Video: What's the Deal with Cross-Country Racing? - The Explainer

May 13, 2020
by Mike Levy  


THE EXPLAINER

What's the Deal with Cross-County Racing?




If you think that cross-country racing is Spandex, skinny folks, and suffering, you're not wrong. But it's also huge adventures that can span a week or balls-out sprint races that last 20-minutes, and the bikes have evolved from dedicated climbers to lightweight all-rounders.

Europeans were racing curly-bar bikes in the dirt more than seventy-five years ago, long before mountain biking was a thing. In fact, it wasn't until 1976 that the first cross-country race (ish) was held, with participants riding their bikes from Crested Butte, Colorado, over the 12,000-foot Pearl Pass and into Aspen, 39-miles away. There was no start list or finish line, and while there were probably a lot of drugs, they likely had the opposite effect of today's doping. Forty-four years later and cross-country racing is the only type of mountain biking in the Olympics; who knew?



Previous Explainer episodes:
Episode #1 - What's the Deal with Linkage Forks?
Episode #2 - Carbon Fiber Leaf Springs
Episode #3 - What's the Deal with Chains?


203 Comments

  • 168 7
 Everyone rags on XC because they think it looks stupid but so does rocking 170mm of travel on the same local trails that we're going to race XC on next weekend.
  • 40 20
 exactly. I've always said this to people who make fun of xc, especially when they're not necessarily a superb rider. I'm racing stuff on a 100mm hardtail that you can hardly ride on your 160mm enduro bike, and I'm in spandex. not to say that enduro isn't great fun.
  • 24 2
 @Darwin66: age checks out
  • 66 9
 and this weekend I was blasting past some XC dudes trying to walk down a chute. Whats your point tho? Ride what makes you happy and don't judge others for what makes them happy
  • 28 2
 ...and now people are riding the XC trails with 700c gravel bikes ????
  • 41 49
flag WAKIdesigns (May 13, 2020 at 12:14) (Below Threshold)
 @fullfacemike - people make fun from XC because majority of XC riders are fireroad warriors (aka extreme gravel racers, aka XC Marathon) call their riding as XC and often identify themselves with XCO WC racing. Majority of them can’t ride their bike for sht, they can only pedal. I met a 50yr old man in our trail center, who used to participate in many marathons during the year. He said: such good trails here! I am riding since 25years. Where are you heading? There and there I replied. He asked if he can join: fine. So I turn from the gravel road few meters after and hear him shout: this is not the way! Why ride here? - erm... cuz that’s a good way to reach the techy trails? - no no this is unrideable, let’s not ride on walking paths! This is actually a bike trail man... So he struggled to follow on a trail I rode with my 8yr old daughter when she had 20” bike... when we reached the “technical bit” he said carrying bike is stupid! So he went back. Sorry he was a typical Lake Garda kind of guy. Majority of folks saying they are XC racers ride like him, yet feel they are some kind of a Nino, just with weaker legs..
  • 21 2
 @WAKIdesigns: Dirt Roadies Smile
  • 25 3
 @WAKIdesigns: that could be said for a good amount of enduro bros too.
  • 21 3
 @WAKIdesigns: Well, that also applies to majority of the people on 150mm bikes I see. But, they can't pedal for shit, either.
  • 17 1
 Where I live all "legal" trails that can easily be ridden with an XC bike. Even the famous Braille trail is easily done on an XC HT if you bypass a couple of the bigger features or have legs that can absorb the drop. People ride the whole spectrum of bikes, from CX to 160mm enduro bikes on the same trails with a wide range of abilities and bike fashion sense. We're all having fun!
  • 5 8
 I've watched enough guys roll over jumps at the bike park* that I have cleared on my XC bike, that it just makes me laugh.

*I mostly ride a 160 E29, but have hit the lift once or twice after an XC race on my HT just for fun.
  • 14 16
 @clink83: @LeDuke - if you need a support group for fireroad warriors seeking acceptance by gravity riders, you are in a god damn wrong place
  • 16 1
 @WAKIdesigns: Woah, sounds like we struck a nerve. I can't tell you how many times I've caught duders in full battle rattle on a technical descent with my rigid hardtail, but I've been beaten more times than I can count by people on huge full suspension rigs at XC races too. Relax, would ya?
  • 5 0
 @gomeeker: the best trails in that particular area are all called the same thing "Trail Closed"
  • 2 1
 @kamsbry: groadies
  • 6 0
 You're all my heroes
  • 4 1
 @Highlander406: Yeah, which is why I don't have a bike with more than 130mm travel. Local bike parks are really dirt jump places. Fortunately, one is so close to my house that I can ride there on a 100mm hardtail with a 68.5 deg HA. My dirt jumper of course :-)
  • 4 16
flag Apex06 (May 13, 2020 at 16:44) (Below Threshold)
 XC dick, speaker blaring dumbshit or enduro douche Kill one Mary one Fuck one Go!
  • 16 6
 XC is serious business. People who make fun of it are narrow-minded. Personally, a good XC kit on a fit guy/gal looks mighty f*cking sick and intimidating. I do think that XC is a more serious type of riding and everyone else is probably just trying to have fun or learn a particular cool skill. Unless you're Nino or Jolanda... Cheers amigos!
  • 18 0
 Man if there's one thing that apparently unites the 'through and through' dirt roadies and enduro bros alike, it's finding ways to spend more time judging than riding. Meanwhile the rest of the world, of all skill levels, is out having fun riding their damn bikes and not giving a fuck about what the next guy or gal is doing, unless of course it looks fun.
  • 5 0
 @HaggeredShins: Referring to any cyclist as a "dirt roadie" or "enduro bro" is in and of itself a little judgemental so... None of us are without sin.
  • 8 0
 @Apex06: we can all agree on killing the speaker guy. It's what unites us
  • 2 0
 @Apex06: I'll play. Marry (shave their legs and close my eyes), kill (most annoying), f**k (spend least amount of time with them).
  • 13 6
 You metal heads can laugh all you want to. You all may fly down a mountain at near death speeds, but when it comes to climbing, we weight weenies walk away from you all day long, and handle technical bits with style. You boys even need a lift to get back up the mountain!
(Guilty of using the lift myself Wink ).
Lol!
Why do you think they still build so many different types of bikes?... Not everyone wants to gap 30 footers, or drop nearly straight off a cliff. Maybe many people want to stay planted and fast, working through/around difficult terrain, or grinding out the miles on gravel/dirt, or killing there lungs/legs in 30 minute sprints. I say whatever brings you happiness riding, ride the darn thing! And know, that somebody else is getting the same enjoyment, just not the same way you are Wink .
Thank you Waki, you lived up to your trolling admirably Big Grin .
  • 9 1
 @carlostrancex2: did you just say a dude in tights withs shaved legs sucking on a tube of power gel is intimidating... ya ok.
  • 1 2
 @kamsbry: dirt wienies
  • 4 5
 @fullfacemike: me? No not really. I just said why XCers have a bad rep. Fireroad warriors do it to XCers. You seem to assume that I took a side. I haven’t
  • 6 0
 @gomeeker: This is a point many people (primarily those who've only come into the sport in last several years) don't really think about: Some of the most famous trails in the world, like Porcupine, were all ridden on jank URTs/hardtails with sub 80mm forks, 1.95" tires, and rim brakes just 20 years ago. Modern bikes allow for so much more hit and less fatigue, people often forget how much skill is needed to pilot a "XC" bike (which, even modern XC bikes are far superior to said bikes we rode 20 years ago).
  • 8 5
 @Jamminator: The old bikes yes, requires lots of skill? Or maybe: in the past only good riders could ride a shitty bike. But today these riders are flying on better bikes where in the past they were getting shaked and wobbled all over the place. I ride a DJ on local trails from time to time just for a goof and honestly it has little to do with skill. It's about persistence and belief I won't die as long as I keep my sht together. There's too much focus and giving participation trophees for "making it alive on a HT" I loathe this attitude. It's about thriving, not surviving. People who are fast, are fast on everything. They just look far better on bikes made for the job they are doing at the particular moment.
  • 4 0
 @WAKIdesigns: There is definitely some truth to your first sentence - barrier to entry is lower for novice riders today than it was years ago, with less learning curve due to forgiving equipment.

I don't understand the participation trophy comment, though... Do you also criticize people who like sailing, when they could just be "thriving" with a motorboat? If someone wants to challenge themselves, more power to them...to each their own.
  • 7 3
 @Jamminator: No. But there's a lot of folks wanting participation trophy for riding a HT instead of FS, like they were performing an act of ascetism they demanded credit for. I myself received many compliments on handling some of most difficult sections on HT. I'd be happy to ride down Val Di Sole DH WC track on my DJ without falling down to prove the point that "riding gnar on HT = mad skills" is an overblown concept, a misunderstanding, because I would stand no chance on a DH bike in a race against any national level elite rider. Let's say someone who barely qualifies to a World Cup but still is there for qualies. Again my point: clearing a section on HT and not falling is not as hard as many claim it is. It's fundamental skills and there's a whole world of skill necessary above that to call yourself an amazing rider.
  • 5 0
 @WAKIdesigns: This talk of "mad skills" and trophies misses the point. Most of us ride for the thrill of it and there is a balance between the bikes we have access to and the terrain we can ride. It's fun to crash through stuff and launch big features on a FS bike if we have those kind of trails, but there is also a real thrill in the feedback we get from riding a HT at speed with the focus on picking good lines and connecting turns. For XC racing there is a balance of having a bike light enough to crush the climbs and still hang on to it on the descents. It's a real rush, even for semi-competitive types. I was riding back in the early 90's on a HT with 50mm of plush elastomer fork and the only real skill I had was in bailing from my toeclips during the inevitable OTB! Back in the day, even that was a thrill.
  • 2 4
 @gomeeker: sure there are right tools for the job and one can indeed easily get overbiked. But I am tired of utter bollocks circulating on this site and in general in the “woke” MTB trends which is some form of rear travel diet without much consideration to everything else. You can get overtired and overforked. It makes zero sense, to opt for a HT instead of FS when literally every other part of the bike is Exactly as on 150-160 FS bike. It is disturbingly stupid to use Minion tires on a hardtail of ANY kind. It just is. Thrill from
Feedback? Absolutely! Fine, how about that feedback being your tires sliding away? I love riding endergunned bikea from time to time, but I make sure they are undergunned in balanced way in every department.
  • 7 0
 One of the first times among many as a regular MTB camera hack that I felt truly humbled was at MSA on a 180 travel loaner from Devinci that I was using to ride the lifts a few days before the '09 or '10 World Cup (World Champs in '10) and I rode down "Beatrice"; then the brand new test piece for their World Cup XC track. I honestly thought I'd somehow stumbled onto an old section of a pre-2005 DH track. I got through it, no worries, but to realize it was part of the XC track and racers were going to come down it sans dropper on hard tails with silly steep head angles was mind blowing.
  • 1 0
 @meagerdude: MSA is particularly gnarly. I know exactly which trail you're talking about and I had a similar experience with my SX trail. XC isn't only about fitness now.
  • 1 7
flag WAKIdesigns (May 14, 2020 at 13:33) (Below Threshold)
 @DangerDavez: for the greater part of riders considering themselves XC riders, it’s almost only about steady state cardio and fireroad. I know that marathon racers identify themselves with XCO World Cup but they do it only to get credit for someone elses achievements. They aimply want to get into the same bag because they ride similar bikes in similar clothing
  • 1 0
 @gomeeker: I was riding the Demo Forest on my stump jumper thinking I was awesome and some old hippy ripped by me on a 26" wheeled marin with a freaking elastomer manitu fork, like legit 1995 bike... Oh well...
  • 4 1
 @WAKIdesigns: lol I don't know a single XC rider who rides on fire roads.
  • 4 1
 @WAKIdesigns: Wrong. I've been racing mostly XC for nearly 30 years. When we are out riding and we have the option of a fireroad climb or a singletrack climb, I can't recall anyone who wanted to go up the fireroad. It's shorter and less fun. On enduro training rides, it's almost always the fireroad.
  • 1 2
 @clink83: Look up numbers on participants on Marathon races vs xc races. I am not condoning nor expressing the attitude that all XC riders are Marathon riders. I find it untrue. But XC Marathon does give bad rep to all XCers. That’s all I meant.
  • 1 2
 @WAKIdesigns: Here's something else you may ponder...

What happens if the only access to the 1 single trail (in 20 miles radius), is a half mile of fire road?

It's very easy to be smug, if you live surrounded by mountains, but us mtbers out in the prairies deal with it every day.

And if you think, for one minute, that's all we try to hit in a day, you are gravely mistaken. Wherever there's even a smidge of a feature, use that to spice up things a bunch Wink .
Like lets say, making lines down a rough ditch, or using said ditch to learn to gap. How bout, basically a 10' vertical drop off a cut hill, into the ditch, and up onto the road... Tell me that ain't mtbing? Or going off-road completely, just using a deer trail, or not ever that, to get some trail. Or grind on a overgrown atv track, getting covered in ticks, using that 100mm travel fork, to take hit after hit on fallen logs.

Or using that same bike to hit bike parks/trails whenever we can, are we such lazy a**'s after all?

So hate on us all you want too, but we "fireroad" warriors have a trick or too up are sleeves Wink .

What say you, o' master troller, Waki. Big Grin
  • 1 0
 @clink83:
In the last 6 years, since I discovered 'adult' (mtb-)biking, I took part in many amateur or sanctioned(local) xc marathon races. I have a lot of buddies/friends, xc-guys, that have never ridden their bike on a mountain trail and most of them can't handle a 1 foot kicker/drop. They keep riding on hilly fire-roads or double-tracks and that is pretty much all they do on their 'mountain'-bikes.
Or, let me put it differently, at usual xc-marathon races, the number of paticipants, in my country, is between 1500 to 3000 ppl. We have like 3 or 4 real mtb xc races in my country per year and, at those, the number of participants is less than 300..at one of those 4, is even less than 200 as it actually has real mtb trails with drops, big roots, rock gardens and generally, a real mtb feel. The situation is 'Exactly' as Waki described it!, most of so-called 'xc guys' can barely do a side-walk drop; they think they are doing the same exact thing as Nino and the company are doing, when, in fact, they should better be doing road riding.

I have actually done last year a 35 mile loop with exactly this type of guys; fit, slim, a lot of training time on the road bike..and it prooved to me exactly this. I was barely keep up the rithm on the fire-roads towards the head of the trail(and they were not in full "race" mode) but, once we got there, their success story ended abruptly. It was a curvy narrow up-and-down trail near a lake and they were strugggling. I had to wait them like 5 minutes at the end of that trail(2.5-3 kms long); also, whenever the trail(or even the fireroad) took a downward direction, their brakes were heavily aplied..always. My letdown was visible on my face and, at the end of the loop I asked them when they plan to start doing some mtb-ing; they replied by asking me when I plan to train and be fit(me being a slightly over-weight corporate mid 30s guy); and these guy are almost always on podiums for the mostly fire-roads xc type of races(in their group age/class/etc). They never go to any of those big 4, real xc mtb races. So, me, I'm already convinced that this type of xc guy/gal knows exactly 'shite' from a mtbing point of view and that, if I took them on any of the trails I ride with my enduro bike, they'll start hiking down the trail. This type of "riders" are not mtb-ers..they are roadies in disguise.

As a side(slightly negative) note, due to this, in the last years I have become less interested to be associated with them and started to not take part in any xc race. This spring, I have even sold my sub 10 kgs full-xc bike because it was pointless keeping it.
On the positive note, my gravel bike is fantastic on xc trails and fire-roads and I have a lot of fun riding these old and simple trails, fun that was missing when I ride them on my xc full susp. So, basically, what I say is..don't be an xc-er..as they are a nasty kind of ppl, sell your xc bike and buy a gravel! Hahahaha!
  • 1 0
 @clink83:
Ok, maybe 2.5-3 minutes and I really like that piece of root-infested, off-camber near the lake trail but still, they were/are much more fit.
  • 107 2
 "What is the deal with cross country racing"

Try not to read that in Seinfelds voice.
  • 135 3
 "I mean...they not in the country....and they are not crossing anything"
  • 32 1
 "Laughter (canned)"

ba ba da ba da ba doo dowwwwwww do do...
  • 49 1
 “It’s so confusing….they all the look the same, I look left, I look right, I see fit bodies in spandex, I *think* I like what a see…but but I don’t know if it’s a GUY or if it’s a a, if it’s a GIRL…where do you look….WHERE AM I SUPPOSED TO LOOK, IM NOT OK WITH THIS, NOT ONE BIT!”

Sincerely, George
  • 41 0
 “Jerry, it’s Kramer. I need to borrow your water bottle.”

@RadBartTaylor:
  • 21 2
 You know there actually was a mountain bike hanging in Jerry’s apartment.
  • 3 0
 @RadBartTaylor: Nice find! Smile
  • 9 0
 I'm imagining Jerry dumping some babe just because she uses a dropper
  • 11 0
 @piman: "You know something....no dropper for you!"
  • 6 0
 @me2menow: and a c-dale.

...also there was a spesh was in an lbs storefront--street scene.
  • 2 0
 @OceanPhil: Yeah it's in the second pic I linked
  • 12 1
 XC racers are not sponge-worthy.
  • 2 1
 @OceanPhil: and a Klein!
  • 6 1
 @GBeard: My eyes were drawn to that thing for like a decade.
  • 6 0
 Oh, the number of guys I have disappointed when they learned (as they slowly drove by) that this wonderful head of hair and fantastic ass is attached to a guy @RadBartTaylor:
  • 4 0
 @Thustlewhumber: It is a domain of which there are few masters.
  • 3 0
 NEWMAN!!!!!!!
  • 2 0
 Man, I can only give one props/like... probably the best formula to anything worth going down the "how would this be if it were a Sienfield's episode"
  • 2 0
 @RadBartTaylor: looking at a girl in spandex is like looking at the sun...
  • 71 6
 What is the deal with the Grim Doughnut?
  • 20 3
 Currently filming part two, but this whole 'rona thing has slowed it down.
  • 55 1
 @mikelevy: Oh no, is the whole thing gonna be in slow motion?
  • 2 0
 @mikelevy: Good to know! And well done satire Sir, gotta be one of the better vids for the year.
  • 5 0
 @mtb-jon: it was always going to be unless Kazimer stepped in...
  • 2 0
 @mtb-jon: just the boring parts, like friday fails.
  • 37 1
 Definitely the most accessible, and in my opinion the most important form of competition. If a family out for a walk in the park comes across the local Wednesday night short track and sees a wide mix of people, maybe even some on hybrids having a great time, they might bring little Timmy or Sarah out for the kids race next week, and dust off the old rigid MTB they have, get hooked and become one of us.

Also Levy, look in the mirror when you put your breatheright stripes on, they work 10x better when they're in the right position. Allergies have been brutal this year eh?
  • 6 0
 Terrible allergies...
  • 3 0
 @mikelevy: mmmhhmmmm....allergies.
  • 1 0
 @mikelevy: Dude, you look high AF in the video!
  • 34 0
 Racing XC has humbled me every go. There's nothing like getting smoked in the first few miles and realizing, "I'm not as good as I think I am." Word up.
  • 42 0
 You can't claim to be an XC races till you've been smoked by a old man with a beer gut who is still somehow freakishly fast and a high school kid lol.
  • 10 0
 @clink83: yep I did an xc series last summer and there was a very short high school girl destroying everyone. It was funny because she was on an S-Works epic just lapping the field so definitely not her first time.
  • 6 1
 Yes. That is racing. It's what it is all about. Good times.
  • 2 0
 @clink83: haha, that's exactly what overtook me the other day, both on black fuels. My excuse was heavy slow rolling Enduro tires
  • 9 3
 @muganut43 - honestly, tell me a kind of racing, be it DH or Enduro where you wouldn’t feel the same? All good DH or Enduro riders I know are strong and fit as fuk. Sure they will not beat local XC elite, will not win amateur XC race, but they will definitely beat every damn old Joe or middle aged triathlete on SWorks Epic. Same is true the opposite way. All god XCers do well in local Enduro and DH races. Because aside of the fact that excellence in one discipline of MTB meand prowess in other, racing is a skill on its own.
  • 5 0
 @WAKIdesigns: I think being technically skilled saves a ton of energy, so even less fit, per se, they are more efficient.
Maintaining speed with pumping and line choice versus having to pedal a shit ton.
  • 37 2
 cross country is the main discipline most of normal people ride
  • 12 1
 Yup, exactly.
  • 38 2
 Even half of the people on enduro bikes.
  • 4 5
 @Darwin66: and why not? They're more forgiving
  • 7 0
 By far the most accessible...not everyone lives near terrain big enough for Enduro or DH, doesn’t take much vert to make a fun XC trail system.
  • 2 0
 The norm is dictated by where you live.
  • 23 1
 I was thoroughly amused, and I've raced plenty of XC. Oh, and you should be drunk watching ALL bike racing, not just Cyclo-Cross.
  • 11 7
 You’ll never bother with drinking at 8am while watching races in Europe after you’ve tried smoking a blunt and doing medium sized lines of cocaine
  • 3 0
 @onlyDH: Joint n a joe for me, goes great with the cycling but not so much footy for some reason...
  • 26 7
 XC gets little respect around here. Just because you're out of shape, doesn't mean XC is lame. XC IS mountain biking. Shuttling and e-bikes are just a watered down version of the sport.
  • 4 0
 Earn your turns.
  • 12 2
 Biggest upside to xc is everybody is actually racing. DH and Enduro are time trials and for me it loses something. BMX and XC have people right with you and you can find another gear. DH & enduro you don’t know where your good and where your off (unless you crash).

XC is underrated.
  • 3 0
 Exactly. In DH you don't know where you've got the edge or where you're lacking, so you have to be 100 percent on it for the whole duration of the race. In XC you can see the other competitors, so you can choose to back of a bit, or whatever, and manage your pace etc.
  • 3 0
 Nothing like going handlebar to handlebar... at the back of the sport race.
  • 13 0
 Ha that was great. Levy is a damn treasure. Do enduro next!
  • 11 0
 On the way Smile
  • 7 1
 What's the Deal with Cross-Count(r)y Racing ?
- Cross-country racing is the only type of mountain biking in the Olympics.

Well, I guess you said everything...

Quite genuinely curious about percentage of PB attendance that actually practice whatever Olympic summer game sport...
  • 6 0
 At least the Olympics might have some benefit to our sport, if abandoned installations can be 'recycled' into DH tracks:

www.boredpanda.com/abandoned-olympic-venues
  • 15 0
 Well BMX and now bouldering/climbing will be in the olympics, so probably quite a high percentage of pinkbikers have tried their hand at one of those? I guess running in general?

Back in the day, most of my club would race both DH and XC, usually prioritising one significantly. Nowdays it looks like enduro ate the whole pie.
  • 6 0
 At least 95 percent of users
  • 3 0
 @Mugen: I get it though I've raced dh and Enduro and Enduro is just way more of a laid back atmosphere I have a way better time than dh
  • 4 0
 PB members? Not sure. The world of mountain biking as a whole? The large majority of people.
  • 3 1
 I race XC, ride enduro, occasionally use a lift, boulder very badly, run ultra, and used to race triathlon pretty seriously (for having no money). I have a few of my sports in the Olympics.
  • 6 0
 It's important because we can race on what ever we have, anyone and everyone is invited and it's good for you with an acceptable amount of risk because I've got to go to work to pay for all the new crap I just found out I needed.
  • 5 0
 Yes. I can't afford another serious injury, so the XC is about as much risk as I can take.
  • 6 0
 @CaptainEndo: I've been moving away from my enduro-type bikes and back to purchasing XC race bikes for this same reason. Of course, 2 members of my race team had some nasty bone breaks this year! Safer? Maybe to some degree. Still a risky sport, but that's why I love it.
  • 10 4
 >cross-country racing is the only type of mountain biking in the Olympics

yeah but Olympics are last century thing so i wouldn't say it means anything today

not that i dont like or ride cross country, just saying how sad Olympics are nowadays
  • 2 2
 So much this!
  • 2 0
 Synchronized swimming and rhythmic gymnastics and equestrians events , sports are added and deleted based on their popularity...
  • 1 2
 @kingbike2: >sports are added and deleted based on their popularity...

if that was true we would have actually interesting Olympics with sports that are attractive to modern audience

or maybe it is true but IOC is run by bunch of boomers that lag behind the world by 20 years
  • 1 3
 @kingbike2: So how do you explain synchronised drowning and power walking?
  • 3 0
 @boozed: synchronized swimming and rhythmic gymnastics are actually popular sports, Skate boarding was added to get a younger audience. The point I was making is that cross country mountain biking is the most popular type of mountain biking so was added.
  • 1 3
 Olympics were originally for martial sports. There's no real shooting or war game competitions so I was never interested. don't even mention the biathlon, those are just toys.
  • 8 2
 I vastly prefer the older 80s/90s style of XC racing. no outside support, longer courses & duration, purely as its much more reflective of actual riding cross country in the mountains.

kudos to world cup XC racers, the speed they ride & maintain is incredible, but I miss the 2.5hr Tomac/Overend battles.
  • 5 0
 Look up marathon racing,then.
I remember 50km+ XC races in the mid-nineties,3 hours of lactid acid burning my skinny legs.
Damn,were did those legs went!
  • 5 0
 Most races are still like that.
  • 1 0
 in XCO you have a small circuit, but most XC races are still done around 30 to 60km no loops. At least the ones I still do. A ton of fun.
  • 8 0
 That super baked look Big Grin
  • 6 0
 "... balls out effort." [shows photo of women's race] I see what you did there!
  • 3 0
 When can we anticipate the face, neck, and earlobe tattoos? Love the look so far, but it's just sooooo incomplete. Common Mike, you've been holding out on us! The real artists get the ones that you can see first. Tat Up Dude.
  • 11 0
 My Soundcloud rapping career won't take off until I get some ink on my face, maybe a tiny MTB wheel teardrop tattoo?
  • 3 0
 @mikelevy: Hunter S. and the Gonzo fist! Those tats are OG!
  • 2 0
 @mikelevy: Nope. You gotta smoke some fool with your bike first.
  • 6 0
 The singular nip slip in the beginning had me feeling all kinds of verklemped.
  • 3 0
 Riding a super efficient XC bike is actually a lot of fun on many different types of trails; more than most may think. There's something about carving a lightweight, responsive bike through winding trees and terrain at speed that is quite addictive.
  • 5 0
 When is my next XC race you ask....WHO THE F$&@ KNOWS!?!?!!? #fucovid19
  • 4 0
 XC races have been replaced by Solo rides.

And if you can remove Strava, even better! :

medium.com/@RZapataL/disobey-cycling-dd1ea46258e0
  • 6 0
 I once had tatoos like that... then my mom got a job.......
  • 2 0
 A job as a tattoo remover? interesting, thanks for the share.
  • 2 0
 I have to say I've had a few XC guys just ripping through the trails I thought I was moving pretty good on. I do admire their bike handling skills to take the turns at the speed they are going but they look so out of place wearing lycra suits in the woods.
  • 4 0
 "In a little place called... Aspen" you totally missed it Levy... Would have been so golden.
  • 1 0
 I raced XC ten years ago - a lot of us did - but I primarily just ride trails and bike parks with friends now. So my current exposure to racing now is primarily what I watch on red bull TV. And I watch both the XC and DH races. DH is normally more exciting for me, but I enjoy the XC races too. Be cool.
  • 2 0
 Levy is a likeable dude ... lol. Over morning coffee this video entertained me... and I learned a few things ( all those formats of hurtingYourSelf/racing. Keep being you dude. Great stuff
  • 1 0
 I personally would rather slowly climb on my capra and pin the downs! Everyone has priorities. Smile mist of my riding I guess you would call xc with friends but I focus on the DH sections over climbing ease. Coming from a person who raced DH it’s just what gets my juices flowing. Climbing not so much. Smile
  • 1 0
 Ritchie Rude killed in a local XC race in CT a couple of years ago. Pete Sagan can kill it on most DH courses and manual better than 90%+ of the above posters. If you are a pro level rider you are in shape enough to go up hill and down hill to compete with top riders regardless of MTB event.
  • 5 0
 good ole Crusty Butt
  • 3 0
 Enjoyable watch, thanks Levy!
  • 3 0
 Well...atleast Brett Tippie and fun isn't totally erased from Pinkbike yet
  • 1 0
 Crazy fit people....way out of my league!! Looks about as fun as the guy riding an off road unicycle I spotted hitting the local trails here in Western Colorado.
  • 3 2
 I must say, I get WAY more looks when I am in my Lycra on my XC bike (or roadie) than when I am on my E29 with baggies. Would be great if I was gay, but no such luck.
  • 3 1
 Kenny Powers put it best, "I play real sports, I dont try to be the best at exercising"
  • 1 0
 Reminds me of doing the Trans-Sylvania MTB Epic last year. First 5 minutes of a five day stage race, I was already spent. Thinking, "what have I done?". Good times.
  • 1 0
 Racing against myself round my local XC loop I can confirm the breathing through the eyes part. You've got to respect pro XC racers, what they do is very very hard.
  • 3 0
 That was entertaining.
  • 2 0
 crooked Breathe Right is as triggering as an ugly weld.
  • 2 0
 You should see my welds...
  • 1 0
 @mikelevy: by welds, u mean vasectomy scars, don't u?
  • 1 0
 @savagelake: I'll show you if you really want to see...
  • 2 0
 @Pinkbike Time to include xc bikes in the shootouts i reckon
  • 4 0
 Incoming cross-country Field Test series Smile
  • 4 0
 @mikelevy: hopefully with xc tires on this time
  • 1 0
 @taprider: Of course.
  • 2 0
 Please mike put a shirt on, I’m now stuck with this image in my head
  • 2 0
 Nipples.
  • 1 0
 XC is for those of us who like prolonged suffering, not just the possibility of a broken bone.
  • 2 0
 I like watching XC racing on tv but only if it is a difficult course.
  • 1 0
 Women's xc racing is my now favorite sport to watch. Not because the girls are hot and wearing spandex but because they are amazing athletes. also the rivalry between Jolanda Neff and Kate Courtney is better than any other sports rivalry. But i must admit it was Rob Warners Red Bull Interview with Emily Batty that got me interested in the first place. You can watch all the 2019 season on Red Bull Tv. Good Stuff!
  • 1 0
 @Berns00: Women's XC and CX racing is currently the most exciting to watch. The men seem to just go off at 100% until people start dropping off. But there seems to be much more back and forth, and strategy, in women's racing.
  • 5 3
 Lycra for the win!
  • 1 0
 People don't forget about the GRIM DONUT..
  • 4 0
 Grim what now?
  • 1 0
 @mikelevy: you been watching too many Cam McCaul videos with that voice check!!
  • 1 0
 Can you guys do an editor version
  • 1 0
 Can you guys do an EWS version?
  • 5 5
 More importantly, what's the deal with racing?

The vast majority of people don't race and could care less.
  • 3 0
 How much less?
  • 3 6
 @mikelevy - Super Mario/ Alice in Wonderland magnifying, shrinking effect is achieved via consuming tea/soup made of Amanita Muscaria (Fly agaric) not some nutbar - don't miss them this autumn when Down Countrying. Feeling like a giant when climbing up a hill is bloody special.
  • 1 0
 (wanna be) sponsored by Specialized.
  • 6 0
 I'm sponsored by Pinkbike, though Wink
  • 1 0
 Maybe PB wants to be sponsored by specialezed?
  • 2 0
 i'm getting old
  • 1 0
 Sorry Mike, literally fell asleep!
  • 1 0
 Levy describes xc like someone who only rides park.
  • 10 0
 I only ride XC in the park.
  • 1 0
 just a pedalhead, thats all i am
  • 6 5
 XC is the men's figure skating DH is ice hockey.
  • 1 3
 never a truer word.
  • 1 0
 That analogy remains true (in general) if you are a guy looking for a girlfriend.
  • 2 0
 Nah, more like Speed Skating.
  • 1 0
 Doug Dorsey did hockey and figure skating in "The Cutting Edge." I bet that dude could ride the wheels off any bike he wanted.
  • 3 0
 Incorrect.
  • 7 0
 Nino Schurter and Jolanda Neff might look like a figure skating duo but either of them could probably kick our ass on a DH course and that's with them riding their bikes up and us taking the lift.
  • 5 0
 @Berns00: Having ridden with Nino, as well as other XC pros, you're not wrong. Not all of them are shredders on the descents, of course, but some of them would make the local 6" crew feel waaaay over-gunned.
  • 1 0
 I want what @mikelevy is smoking
  • 1 0
 High on life, bro
  • 1 0
 Is mike's nose part of the "costume" or have a bit of an off?
  • 1 0
 Breath-Rite strips so I'm at my most efficient while filming Wink
  • 1 0
 i think its called cycling . a whole different game
  • 2 0
 Who spotted Gary Fisher?
  • 1 0
 Yes! Pretty funny that the picture they chose for cyclocross is one of the pioneers of mountain biking
  • 1 0
 Fun vid
  • 1 4
 Is pink bike pool already been dumed down to the level that this actually is enjoyable?
  • 7 0
 Yes
  • 2 0
 @mikelevy: Please do this for Enduro and Downhill. I'd like to hear MIke's explanation that includes Palmer's influence on how downhillers still dress today.
  • 1 1
 @airtym: Is flannel still in? Asking for a friend Smile
  • 1 0
 @airtym: Yup, they'll happen in the future Smile
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