# MTBO Australian Champs 2017

MTBO Australian Champs 2017

Tegan Knightbridge and Renee Beveridge

After the Australian Orienteering Carnival 2017, a group of keen bikers headed off to the Australian MTBO Champs held in Wingello, NSW. After a few days of MTBO practice and site seeing (aka MTBing for 3 hours through a forest due to Rob’s nagging) the team had their first event, the NSW Night Champs (Rogaine). The night champs were held at Belanglo State Forest. You could either start during the afternoon or in the pitch black. Renee didn’t do this one because she’s a chicken. MTBO is quite different to normal foot-O as some of the good routes were not the shortest.


The sprint was held at Wingello Township. Compared to foot orienteering, MTBO sprints are a lot longer. This one in particular was quite long, taking the winners of most grades around 25 to 30mins.

Tegan: The sprint was very exciting and fast paced, with not many single tracks. After getting a vine wrapped around my gears I had lost my all-important momentum early on and had to bike hard to make up lost time on a map that was not as technical (track ride-ability). In the end I really enjoyed the small insert which was really blown up!!!

Renee: This was my first MTBO race ever, so I was a little nervous. I didn’t really know how to feel about my placing as I wasn’t sure how I could make up time in my next races. I lost most of my time from not riding as fast as many of the others on the flat and any technical track sections. But it was fun and I was keen to do better in my next race.


The middle distance event was at the Wingello State Forest. This forest was quite steep and was also pine, which reminded us of good ol’ Woodhill. There were lots of good route choice options on single tracks or main roads.

Tegan: I found the race quite long in comparison to a foot-O middle, it was more like the length of my foot-O long distances. But I found it really enjoyable and exciting as it was quite high paced despite being 58mins.

Renee: I was determined to not lose time on technical smaller tracks. I often took the bigger roads where I could go faster, even though the route may have been less direct. I also found that the smaller technical tracks made it really hard to keep contact with the map because I was trying not to crash. I finished 6th behind really experienced and strong MTBOers, like Georgia Skelton and Marquita Gelderman (who I’m pretty sure gets fitter with age).

Long Distance

The long was held on the same map and had the same event centre, but just using a slightly different area. Because the distances were so much longer, the climb was more gradual, although there were some steep pinches for some legs.

Tegan: I was worried about the long considering the last one I did at NZMTBO champs in 2016 took me 2.5hrs. However this time it only took me 1.5hrs (¡yay!). I enjoyed the long downhill legs where you could hit top gear! I was passed early on, however my rival flew off in the wrong direction for 20mins so I managed to regain the lead and keep it for the rest! It wasn’t as steep as the middle which was good, and there were also more single tracks to ride on which I enjoyed.

Renee: The long distance was a hoot. I was excited to see whether my overall fitness could help me gain time on people who beat me the days previous. Marquita started behind me and caught me by number 5 (I let out a small tear, and then preceded to embarrass myself by riding off the track and over a log, instead of just staying on 2m wide track). I’m pretty sure she laughed at me. I pushed hard up the hills and gained time back, but probably lost it again on downhill/technical track sections. I was buggered but really enjoyed the course and attempting to catch Marquita up again. I ended up 4th, which I was happy with.


Overall MTBO is really enjoyable and we are excited to do more in the future. We find riding on the single tracks just as fun and challenging as foot-O. However, Renee’s pride has been dented by her inability to ride down hills as quickly as myself, and I still struggle with the mental pain of being left behind by Renee up all those hills. One thing that we both agree on was how hard it was to punch the control whilst being on a bike, and often being in the wrong gear coming out of a control. Also, many of the smaller tracks made it quite hard to pass people or move out of the way of incoming traffic. Another major difference is that once you decide your route choice, you really have no room to change. You can’t change midway and cut through the terrain to another track. Whereas in foot-O you can go anywhere in the terrain and have to continuously navigate and stay in contact with the map.

After both orienteering carnivals, we were pretty rekt. Thanks Rob, much love. Also, a big thank you to Marquita, who lent me her amazing bike for the competitions. However, that bike has now chosen me, so she needs to give it back. You know where I live.

For the same impressions with photos, click here.

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