Here is an explanation for the wiser members of our readership of what the contemporary biking terms are all about and how they are practiced. For this I am indebted to the Independent who recently produced an article called ‘The Complete Guide to Mountain Biking’.
After each of the descriptions of the three fashions of mountain biking: XC, freeride or downhill I have added a brief video of how the art should be practiced.
XC or cross country: involves pedalling up and down hills and through forests, double-track farm lanes and bridleways – all of which are known as “trails” within the mountain-biking fraternity. XC riding is the equivalent of a nice, long walk, and many trips are possible on an “ordinary” bike.
Thanks to iamfreetofly for the video – as you will see it is not as easy as you might think.
Freeride or freestyle riding: involves cycling over purpose-built jumps and obstacles – often in a setting no larger than a few acres – repetitively testing one’s nerve, skill and cartilage. For those old enough to remember Kick Start with Peter Purves, this is the motor-less version.
Thanks to watanidiot for the video, which does also include some downhill.
Downhill riding: perhaps the most exhilarating version of the sport, in which mountain bikers use gravity to propel themselves through forests, down hillsides and along rock-, root- and obstacle-strewn trails. It sounds dangerous, but it is no more so than skiing or snowboarding, and offers similar thrills: fantastic views and fast action.
Thanks to Bistecot for the video.
So as you can see there is plenty of room for choice in terms of which form of biking you practice. Each form has its own bespoke and specialised bike for when you become an expert. In the meantime a good all round mountain bike should be able to handle most of the obstacles and terrrain that you put in its way.