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 SpringsEpisode #3 - What's the Deal with Chains?