Friday 31 August 2012

Prizegiving with castle background

Saturday nights prizegiving was at the banquet venue on the grass with a live brass band and an amazing backdrop of the city's castle.

Thursday 30 August 2012

Veszprem battlefield

Here's the first map of the long distance final in Veszprem on Saturday.

Wednesday 29 August 2012

Elite long distance race Saturday 25th

I was 52nd in the long distance race. Marquita had an awesome ride and came in 18th. Well done Marquita!

It was an early start compared to other days, 9:54am. We had what we thought was potentially a 30min ride to the start from the vehicles near the event centre in Veszprem. I made sure I was at the bike shop doorstep at opening time of 9am to enquire about getting another sealant-filled tube and get them to fix the seating of my tyre. They could only do the latter, so off I pedalled to the start knowing that I would have to be careful about off-track riding with my plain tube so as not to puncture easily.

The map area is called Veszprem battlefield. It certainly was interesting however I missed a lot of that significance during the ride. We had been told via the managers meeting that we had some maps changes during the course. We were expecting 3 maps in total. So when I saw the size of the first one I decided I was in for a long ride.

I had chosen a fairly straight forward route to the first control and use the grid system to get to it. Somehow I must have missed seeing some tracks (still can't fathom that one) and ended up on a track nearly off the map. Not a good start!

I settled into better nav after that but I would describe the race in one word 'tentative'. For two reasons really. I hadn't had a good nav start to the first control and I was wary of my tyres puncturing again so I needed to limit off track riding if possible.

We had a butterfly loop so it was important to closely read the map. We visited one control 3 times with a loop of 2 other controls in between.

We came into an area of old 'tank hides' and ditches and a demolished small township. All part of the battlefield.

We also had 2 narrow tunnels under the railway line and a small bridge over a stream especially made for the event.

Our map swap ended up happening only once and we went from the 1:20000 battlefield map to a 1:15000 Veszprem city which took us to the finish. I took a wrong turn at one point and rode through some sprinklers covering the road which was great in the heat!

We had a final climb up the hill to the last control before the sprint for the line.

There were several cameras feeding footage from the finish to the website. I was getting texts from home as to where to stand and wave so I could be seen on the other side of the world.

Monday 27 August 2012

Tyre drama

The afternoon after the relay I changed my tube and I, and others to make sure, checked my tyre for thorns. Later that evening, aftrer the prizegiving and dinner I checked the outside of my front tyre and plucked out a number of thorns. Just as well because it went flat then and there. Better then than the next day in the long distance A final.

So another hour or so later checking the inside tyre and removing more thorns I had quite a collection.

Unfortunately the new spare tube was holed so we tried another hoping it might self seal, but it was flat by morning. So a plain tube with no sealant was installed in the morning (all on a tight time schedule and it had cut into my sleep time). I knew I would have to choose my routes carefully the next race with a plain tube on board.

There were a lot of flats going on throughout the event. It's just the nature of the sport and this particular terrain. It all has to be just dealt with and move on. I remember telling the kids I was coaching in primary school orienteering a few months ago to 'expect the unexpected'. I think if you do, then it doesn't throw you off mentally in pre race preparation or in race competition. There can be a bit more logical and calm problem solving then too.

Relay silver

The proud New Zealanders who won silver in the W40 relay at the World Mountain Biking Championships in Hungary 2012.

Medal ceremony

We won silver! Marquita, Viv and I came 2nd in the W40 relay at the World MTBO Champs.

We all moved grades to make a New Zealand team. Viv from W50 and Marquita and I from elite. With a mass start of all grades and genders and athletes grabbing their map and then running to their bikes, Marquita had a great first leg and blitzed it to give us the lead over the Czech team. Viv had an awesome ride and we were still in contact with the Czechs. I took the third leg and and saw the Czech rider at control 4. I then made a navigation error and ended up riding round a green forested area looking for control 5. Unfortunately I rode through some thorn bushes and 5 min later I had a flattie.

I have sealant-filled inner tubes so I expected that the goo would seal the hole and it may only need a little bit of air. I hand pumped it up and carried on. I had to pump it up 3 times before unsuccessfully using the CO2 canister and then running my bike home for the last two controls.

Near the finish line, I looked behind and saw a cyclist coming. A team was cheering them on furiously. I couldn't tell if it was male or female so I started to run harder for the line in case it was the next team. I was determined to reach the line on foot before them! The commentator then assured me I could stop sprinting because they weren't from our grade.  Ha!

There were two areas on this course that the riders came through for spectators to be involved in the event.  It was a great place to get a dousing with water.  When I rode into the first spectator area I had just done the first pump up of my tyre, so I was determined to ride fast to catch up, and said I didn't need any water because I didn't want to stop to grab it.  They just threw it on me anyway.  It was sooooo good.  It was so hot out there.  High 30s.

Long distance race final tomorrow

My long distance race final is tomorrow (Sat). I'll be one of the first starters at around 9:54am local time (a respectable 7:54pm Sat. NZ time)

We had lunch here last weekend but have since realised that this may be the finish area on Saturday.


In my travels so far I have seen some cool doors. I had started to see so many that I was going to photograph them, but I hadn't til Thursday night when we were on our way down a narrow road to a restaurant in Veszprem (our best one yet) and I spotted this opposite the restaurant.

We thought we might have found the road we have to ride up to the finish for the long distance final on Saturday. Oliva restaurant is on it.

Rest day

Thursday was a rest day for the elite riders but I went and watched and cheered on the NZ masters (Rob, Michael, Viv, and Dave)
competing in their sprint race near Balatonalmadi.

Rob made the podium again and came 2nd in his grade.

All this week it has been over 30 degrees C during the day. The highest the car thermometer has got to is 41! Fortunately I have my hydration sorted because I have only had one mild dehydration headache so far.

Womens elite middle distance race

On Wednesday I competed in the middle distance event near Nagyvazseny. The masters athletes had their event there too.

I finished in 58th position with a time of 66:50, 20 min behind the leader. I had had a series of annoying errors that sent me backwards. One of them was where I misread the road I was on, and rode up and down looking for a track that didn't exist until relocating to where I knew I had been.

The event began on quite a grid type track system and ended up around this castle. We had two controls on the wall of the castle. There is one in the bottom right wall in the photo (might be hard for you to see).

Saturday 25 August 2012

Opening Ceremony

OK now that I'm up to date with the past weeks activities back to the World Champs event itself.

On Tuesday evening we had the Opening Ceremony and sprint event prize giving for the Elite and Junior races. Firstly Marquita and I marched down the street in our NZ shirts behind the NZ flag in country order alphabetically. We entered the university hall and found a seat.

They had some pre event entertainment. First up was a local singer who had been a contestant in the Hungarian sing for the stars or Hungarian Idol equivalent. Then we had a series of Hungarian dances with the men doing their thigh and boot slapping and the women twirling. The world champion Latin American local dancing team did a few dances too. The official speeches by various dignitaries were unexpectedly short.

Friday 24 August 2012

Singing NZ national anthem

On Wednesday evening at the prize giving we got to sing the New Zealand national anthem as our flag was raised. Rob is a M60 world champion after winning the M60 masters middle distance race. Congratulations Rob!

On Thursday night we watched him on the podium again as he received his silver medal for the sprint race earlier in the day.

Sunday 19th

This is a very important day. It's Caleb's birthday. Happy birthday my boy!

I took this photo of a lovely valley with village houses while I was out on a training map following a course that we had set ourselves. I had to stop and take a photo when I saw this view. Sorry I can't remember the name of the area.

As has been the case here near Veszprem, it has been very hot with over 30 degrees C during the day and singlet wearing temps in the evening. Hotter than our precious week in Budapest.

After a swim back at 'home' at the lake and accreditation at the Event Centre and collection of the model map, we headed to the model map at Soly to check it out. A SI course had been set up for 2 hours with a proper start chute too. So I started to feel that the racing was getting closer with my first event the next day - long distance qualifying (a previous post covers this).

I was pleased to be able to test my new SI card here before the race the next day.

There was a camera out on the course and you can see me ride by wearing my white, blue and orange URS cycling gear, just in front of Rob in his NZ gear. That's at about 1min 30sec into the model event video at

Saturday 18th night & happy birthday

The most important thing about Sat night 18th was that I had a skype appointment at 9.15pm with my son who was waking up back home to his 8th birthday. Happy birthday Caleb. Sorry that Mummy is missing this one. I hope you had a great day and that you were spoilt by the family back home.

Fortunately the restaurant we were at had free wifi (as many do here - they call it 'wee fee') so I could video call the family on my phone with the local village square live music festival in the background. I could show them around a bit, including the church twin steeples in the photo.

We had gone to investigate the peninsula on Lake Balaton and had dinner at a restaurant near Tihany. This is a photo of the nearby Abbey Church. It can be seen on the skyline from our campground.

Restaurant food is reasonably priced here with the exchange rate. The currency is Hungarian forint and 1000 ft is about NZ$6. A main meal with meat and extras of potato and salad will cost about 3000 ft.

Saturday 18th training

We headed to Veszprem (about a 20 min journey) and rode on a training map near the Veszprem zoo. It was a forested park area that I guess the locals go for a walk through. In the middle of the trees away from the parking lot there was a clearing with some small soccer goals. I wondered how many people would go out to play there.

We were riding our own course on this map just to investigate some of the mapping and how white forest, 50% yellow, 100% yellow, track width and rideability were mapped, to get a good idea for the actual race maps.

On the way back to the car near the Athlete Village/Event Centre we stopped at a the cafe to the left for lunch. The clock tower in the background chimed on the hour but then continued on with a tune.

I think the long distance final finishes in this square on Sat 25th.

Friday 17th - drive to Veszprem

On Friday we did a training sprint course round our accommodation then packed up for the drive to Veszprem. The World Champs to begin on Monday!

We collected some local training maps from the World Champs Event Centre in Veszprem and then headed towards Lake Balaton to the Europa campground on the shorefront of the lake. Marquita and Rob parked up their camper in a shaded tree lined row about 20m from the water, while the other 4 of us (Viv and Dave yet to arrive) have a cabin on wheels (called a mobile home). First thing to do was to open the windows - temperature into the 30s!

The lake is shallow for ages before it deepens and is stirred up and murky with silt. People are playing a lot of ball games in the water. It is still school holidays and so there's a lot of people here enjoying their summer holidays.

Thursday 16th

We did another SI card training on a map adjacent to where we had competed on the previous Sat and Sun near Erd.

I had a good ride and nav but I was momentarily disorientated by a significant unmarked track. Something that wasn't going to be the only time in the days to come.

I also was trying to punch more without stopping and dismounting from my bike. This was going well until a couple of times I just felt my SI card wasn't responding as fast as other peoples. There are newer cards that register more quickly in the SI box and Michael had one (he has a business in NZ that sells them, - worldwide service!) so I bought a new one.

That evening we had dinner out with the Australians and British and Swedish athlete, Ceci, at a restaurant in the Budapest suburb of Normafa, walking distance from 'home'. Afterwards we went to check out this local castle. Unfortunately it had closed at 8pm so I didn't get to look inside.

One for the kids!

Our hop on hop off bus took us through the city streets. We hopped off at Heroes Square and nearby was this park with a pond, giant trampoline and other activities, including the city's zoo. Here though were lots of different people selling large balloons. There are lots to choose from.

Wednesday 15th in Budapest - city tour

Once in Budapest, we bought a ticket to one of the double decker open top hop on hop off buses and did a tour of the sights complete with english commentary.

We hopped off for an extended period of time to go on a 1.5 hour walking tour through the central city (Pest). It was fascinating to learn of the history, politics, war, currency and life of Hungary over the years, as we passed by buildings, statues and parks of significance.

The buildings are probably standard European style but for me they all new since I haven't been to Europe before. So clicking the camera I have been doing.

Here is St Stephens Basilica. It's 96m high (the same height as the Parliament buildings) to commemorate 896 AD when the Magyar people first inhabited Budapest. No other building is allowed to be higher. No sky scrapers for Budapest then.

That evening I did a small ride on part of the sprint map around the campus where we were staying.

Wednesday 15th Budapest sights - tram

We headed to Budapest city centre to see some sights. We caught the cog railway at the top of the hill where we were staying, down to the bottom.

Thursday 23 August 2012

Tuesday 14th training

OK, so back to last weeks training. On Tuesday we had SI training. SI stands for sport ident and is the electronic system that we use to register our visit to each control and will provide at the end, not only the total time to the finish but the split times between controls. We will be using this system in each of our races. Our SI cards must be connected to our bikes so we visit each control without abandoning our bikes. We attach them with a 'zinger' which is a stationery item used for security cards that zips out and recoils. The zinger is taped and cabled tied to our bikes.

So we had a pleasant but hilly ride through the Budapest forested area with adjacent open areas including a glider airstrip (that was out of bounds and we had to bike around). There were no gliders that day.

The yellow open areas weren't coloured as we will expect on the World maps so I had to get my head around that. I was fairly happy with my route choices and riding. We climbed to the near the top of a large hill but the best route wasn't actually to the top so I missed what would have been a great view.

I dont have any photos from that training day but here is a piccie of where I was staying with typical local trees that we've been riding through. This is looking towards the reception building where we went to get wifi.

Wednesday 22 August 2012

Elite sprint race

Had a good ride in the sprint race today (Tuesday). I made a few errors but with many of the controls off track with control descriptions provided, I was pleased how my navigation went under such conditions.

It was mostly open terrain with a lot of winding motorcycle tracks squiggling all over the place. I was thankful that I had done a lot of foot orienteering so that reading the off track terrain was possible and absolutely necessary. The bulletin information had indicated it would be up to 25% off track riding.

There's prickles and thorns out on course. The briar bushes remind me of Central. There's been a few punctures out there. I am riding with 'slime' sealant filled inner tubes so that hopefully any puncture is sealed by the slime as the wheel rotates.

I finished in 39th place with 31:52, just over 10 min slower than the winner. Another of my Budapest training camp roomies did well today, Emily, earning a silver medal. Congrats Em!

It was hot again today, somewhere around 34C. I covered myself with water at the start. There was a bit of whispy cloud and a breeze that helped a little.

Yet again a great performance by my Giant Anthem X2 from Hedgehog Bikes Tauranga. I'm probably faster through the rough stuff (and it has been pretty rocky) having rear suspension.

World MTBO race 1

I'll have to skip some of my days of information on the blog to update you on today's event. Today (Monday) was the long distance qualification race. To explain, in my grade of women's elite there were over 70 entrants in the long distance race while only 60 places available in the long distance final which is on Sat. 25th. So today, we all had to ride in 2 heats and the fastest 30 from each heat go through to Saturday's final. With the 2 heats, there are 2 women leaving the start at the same time but they are on different courses.

I completed my course in 66min 35sec while the winner of my heat was one of my Budapest roommates, Ceci, in 55.15. I came in 27th so I've qualified for the final on Sat. Yay!

At the start we had a new thing to do that I haven't done in mtbo but always happens in foot o events. We had control descriptions given to us separately to the map. It's odd enough for us to get control descriptions on the map, let alone have to cut them with scissors from the edge of the map and put them in our arm description holder. It all went smoothly enough though. I'm pleased i had my holder. I had it for my compass but I've moved the compass to the top tube of my bike. I'm enjoying it being there actually, and have referred to it more often rather than just when fixing an error as I did when it was on my arm and not easily seen. The interesting thing is that we needed descriptions because some controls were off track.

The other thing I'm getting used to is that yellow which is open ground is forbidden to ride on. Back home its allowable, whether it's possible or quicker is another matter. Yellow here is cultivated land or parks that can't be ridden on. 50% yellow is open and allowable to be ridden. Still, it does not necessarily mean it's the quickest way to go. However, we needed to take note of 50% yellow because some of the quicker route choices on this course were off track where allowable.

It was very hot. Up to 37C some think.

Some of the girls wouldn't have been riding to full capacity since it was a qualification round, but I was still pretty pleased to have my split to the first control only 11sec from the quickest and my last split to the finish being equal fastest with the overall winner. My ex-track and field athletics sprinting may be coming to the fore :) or perhaps it was that there were some others beside me to race for the line!

Tuesday 21 August 2012

One for URS New Zealand

Thanks to my employer URS New Zealand for the training gear, time off work and support from my colleagues with fundraising! You guys are awesome.

Check them out at -they specialise in engineering and environmental management.

Here I am just about to go on a training ride.

Monday 20 August 2012

Childrens railway

After completing Monday's training map I went back to the local children's railway station. This station is on the boundary of the campus that we were staying on. There is also a high ropes course beside it, similar to Adrenalin Forest near Tauranga but not as high.

The childrens railway was set up after WWII and is manned by children except for the engineer. Apparently it was going while we were there but I never saw it.

Monday training

On Monday 13th we started using the local training maps around near where we were staying in Budapest. It started on the boundary of our accommodation campus near the children's railway (will post separately about that). The forest is lovely to ride through. It was quite hilly (apparently more hilly than our races next week) but it was great to be riding and focussing on route choice. We had a set time period in which to complete the course since control flags had been placed out on the course for us to find. No punching of clipcard or sport-ident card (electronic card) though.

My main purpose on these maps is to sharpen my navigation. We were out probably for more than an hour. I didn't really check the time. One of the route choices was up a hill and I decided to go round it via mostly sealed roads. I was rewarded with this view as I headed out of the forest into residential.

Our accommodation is on the hilly side of Budapest, called Buda, or the Buda side of the Danube River.

Despite the initial rear fork damage that has been temporarily repaired, my bike has gone well. The slime-filled inner tubes that Hedgehog Bikes in Tauranga gave me to protect against the thorns encountered at the weekends races and coming up, have performed well - no punctures. My new bike shoes from Hedgehog Bikes that I had to get prior to leaving because 2 weeks earlier the sole of mine came off; are also performing well. I like the tightening buckle on them, which my others didn't have.

Sunday 19 August 2012

Second reason it's slow to shop

This is the second reason it is slow to shop here. The big supermarkets are humungous! This photo shows the long row of checkouts. It takes ages to find the right row (can't read the aisle list) to find the item I'm looking for.

My favourite will always be Brookfield New World in Tauranga.

They're bigger than The Warehouse in NZ and sell groceries in aisles like at home but also hardware, clothing, appliances and whiteware and more. Some even have fast food outlets and free wifi. Wifi came in handy when i was communicating with the mobile phone department regarding a sim card because I used my online translator app to tell them what I was after.

Second reason it's slow to shop

This is the second reason it is slow to shop here. The big supermarkets are humungous! This photo shows the long row of checkouts. It takes ages to find the right row (can't read the aisle list) to find the item I'm looking for.

They're bigger than The Warehouse in NZ and sell groceries in aisles like at home but also hardware, clothing, appliances and whiteware and more. Some even have fast food outlets and free wifi. Wifi came in handy when i was communicating with the mobile phone department regarding a sim card because I used my online translator app to tell them what I was after.

Food in Hungary

Shopping for food in Hungary can be time consuming for two reasons. The first is that everything is in Hungarian. So it takes a bit of initial guesswork as to what is in the packaging before some common words become known. Not that many people are fluent in English either, so my attempts to find pegs, despite using pictures of them on washing powder packets to show the assistant, took several days and shops.

There are a lot of differents kinds of bread rolls and flavoured buns to select from. The fruit is lovely and colourful and I even found strawberries yesterday. This is a picture of the watermelon that are normally on offer! They're huge. My foot is there for scale. A bit of searching is necessary to find mini watermelon.

We tried a meal at the onsite restaurant at our Csilleberci accommodation one night. Since then though we have either eaten out elsewhere or cooked in Rob and Marquita's campervan.

The other night I eagerly awaited my ordered sirloin only to get what was more schnitzel-thickness with a huge pile of fried onion, with fried potatoes and token salad of two multicoloured slices of capsicum. It was tasty but not what I was expecting.

Friday 17 August 2012

View from bungalow

This is the view from the steps of the bungalow that I'm staying in. Csilleberci is an old pioneer camp. Pioneers was a youth organisation that closed down about 20 years ago. The campus here still functions for youth, school and sports events. It reminds me of Totara Springs Camp over near Matamata in NZ, but here there are large trees everywhere and no farmland and it's a bit rundown.

Csilleberci accommodation

This is the bungalow I'm staying in. It has a middle common room with tv, chairs, fridge, and microwave. We keep our bikes in there. There are four lockable rooms off the middle room that have 3 beds each. When I arrived last week I shared the bungalow with some Lithuanian riders. They left on Sunday and the 3 rooms have been empty but I have been sharing my room with Mel, an Australian mtboer.

Hungarian MTBO event

This past weekend I raced at a local mtbo event in the northwestern part of Erd. Erd is just SW of Budapest. (mtbo stands for mountain bike orienteering).

On Saturday it was an individual race. It was a good navigation training event for me since my last navigation was back home on one of Phil's awesome homemade suburban maps and at the Vegas Vindaloo event in Rotorua in July.

The first thing of note, was my need to write 'keep right' on my arm! Obviously on tracks the local road rules apply. When I started riding to the start line I found myself on the left so I went back to the vehicle and wrote on my arm.

There were a lot of international competitors there preparing for the worlds. The terrain was fairly flat with some wide and single track options, forest and open scrubby areas. It was dry and dusty. One part took us into a hillside residential area with narrow unsealed roads. I particularly enjoyed that part because it was evident I was in a foreign country since it was just so different to home. I had to use my compass in this part since I missed a turnoff and had to figure out where I was since I'd gone too far.

At one point in the race I heard a woman yelling something presumably in Hungarian. She sounded a little distressed as riders in front of me went past her. I stopped to let her and her party of children riding horses past understanding through her tone what she was expecting from these zooming cyclists. It took me 87min to finish.

Rob and Michael (NZers) came in 1st and 2nd in their age grade.

On Sunday, we had a relay. Marquita and I teamed up and did alternate legs. My 2nd leg was much quicker as I started to get more into the swing of things.

I had a significant 'near miss' (for those who understand safety speak :) )
I was riding along a narrow but two bike-wide track looking at my map (which is on a map board on my handlebars). Suddenly a fast young male rider came round the corner towards me. I found that under the sudden need to instigate anti-crash mode, my instinct was to go left. A split second later I had to go further left because I was then in line for a direct hit. So I sent myself into the bushes on my left to avoid a head on collision!

As you may have read, my bike needed some repairs out of the bike box before it could be ridden. It did seem to function okay at this event. There's a couple of noises to investigate though.

Sunday 12 August 2012

Wandering in Budapest

My bike needed repairs after the rear frame had been squished in its bike bag while flying here. Not good. Couldn't get the rear wheel on. While it has been repaired its not back to normal.

So while waiting for the bike shop to repair it, we went for a wander on the Buda side of the Danube River. The amazing building in the background is Parliament.

Thursday 9 August 2012

The London Olympics

Arrived from Singapore at 5.15am into London. So what's a sports-loving person meant to do while waiting for a 2220 flight to Budapest? Feeling somewhat rested I took the tube to Hyde Park's Live Olympic Zone. I arrived before it opened at 11am so I explored some of the nearby streets from the monopoly board. Lot of fancy hotels nearby being used by Olympic VIPs too.

There's 4 big screens with live sport. Watched two Tauranga athletes there, Newdick in decathlon and Burling win silver. Lots of activities there including Cadbury's joyville - with a 2 hr wait to get in!

Headed back to airport early afternoon for a much awaited shower and rest.

Flying out of Singapore

There's a skycam on my plane and this is me flying out of Singapore. Had a 45min delayed departure from Akl due to an oil leak and therefore a change of plane. Tighter on the connections at Sydney but made it. Singapore to London was in a newish A380. It wasn't full so I had a pretty good sleep lying across 3 seats.

The journey begins....

Well the journey began a long time ago but this is the beginning of the travel journey to the worlds. On Tuesday, Departing at Auckland International Airport flanked by some NZ Olympians.