Bike Orienteering Race

I have to brag: last week’s bike orienteering race was a huge success. We didn’t have an extraordinary amount of people — though 40 is nothing to be ashamed of — but pretty much word on the street afterwards was: AWESOME. Here’s the TR.

And sorry for the delay — I like to post blogs with pictures, which are now at a temporary location. Stay tuned for the real link.

The Start

I was happy to see a mix of participants: strangers who heard it through our advertising and our friends supporting us (thanks guys!!!). There were hits from Craigslist, RCG fun (a mailing list for recent college grads), CROC (a local orienteering club), and OR Bike. Several were experienced in orienteering, many were avid cyclists (a pair even on tandem), and for some, it just sounded fun. One drove all the way down from Olympia, WA! A friend twittered as he waited for the rest of his teammates who had the start time wrong, “Bike orienteering race. There are some people here who look like they are going to take this seriously!”

We started a little late, knowing people who would trickle in right at 7pm, but instructions went very smoothly and quickly. Since Slow Boy and I had spent a lot of time designing the course and clues, one of our most proud moments was when we allowed the teams to open up their maps. They had only 10 minutes to plan their route before the race started. Teams instantly became into it, spreading out to discuss their course in private, with one member glancing periodically to make sure no one was listening.

Giving out instructions

Giving out instructions

Planning the route

Planning the route

1st place finishers: a father and son pair on tandem

1st place finishers: a father and son pair on tandem. They never had to stop to read the map!

Maniacs gave a loud 10 second countdown and the riders were off to orienteer!

Maniacs gave a loud 10 second countdown and the riders were off!

The Course

To show our support and thanks, I planted Maniacs at several stations throughout the course. Plus, I think it’s fun to see people during a race, especially this kind where it’s spread out and you choose your route.

Clue #25: Name the Maniac. Poage hands Mr. Toed some water at the Keller auditorium.

Clue #25: Name the Maniac. Poage hands Mr. Toed some water at the Keller auditorium.

You cant ride your bikes in Pioneer Square, so she carried hers. Hard core!

Clue #13: How many miles to Kaoshiung? She checks the sign the post at Pioneer Square. Note: you can't ride your bikes in Pioneer Square, so she carried hers. Hard core!

Clue #32: Name the Maniac. Miss Ying and Next Top Model hand out lemonade to many thirsty bikers.

Clue #32: Name the Maniac. Meet Princess Dianna and Next Top Model, serving lemonade to many thirsty bikers.

Planning where to go next.

Planning where to go next.

These two women were experienced in orienteering, made it all the way to Mt. Tabor, and came in 2nd!

The 2nd place team was a female duo experienced in orienteering and cyclists: they made it up to Mt. Tabor!

Clue #34 At the Sunshine Dairy Milk factory where Maniacs handed out sugar cookies (to go with the answer: milk).

Clue 24: At the Sunshine Dairy Milk factory where Maniacs handed out sugar cookies (to go with the answer, milk).

Clue 32: At the Vista Bridge. The lucky few that made this trip up got their photo taken.

Clue 30: At the Vista Bridge. The lucky few that made this trip up got their photo taken.

The Finish

Back at the Lucky Lab, I anxiously checked my watch for the 90 minutes to pass. The sun was coming down and I worried about visibility, though there was plenty of light left at 8:45pm. I called the stations to check in. I wondered who would win. I wondered if they were having fun!

What I didn’t expect, though I should have, was that people would come back early–10 minutes even! Also, those of us who had been sitting around waiting for 90 minutes were overly ecstatic to see some action. The two combined meant the finish didn’t go as smoothly as I had envisioned. The racers came zooming in at full speed to make sure they didn’t come back late (and get penalized), but as soon as they finished, they stopped…right there. It quickly became too crowded for anyone to calmly hand their sheet to the finish table, and instead, we, being excited, were hollering out team numbers and times. There was a lot of screaming, which is non-ideal.

I also didn’t anticipate the competitive discussion. As teams found out they got different answers from each other, they came over to the finish table to dispute, which ended up being distracting for the scorers. We had some, ahem, errors in the first round of results and thank our close friends again for letting us take their 2nd and 3rd place prizes away. Yes, embarrassing. Slow Boy said, “Why couldn’t we mess up 7th and 8th or something?” That’s ok, we all know it was fun event (and Team Presme: I’d like to see you park your fancy bikes next to the building and NOT the bike rack :p).

The fact that so many people asked about the next one proved that everyone had a good time. That is what we wanted! You all know I can’t go typical and do a car wash fundraiser. Now, I can’t help but already think of what to do on the next one, and you bet there will be!

Things I learned

1) Apparently, you cannot sell lemonade on the street. Miss Ying and Next Top Model were stopped by a park ranger who saw their tip jar and said “you cannot accept money or donations here.” Miss Ying explained it was purely decorative but they had to put it away. The poor girls were frazzeled, what with the incident and the fact that the park on Belmont isn’t the safest of places at dusk.

2) Do not allow Maniacs who’ve been drinking beer to handle things. I should know better 🙂

3) Finish chute. As I said before, 40 bikes zooming into one parking lot can only mean chaos. At least it was the fun and exciting kind.

4) Advertise sooner! I started a month and half ago with fliers and slowly worked it into forums, but some said they only heard about it the day before and would have liked to spread the word. Yes, will do!

5) Isolate the scorers. It’s just like at the dragon boat races! I need a covered up tent where NO ONE can bother them and let them score correctly in peace. But I won’t charge $25 for contesting.

6) East verses west sides might have been unbalanced. We made sure there was an even number of points on both sides of the river, but it turned out to be more possible (faster) to get all the ones on the east side.


“Maps need to be more clear. … otherwise this EXTREMELY fun and please email me about the next one.”

“I have been doing orienteering events for several years and few events are as well organized as yours was. The map was clear and the clues were clever and original. Getting the results posted so quickly was also very nice.” — 1st place finisher (the one on a tandem)

“Have a checkbox in registration that allows for single people to request a team” — Single guy who fortunately teamed up with the guy from Olympia

“Bike orienteering race was *way* more fun than expected!” — Good friend who probably signed up just to be supportive, via Twitter

Some statistics

39 participants

$400 collected (with some anonymous donations)

Two teams got to Mt. Tabor (and interestingly took 1st and 2nd place) and one made it to Council Crest.

Most visited clues: Keller Auditorium and NW 18th and Overton. Next up: the lemonade stand on the east side.

Least visited clues (besides Mt. Tabor and Council Crest): Pioneer square, Vista Bridge, and Washington Park

Total number of possible points: 55. 1st place score: 35

Finally, Thank You!

Congratulations to all the participants. We hope you had a lot of fun and come to the next one — with more company!

And fantastic job by my maniacs.  Special thanks to the photographer — we know her as Killa Tilla but she can otherwise be seen behind the camera.

The photographer. We call her Killa Tilla. Check her out at



  1. Natalie · · Reply

    You should feel really proud of having organized this…all the hard work was clearly worth it!

  2. Don’t remember if I told you, but that was really fun Annie, thanks! Today I rode by a bike lane guy with 2 heads and thought “ooh, good orienteering race clue”…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: