Entered my first Trailquest event, advice welcomed !!!

Home Forum Bike Forum Entered my first Trailquest event, advice welcomed !!!

Viewing 27 posts - 1 through 27 (of 27 total)
  • Entered my first Trailquest event, advice welcomed !!!
  • boblo

    I've done a few but I'm sure there are more experienced folk on here. I would team up with your chum and allocate 'duties' i.e. one nav's the other times. Unless you're both elite atheletes (or the others are all porkers), I'd forget about winning. set yourself a reasonable target at n minute miles/mph etc and try and stick to it. It's very easy to get a blood rush and then go mad. Take your time with the nav and be certain before hareing off. And lastly, watch your food and hydration. Shunt be much of an issue on a short event but even so. Oh, and enjoy 🙂


    On Sunday I will be taking part in my first Trailquest. 30 control points, 3 1/2 hours. Now like I stated, first time ever for me , so any advice welcomed. I am local to the area so will have a little bit of an advantage, but my map reading skills have not been tested at this level. A mate is also entering , should we team up or go head to head with the rest of the field?


    Premier Icon Andy

    yup as said, enjoy yourself above all, and dont go mad at the start,you will be more relaxed and do better.
    Do a good plan at the start and include decision points along the route where you can either extend to grab points or shorten if you are running out of time. The most common mistake is to over extend and arrive back late losing points.

    I'm currently 6th in the Midland Trailquests Spring series and I'll be glad to give any advice I can.

    The most important thing is make a map board. I did my first event with the map stuffed down the front of my jersey and wasted loads of time getting out to have a look and then stuffing it back in.
    My map board is just a thin plastic chopping board cable tied on to the bars.
    A watch or some other means of timing is essential. An odometer is very useful.

    I've always ridden solo. Some people ride as a pair, others enter as two solos, but ride together so that if one gets a puncture, the other can carry on alone. For your first event you might as well ride as a pair for mutual support.

    The procedures can vary from event to event, but normally you will get the map with the control points marked on it when you book in. Generally the harder to get to CPs will be worth more points.
    You will need to have some idea of how far you can ride in the time allowed. Say, for example, you can maintain a 10km/h average, plot a 35km route on your map with a highlighter pen taking in as many high value CPs as you can.
    Once the clock has started, then you get the control point values. If there's no surprises, set off on your route.
    Keep an eye on the time and your average speed and be prepared to alter your route on the fly.

    Use your local knowledge to your advantage. Bridleways all look pretty much the same on a map. If you know that one is a hard stone farm track and another is a muddy strip across a field, that will help in your route choice.

    Where is the event ? There's a 3.5 hour MTQ event in Surrey tomorrow, so I guess it's that one.
    If you look at previous results you will see there's a wide spread of scores. There's some proper fast guys (and one fast grrrl) doing the MTQ trailquests, but there's also a lot riders just out for a fun day on the bike. Don't worry about what everyone else is doing, just go out and enjoy it.

    I wrote a bit about trailquesting and map marking on my training log if you're interested.

    Sort out a mapboard and test it first. A bit of hardboard or estate agents board zip tied to your bars will do, with a couple of bulldog clips or loops of thin bungy to hold the map on securely – test it first!

    You shouldn't need too much food for 3 and a half hours – a pack of jelly babies fed in slowly will do. But 2 bottles of water or a big camel back would be a good idea.

    If you are using an SI "dibber" you can keep it on your finger, but if you are using an Emit "dibber" or punching a card to show you have been to controls, then the best bet is to attach either to a ski pass holder so you can keep it secure but pull it out to dibb.

    Don't get too hung up about your compass. You need one, but chances are it will stay in your pocket.

    Don't carry/wear too much gear. If the weather looks good and you want to be competitive you need to dress as if it were a XC race.

    Don't hang around at CPs. If you are going to get 20 CPs and you hang around faffing at each one for a minute, that is 20 minutes of riding time gone.

    Pay attention to how the guys who look good are organising themsleves and try to compare notes on routechoice with other (preferably better than you) people after. Won't help this time, but will help next time.

    Get a bit of string as long as the route you think you can do (maybe 30-40 km? – think about it). Use the string at the beginning to make a wiggly loop on your map to see roughly how far you might go. Try to choose a route with a bail out option near the end i.e. and easy road heading back to the start/finish.

    I've used a dibber once on an EnduranceLife event.
    MTQ use the old fashioned bingo card and punch method.

    Rightplacerighttime, you sound like you know your stuff. Are you with the MTQ or TCA?

    Premier Icon mugsys_m8

    30km is a lot of string!!!

    There used to be a top tips pdf style document on the Trail Cyclists Association (TCA) website, i.e the uk trailquest governing body.

    Have fun. They can be really annoying in a can't stop thinking about 'what if' for a week afterwards!

    I used to TQ/Polaris a lot about 10 years ago. Also used to do the Fat Tyre events around 5 years ago when I lived in the Chilterns. Don't do much now though (too busy orienteering), although I did the Round Aldershot MTBO at Christmas.


    Cheers guys. The advice looks like just the sort of things I need to know, but didn't. I would never have thought of a mapboard! Like the string idea 💡 (Will need a bigger Camelbak for 30miles of string though 😉 )
    Graham, that link looks ace, ( I assume you are the Big Good Wolf ? ), and yes, it is the MTQ one in Surrey.

    Premier Icon the-muffin-man

    Golden rule of Trailquests is don't be late back or all your hard work can be undone in minutes!!!

    Some of the hardest riding I've done has been in the last 20mins of a Trailquest in that desparate attempt to get back as close to time as possible!

    Premier Icon jonjon

    My advice is look at the checkpoints and immediatly ignore 20% of them, unless you are well fast! Then plot a route taking in the rest, leaving an esay couple near the start to add in or take away at the end of the race as you see fit. Also take a view on the kit you take – if it says first aid kit take a plaster.

    In my first ever trailquest i forgot to look out for check points! really think about theitr location, it can take 15mins to cycle between, + 15mins to look for them! Also the cjheckpoints tend to be fairly near the road, think about fast tyres for all the road miles.

    Premier Icon D Faff Master

    Trailquests are great (now called MBO Score events).

    A great way to ride tracks you have probably never done even in your own backyard. After 5 years of doing the local series in the Peak District my trail knowledge now includes almost the entire Peak District.

    The British Mountain Bike Orienteering website has a

    Your First Event Guide

    I'm sure you will enjoy your first event. Don't miss out on the 'if only' conversations with other competitors afterwards, as mentioned before these thoughts can be stuck in your head for weeks.

    If you enjoy your first Trailquest you should try the Summer Polaris

    Premier Icon FOG

    If you decide to ride with a mate make sure you are fairly similar in fitness. The bloke I ride with is much fitter than me so when I flog to the top of a big hill he has had a rest and says 'come on let's get going or we'll be late' leaving me in a wheezing heap. In fact I do better when I ride on my own but he insists on riding as a team- he seems to think I should be grateful!


    Make sure you buy / construct a map board that you attach to your bars so you can read the map & ride at the same time.
    Take some coloured permanent marker pens.
    Take some food & water. £ for the pub afterwards.
    Don't be too serious if you do it as a team.

    It's the time / distance appreciation that is the most telling. At some point you have a "last check point" decision and a "need to run for home" dash to the finish point decision that will be all telling. It's worth collecting a 10 / 20 points on the way back if you can if you're not too late. Be careful; 20 minutes (?( late and lose all your points! Aim not to be late. The last Polaris (7hrs + 5hrs) I got back with some 27 seconds to spare!

    Premier Icon DavidB

    Chortling at Trailquest and Vegan fitness on same thread 🙂

    You've got some good advice there already but the best thing I ever invested in was a watch with a countdown timer. The other thing on the map board theme, see if you can get hold of a flat sheet of polycarbonate about 25 x 25cm, its bliddy strong stuff so when you fall off it won't (or shouldn't) shatter.
    Good luck & enjoy!

    DavidB – Member
    Chortling at Trailquest and Vegan fitness on same thread

    Premier Icon grtdkad

    ….so, how did it go then?


    Who ate the Vegan?

    I wasn't there, I was at HONC.
    Yes, come on. We all want to know how lost you got. 🙂

    it can take 15mins to cycle between, + 15mins to look for them!

    NB – this mainly applies to people who can't read a map/don't bother to read the control description.

    Even my wife (who did the Dynamic Adventure race near Marlborough on Sunday (half TQ / half running)) laughed at this, and she regularly doesn't get everything as slick as possible. Organisers do occasionally put the controls in the wrong place, but not often.


    dont forget those that cant mark a map/read 6/8 figure grid refs !

    mark it wrong and youll never get there !

    Dont do what i did at the drumtochty challenge trailquest last year – just go for the maximum milage as quick as possible and see what it brings …. did something like 90k in the time slot last year came second winner did about 60k … ok it could be argued he raced smart – i raced for the milage for bigger events ! – i have done well in previous years so its not exactly a target for me 😉


    All the advice came in very handy. I entered with my mate as a team and we got 14th place ( out of 44 ). We managed 15 control points for a score of 430 ( out of a possible 700 ). Did it in 3h25, so 5 mins in hand.
    We rode about 55km. Chap who won scored 590!!
    Really enjoyed it a lot. Very nice race format, you don't know how you are doing in relation to the other riders so you just keep pushing on as hard as possible. The last control point got us a bit lost and my mate got a puncture, things looked a bit grim then as he was starting to cramp as well. We found it in the end, raced back and had 5 mins spare. Spoke to my mate yesterday and he said his legs were still fooked. 🙂


    I am the mate with the fooked legs. Great day out. I think we did well enough for a first time out but we could have grabbed a couple more points in retrospect. We live and learn. Anyone got a carbon hardtail to lend me for the next one?????

    Glad you both enjoyed it, and 14th is pretty good for a first attempt.
    Are you doing any more ?
    I'm helping to organise the Alveley event on May 23rd, maybe I'll see you there.


    We will definitely do more this year. Earlier this week I saw a Trailquest banner at Peaslake advertising an event on the 25th of April around that area. As it is local we will be there. We will be considering the Alveley event too over a couple of beers methinks.

Viewing 27 posts - 1 through 27 (of 27 total)

The topic ‘Entered my first Trailquest event, advice welcomed !!!’ is closed to new replies.