Have you ever heard of Mountain Bike Orienteering? Neither had we, until we met first-year team members Sue and Abra. They’ve introduced us to a whole world (literally) of this niche sport that combines riding on trails, racing, and backcountry navigation and map-reading skills.
Competitors are handed a map shortly before the race start with checkpoints (called controls) that they must reach in a certain order, but how they get there is up to them. That’s where the navigation skills come in - choosing the most efficient route (smoothest trails, least hills, etc) is key to speed. Whoever makes it to all the controls and back to the finish line in the shortest time is the winner.
Like anything related to mountain biking, the sport requires a great deal of fitness, and also the ability to improvise when things go wrong (like getting a flat tire), while also forcing athletes to think and plan under pressure. While it’s still a fairly small scene in the US, it turns out that MTBO is huge in Europe, with orienteering festivals including both bike and foot races with upwards of 11,000 participants.
So what else would true WCWC ladies do, but spend their entire summers adventure racing in Europe? Sue and Abra have headed overseas for 5 weeks to train, race, and do some sightseeing in between some of the largest MTBO events in the world in Sweden, Lithuania, and France.
If you’d like to follow along with their travels and learn a bit more about this emerging discipline, check out their blog right here. Sue and Abra host orienteering events in the Northwest as well, so if you missed the event at Growler’s Gulch this spring, stay tuned for your chance to give it a try!