MTBO Course Design
Linear course designers must remember that:
It is NOT legal to race against the clock on Public Bridleways.
You may use footpaths and other tracks provided you have permission from the land owner.
With these limitations, we must be creative to get the best out of an area or map. MTBO is not fixed in its thinking.
General Course Design
A Mountain Bike Orienteering event is not a Foot Orienteering event.
MTBO is about about quick execution of route choice while riding as fast as possible. MTBO is not about stopping to read micro detail to find either the control or invisible track junctions. Neither is MTBO about looking up side tracks to locate controls mere meters from a track junction (hint it should be on the junction or well away from it).
Extracts from IOF Specification for MTBO maps 2010:
"2.1 Orienteering and the map
From the competitors' point of view, an accurate and legible map is a reliable guide for choice of route, and it enables them to navigate along a route chosen to suit their navigational skill and physical ability. However, skill in route choice loses all meaning if the map is not a true picture of the ground—if it is inaccurate, out-of-date or of poor legibility."
The general rule should be that competitors shall not perceive any inaccuracy in the map. The accuracy of the map as a whole depends upon the accuracy of measurement (position, height and shape) and the accuracy of drawing."
It is important the designer uses the same map the competitors uses. If the event is to use a 1:20,000 then the planner should use a 1:20,000 map. Using a map such as 1:10,000 or 1:7500 to plan a 1:20,000 course leads the planner to extract information and detail the competitor will not have on the event map.
Map errors can be corrected, lack of detail in complex areas fixed by either route choice or control location.
A golden rule to map and plan your course should be:
"The general rule should be that competitors shall not perceive any inaccuracy in the map."
Linear Course Design
A linear course is the classic design. With a large and well networked area, a linear course may be easy to create. Careful thought needs to be given to route choice between controls.
However this is not the only consideration. An area may not have much viable route choice eg a longer but simple track route versus a complex series of small paths but shorter. Most competitors will choose the simple track especially if the extra distance marginal.
It would be more interesting to put the riders through the more complex series of paths, this way they must execute the navigation cleanly and be able to ride the more technical terrain quickly.
So you may choose to push competitors via certain tracks to test execution, setting the course up to take advantage of legs which do have good route choice. Some legs may simply be linking legs due to the nature of the area and map.
Creative Course Design
Here is a list of other excellent techniques that help get the best out of an area:
1. Linear course linking multiple loops from common controls.
2. Free order ( all controls must be visited in any order the rider chooses)
3. Linear course linking small clusters of free order controls
4. Linear course linking free order controls and multiple loops from a common control
The options are limitless and give you the flexibility to get the best out of any map.