MTB‎ > ‎

MTBO Score Hints

Hints and Tips for MTBO Score Races

Basic Requirements

  • A bike! Like XC Racing the terrain for these events isn’t too challenging and speed is key, so a heavy downhill machine with lots of suspension travel is not only unnecessary but a definite disadvantage.
  • All the equipment you’d normally take mountain biking, especially water.
  • A compass (and knowledge of how to use it!)
  • A sense of direction.
  • A sense of humour (for when your sense of direction fails!)
  • Also useful is a ruler (or roamer), a bike computer (set to km) and some waterproof pens.
  • GPS’s are usually allowed but rarely an advantage, except for locating yourself if you get lost.
  • A mobile phone can also be handy for calling the HQ if you run into trouble but bear in mind that many events are held in locations with poor mobile coverage.

Selection and Entry

  • Go solo or as a Pair. If you are not sure about your navigational skills or fixing your bike go as a pair, you'll probably enjoy it more and can share tasks such as map reading, control card punching, opening gates etc.
  • Complete and post the entry form and get a copy of the event area map.


  • You’ll be surprised how hard you work on a Trailquest so make sure you are fit, well rested and properly hydrated. Don't go boozing the night before!
  • Practise riding with your partner, practice map and compass work (grid references, navigation and compass bearings).
  • Make sure your bike is in good working order.

Event HQ

  • Check your bike and register. Look at all available info/maps. If in doubt ask questions.
  • If the event provides map and control information before the start, take the info you need to mark up your map (ie grid references of all the control stations and out of bounds areas). Double check your markings. (Note: most trailquests provide the map with all the checkpoints already marked – but not until your start time!)
  • Make sure the map is convenient to read whilst riding. A bar mounted map holder is a good idea.

Planning Your Route

  • Don't always be drawn to the highest value stations or long circumnavigations.
  • Consider which controls to leave. If they are too hilly, too far, too low in value or on bad trails go elsewhere first.
  • Utilise the smoothest terrain for climbing (roads) and the worst for descending (muddy hills).
  • Save a few easy controls near HQ that you can bag if you have time before your time’s up.


  • You'll be handed a sheet of paper at the start with all the control stations values and locations.
  • If the event doesn’t give the marked map until your start time, you’ll be called to the start and given your map 1 minute before your start time to view controls.
  • Pick a route around the control stations.
  • Go and don't panic!
  • When approaching control stations widen your vision to look for signs of tape, people or control punches.
  • Punch your card, take a short breather, re-hydrate and check the map to see where the next control site is.
  • Try not to follow others (they may be lost) and don't give up!


  • There are big penalties for late finishing, so keep an eye on the time. That's it.