Saturday, August 9, 2014

WUOC 2014: Middle/Relay training

--> This morning the team went out to the Middle and Relay training area to have a go at understanding this Czech terrain. Most of the team have never been to the Czech Republic before, but we do have two that went to the spectator races of WOC 2008. Hopefully I have managed to soak up all the knowledge I can today.

The woods seem to be VERY open in places and then VERY green in others. The first view that we got was of a mix of it all and really was not a bad example of the area. So got on the shoes (toe seemed fine with my o-shoes as well which was a relief!) and headed out. 

I had a few ideas of things I wanted to really take some time to investigate and truly understand the mapmakers way of mapping.
1)   The vegetation boundaries and all that comes with “The Colourful” areas
-      Specifically I had heard that the Czech like to put controls hidden in the dark green areas on say a small yellow clearing or white spot. I wanted to A) Understand how to tell the difference between the yellow and white spots B) figure out how easy they are to tell from “A distance” C) how easy they might be for attackpoints into smaller one close by with the control in it.
2)   The track network
-      Specifically how useful the individual tracks/rides actually are
-      Also is it easy to notice I’ve crossed over a medium size track
3)   The Ditch networks
-      From the old map and from the newsarticle one could tell there was an irregular network of drain ditches in the area. The question was how easy are they actually to see in the terrain as they had been described as “Permanently without water, clogged, but visible close by”. For some reason that had alarm bells for me to make sure I understood how they were mapped and how to use them.

The guys had a slightly different course to try to avoid everyone running the same thing.
The first few controls I took quite slowly and also spent some time chatting with Tori Borish and then Tori Owen (Canada) joined us as well. I think that was really helpful to get me to really stop and think about things while actually standing in the areas I was interested in. So for instance Tori B and I basically walked to #2 and tried to see what the difference was between white/yellow/green in that area. To be honest is was quite hard to see the yellow vs the white. But the green and the track was pretty obvious. On this leg at speed I would probably trust my compass and go on a bearing for it since it is a short leg.

Leg #2-3 was nice because we all stopped at 4 to talk and had each by chance taken different routes to 3. Tori B went fairly straight to it. I legged it around on the train and then Tori O did a bit of both for one of her attempts (she ran the leg twice) taking the trail to start and then the ditch. From hearing the difference in time for tori O between track and straight I think I’m going for the track approach, but following the ditch along at the end I think was a very good idea as I didn’t have a solid attackpoint sorted for getting off the track.
            -So Tracks are decent and found easily
            -Ditches you almost need to be on top of to see. They are shallow but distinct. Could easily follow the ditch from the trail along to the control but wouldn't have seen the ditch from that far away.

Leg #3-4 again I stopped at 4 to look at more of the ditches. Actually getting to the control was easy enough. Quite quick to the main track and clearing and then actually used the green and broken ground of the ditches as a funnel into the control and hit it pretty much dead on. 
            -Going back to look at the ditches though they seemed way more complicated to be able to read at speed. However the bigger almost stream like ones are quite easy to pick out so will use them if needed. but thinking about trying to avoid much fine navigating with the ditches. 

Leg #4-5-6 the three of us looked at vegetation change again which was useful. I used the two white patches in the green to lead me into #5 and that worked perfectly. Although think you'd have to really pay attention to what is white, these weren't horrible. The yellow was also again more kinda grassy which helps. The green getting out of 5 onto the track was also quite easy to push through but can get you zig zagging so will need to be careful. But in this section the kinda line of forest was in the direction we wanted :) Then spent a while talking about the open around 6. I can see what the newsletter meant about "it feels yellow" although I would have almost called it rough open. It had long grass and smaller evergreen trees in places. But looking up it was clear sky! 
            -So yellow open is very useful to use as it is a distinct change in the forest, however don't get it in my head that it is the nice short grass super fast running. Although not slow either. 

From here we split off and I took the rest of the course at a faster pace. nailed 7-8-9 which was nice. using the aiming off and precise compass work and totally head up! You could see fences from MILES away. Then 10 was the first one I was slower deciding a route for. In the end I went in from the back and not from the trail wanting to see if it was actually a valid route. And actually if the control was any further from the track I would have possibly even said it was the right decision. but the track junction/veg change was a distinct feature to cut in at, if that wasn't there I'd have also picked my route. Easy straight in, and saw the control right away, and not that much slower I don't think. 

I then had a bit of a horror to number 11. This is where I see the warning of needing to focus the whole time being VERY true. Took too sloppy of a compass bearing hit the veg change and wasn't sure really where I was. I thought I was much further right than I actually was, ran left a little bit as that was my plan and could then see the road. OPS! so instead legged it up the road and in through the rides at the side, while stopping in the yellow open confused for a little bit first. UGH. 

12 easy nailed but just a precise compass to. It was 13 that I had trouble again :/ But I had flagged this as my tricky control. My plan was to aim off left and hit the T-junction and in. Well I think I got too distracted by how easily I could move across the rides that my bearing wasn't accurate enough. Hit the area, went a little left didn't see it. Also didn't see the small clearing either so thought I was in between the two and then kinda swept a bit. Think I was much closer to the clearing then I thought though :/ 

Overall some very good training and think I've learnt a lot. 
team snacking and waiting for bus
And Canadian friends

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