Mountain Biking

What is Mountain Biking?

Mountain biking is a sport of riding bicycles off-road, often over rough terrain, using specially designed mountain bikes. Mountain bikes share similarities with other bikes but incorporate features designed to enhance durability and performance in rough terrain. Mountain biking can generally be broken down into multiple categories: cross country, trail riding, all mountain (also referred to as “Enduro”), downhill, freeride and dirt jumping.

This sport requires endurance, core strength and balance, bike handling skills, and self-reliance. Advanced riders pursue both steep technical descents and high incline climbs. In the case of freeride, downhill, and dirt jumping, aerial maneuvers are performed off both natural features and specially constructed jumps and ramps.

Mountain bikers ride on off-road trails such as singletrack, back-country roads, fire roads, and often venture to ski resorts that stay open in the summer for such activities. Because riders are often far from civilization, there is a strong ethic of self-reliance in the sport. Riders learn to repair broken bikes and flat tires to avoid being stranded. Many riders carry a backpack, including water, food, tools for trailside repairs, and a first aid kit in case of injury. Group rides are common, especially on longer treks. Mountain bike orienteering adds the skill of map navigation to mountain biking.

Racing Season

The Mountain bike season is similar to the road racing season (mostly in the spring and summer), and your racing age works in the same way. Your racing age is your age at the end of the year.

Equipment

Mountain biking is a sport of riding bicycles off-road, often over rough terrain, using specially designed mountain bikes. Mountain bikes share similarities with other bikes but incorporate features designed to enhance durability and performance in rough terrain. Mountain biking can generally be broken down into multiple categories: cross country, trail riding, all mountain (also referred to as “Enduro”), downhill, freeride and dirt jumping.

Mountain bikers ride on off-road trails such as singletrack, back-country roads, fire roads, and often venture to ski resorts that stay open in the summer for such activities. Because riders are often far from civilization, there is a strong ethic of self-reliance in the sport. Riders learn to repair broken bikes and flat tires to avoid being stranded. Many riders carry a backpack, including water, food, tools for trailside repairs, and a first aid kit in case of injury. Group rides are common, especially on longer treks. Mountain bike orienteering adds the skill of map navigation to mountain biking.

This sport prioritizes bike handling skills, balance, and core strength. Additionally, each of the subcategories of mountain biking require unique, additional skills. Described below are the main disciplines.

  • Cross country mountain bike racing takes a variety of different forms. In length, it ranges from a “short track” race, which is typically around 20 minutes of a short off road circuit, to “marathon” racing, which can last many hours and typically takes place on single and double track trails. Most common for amature races in the United States, however, is a race that is about 45 minutes to 1.5 hours long and is mainly on singletrack, typically with a wide starting strait, and multiple laps. (this is what you will find in a NICA race, see below).

 

  • Downhill mountain bike racing consists of a short timed “run” where riders go down a fast technical downhill course as fast as possible. This is not a head to head discipline, but rather a type of time trial, where riders attempt to have the fastest time down the slope. Because of the high speeds and long air times, it is a thrilling discipline, however, it is also one of the most dangerous.

 

While a junior could in theory start by riding in any one of the disciplines listed above, due to the extremely specialized nature of the other disciplines, cross country racing is likely the best place for juniors to start.   In the case of freeride, downhill, and dirt jumping, aerial maneuvers are performed off both natural features and specially constructed jumps and ramps.