Wednesday 17 August 2011

Posted by Velouria Posted on 15:22 | No comments

The Nav Challenge 2011

Just when you though mountain biking couldn't get more exciting, along comes an event that tests not just the strength of your leg muscles and your technical ability, but also your ability to think and plan at the same time. The 2011 Nav Challenge took place in Hermanus, mostly up the Hemel and Aarde Valley and pitted teams of two against each other. For the sake of inclusion, the event is also open to our poorer cousins of endurance sports - the joggers, so a big, diverse field is guaranteed.
Maximum points after the abseil near the old Hermanus harbour
The concept is simple - get to as many checkpoints as possible in the allocated 3 hours to collect as many points as you can. The further the checkpoint is from the start, the more points it is worth (or, as it turns out - the better hidden it is, the more points it is worth). To keep the joggers happy there were two point systems in place, and this time the joggers were favoured over the mountain bikers. Personally, I feel that if you forget your bike at home you should be made to suffer the consequences.
What is it with girls and maps?
Our team, the Head Banging Billy Goats, had a distinct advantage in that we relied heavily on local knowledge, some tips the guys who cut the singletrack, and several other teams with better map reading skills. The trick concerning the last point is to pretend you know where you are going, yet are not as fit as the team you are following. The only catch is that you have to chose the team you are following wisely, as several teams spent more time studying their maps than actually cycling.

One of the other more interesting approaches involved intricate plotting, distance measuring, note taking, marking of bearings, and then once on the bike relying on gut feel to find the checkpoints. Needless to say, such a strategy doesn't work that well, and we made sure not to sneakily follow this team.
Verf Meisie coming through!
We had the privilege of competing along side the Ladies classification winners from the previous event, and pick up vital tips and hints. The boys did however chose the more risky approach of relying on brute strength and local knowledge to rack up points, while the girls (this time riding under the name of Die Verf Meisies) chose the tried and tested approach of targeting a couple high scoring checkpoints and then having some fun. Previously this included swimming in a dam, and this time it was fooling around on the canopy zip line.
Made it back with 1:13 to spare
With a little over one minute and 13 seconds left to the deadline, we made it back to the start/finish area, having collected a whopping 175 points from a possible 200. The three checkpoints that we missed didn't really fit in with our plan (or the plans of the other competitors that we were following). To our disgust we discovered that two teams of joggers had beaten us into 3rd place. We suspect a slight favouring of the joggers at this event after the complete domination by the mountain bikers at the previous event.
Fun for the whole family
Die Verf Meisies had done well, or so we thought, only for the organisers to make a clerical mistake and lose their result completely. It turns out they came 2nd in the Ladies category, once again showing the boys that perhaps sometimes brains do beat brawn!

All in all, the  Nav Challenge is a great event and adds new dynamic to the sport of bike riding. Nothing like a bit of navigation to create tension within a team. The Head Banging Billy Goats will definitely be back, and we'll be out to extract some revenge on the joggers. And perhaps we'll listen to the series leaders in the Ladies category next time they give us some tips and hints

3rd overall and first MTB team:
The Head Banging Billy Goats


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