My first night mountain bike orienteering experience was part of the Dark/White Challenge Event series. This one was held in Biggin near Hartington, in the White Peak area of the Peak District. Luckily, I had been in that area once before, for the LDWA Six Dales Circuit, and loved the trails winding in and through the narrow dales. Of course I wouldn't be able to see any of that at night, but hoped the trails would be ridable in the glow of my bike lights.
It rained on me all the way down to the start but the skies mysteriously cleared for the 2 hours we were out racing (it rained on the drive home, too, so how lucky can we be?!?). Gavin and his teammate Onion showed up soon after I did, as a little friendly competition was in the cards. The excuses started flying immediately, though, with the boys blaming a possible loss to me on Onion's lack of fitness!
I set off with lights blazing, immediately hating how much my map board was rattling agains the lights but nothing I could do about it. Nice to find out now on a short race...guess a new map board will be needed, bleh.
The controls were all over the map (duh!) but I soon discovered a route that would pick up most of them, time permitting. I noticed that I was riding slower than normal, as the reach of my lights limited my visibility and I didn't want to crash on a remote trail in the dark! Happily, I was still able to see the map while riding, and with the descriptions tied to my forearm I could read those as well, so I could ride without stopping TOO often. Navigation was much more crucial at night, as the normal vistas, sun angle, and visibility were removed. Most of the route was on smooth bridleways and roads so it was fast and furious all around.
Most of the race went well, and then on the home stretch I found myself passing some trees that weren't on the map. Why did I suddenly conclude that said trees must have grown rather quickly into a forest?!? You got it, I was on the wrong trail. No time to go back as time was fading away. Luckily my mishap pointed me toward a different control, unluckily it was worth half the points of the original one.
I finished ahead of the time limit (for once) and Gav and Onion were just a minute behind me. We were quite happy to tie with 210 points each...although it must be said that I was faster overall so that must count for something! I was happy to win my category as well (no need to mention that I was the only one in it!)