Fat-tire Femmes: One of the best MTB races in the region is just around the corner…and in our back-yard. The 18th annual Bump N’ Grind, put on by our brother club, Birmingham Urban Mountain Pedalers (BUMP), will be coming to Oak Mountain State Park on June 1-3, 2012.
If the idea of a mountain bike race makes you think of the Mountain Dew commercials that run in between airings of hucksters on the X Games, then you may be as mistaken as I was just two years ago. When I actually SAW one, I realized it wasn’t nearly as gnarly as I’d presumed.
If you’re an intermediate rider who can tackle Johnson’s Mountain, Foreplay, Mr. Toad’s, Rattlesnake Ridge, and the Lake Trail, then you can do this race. Really. It’s a matter of entering the right category and race (more on that below) and knowing what to expect (that’s where MC3 can help).
First, a quick MTB Racing 101 glossary:
Cross-country (aka “XC”): A cross-country race is held on a course with varied terrain. Which is to say, a mix of uphill, downhill, and level riding. At Bump N’ Grind (BNG for short) the cross-country race is held on Oak Mountain’s red trail loop, which incorporates various climbs, technical areas, and downhill runs. Depending on the category the race distance will range from 8.75 miles (Category 3 / Beginner) to 19 miles (Cat 2 / Intermediate) to 26 miles (Cat 1 Women / Expert).
Short Track Cross-country: A short, intense, and exciting event to watch and/or race. At BNG, this race course will be approximately a 1-mile loop. Racers will ride for 20-23 minutes. The rider with the most laps wins.
Downhill: A so-called “gravity” event, downhill (DH) racing is a time trial. That means riders start individually and race the clock, instead of starting as a group and having to pass, or get passed, on the trail. Racers start at intervals that can vary from 30 seconds to three minutes, depending on the stage of the competition. The rider with the fastest time wins. As the name implies, DH races are held in steep, downhill terrain, resulting in higher speed than in cross-country racing. The terrain is also significantly rougher than in cross-country racing. Bikes for this style race are typically designed with long travel suspension — plush, squishy shocks — and hydraulic disc brakes. At BNG, the DH will be held on the Lightning trail (the flow trail), which is 95% downhill, though there is one small portion that will require some pedaling. This is a race of speed and (optional) adrenaline-pumping air.
Super D: A a blend of cross-country and downhill, Super D (SD) is held on a course that is mostly downhill, but on trails similar to the downhill segment of a cross-country race (not as rough and “chunky” as a traditional downhill race). The course also includes short (100–500m) uphill sections. These uphills make the use of DH bicycles (which have more suspension, but are heavier) difficult, so most riders use cross-country or trail bikes. Depending on the trail and race venue, the start may either be seeded (riders start in short intervals), or Le Mans mass start (riders run to their bikes, timing is started when the riders start running). At BNG this race format will be very similar to the description above with approximately 2 miles of mostly downhill.
Thinking about it, but not sure? Let us help. Email kimhcross (at) yahoo (dot) com with any questions. I we have interest (and can find a date that works), we’ll put on a mini-clinic on racing, including how to pass (or be passed) safely, and what to expect on race day. Hope to see you out there!