The Nitty Gritty

This page contains information vital for competing in the Akatarawa Attack, please read before the day. There are some "rules of the game", and one or two details that weren't final when the entry form was completed.

Version Date: 27 Jan 2017

Status: Third version. We show a list below summarising the sections that we have changed. If there's anything else we'll cover it at briefing.

Update Log

17 Jan: First version published

25 Jan: Scale finalised at 1:24,000, with an enlargement of 1:10,000. Notes on No-Go and No-Bike areas have been revised. See Maps and Score Cards. The range of scores per controls is now 20 to 100 points

27 Jan. Added the need to carry something to write your answers with. Added that we'll list some water sources at the start.

Getting There

The area is Wellington's dramatic western and southern backdrop, starting from the SW end of Karori. The gross area is about 70sq.km, but this includes a fair bit of "no-go". Still, there's rather a lot there, including some gnarly stuff in best Akatarawa tradition. Altitude range is sea level to 500m. There are some areas that are "foot-only" but our planning is done with mountain-bikers in mind.

The event base is at Mud Cycles in the SW corner of Karori Park. From SH1 or downtown Wellington follow signs to Karori. Follow Karori Road to its SW end, where you'll find Karori Park. Just past the park pavilion you'll find a bus terminus and dairy. Mud Cycles is in a former croquet clubhouse behind the dairy, there is a pedestrian entrance next to the dairy, and a vehicle entrance just round the corner on Makara Road. BUT...

There is limited parking in the vehicle entrance. Please do not use this except for set-down and pickup, leave it for Mud Cycles' other customers. There is parking around the pavilion, and on surrounding streets. If you are footing it, then bus #3 will bring you from downtown, its on a 15min frequency for most of a Sunday.

There is coffee at Mud Cycles and also at the cafe in the park pavilion. There are toilets in the park pavilion. There is cellphone coverage at the base.

The Timetable

Here's how the day runs. It's the same as last year.

  • 0730 Event base opens. We will want to check that the people on your entry are present, and you have the safety gear especially the mobile phone you quoted.
  • 0745 Maps available for the 8hr event, you can start planning your route
  • 0820 Briefing, and hand in your intended routes
  • 0830 8hr event starts
  • 1115 Maps available for the 4hr event, you can start planning your route
  • 1150 Briefing, and hand in your intended routes
  • 1200 4hr events starts
  • 1600 4hr event finishes, barbeque starts
  • 1630 8hr event finishes
  • 1730 Awards

Maps and Score Cards

To cover the area we'll issue each person with two A3 maps. OK that's hard to handle on a bike, but you know track-builders. There are hundreds of tracks, many close together, and we want you to be able to see them on the map. The scale will be 1:24,000. This is enlarged a lot compared to the standard topo map, and has twice as many contours - 10m. Over the years we've mapped a huge number of tracks that aren't on the Topo or even Trailforks, but the pixies are out there as I write making more! We will claim 95 percent.

There will be a special enlargement for Makara Peak MTB Park and Karori Park. There won't be many controls there, but we just couldn't ignore it! This will be at 1:10,000 

The tracks are approximately graded to a 4-point scale. Solid lines are gravelled. Long dashes are not, but can be nearly as fast if conditions are dry. Short dashes means "picking your way" and an average rider will be off the bike frequently. Dotty tracks means unrideable, again for an average rider, not Danny Mackaskill. We try and take the effect of slope out of the equation, so you can expect them to be worse uphill, better downhill.  

Most of the bush is mapped as medium green from aerial photos, and off-track travel is not advised even on foot. Open land is shown as per orienteering convention in yellow - think hay paddocks. And in-between vegetation such as scattered trees or scrub is green dots in yellow. We've shown some favourable off-track travel in light green (forest) or bright yellow (open land), but this is from a foot point of view.You're going to be mostly on trails.

Being close to town, there are quite a few restricted areas. Residential areas including lifestyle blocks are simply not mapped, they show as a gray colour. We've enclosed other No-Go areas (which might have tracks shown) with a purple version of the cliff symbol. the "teeth" point INTO the no-go zone. Within the zone there are some representative patches of the usual purple stripe, just to emphasise the message. So the purple stuff is, "Keep Out, including any roads and tracks, whether you have a bike or not".

There are also some No-Bike areas. These are enclosed with a blue version of the cliff symbol. Again the teeth point into the no-bike zone. Any controls inside are blue circles and blue numbers instead of the more usual purple.

And there are some restrictions on direction, such as the MTB Park. The allowed direction is shown by a purple chevron on the track. This means for everyone, with or without a bike! If in doubt obey the "no entry" signage.

Being a NOT the  Ak Attack we'll be using question-and-answer controls. On the back of the maps there will be a list of the specific locations indicated by the control circles on the map, eg track/stream crossing; and each will have a simple question, eg "how many planks in the bridge deck?" Teams will carry a control card with boxes on which to write the answers. This means you'll need something to write with. The cards must be named with your TEAM name and number and handed in at the finish.

ALL team members are honour bound to go to each control point together. Don't send your strongest team member up the hill while the others take a rest. It isn't fair, and besides it compromises our safety system which depends on the team being together.

Your Safety

Now you are there, we want you to have a fun day, but please note:

We do NOT have exclusive use of any part of the area. You may be using roads where normal road rules apply. You may be using MTB park tracks which we can expect to have high weekend traffic. You may be using multi-purpose tracks with families out for a leisurely ride or stroll. Expect someone round every corner. Ride conservatively as if you will meet yourself coming the other way. Most tracks are two-way and other Ak Attack teams may have chosen your exact route in reverse. Parts of the course are remote, and external help will depend on getting a message back to base.

Note the compulsory equipment on the "What Is It" page.

The underlying safety measure is the team. The team must stick together except to obtain help in an emergency. Each emergency will be different but we would expect a cellphone call to the number on the map; an undamaged team member to get back to base; or get a message back to base with another team. Use the control numbers to help describe location. There is cellphone coverage over much of the course, but "Murphy's Law" says that your incident will occur out of coverage. An unaffected team member needs to move to get coverage - hills being more likely than valleys.

In case you get stranded out there we're going to get you to give us an intended route on a black/white copy of the map. Don't just go home, failure to check in will initiate a search. At base we'll have a 4WD vehicle which can get near most parts of the course and a first-aider.

The Name of the Game

Right, onto the fun stuff! Your objective is to maximise your score. The control points have different values, being the first digit of the control number multiplied by 10. That is, control 15 is worth 10 points, control 99 is worth 90. Control points will range from 20 to 100 points, in general the higher the value the harder to get but not always...

There's a severe penalty for returning late: soft at first than getting tough! The formula is N squared where N is the minutes of lateness. We've decided to forget about the seconds, if you're late what's 59 seconds:-)) So 1 minute late 1 point and that's neither here nor there. But 10 minutes late, that's 100 points off! Half an hour will probably cost you everything you earned. Highest score wins, in the event of a tie the earliest to finish wins.

And although this events has its roots in MTB-orienteering, here you don't have to stay with your bike! You can choose to dump your bikes (locking them together may be a good idea) and get certain controls on foot. You could for example do a loop in a steep area on foot, or visit a control on a no-bikes track. It's another element of planning your route. And since you can drop your bike this allows teams to do the event entirely on foot.

Fine Print

Things that don't fit anywhere else. While food and water on the course is your responsibility, we will list some known water sources at the start. Satellite-based navigation aids are prohibited, such as GPS's. This is a map reading adventure! However cycle computers without GPS are fine. If a team member has to drop out for any reason you must bring them back to base; and from that time you are a new team starting with a score of zero.

Some of NZ's fresh waterways have been contaminated with pests, notably Didymo. We must prevent these pests from entering this area. They can start off microscopically small - just one drop of water on a bike spoke or a damp tramping sock can be its way in. If your bike or footwear has been in South Island waterways recently, ensure there's no plant matter, and soak or scrub with 5% dishwashing liquid for at least a minute. Then leave them to dry for 48 hours. We expect the regional council will be helping us on the day with additional precautions.

The event is run by Orienteering Hutt Valley. The person in overall charge is Michael Wood.

Page written by Michael Wood phone for off-course matters 04 566 2645 or 027 232 4310 email michael dot wood at mapsport.co.nz. Feel free to ask about anything. See you on Sunday 29th.