* MTBO at Gevaram

Prior to the mountain bike orienteering event at Gevaram, I had begun announcing my intention to quit doing MTBO. Having tried it for 2 years, I still don’t have the expertise or confidence to go out without a riding partner (Yuval). I’m happy to do MTBO in the fields of Jezreel Valley, but not in the hills of Alon Hagalil. I do not have the skills or fitness of a serious trail rider. I prefer “KKL” trails to “singles”, flat routes rather than climbs and steep descents, soft paths rather than rocky roads. Riding conditions at Gevaram were exactly the kind I prefer. I actually got to ride my bike — rather than push it — for practically the entire course. Makes me have second thoughts about continuing in the sport.

Our MTBO ride at Gevaram (19 June 2010)


Start > 1: Alon, Hadar and Yuval started, respectively, 3, 2 and 1 minute ahead of me, but waited for me to arrive at the start triangle. There we all agreed on route choice, and took off. Dropped our bikes at the bottom of the hill and climbed up to punch the control. (~12 minutes)

1 > 2: Easy route choice — main trail through the fields. Turned left off trail and went directly into control. (~7 minutes)

2 > 3: Short ride. (~3 minutes)

3 > 4: I was following behind the other three, and lost contact with the map. Felt rather insecure riding near the edge of the map, and wasn’t sure exactly where we were until I actually saw the control. (~11 minutes)

4 > 5: Started up the single, but then realized we could easily cut through the woods to the main trail below. Time wasted on discussing route choice. (~5 minutes).

5 > 6: Continued on the main trail to the junction. Spotted the control and rode directly to it. (~2 minutes)

6 > 7: Rode through the open woods, and on the main trails. (~4 minutes)

7 > 8: Rode the single to the first junction. Hadar and Alon stayed on the single and continued on without us. Yuval and I prefered the main trail. At the next junction I wanted to return to the single, but let Yuval persuade me to continue on the main trail, which descended and looped away from the control. I think this section of the leg was our worst mistake in route choice, but not a terrible one. (~11 minutes)

8 > 9: Yes, we could have ridden the single, but stayed on the main trail. As I stopped to punch the control, I lost my balance, fell off my bike and got caught in it like a pretzel. Thank goodness Yuval was there to extract me. (~5 minutes)

9 > 10: Rode north on the single to the main trail. A possibly better route choice (Yuval’s suggestion) would have been to head south-west on the main trail towards the field/water stop. But I thought it would be simpler to head straight for the field and then follow the trail around it. Easier said than done. The forks in the road just before the field were confusing, and we could easily have missed the “connector” leading up to the field. Good navigation by Yuval. Water stop. Passed control 1, and rode single from corner of field down to control. (~15 minutes)

10 > 11: Returned on the same path. Got stuck a couple times on sandy patches and lost my momentum. Had to get off the bike and push a bit. (~7 minutes)

11 > Finish: No brainer. (~5 minutes)

* Orienteering Software Tools for Garmin Forerunner 305

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:

  • Elevation Correction: Corrects the GPS elevation of activities and routes using digital elevation models. It solved the problem of incorrect elevation data being displayed.
  • Apply Routes Plugin: Provides lots of new map types. Somehow it solved the problem of  Google Map not showing up in the background of the route display.

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.

You can see examples of QuickRoute tracks in Zef Segal’s blog and in  Dan Chissick’s blog.