Hmm.. one compass points to the left while the other points to the right. I'll trust my Suunto with the stronger needle,
but I have to remember that the compass direction can change due to the angle of the board!
As the Mountain Bike Orienteering World Championships approach, the most beneficial training I can do is to carve out a mental process that is particular to mountain bike orienteering.
When orienteering on foot, I have a process- a checklist of sorts.
- Choose a route based off of an 'attack point'. An attack point is a feature near the control that you can find with confidence before finding the control itself.
- Fold the map so that it shows only the section I need and keep my thumb on the map as to where I am, moving my thumb as I move in the terrain.
- Keep my map 'oriented' so that what I see ahead of me on the map matches what I see ahead of me in reality.
- Once I'm traveling on my chosen route, mentally check off landmarks as I see them and then try to anticipate what I will see next.
- If I'm running an 'easy' section of the route, such as along a distinct trail that will end at a distinct junction, then I will use the extra 'brain space' to: check the control description, choose an exit out of the control, and even plan a route to the control after that!
One might think that MTB-O would have an identical process, but there are some nuances that differentiate it!
- Most controls are on trail, so "attack points" are less relevant, but the direction in which you go through a control is even more so. Having to turn around on a mountain bike is a larger time penalty than when on foot, so dog-legging (traveling to and from the control along the same path) is to be avoided when possible.
- I can't fold or 'thumb' the map, because the map is strapped to a flat board and my hands need to be on the handlebars! Knowing what corner of the map I'm in becomes another bit of information to hold in my brain. I need to be able to glance quickly at the map and get as much information as possible in 2 seconds, instead of wasting 1.5 seconds looking for where on the map I am and only having a half second left to glean information before my eyes dart back to the trail so I can ride over a big root.
- Keeping the map oriented for every direction change on a trail is not practical on a bike. Instead, I monitor the compass going in and out of alignment and re-orient my map less often.
- I can't check the map as obsessively as I do on foot, because I need to keep my eyes on the trail! To compensate, I have to hold more information in my memory.
Those are just a few of the differences between Foot-O and Mtb-O. There are some that deserve posts of their own. Meanwhile, the 2012 MTB-O WOC is drawing near! I had better play some more online memory-O.