Mountain Bike (MTB)
The National High Performance Mountain Bike program consists of Cross Country and Down Hill/4X sections. The National Cross Country Program is managed by Head Coach www.cycling.org.au/default.aspNeil Ross and has extensive experience in the respective disciplines as both athletes and as elite coaches.
The National Mountain Bike program is primarily funded by the Australian Sports Commission to prepare athletes and deliver results at the World Championships, World Cups, Commonwealth Games and Olympic Games. The National program has a well established junior program feeding the elite senior teams.
2009 MTB World Cup
MTB is the abbreviation of Mountain Bike (in French this is VTT for Velo Tout Terrain). Mountain bikes have been a relatively recent development in cycling with the first true multi-geared off-road specific bicycles being developed in northern California during the late 1970’s and early 1980’s.
By the mid-1980’s, mountain bikes were appearing in bicycle shops around the world. Mountain bike races started up simultaneously in many countries almost immediately. The first MTB World Championships were held in Durangoin Colorado USA in 1990. At the first MTB World Championships, there were two events - Cross Country (XC) and Down Hill (D H).
Given the very short history of the MTB and MTB racing, it can appear to be an anachronism to speak of the modern era of mountain biking. However, it is a fact that history will observe in future years that the development of this bicycle and the sport in which it is used has moved further in the 16 years since the first MTB world Championships than any of the other cycling disciplines have moved in the last 100 years. In the 16 years since 1990, MTB XC racing has become an Olympic Sport with MTB XC events contested at the last four Olympic Games (1996 – Atlanta, 2000 – Sydney, 2004 – Athens and 2008 - Beijing).
Since the inaugural MTB World Championships in 1990 where two disciplines were contested (XC and DH), there are now annual World Championships in MTB for five distinct disciplines.
Cross Country events have expanded to three types; Olympic Cross Country (OXC), Marathon Cross Country (MXC) and the MTB 24-hour event.
In the ‘Gravity’ side of the sport there are now two events, those being the traditional Down Hill and the shorter and more spectator oriented Four Cross (4X).
Beyond these five disciplines, there are many event variations, especially for the XC racers, such as 6-hour, 8-hour, 12-hour, MTB stage races and Short Track XC events to name but a few.
In 1990, it was not unusual for a MTB athlete to compete in both XC and DH events (on the same bike)! That bike might have been a 15-speed (18 if the rider had the very latest ‘trick’ gearing). Front suspension was a new and unproven innovation and certainly only in use by a minority of professionally sponsored riders.
Development and specialisation in the equipment used in all disciplines of MTB racing has been incredibly rapid. The MTB bikes in current use bear a resemblance only in shape to the early machines. The modern bikes are lighter, stronger and more technically advanced in every respect; for example, a typical modern XC bike will have 27 gears, hydraulic disc brakes, highly advanced front suspension and in many cases rear suspension as well, tubeless tyres and much more. A modern DH bike is almost beyond description for the developments and variations of design and equipment in use in that discipline.
The major MTB disciplines now are contested by specialists. Exchange between the Gravity (DH) and XC aspects of the sport are rare even at a local racing level. With specialisation, performance and skill levels have dramatically increased. MTB racing in all disciplines is an incredibly modern and exciting sport. Competing in any MTB discipline is challenging and rewarding with something for everyone. Mass participation MTB events around the world are regularly attracting thousands of participants.