A Sport Like No Other

November 1, 2012
With the unique scenery, the many different locations, and what you have to put in to be successful, cross country mountain biking is a sport separate from all of the others. It is a sport that involves high speeds, being drenched in sweat, plenty of pain, and most importantly of all, it is fun. With events that last longer anywhere from fifty minutes, to almost two hours, you have to have the will to keep going.

Mountain biking is one of the few sports that take you out into the open, separates you from society, and takes you where you want to go. The wide range of locations varies between open and arid hills, bumpy and rough rocks, and even snow covered forests. There isn’t anywhere that it can’t be done at.

One nice thing about mountain biking is that it is as much of a sport as it is a hobby. You can be in it for the competition of the races or just for the fun of riding with your friends.

The competition is one of the most intense parts of any sport, especially mountain biking. From the moment you line up at the start, you can feel the thrill of the competition. The starts of the races are one of the most intense parts. You are crowded into around ten rows with four to five people in each row. There is no more than a foot between you and the person next to you, and the person in front of you is close enough that your tires are nearly touching. You then wait and listen to the director explain the rules of the race, ensure you how many laps you are doing, and warn you about any particularly dangerous sections of the course. Then begins the countdown. “Ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two,” and by the time he starts saying the final “one,” everyone is already peddling. No more than two minutes into the course is a single track section, which is very difficult to pass in, so everyone’s goal is to get to the front before then. Ten seconds in and everyone is already nearing their top speed, going more than twenty miles per hour, with the people in the front trying to stay in front, and the people who started in back trying to get as far up as they can. Often times one or more people are too focused on getting ahead, and crash, making a difficult dodge for those behind them. About a minute into to the race the faster riders begin to make distance between them and everyone else, and the group becomes less crowded.

Then comes the first climb. The climbs can range anywhere from just a few hundred feet, to more than a mile. This is one of the most painful parts of the race, as you push yourself to your limit trying either to get ahead, or not to fall behind. Then after the climbs are the downhills. Here is where a lot of people make mistakes. The downhill is the portion that requires the least effort, but the greatest amount of skill. Everybody goes as fast as they can down, over the bumps and down the rocks, but some go too fast. Every race everyone pushes themselves to go as fast as possible to make up as much time as they can, but when people go past their skill limit, they often make mistakes and end crashing. The downhill is also one of my favorite parts, mostly because of that sense of danger, knowing that any mistake could put you out of the race, and making split decisions on which line to take and which sections are safe enough to go over and which are better to go around, all while going fast enough to where everything is a blur.

More than half way through the race is where it begins to get difficult. It requires extreme endurance and willpower to keep going as hard as you can forty minutes into the race. At times you feel like giving up, but you know that you have to keep going.

The end is the most relieving part. You come to the finish line, giving it one final push. Then your wheels finally come to a stop and for the first time in an hour you can stop peddling. After the race you feel more exhausted than you ever have, though your legs feel like they need to keep going. Then you just sit back and relax before you get up the next morning with legs sorer than they have ever been.

Mountain biking is an extremely intense sport, though not always a team sport, it is always great to have friends to ride with and to race with. It takes you places that would be nearly impossible to get to otherwise, and gives you an unparalleled experience.

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