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What is XC/ Trail Mountain Biking?

What is XC Trail Mountain Biking?

Cross Country (XC)/ Trail Mountain Biking is a competitive Olympic biking sport that was established in 1996. It is the only official mountain biking event in the Olympics.

XC Mountain Biking focuses on two things, distance, and endurance. The winner is the fastest biker to make it through the varying terrain in the shortest time. The terrain you ride could range from fire trail roads to narrow, single tracks that are rather rocky. This will test your endurance and bike control. Due to the importance of stability, cross country/ trail biking is considered one of the less extreme biking sports.

How Does XC/ Trail Biking Compare to Downhill and Enduro?

Downhill biking, Enduro and XC (Trail) mountain biking are all competitive. The competitor who completes the course in the fastest time is the winner.

All three formats will test your endurance, stability, and balance, by putting you through challenging terrain.

Downhill biking is considered the most extreme of the three race formats. This is due to the fact that steep downhill segments, as well as rocky and root-filled terrain, are common. Participants need to accelerate fast while riding downhill, placing them at higher risk of injury than in the other two race formats. However, a typical downhill course only lasts for a few minutes.

Enduro is a format where only downhill segments are timed. Riders should still complete uphill portions, which are not timed. Many enduro competitions take place over more than one day, so while they are less technically-demanding than downhill biking, endurance is a more important aspect compared to the downhill format. XC trail biking is considered more challenging than Enduro in testing riders’ fitness levels, but less technical.


What Are Some Popular Trails for XC Mountain Biking?

South Boundary, Taos, New Mexico.

Most of the terrain in Taos New Mexico that’s suitable for XC/ Trail Mountain Biking has tight and loamy roads, perfect for intermediate or advanced mountain bikers.

The Mckenzie River Trail, Eugene, Oregon.

A trail that is either challenging or treacherous for beginners and very enjoyable for an expert-level XC mountain biker. With over 26 miles of single-track located within beautiful environs, it would be easy to place this trail in your Top 10!

Poison Spider Mesa Trail, Moab, Utah

This professional XC mountain biking trail measures 13 miles long with an elevation of over 1000 feet. It’s a mountain bike trail full of sandy areas that requires a lot of muscle strength to push through.

Seasoned riders recommend that you take plenty of fresh water for the trip because there aren’t any mountain springs or oases along the way.

What are Some Popular XC Trail Mountain Biking Races?

True Grit Epic-

True Grit Epic is located at St. George, Utah. It’s among the most popular racing competition. It delivers in both technical terrain and gives people a tough time climbing. This type of terrain will punish you badly if you are not skilled enough to endure the sand washes and steep climbs.

Keyesville Classic-

This is among the oldest cross country biking races in California, a mixture of both fire roads and continuous singletrack. The competition has something to offer for everyone, from Cross Country, Short Track, and Super D, EVEN a children’s biking race!

Iceman Cometh Challenge-

This Biking competition takes place every year on the first Saturday of November. It is located in Traverse City, Michigan. The terrain features dirt roads, abandoned railroads and double track that will take you through the Pere Marquette State Forest. With over 5000 riders from all over the USA, this is a very large biking race.

What is XC Trail Mountain Biking?

Tips for Beginner XC Trail Mountain Bikers


  1. Study about the course you wish to traverse! There are many tracks that target different levels of skill for bikers. It’s also essential to know how large the map is and how many laps you have to endure. XC mountain bikers would generally advise you to give the track a pre-lap if possible to get a good feel of the map’s layout. If that’s not possible, walking around should be the next available option. You should also ask for technical services and read up about the track beforehand to gain a better insight.
  2. Always check your bike to make sure it’s in working condition. Your bike should be clean, the tires fully inflated, and all the bolts should be tightened. You can never be too safe when it comes to biking over long distances.
  3. Most beginners feel nervous before the race and get into the mindset that XC trail mountain biking is a race of speed. Conversely, it’s always a race of endurance, so pace yourself like in a marathon.

Final Comments

XC Trail Mountain Biking is a sport that focuses not on speed but endurance. You should prioritize practice, familiarize yourself with the trail and undergo physical conditioning.

Needless to say, it’s also imperative that you stay safe throughout all practice sessions and races. Never go riding alone on difficult trails, and always make sure someone else knows what you are doing and can call for help if you go missing.


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