Mountain Bike Orienteering is a very European sport and races are more readably accessible with more dense and competitive competition. In Brisbane, Australia, where I live. We are lucky to have such a great community and drive for MTBO. We can race MTBO once a month if we are blessed with good conditions and proactive organisers. Most of our maps are in low lying areas that have a decent track network, but the tracks can get water logged and it isn’t that nice to race on at times. A lot of the Australian team has probably done two MTBO races in the last two months into lead up to worlds. Almost everyone on the team is split up over Australia and getting to some races can be difficult.
This training camp really gives us a reality check to what we should be expecting at the World Mountain Bike Orienteering Championships. We have probably done more MTBO than we have done this year in this short week. The maps are more complex and foreign to us so we have had to improve a lot in such a short time. I know we have riders that have the potential to get into the top ten, but it comes down to; can they consistently race as hard and clean as they can under the WOC pressure?
Friday after the sprint training map in the morning. The selectors pulled Alex, Callum, Ricky and myself to one side and explained that this years WOC won’t be having a long distance qualification race but instead reducing the slots down to two riders to race the Long distance race. Since all four of us live far apart and racing together is rare to give them an idea of where we are in fitness and skill level, it makes it difficult for them to choose. The last time we raced was when the selection trials were on and I had only just recovered from my collar bone injury and there has been some time since then, where we have all done a lot of training.
So they said they would like us to race the afternoon training map to give help them some race information to help them decide who they will choose to race the Long distance. We had a decent four minute time difference for a staggered start. Alex was first, Ricky second, myself third and Callum leaving last. Everyone had some difficulties at some point on the course. Alex said he started off badly, not doing so well through the first few check points and said he just stopped racing because he didn’t feel like racing. Ricky raced well, fairly fluid with a minor error. Callum had some oxygen educed errors but held it together. He was only a couple of minutes behind Ricky. I had a fairly good race except for a couple of questionable route choices and doing a small 180 early on out of a checkpoint.
This doesn’t help the selectors at all since Alex has raced dominantly in the past and I raced well, and since my last efforts, it was a huge improvement. Ricky and Callum being close together also doesn’t make it easy. There are still some more training sessions and the Sprint and Middle to help them choose but for now it’s up in the air.
For more images and an active site for information on WOC and the Australian MTBO Team you should go look at the Australian Mountain Bike Orienteering Team Facebook page.