- XCO: (CROSS COUNTRY)
A short-course closed circuit event in a lap-racing format. Each lap is generally of a distance from 5km – 9km, usually dependent on the terrain of the area where the event is being hosted. Distance does not matter, as it is the time it takes one to complete a single lap that will ultimately determine the lap distance. Riders start together (mass-start) according to their age group, in this fast-paced and high heart rate racing over technical trail, incorporating singletrack, rock gardens, tight and twisty trails, technical descents, and various obstacles. This race can last anything from 1 hour (beginners) to 2 hours 10 minutes (elite riders).
There is a huge drive in South Africa of late to encourage new athletes to this exciting form of racing, with a special class at the nationals and provincials to accommodate those learning the ropes. This type of racing is found on the UCI calendar in the form of the UCI MTB World Cup Series, where World Cup series Champions and World Champions are crowned each year! South Africa's XCO celebrity is the young Burry Stander, who was crowned U23 World Champion in 2009. Cross-country mountain biking is now also raced at the Olympic Games.
- DHI: (DOWNHILL)
Here we have gravity-induced racing, where participants begin from the top of a hill and descend to the bottom, testing their level of skill, speed and agility to the maximum! Courses vary in distance; and riders can descend in anything from 1 minute 30 seconds to a long 4 minutes; and can drop altitude of between 300m and 600m over a distance of 2.5km of racing. It is an individual form of competition, where the rider competes against the clock – the fastest time of the day wins. Adrenalin-filled and fast-paced, with big drop-offs, swooping trails, jumps and berms (cambered corners) to ensure high speed cornering. Definitely a spectator-friendly sport!
As in XCO, DHI is trying to encourage more athletes into their fold! A sports class is also found at nationals and provincials to accommodate those learning the ropes. This type of racing is found on the UCI calendar in the form of the UCI MTB World Cup Series, where World Cup series Champions and World Champions are crowned each year! DH World Champion several times over, South African Greg Minnaar spends his year traversing the globe to race his downhill bike for a living, and is known to be one of the most consistent podium contenders on the World Cup circuit! Andrew Neethling is another of South Africa's DHI celebrities.
- XCM: (MARATHON)
An endurance race, where participants mass-start in an event that can cover anything from 60km to 120km or more, in an out-and-back format. The nature of the course depends on the terrain where the event is being hosted, but be rest assured you’ll experience long hill climbs, long descents, and if you’re lucky, singetrack! Other terrain possibilities include cane breaks, district roads, open veld, dense bush, jeep track and forestry roads and trails.
We have a national marathon series in South Africa, where riders earn championship points throughout the year whilst visiting and racing in the most beautiful of places. If the chance arises, take a look around you and absorb some of the natural beauty, vistas and wildlife around you.
The UCI (Union Cycling Internationale), the world's cycling body, has a World Marathon Championship each year, a one-off event to crown an individual as a World Champion. South Africa's Kevin Evans has utilized his endurance and participated in many marathons, earning the SA Marathon Championship title, but eluding the world title when he was fighting flu in 2010. It was XCO contender Burry Stander who did manage to prove his agility amongst the disciplines by claiming a bronze medal in St Wendel, Germany in 2010!
MTB Classics have been successfully held for many years, with a full calendar in the recent years as this discipline attracts more and more competitors each year. The perfect starting point if you're looking for a place to ride. Explore new venues and traverse new trails amongst like-minded individuals, and if you're fast enough you may even walk away with a prize! The course will range in distance from 30km to 55km in an out-and-back format, and continue to grow in popularity.
Most events offer a kiddies race of 2km or less, as well as an approximate 10km fun ride as a way of keeping the whole family entertained.