The 2011 Orienteering USA Annual Convention, held as part of the Canal Cities Orienteering Festival (CCOF) in Rochester, New York, hosted what may be the first official Mountain Bike Orienteering (MTBO) demonstration model event in convention history! The event called the “Mountain Bike O” was coordinated by Rochester Orienteering Club (ROC) member Sergey Dobretsov, and held just south of Rochester, NY, in Dryer Road Park on August 3rd, 2011.
Dryer Road Park itself made an excellent location for this MTBO model event that included both sprint and beginner distance courses with the longest layout including 19-controls spread out over a 3.42-miles (5.5km) area. Although Dryer Road Park is considered to be small location (e.g. visitors can reportedly walk from the trail head to any place in the park in 15 minutes), it’s complex trail network actually covers over 10-miles (16.1km) of land with dozens of intersections to challenge even the most experienced MTBO racer. Ultimately, Dryer boasted the ideal characteristic needed for any successful MTB Orienteering course: an extensive trail network for multiple route choices, and popular single-track trails built especially for mountain bikers of all skill levels.
The events turnout was unfortunately small, with only 20-30 riders attempting the MTBO model event. What was also interesting that almost half of those that did show up did not finish their selected course. Complexity and difficulty of the trail network, New York summer temperatures, attendees arriving after already running a Foot Orienteering sprint event earlier in the day, or even that the MTBO event was held on a “Wednesday” afternoon, could all have contributed to the small turnout and/or DNF results. Regardless, it was great to see fellow orienteers trying what may have been their first ever Mountain Bike Orienteering event! Let’s hope that next year’s convention/festival will not only include more MTBO events, but also as a major session topic.