Everything You Need to Know About Mountain Bike Orienteering

MTBO Competition

MTB Orienteering

Endurance sport – mountain bike orienteering (MTBO) attracts both orienteering as well as mountain bike enthusiasts. During the late 1980s, mountain bike orienteering started at a club level in the countries amongst whom mountain biking was a popular outdoor activity. Today, it is one of the newest disciplines of orienteering administered by the International Orienteering Federation. 

For successful orienteering, the most important skills are the right route choice and map memory. However, to become a top-level athlete it is also necessary to have an extremely good bike handling ability to be able to cope with steep slopes for both upward and downward directions. Map memory comes in handy as competitors may not leave paths and tracks due to an environmental safeguard though it can also be exceptionally permitted in some countries.


Equipment Needed for MTBO

MAP: Special mountain bike orienteering map is being provided by the organizer.

COMPASS: You should own a compass that is attached to one’s arm or map holder.

MAP HOLDER: Attached to the bike a map holder (map case) makes it possible to view the map at high speed without stopping.

HELMET: A hard helmet is compulsory.

BIKE: Competitors use robust mountain bikes. The condition of the bike (e.g. brakes) is checked by the organizer before the start to prevent any technical issues.  

TOOLS: Tools are needed to replace spare parts but not to carry out major repairs.



Mountain bike orienteering maps usually are less detailed and come on a smaller scale (1:10 000 – 1:30 000) compared to the standard orienteering maps. Based on their difficulty trails and tracks are marked and divided into four classifications: easy, slow, difficult, and impossible to ride. Moreover, for your convenience, obstacles that would require to climb down are also marked on the map.

Mountain Bike Orienteering Score

Mountain Bike Orienteering Score (MBO Score) is a process that requires the use of Ordnance Survey Map, which usually comes on a scale of 1:50,000 but sometimes larger. Across the map area, a number of controls of various point values are distributed in order for competitors to visit them. The aim of consistents is to visit as many control points within the allocated time. Depending on how many and which particular controls are visited each rider accumulates a total score. As there is no set order in which the control points have to be visited the contestants have to decide the most efficient ways in which to use their time and energy and achieve the goal. After the time penalty deduction (if any) the rider with the highest points in total is chosen to be a winner. 

MBO Score is great for solo riders as well as pairs of any age and sex. There is also a Generation category in which the younger (12+) members of the family can be introduced to the sport whilst riding with an adult. The Score events are also perfect for anyone who enjoys riding a bike, has basic map reading skills and wants to improve their fitness in a social environment. These events come amusing to anyone since the route choice, level of difficulty and duration of the ride are up to the rider and one’s level of ability. However, it is still necessary for the top riders to have a good map reading skills at speed, good strategic planning skills for overall route choice and high fitness levels.

MTBO (Multi-Terrain Bike Orienteering) events use orienteering maps that have been specially modified to show rideability and are usually held within forests containing a variety of route choices provided with a good network of tracks and paths. During these events, contestants have to ride between control points matched with a particular sequence in the shortest amount of time possible. For these events, one has to have a set of skills similar to MBO score requirements. To enable the top riders to ride and plan ahead quickly they are required to have extremely fast map reading and map memory abilities. By correctly interpreting the maze of paths and tracks contestants have to match the map to ground features and navigate between the control points at high speed. In terms of duration, MTBO events tend to be much shorter when compared to MBO Score events. 

MTBO Concluded

Both mountain bike orienteering and multi-terrain bike orienteering are great activities involving fitness qualities as well as adventure. MBO uses traditional orienteering maps and is held within forests provided with a good network of tracks and paths, providing a variety of route choices. MTBO events use orienteering maps that have been specially modified to show rideability and are usually held within forests containing a variety of route choices also with a good network of tracks and paths. Whether you choose one or another activity be sure to have all the needed equipment and have the required physique. 





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