Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Catapulted into a world of Elite MTBO

Apparently it's our restless gene to blame for landing Adel and I in the Czech Republic; to compete at elite world level in a sport we've never done, with people we've never met, a roadie and a trackie on mountain bikes we'd only started riding this year. Perhaps not everyone's idea of a fine way to spend a week in July but it seems a variant of genetic coding known as DRD4-7R is responsible for quite a lot.

I have to admit, I'd never even heard of Mountain Bike Orienteering (MTBO) before meeting Emily Benham at our MuleBar Girl Sigma Sport testing day at The Stable (MuleBar HQ). Mr MuleBar, Jimmy, had met her in the woods (riding mountain bikes I should probably add) found out about her exploits as MTBO world championship silver medallist and cordially invited her to join us.

MTBO, it turned out, sounded like a lot of fun. You get given a map a minute before you start then have to ride and navigate while riding to a series of checkpoints in the forest in the quickest possible time. Don't stop, that's wasting precious seconds, look at the map, pedal, look where you're going, get yourself to the right place and don't get lost or fall off, all in the same moment. It also sounded impossible!

Inspired by this alone I signed Adel and I up to the closet thing I could find to MTBO, a Gorrick Trail Trax event. The map and format are different but the general theme is the same, navigate round a map on a bike and do it quickly.

It was about this point that those restless genes popped in. As I've learnt this week they were responsible for driving our ancestors to take risks, to head out into the unknown in search of new food sources or to discover what lay over in the next valley. With food now in abundance they fuel a sense of adventure instead. "I think I've found my relay team for the MTBO world championships", Emily joked with us on Twitter after our escapades at the Trail Trax event. "This smells like a challenge" said Adel and I, "Where to we sign up...?!".