Races: Participating or Watching

Competition in mountain biking has many permutations in events, rules and regulations. Cross country racing varies in length, but they are usually 6-8 km. In downhill, the racer with the lowest time wins. There are also dual slalom events that are similar to the snowboard event in that the loser gets eliminated and the winner advances. For the really daring, marathons exist of 80 km; races over 100 km are termed “ultra-marathons”.

Of course, many more forms of mountain bike competition exist—it would take some time to list and explain each one. In fact, with the emergence of new technologies and the desire to constantly seek out new thrills, new mountain bike events are constantly being invented, and reinvented again. The important thing is to find what works for you. What do you enjoy participating in? Would it be fun and interesting to be a spectator at any events?

For a great listing of national competitions, consult a website like Getouttheremag.com. Above and beyond regular races, the listing includes youth races; clinics; and certification courses.

If you’d rather watch, rather than take part, each category of mountain biking makes for a different experience. Cross country is more difficult to view since most of the action happens on narrow trails; it is rarely televised and little-known to the public. Downhill and dual slalom are more spectator-friendly events, since the action is both more dramatic and easier to view. As far as marathons go—perhaps briefly showing up to see who crosses the finish line is fine.

When you’re serious about racing, you can consider all of the possibilities that can improve performance from nutrition to equipment and off-season training. Maybe its something for you, and maybe not. Those that do enjoy competing at mountain biking do find it extremely rewarding, while others may not be able to make the necessary investment of time and energy to get off the ground.

In a nutshell, whatever feels right for you is the way to go. Just keep going, and don’t look back.

By Brian J. D’Souza, Trail Canada

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