Mountain Biking in the London Olympics

Not generally one of regularly televised events of the games, the mountain biking taking place at this year’s London Olympic Games looks set to attract lovers and followers of extreme sports none the less.  This year the mountain biking course is littered with rocky track ways, difficult climbs and some technically difficult descents which will keep the riders on their toes as they navigate the competition course in their quest for gold.  Mountain biking, like BMX is still a relatively new sport in the games, it was first included in the 1996 games in Atlanta, but its popularity is growing at an incredible rate and is a sport which is enjoyed globally.  What was initially a fast and competitive sport only found in 1970’s California is now a globally popular adrenalin fuelled extreme sport.

London Olympics Extreme Sports

Competition Details

  • Dates: Saturday 11th – Sunday 12th August 2012
  • Venue: Hadleigh Farm, Essex
  • Competitors: 50 x Men; 30 x Women. Only three men and two women allowed per team for each country.
  • Medal Events: One men’s and one women’s competition
  • The Course: 4.7km long in total. 172 metres of elevation change per lap. Both races will start with a 441 metre starting loop.

London Olympics Extreme Sports

About Mountain Biking

The first ever Mountain Bike World Championships were held in 1990.  It was only six years later that the sport made its debut at the Atlanta Olympics in 1996.

Mountain Biking Basics

  • The races are run over hilly and rough countryside.
  • All riders start the race at the same time, and all must complete a specific number of laps of the designated course.
  • The first rider across the finishing line wins the gold.
  • The men’s race lasts for a maximum of 1 hour 45 minutes, the women’s 1 hour 30 minutes.
  • Bikes are designed for durability and speed; they are both lightweight and sturdy.
  • Repairs can be made by the rider at designated technical stations only.

Competition Basics

  • Riders are seeded into their positions on the starting grid according to their world ranking.
  • Marshalls are stationed around the course for rider and spectator safety.
  • All feed and technical stations are monitored by officials.

London Olympics Extreme Sports

Skills and Stamina

Mountain bikers need to be strong on stamina in order to keep ahead of the other riders; it also helps to have no fear or nerves of steel to race down hillsides at speed. This is not a sport where slow and steady wins the race! Lots of things can go wrong for a rider during a race, it is common for riders to crash into one another, so it is imperative that a rider knows how to repair their bike quickly so that very little time is lost, although no repairs of any kind can be carried out unless at a designated technical station, under scrutiny of the officials.

Mountain Biking Jargon

  • Hardtail: Mountain bike which has no rear suspension.
  • Full Sus: Mountain bike which bas both front and rear wheel suspension.
  • Kick Out: Technique riders use to shift the rear wheel out to the side as they go into a turn.
  • Pinch Flat: Flat tyre caused when the inner tube is forced against the wheel rim upon impact with an obstacle at speed.

Creative Commons Photos courtesy of Andy Wilkes

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