lines and controls crossed out; I put that map into my holder. Yuval went back to our car and retrieved a pen and the MTBO WOC 2009 Open course map that I’d grabbed as we were leaving the house. We copied the course from my map onto that map, and put it in Yuval’s holder. We then punched our electronic timers and took off about 15:45. Scanned map below is the one I used.
To control 1 (39). Easy route choice. Yuval turned left (almost a hairpin turn) into olive grove. I thought he was turning too early, protested (not strongly enough), told him where I (correctly) thought we were, but wasn’t vindicated until other riders confirmed our location. (split: 13 minutes)
To control 2 (34). Riding easy until the climb became too difficult for me. I think I pushed my bike about 500 meters to the top. It was very hot still and my heart rate was soaring. We decided to approach the control from the north, on a flatter trail. (split: 27 minutes)
To control 3 (37). Just after leaving the control, upon reaching the trail to the west, we found our clubmate Shmulik, who’d had an accident and was waiting for his wife and father-in-law, Micha Netzer to reach him in their jeep. He’d already gotten help from bikers, but his rescuers were having trouble locating him. We let him use our cell phone and waited while he called again. After leaving Shmulik, on our way to control 3 we received a call from Micha, still needing directions to Shmulik. After some futile discussion, Yuval realized that Micha was holding a foot-O map which did not extend as far as control 34.
Once we reached the olive groves, Yuval turned right onto the first trail. I could not understand why but followed him in. I continued south and reached the second trail while Yuval circled around on the north side of the grove. Having lost sight of Yuval, I had to use my cell phone to call and convince Yuval he was looking in the wrong place. When he finally rejoined me and examined our maps, he realized that he had been searching for the printed control 37 from the MTBO WOC event (see 37 framed in blue), and not the control 37 that he had penned in at the start. (split: 25 minutes)
To control 4 (28). We chose a route that seems to be as direct and as level as possible. We were by now very tired, and very tempted to ride on the highway. We stayed on the trail more for the sake of safety than sportsmanship. Extremely tired, I had to walk my bike up almost every hill, even the small ones. Although Yuval has better cycling power, he too, got off and pushed his bike a lot. At one point, I just had to stop and take a few-minutes rest. Eventually we reached the control. By now the sun was setting, the air was much cooler, and we felt we could finish the course. (split: 54 minutes)
To control 5 (40). We were about to descend on the first descent into Messilat Zion, but were afraid we would hit barriers that would prevent us from getting into the village, so we took the route closer to the highway. We turned left too soon, had to climb over a huge dirt pile (meant to keep us out, of course). Realizing our mistake and location, we continued north and tried to find a shortcut through the forest to reach control 40. But a garbage dump, thickets and piles of dirt blocked everything, and we had to ride around. (split: 45 minutes)
To control 6 (41). My favorite leg! An easy ascent to get past the open area just north of the control, a short walk/push of the bike to the trail junction. From that point until control 41, it was downhill all the way. No traffic. No event center. No other riders in sight! (split 12 minutes)
To control 7 (100). Finish. (split 5 minutes)
At a recent orienteering event, a film crew from the Israeli sports channel came to do a short feature on the sport of orienteering. Since this event was organized by the Modiin Orienteering Club, I had arrived early to perform whatever volunteer duties were needed. When the TV crew showed up, I took it upon myself, as the club’s pro bono PR representative, to direct them towards the best people and places for filming. At some point the reporter decided to turn the camera and microphone on me. Had I expected this, I would have put on some lipstick and makeup.
The segment finally hit the airwaves last week, when the sports channel began broadcasting it as a six-minute filler between programs.
If you understand Hebrew, you’ll be able to understand it. I make two appearances — first in a “pre-game” interview, and then at the finish line.
I am pleased to present our Israel Trail Hiking Plan for 2009-2010.
This is the time to mark your calendars, and invite those friends who expressed an interest in hiking the trail, but just haven’t shown up so far.
The dates were selected to avoid conflict with orienteering league meets, mountain bike orienteering league meets, events organized by the Modiin or Rishon Lezion orienteering clubs, the Negev Championship and the annual rogaine. I also did my best to avoid setting dates that conflict with holidays, although one hike is set for Passover.
Update (5 August 2010) – What we actually hiked:
11.9 – Tel Dan to Tel Hai
12.9 – Geological Park in Kiryat Shemona to Metzudat Yesha
17.10 – Meir Sh’feya Youth Village to Bet Hanania
14.11 – hike cancelled
5.12 – hike cancelled
2.1 – Moshav Ahuzam (Tel Keshet) to Pureh Nature Reserve
6.2 – Ganei Yehoshua (Park Hayarkon), from West End to East End
6.3 – Kibbutz Dvir to Pureh Nature Reserve (south > north)
3.4 – Yesha Fortress to Nahal Dishon (Alma Bridge)
17.4 – Lower Nahal Amud to Migdal
1.5 – Sho’evah (Shoresh) to Shaar Hagai (south > north)
29.5 – Meir Sh’feya Youth Village to Kerem Maharal (south > north)
11.9 – Tel Dan > Tel Hai
12.9 – Tel Hai > Metzudat Yesha
17.10 – Meir Shfiya > Bet Hananya
14.11 – Alon Hagalil > Kiryat Tivon
5.12 – Tel Keshet to Shmurat Poreh
26.12 – Shaar Hagai > Shoresh (or 2.1.10)
6.2 – Tel Aviv > Hod Hasharon
27.2 – Shumrat Poreh > Dvir
3.4 – Bet Hananya > Givat Olga
17.4 – Metzudat Yesha > Nachal Dishon
7.5 – Lower Nachal Amud > Har Arbel
8.5 – Arbel > Poriah (we’ll probably reverse and go south to north)
(June) – Shoresh > Sataf
I want to give credit to a group called “Bishvil Yisrael” and their website. This is a group of people who hiked the trail, in consecutive segments, from north to south, about once a month, over a period of several years (2005-2009). During the first three years they occasionally did two hikes, on Friday and on Shabbat, staying overnight at hostels or other modest accommodations. During the last two years, about the time they reached Arad, every outing was, by necessity, a 2-day, 2-segment hike.
The organizers of this group broke down the trail into segments that are more manageable for older hikers (about 15 kilometers each, give or take a couple kilometers), and more suitable for vehicle access to start and end points. This group also hiked certain segments from south to north. Yuval and I agree this sounds like a wise idea, to avoid hefty climbing of such heights as Mount Arbel, although it has been our intention to hike every segment from north to south. Yuval and I have decided to adopt this group’s itinerary, except for the order in which we hike the segments.
Our adventures will continue ….
For over a year now, I have been using a Garmin Forerunner 305 to track my sport orienteering exploits. I also use it to record my other sports activities — walking, hiking, cycling. My main purpose, and pleasure, in using the Garmin is to review my orienteering routes and evaluate my successes and errors.
I very quickly became disenchanted with the Garmin’s software Training Center (TC). Relying on advice from more experienced users, I began using freeware called SportTracks (ST) for storing and analyzing my GPS tracks. Both programs are training logs that allow you to save a GPS track together with information such as a speed, pace, heart rate, elevation, and so on. The two programs have similar functionality, but ST simply has better usability.
After installing ST, I also installed 2 plugins:
You can see examples of my ST tracks from orienteering, hiking and biking in my Tracks set on Flickr.
Another freeware program I use occasionally is QuickRoute.
The beauty of QuickRoute is that it let’s you see your track on the actual O-map, instead of a satellite, aerial view. But the flipside is that you have to first scan the map and create an image file. Like ST and TC, QuickRoute also imports data from the Garmin directly (or from a GPX file). It also requires a bit of tweaking to get the tracks aligned with the control circles on the map.