Mountain biking is a fast-growing sport. It’s often thrown into the “extreme sports” category, but has little in common with sports like skateboarding or trick biking. A mix of ski slalom and intense trail riding, a good mountain bike race is exciting to watch, but even more fun to ride.
If you think of mountain biking, especially if you’ve already done it, you probably think it’s just for crazy young people. However, the truth is that people of all ages and abilities can participate, from children to adult men and women.
Before you get started, though, it’s a good idea to learn the basics. This article covers everything you need to know so you can hit the road today!
The name of the game is nice.
The first and most important rule of mountain biking is to have fun! Of course, we want to win in every competition, but this sport is about the sheer thrill of riding in new and exciting terrain, and a win is just the icing on the cake.
To balance things out, most races are broken up into different skill levels, so you’re always racing against someone with similar skills and experience. Categories are broken down by age, experience level, weight, and sometimes there are even races for only men or women. Before signing up for a race, check out what the race has to offer and sign up for the appropriate level.
If you’re just starting out, no matter how much you’ve ridden, it’s a good idea to start at the lower, or beginner, level. Trying to dive headfirst into an extreme race can leave you with a loss of confidence, or worse, get you injured. So start small, and once you get some experience, you can progress to higher levels of difficulty.
That said, if you really know what you’re doing, don’t enter a race that’s way too easy for you. Just as you wouldn’t like to lie in another’s dust, it’s no fun for other riders if you fly past them on a course below your level.
Also, make sure you are in good physical condition. A mountain bike ride can be a strenuous affair, so make sure you get plenty of practise on downhill and other terrain. Also, make sure you have the strength and stamina to finish a race. Make sure to see how long the race is first.
Your bike: is it ready?
Once you’re confident your body is ready, it’s time to check your bike. It can be frustrating and potentially dangerous to break down mid-race, so always do a routine check before a race. Before taking on the challenge, tune your bike, check tyre pressures, check brakes, and test ride it.
You should also think about what kind of components your bike has. A full-suspension mountain bike can really help cushion those falls, but it also means a heavier bike, allowing you to ride slower. A bike with a lighter frame is great, if you can afford it.
The general type of mountain bike also matters. For trail racing, a cross-country bike will keep you covered, but for serious downhill racing, you’ll need a bike designed specifically for downhill.
Finally, always carry an emergency repair kit. We recommend a good multi-tool as well as a tyre repair kit and a water bottle.
Types of racing
There are different types of breeds. You may want to try them all, or focus on one species. Let’s take a look at the options:
In the entire country,
The most common type of race, the cross-country (or XC) race, is a direct competition in which riders complete a pre-built track or course. If there is a large number of riders, the race can be split into sections so that only a few riders go at a time. This is a fast and intensive race, somewhat similar to road bike racing, only with obstacles and rough terrain.
This is a direct descent. The riders go down one by one, and the fastest time wins. Usually, the track has both natural and man-made obstacles such as ruts, jumps, boulders, and other obstacles. It is essential to always have a good view in front of you so that you are not surprised by any of the obstacles.
As with straight-forward downhilling, the slalom can take place on the same (or similar) track, except there are gates along the way. As with slalom skiing, the rider must go around the edge of each gate. There is a penalty for missed or touched gates, and the best time wins.
This too is an individual race against the clock. Much more physical than the descent, in the hill climb, the fastest rider to the top wins.
Important tips before the race
Once you’ve sorted out your race and bike, you’re almost ready to hit the track. There are a few more things to keep in mind.
- Exercise: Before entering a serious race, you should have logged hundreds, if not thousands, of cycling hours. The only way to get better is to keep doing it.
- Know the risks: Competitive mountain biking can be a dangerous sport. Always wear a helmet, but know that it is a potentially dangerous extreme sport.
- Hydrate: Always drink before the competition and always keep a bottle or Camelbak with you. Dehydration can stop you from dead in your tracks.
- Pace yourself: If you’re in a long race, like a footrace, don’t waste all your energy at the start.
Apart from this we also recommend you to check out Horse Racing and its type of racing.