An introduction to mountain bike racing

Mountain bike racing isn’t as scary as it sounds. No really it isn’t. For some it’s like Marmite they tried it, they hated it, and they’ll never try it again. For others, the rush, the excitement, the nerves and adrenaline are all too much to pass up. The kick you get from racing is completely unlike something you’ll feel after a ride with your friends.

Your heart starts pounding, your breathing is heavy, all around you people are lining up. Some looking as scared as you, others looking quietly confident. The buzz of chatter, the distant beep of the start gate, and hustle and bustle of the crowds. There is a low hum of activity all around you, the pit of your stomach drags you down to earth. What am I doing?

You look around, comparing yourself to other riders, checking out your bike, silently wishing you were somewhere else, and that the line of people in front of you wasn’t getting smaller and smaller..

And then it happens, you find yourself waiting for the beep…Rider in ten seconds..10…5… green light. Everything you felt whilst waiting at the start line has just evaporated in a single stroke of the pedal. Senses go into overload, tunnel vision sets in. This is it.

Pushing your way through a race run, feeling the wind flowing past you, hearing the crowd cheering, feeling your bike move below you, sensing the surge of adrenaline and excitement ooze from every pore. Heart pounding heavy, eyes on the goal. On the horizon springs the finish line, in one final push you grasp every urge from instinct to push through, to be the best.

If racing is something you have never done before then consider trying it. There are loads of fantastic local races all around the UK supported by people who come together for their shared love of mountain biking. It can be daunting, but racing is something that will push your riding, allow you to learn new skills and meet new people.

To find races from all disciplines of Mountain Biking visit British Cycling , or join Facebook MTB groups in your area. Network with people and find out which race is best for your first. A great  first race for women is Diva Descent, an all girls downhill race, with great support and coaching for the weekend. For some of the bigger race series in the UK check out Halo BDS or MTB Marathon series. A great way to look at races, find out about your competitors and look at race photos there is Roots and Rain . There are some great races throughout the UK, in all kinds of disciplines. There are always people to talk to if you are thinking of competing in your first race. So if you’re looking to push your riding to the next level, why not give racing a try?

Photo by Alex Tyler