Cycle Orienteering – popular in Sweden in 1942

Documents show that the Swedish Orienteering Federation seems likely to be the first national federation to have actively promoted Cycle Orienteering – as early as in the year 1942.

Back in June this year we published an article about Bike Orienteering, highlighting the historical find that it actually first took place in Austria in 1893 – 4 years before the first recorded FootO event. Prior to this find, we said, the first known Bike Orienteering was in Hungary in 1954. Now we know that a project to develop Cycle Orienteering was organised with quite significant resources in Sweden in 1942, with around 5,000 participants across the whole of the country in the designated week: 31st May to 7th June.

Attractive posters were produced to attract participants, and a special instruction booklet for organisers was published with rules and advice about course lengths, numbers of controls and safety features. District Leaders for the project were appointed in all of the Swedish federation’s 23 Districts, and Controllers oversaw the standards being set. A special brass badge was designed and 10,000 of them produced, for distribution to those who successfully passed a test of cycle-orienteering skills. This involved completing the course and then answering some questions – wrong answers incurred a small time penalty.

The historical book extract shown here gives an indication of the nature and scope of the project.

Poster ‘bubbles’: Woman: “I believe at least that North lies in that direction” Man: “What should I believe – you, the sun or my compass?”

Even racing cyclists got involved – treating it as a fun finish to a hard season (see photo).

Thanks to Bernt O. Myrvold for this important update on the history of orienteering on two wheels