Course Planning Hints
I've only planned three events, but in NZ terms that makes me
an expert! Only those wonderful guys at Ground Effect
have done more, with SIX Cyclic Sagas to their credit.
Here are some suggestions based on the Hutt Valley OC Winter Series
which might be helpful for those
planning MTBO events of around an hour in length. I'll add to the
list if I think of anything else, or if you ask questions about
Before we start, let me give you my guiding principle: we are NOT
aiming to convert foot-orienteers to MTBO, although some of them
will be interested. We are trying to put on something that bikers
will enjoy doing.
An now here's a sample of the instruction sheet we hand out to riders.
A whole page is a bit much and we know it's not all getting absorbed,
but we have to try.
- About three courses seems to cater for the field OK.
- Course 1 for Open Men. Something like 12-20km (measured around the
tracks, not beeline as in foot-orienteering). But of course its very
dependant on the terrain.
- Course 2 for Open Women, Vet Men, Junior Men and Recreational Men.
About 8-14km should see them occupied for an hour or more.
- Course 3 for Vet Women, Junior Women and Recreational Women. Not
so many of these so far, but it's important to have an easy course
for anyone who isn't sure of their riding or navigation skills.
We've offered between 5 and 9km.
- Foot-orienteers may be surprised to learn the navigational difficulty
should be "lemon". No that isn't a recognised colour, it means somewhere
between "white" and "yellow". That is, you are following tracks all the
way, but there is no need for controls at every decision point.
In fact they should be far enough apart to offer good route choice,
especially tradeoffs between shorter slower tracks and longer faster riding.
- The terrain should be "mostly" ridable. Who enjoys pushing their bike?
As an exception, very short bits of unrideable track can be used to create
a bit of variety or route choice, but don't overdo it. Inclusion of
some technical riding on the longer courses is good however,
there should be an advantage for riding skill.
- An idea that seems to have worked is the creation of "pseudo-tracks"
with intermittent or continuous tape. This is something that doesn't look
like a track on the ground, but you want riders to be able to use it,
either to open up more route choice or just to provide a nice bit of riding.
You mark them on the map in the usual way, and tape them on the day.
Don't forget to remove all the tape afterwards!
- We have also used tape to mark the entrance to side tracks which
are not very prominent. We don't want to there to be any doubt as to
what is regarded as a track and what is not.
- For our enter-on-the-day events we've been preparing the maps with
all the circles marked on (plus control codes). This means that
marking up the course (which competitors do from a master map) is a
lot easier than if they had to position the circles. For courses up
to 10 controls 2 minutes seems to be enough, and this is the start
interval we have been using.
- We've been using HVOC control clippers which are mounted on stands.
That's fine if riders carry their clipcard on their person, but the
international rules say the card should be attached to the bike.
We are going to experiment with the clipper dangling from the flag on
a string: watch this space.
- Safety is an issue. We are using St John First-aiders, and thinking
about vehicle access into the course should anyone need to be brought out.
Where the best start-point was across a State Highway from the best
riding, we declared the SH out of bounds and put the course under the road
through a handy culvert. There's enough possibility for coming off
your bike while you are looking at your map without bringing traffic hazards
- We sometimes declare a track one-way in a certain direction.
This could arise from safety (a very dark old railway tunnel) or
inconvenient passing (a long stretch of very narrow) but it can also
make for some more interesting route choices!
- We have been preparing special-purpose MTBO maps but that is not necessary.
You can use ordinary orienteering maps, or even topo maps if the
track network is clear enough. (If you're using the latter, you
will probably need to add a few tracks, and enlarge the scale as
you copy. They are most suitable for the longer events like the Cyclic Saga.)
Mapping for MTBO is covered elsewhere.
Wellington MTBO Series: ST PATS FOREST 29 JULY 2000
- You have been given a CLIP CARD. Fill it in except for "number"
Course 1 is for Open Men (OM). Expected winning time is 80min.
Course 2 is for Open Women (OW), Vet Men (VM), Jnr Men (JM) and
Rec Men (RM). Expected winning time is 70min.
Course 3 is for Vet Women (VW), Jnr Women (JW) and Rec Women (RW).
Expected winning time is 50min.
- A rider can start on each course every 2 minutes. There's a
booking sheet for start times, and fill in the start time on your
card as well (two places). A couple of minutes before your start front up
to the starter who will keep the tear-off bit of your card.
- Your map has ALL the controls marked. Each course uses a
different combination, shown on a MASTER MAP. You will have 2
minutes to mark your particular course before you can leave.
The start clock will beep every 2 minutes.
- You have to carry the card with you, and punch in the numbered
square at each of your controls. To help you there is a code number
on each control and this is also marked on your map in brackets.
Hand in your card at the finish.
On the Course
Next Event: Waitarere Forest 26 August, signposted from the
- This is a "cross-country event" in which you must visit the
controls in numerical order, and clip your card to prove it. You
and your bike must go to each control.
- Stay on the roads and tracks. But you can choose which
tracks to use between control points. We have made some extra
"tracks" with tape. They are shown on the map, but there may be no
marks on the ground (to begin with!)
Important: SH2 (River Road) is OUT OF BOUNDS with the exception
of a 200m taped section shown as a track. There are routes under SH2,
and there is an enlarged map at the start showing you the detail
around Moonshine Bridge. You can travel across the grass anywhere
between SH2 and the river.
- Wear a helmet.
- The tracks are open to other users. Ride as if you are going to
meet yourself coming the other way. One particularly narrow track is
shown as one-way.
- Report to the finish, even if you decide to abandon the course.
We'll come looking for people who don't check in. Controls will be
collected after 4pm.
- In the event of an injury, here's our safety plan. We haven't
got marshalls on the course so we rely on you, the other competitors.
Each incident is different, but hopefully the first rider on the
scene can give first aid while the second can head straight to the
finish and report to Michael or Brent. We'll have a St John
first-aider and a 4WD vehicle there.
This page was written by
and was installed on 31 July 00
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