Mountain Bike Orienteering

What is it?
Mountain bike orienteering (MTBO) combines the skills of map reading, route choice decisions and bike riding ability. It can be both a competitive sport as well as an active outdoor recreational activity.

Using a detailed, customised map that shows terrain features as well as the road, track and path networks, competitors have to navigate between checkpoints (controls) making route choices on the best (fastest) way. Picking the best route choice that uses the fastest tracks and minimises the amount of climbing involved, is part of the challenge of competitive MTBO along with the ability to handle a bike over varying terrains. To minimise following, competitors are started at least two minutes apart, except for mass start events.

As an environmental safeguard, competitors may not leave defined paths and tracks and all controls are placed on obvious features such as track junctions.

A variety of courses are offered at all events to suit different levels of fitness and navigational ability – from beginners through to seasoned competitors. There are also social courses available for those new to the sport or for those who want to ride as a group.

Where is it held?
Ideally, MTBO events require a large area (greater than 40 sq  km) with a good variety of tracks of different standards, preferably in terrain which also has a varying topography.  Pine plantation areas have proven to be ideal for the sport because their extensive track network provides for route choice options.

MTBO events are now conducted throughout South East Queensland as well as occasionally in the Far North of the state. The sport has been steadily developing over the last decade with a regular series of events being conducted each year on the Sunshine Coast, the Granite Belt and in the Crows Nest – Blackbutt area.  Around the Brisbane region, there are only a limited number of areas which are suitable for MTBO although Come and Try It events and park events are conducted to introduce newcomers to the sport.

Here’s a sample of an MTBO map – Woodford

MTBO Clubs
MTBO is well established in most states and the Australian MTBO Championships are conducted annually around the country.

State and/or club information on MTBO events:-

QLD – Multi Terrain Bike Orienteers Club www.mtbo.com.au

QLD – Sunshine Orienteers Club www.sunshineorienteers.com.au

NSW – Newcastle Orienteering Club www.newcastleorienteering.asn.au

VIC – Orienteering Victoria  MTBO page https://www.vicorienteering.asn.au/go-orienteering/mountain-bike-orienteering/

WA – Orienteering Western Australia MTBO page https://www.wa.orienteering.asn.au/events/event-calendar/mountain-bike-mtbo

ACT – Orienteering ACT MTBO page http://act.orienteering.asn.au/event-series/mountain-bike-orienteering/

SA – Orienteering South Australia MTBO page https://www.sa.orienteering.asn.au/about-orienteering/new-to-orienteering/mountain-bike-orienteering

What do you need for MTBO?

  • A bike with off-road capabilities in good working order.
  • A helmet and drink bottle
  • Compass (usually available for loan from the event organisers if you don’t own one)
  • A mapboard to carry your map (usually available for loan from the event organisers if you don’t own one) click here for more about map boards.

Getting Started Videos