Cross Country Cycling

What is Cross-Country Cycling?

Cross-country or XC cycling is a type of mountain biking and the type of XC is defined by the type of terrain.  XC courses are often a combination of forest paths, single-track paths, smooth fire roads as well as paved paths.  There are different types of XC cycling, which include Cross-Country Eliminator (XCE), Cross-Country Olympic (XCO, Cross-Country Marathon (XCM), Gravity Downhill and Enduro Racing.  The XCO is a race where competitors race laps around a circuit.  XC cycling was first introduced into the Olympics in 1996.

Over the last few years it has been thought that the terrain was not challenging enough, as XC is actually more about physical power and not so much about technical ability.  Today, the paths include grade 3 and 4 trails that have rocky sections and sheer drops and sharp descents, which are introduced to challenge riders.  These new challenging circuits have also been included in the XC Summer Olympics and are as exciting as Geelong Cup betting.

The XC Bikes

XC bikes are usually very light ranging between 7 and 16 kilograms.  Most XC bikes will have a suspension fork in both the front and rear.  The majority of XC bikes have around 100 millimetres of suspension travel, but some riders favour 125 to 150 millimetres of travel time.  The frame of a XC bike means that the rider is in an upright position, which is not the case with a normal road bicycle, but is less than that of a downhill bike.  Helmets are an important for all types of mountain biking.  Most XC riders do not wear the full-face helmets or full body protection that most downhill riders use.  XC riders have a tendency to get injured more than road cyclists, but the injuries are usually not serious. XC bicycles have knobby tyres that give riders extra traction, which is important for challenging tracks and terrain.

How Does Cross-Country Work?

XC races range from between 30 to 24 hours and the longer races are usually divided into stages so often races may last a few days.  These races can either be point A to point B races or based on laps.  Short-track XC has many shorter laps and is great for spectators to watch.  XC is not like downhill races that are managed using a time trial format.  Cross-country races usually begin with a mass or staggered start and riders are released in various groups depending on ability or age or both.  XC races that have large numbers of competitors will use the Le Mans (races have to run to their bikes)  start.

Types of Cross-Country

The Cross-Country Eliminator (XCE) – a XC race where the last rider or the last two over the finish line are eliminated.

Cross-Country Olympic (XCO) – laps done on a short circuit.

Cross Country Marathon (XCM) – usually between 65 and 100 kilometres.  It has become popular over the last few years, as this type of XC is open to everyone as well as beginners.  For many people completing the race is a great achievement.