Mountain bike orienteering is an endurance sport attracting both orienteering and mountain bike enthusiasts. The most important orienteering skills needed are route choice and map memory.
Extremely good bike handling and ability to cope with steep slopes both up and down is an absolute must for a top level athlete. As an environmental safeguard, competitors may not normally leave paths and tracks though it can exceptionally be permitted in some countries.
Mountain bike orienteering is one of the newer of the orienteering disciplines administered by the International Orienteering Federation. It started in the late 1980s at club level in countries where mountain biking was a popular outdoor sport. In 1997 national championships were run in 12 countries; 12 years later, in 2009, their numbers grew to 58.
World Championships in Mountain Bike Orienteering is organised every year attracting about 25 national teams.
MAP: The map provided by the organiser is a special mountain bike orienteering map.
COMPASS: The compass is attached to the competitor’s arm or to the map holder.
MAP HOLDER: A map holder (map case) attached to the bike makes it possible to view the map at high speed without stopping.
HELMET: A hard helmet is compulsory.
BIKE: Competitors use robust mountain bikes. For safety reasons, the condition of the bike (e.g. brakes) is checked by the organiser before the start.
TOOLS: Competitors may carry tools and replace spare parts but may not seek or obtain help to carry out repairs.
Photos: Jukka Liikari and Cover photo: Joaquim Margarido