Olympic mountain biking will be making its fifth appearance in the 2012 London Olympic Games this summer. To many fans, mountain biking is a familiar pastime, but as a competitive sport it is relatively unknown. This guide should prepare fans with everything they need to know about Olympic level mountain biking before cheering on the athletes in the Summer Games.
Mountain Biking Background:
Beginning in the 1970s, Californian bikers are credited with inventing the 'sport' of mountain biking. Although many had ridden bikes off-road prior to that, the development of specialized bikes appropriate for rough terrain led to the birth of mountain biking as different form of the sport. The media took notice of mountain biking when riders from the Tamalpias Bike Club held races over the Golden Gate Bridge in the mid to late 1970s. Consequent US races beginning in 1983 increased mountain biking popularity, resulting in the first Olympic mountain biking competition at the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games.
Olympic Mountain Biking Rules and Format:
Unlike many Olympic sports, mountain biking has relatively few rules. Riders are called to the start line, but may line up at a spot of their choosing. They have a group start at a starting pistol or whistle, and are required to complete the course. The off-road course, determined the day prior to the event, will include laps, obstacles, and rough terrain. Repairs must be made by the cyclists themselves - no trainers are allowed inside the start area, and if riders need to exit the course, they must re-enter at the same spot. Course distances vary, but men's mountain biking courses range from 25-30 miles and should take 2.25 hours to complete; women's courses are around 18-25 miles with a completion time of approximately 2 hours. Riders are not allowed to block or impede other riders but do not have to allow others to pass. Olympic mountain biking competitors are expected to act with good sportsmanship, and respect nature along the course.
- Sports & Recreation
- mountain biking