Beacon Roads Cycling Club
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Advice on getting involved in organised mountain biking events

Mountain bike racing

Cross Country and Marathon

Riders start together (massed start) and compete on a marked lap (typically three to six kilometres) with climbing, descending, single-track and technical sections (tight turns, narrow tracks, rocks, mud or other difficult terrain). Less experienced riders tackle fewer laps. Elite level riders race for up to 2 and a half hours and an even longer "Marathon" category made its debut at the 2003 World Championships - Marathons can be 50km, 100km or even 150km in length.


As well as hard-core Cross-Country and Marathon racing, there has been a huge growth in Enduro racing in recent years. Enduros comes in many forms - 100km and 12 and 24 hours (often with two and four man team options) are just some of the popular options. Huge fields make for a great atmosphere and, whilst the more able riders treat them as seriously as any other race, for many they are a chance to enjoy riding in company or have a weekend away with friends. Two very popular events are: Mountain Mayhem and Sleepless in the Saddle

Downhill and Four Cross

In Downhill riders race individually against the clock pitting themselves against a challenging succession of jumps, bumps, berms (cambered corners) and drop-offs on a course which is predominantly downhill - often dropping between 300 and 600 metres in perhaps 2.5 km of racing! Races usually last between 2 and 5 minutes. 4-Cross pits 4 riders at a time against each other over a short, mainly downhill course: usually a mixture of natural and man made obstacles including stutter bumps, double jumps, table tops, step ups, drop offs, moguls, bermed or off camber corners and gap jumps. First over the line wins and events usually involve a series of qualifying rounds or "motos" and then semis and finals. The start is controlled by a BMX-style mechanical gate.


British Cycling is the internationally recognised governing body of cycling in the UK. It administers the sport in the following disciplines: BMX, cycle speedway, cyclocross, mountain bike, road and track. For more information on mountain bike racing, go to the BC website. The race calendar and entry details are on the website and most races can be entered on line.

Non-competitive events

Over the past few years there has been a huge rise in the popularity of organised off-road 'marathon' rides. (The term 'marathon' is a bit of a misnomer as they usually run over a range of distances.) Perhaps the best known series of events is the Merida MTB Marathon Series.

The Merida events are two-day affairs where the Saturday is for entrants to sign on, enjoy the trade village, test bikes, take part in one of the Saturday rides and skills courses, get last-minute repairs done, listen to some of the specialists talking about their field of expertise and for digging in at the pasta party. The Sunday is riding day.

All rides are mass starts and the courses are fully marked so that no map, compass or navigation skills are required. There are four different courses at each event to choose from. The Mini Marathon, with its approximately 25km course, is specifically set out for families and beginners, a short course that is approximately 50km long, a medium course that is approximately 75km long and a long course that is normally around 100km long.

Other similar events: Rough Ride


Orienteering on mountain bikes - organised by the Trail Cyclist Association.






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