Categories: PROFESSIONAL CYCLING

Mountain Biking – A Fad or Actual Sport

Mountain biking has been an up and coming sport for a while now. It is rather attractive to many people as cyclists going down a very steep hill and onto a ramp only to jump and do flips and twists in the air tends to be very pleasant for the eyes.

This sport, even if it is in its early stages already has a representative at the Olympic Games, in the form of Cross Country racing. This gets mountain biking even more attention. While it used to be a sport for relatively rich kids, high on adrenaline, now it’s seen as a respectable one, which has many competitions and a type of race at the Olympics.

Mountain Bike Origins

Believe it or not, the mountain bikes originated in the 1800s, in the early part of the century. Buffalo Soldiers converted some of their normal bicycles to mountain bicycles so that they can go on expeditions. The Swiss army had a bike regiment in 1891.

The first use of the term mountain bicycle was in 1966, by D. Gwynn. He was a member of The Rough Stuff Fellowship, a team of off road-cyclists. The term was created by Gwynn for the bicycle he had created, its matching its purpose.

Since there were no actual mountain bikes during the 1970s, riders from California, Colorado and Cupertino adapted some of the existing bicycles for the hazards and roughness of the off road world. The earliest bikes which resemble the modern mountain bikes came from frames of a company called Schwinn. Their bicycle, Excelsior, was used due to its adequate shape.

In the late 70s, Tom Ritchey, a welder who used to build frames, developed mountain bike frames. They were based on road bike frames, yet were thicker, bigger and allowed more room for bigger tires.

These frames were customized by Gary Fischer and Charlie Kelly and sold through their company, which was later acquired by Trek.

Later on, mountain biking was seen as a fad, rather than an actual sport to be and many manufacturers shied away from building mountain bikes. The 21st century saw a rise of mountain bikes, the creation of 29ers and different types of mountain bikes.

Mountain Biking Today

Mountain biking has its own world of championships and races. Even though it wasn’t a popular sport in the 1990s as it is today, the first UCI World Championship race took place in 1990. The race types were cross country and downhill for men and women.

Later, as the years went by, more types were introduced, such as four-cross, trials, team relay and even for a brief period of two years, dual riding.

There are more race types out there, like dirt jumping. This is a very popular type of race which is similar to motocross races. Cyclists are required to jump over mounds of dirt, performing tricks in the air. The most important thing is the landing, so simpler and stiffer bicycles are used for this type of race.

Street or Urban races see people using smaller bicycles, called BMX bicycles, where people perform tricks riding over obstacles. Style and acrobatics are emphasized, rather than speed.

Mountain biking is very popular today and has races which vary from marathons to tricks and acrobatics only. Do know that if you plan on getting into mountain biking, you are surely to have a lot of fun.