Mountain bike racing is, as we all know, (possibly) the greatest sport on earth. You only have to look at the thrills and spills of the Mercedes-Benz UCI Mountain Bike World Cup or events like Red Bull Hardline and Red Bull Monserrate Cerro Abajo to experience the non-stop action that riding fast on mountain bikes brings.
The reserves of skill, fitness and mental toughness required to race a bicycle off-road are vast and the resulting drama produced as a result is sport at its very best. So why not try it for yourself?
Well, aside from staying warm and comfy on your sofa with your heart rate below 190bpm you really do have no excuse these days. As bike technology has improved so too has the ability to go racing without breaking everything along with the bank.
Plus there are fun events you can enter like Red Bull Foxhunt in Great Britain and Ireland, where over the years amateurs have had a chance to see if they can outwit a pro like Gee Atherton, Greg Callaghan or Loïc Bruni to get down the bottom of a hill on a downhill course first. France has plans to run a similar event called Red Bull Campo in the future.
Red Bull Foxhunt 2018: Greg Callaghan POV
Here's why you should make 2021 the year that you finally take a deep breath and wait for the beeps:
1. Getting fit with training
That's right – we started with a fun one! The prospect of getting out on the trails or down to the gym can be hard, but once you've punched in your CVC number and clicked 'confirm' on a race entry the realisation of what you've just done is enough to move even the most lethargic leap from the buffet table
There is no discipline of mountain bike racing which will not result in increased strength and fitness, and entering a race provides more motivation than just about anything else you'll find.
If you're looking for inspiration on how to train. Check out the following articles from Red Bull athletes:
2. Experiencing new sensations
You can know a trail or track in inch-perfect detail, but racing it is a completely different story. If you've never raced before then you'll be amazed at the depth of the new sensations it'll produce.
Racing produces a weird level of what can only be described as 'positive stress' and makes you focus on elements of riding which you've otherwise never considered. You're guaranteed to have a brilliant time at your first race, but the internal mental battles you'll fight along the way will surprise you...
Check out some of these racing tips from Red Bull athletes:
3. Buying shiny new equipment
You want to maximise you and your bike's pre-race potential don't you? Well, then...
If you're someone who loves bikes and bike kit then signing on to compete against other human beings is a perfect excuse to 'invest' in some shiny newness. Whether it's a new riding pack or a suspension service, waiting for the beeps is a great excuse to get your wallet out and to treat yourself.
Check out these bikes the race pros ride if you're looking to buy a new bike:
4. Notching up bragging rights
Friends are great, aren't they? In fact, the only thing better than friends is beating them at a race. In the modern world of GPS apps and Strava, most rides now go on some kind of digital scoreboard, but the ability to actually compete against your mates matters so much more.
Enduro is essentially the perfect discipline for bragging rights in that at most events you spend the majority of the day riding around with your mates in between stages. That's where the real psychological battles can be won and lost.
Want to know more about the different types of mountain bike racing on offer? Check out the articles below for the ultimate guides:
5. Go travelling
For your first race, we'd highly recommend taking something on on home turf. Not so much from the potential familiarity of the tracks/competitive cutting edge, but more from a logistical point of view. Going to a race requires a bit of planning with everything from spares to food and drink needing to be organised. The more you race, the better you'll get at this.
Mountain bike racing takes place in (you've guessed it) mountains, and what better excuse is there to go and see some beautiful ranges covered in ribbon upon ribbon of pristine singletrack to indulge in a bit of racing? Pack the van, program the sat nav and head for the border! We guarantee you'll smile every time you remember it.
Check out our tips on some mountain bike destinations to go to where you can go and race: