It's all downhill from here...

Published by Lyn on 22 February 2011

I'm no MTBer, so I asked Amie Marsh, of the Morzine-based downhill group Dirty Girls Ride, about the different types of mountain biking. Here's what Amie, who's a downhiller, sent me:

"Downhill MTB is a gravity assisted time trail event where riders race down a track of varied terrain, against a clock. The tracks are usually quite steep, full of natural and man-made obstacles such as jumps, drops, tree roots and rocks. A professional race run normally takes 3-5 minutes to complete.

There are blurred boundaries between the different MTB categories, but most riding can fit into five different categories. Aside from downhill, here are the others:

Cross country (XC): Riders race on a trail with small to moderate obstacles with a variation of inclines and declines, as in the video below.

Freeride: Freeriding is similar to downhill but focuses more on riding all over the mountain with some big drops and jumps with some tricks thrown in for good measure.

Trail: Trail riding is what the average mountain biker does. They ride the trails which normally include a mixture of inclines, declines, jumps, obstacles, technical and fast sections.


Dirt Jump: Riders complete a series of man-made jumps while adding in various tricks.



Downhill: The only MTB discipline that purely focuses on gravity with minimal pedalling required when compared to the other disciplines.


All of the different types of mountain biking overlap in some form. It's not uncommon to find professional downhillers who also compete and do well in the other MTB categories or cycling events such as BMX and 4X."

So that's my first MTB lesson. Stay tuned for more – Amie's going to be writing a bunch of MTB stuff for us; check out her overview of downhill MTB in France and her piece on MTB around Morzine.


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