Though still a relatively new sport, mountain biking is doing great when it comes to popularity. The first recorded use of bicycles on mountain terrain was in the 1800s by the buffalo soldiers, who rode a distance of 500 miles on various terrain.
Nowadays, bikes are far lighter, stronger, and more durable, making it easier to negotiate even the most challenging terrains on two wheels. Here are some interesting facts about mountain biking for any adrenaline or adventure-seeker.
Mountain Biking is Rich in History
Nowadays, mountain bikes are used for recreational activities. However, that was not the case in the 1800s when mountain biking was first introduced. Off Road-style bikes, which were much heavier and slower than the present ones, were used in transportation over rough terrain. A perfect example is the buffalo soldiers who, in 1896, rode from Montana to Yellowstone.
Mountain Biking as a Sport
Mountain biking became a popular sport in the early 1970s. The riders used outdated, single-speed balloon tire bicycles to cycle down the rough hillsides of Northern California, US. These bikes were referred to as “klunkers” or “ballooners.”
The Sport Started as Only a Downhill Affair
The sport started as a one-directional affair because bikers were meant only to go downhill. The earlier bikes were not modified well enough to cruise uphill. The riders had to take their bikes up the hill via an automobile from where they could ride them downhill. The modern bikes, however, have been customized to accommodate both uphill and downhill cruises.
Mountain Bikes Come in Several Types
Mountain bikes come in different types from which you can choose. Most of these differ in their purposes and the terrain they are designed for. Some of the standard mountain bikes are;
- Enduro bikes- they are designed for rough terrains. They have a slacker headtube angle and a longer wheelbase to ensure stability.
- Cross-country bikes – cross country bikes are lightweight bikes that are ideal for cross-country racing. They weigh about 7.5 to 12.5 kilograms.
- Trail bikes- trail bikes are mainly designed for different terrain. Their rear suspension ranges from 120mm – 160mm of travel.
The Sport Was First Included in the Olympics in 1996 With Only Two Categories
Even after becoming popular in the early 1970s, mountain biking was included at the Olympics games in 1996. The first mountain biking event happened in Atlanta, U.S.A.
Only two categories for mountain biking were held then; the men’s cross country and the women’s cross country, with Bart Brentjens bagging the men’s category and Paola Pezzo bagging the women’s category.
Age is Just a Number for Mountain Bikers
Like any other sport, many people can also pick mountain biking as a hobby. This does not depend on the age of a person. Kids from three years to adults of even eighty years can participate in this adventure-seeking sport.
Sam Hill, the youngest rider to ever win a mountain biking world championship, did it at 16 years. Others like Fred Schmid have continued winning national championships well into their eighties.
Eric Barone Boasts the Highest Speed Ever Attained From Mountain Biking.
The 56-year-old Eric Barone, who also happens to be Sylvester Stallone’s stuntman, currently holds the fastest downhill record.
In 2017, Barone broke his own record by achieving 141 miles per hour while cruising downhill in the French alps. Previously, he attained a record speed of 138 miles per hour, making him the fastest mountain biking title holder. He used his own customized bike to ensure safety by adjusting the suspensions and brake system.
Other mountain bikes, specifically e-bikes, can attain a speed of 40 miles per hour. You, however, need proper training to achieve such speeds.
Most Mountain Bikers are Men
According to a recent survey, mountain biking is more favorable to men than to females. Also, the survey shows that 40% of male bikers are professionals compared to only 20% of women who make it to the pro level. Though it is a popular sport, the ratio of females to males in mountain biking currently stands at 2:1.
The Farthest Distance on a Mountain Bike, According to the Guinness Book of Records
Well, What is the farthest distance traveled by a mountain biker on a mountain bike? On October 11, 2015, Adrian Ellul cycled his mountain bike for more than 1000 kilometers in 48 hours. Inclusive of breaks, it is estimated that he traveled at an average speed of 13 miles an hour. Such a tour can sound tough even for the most experienced of riders.
The Most Expensive Mountain Bike
Like many other items, mountain bikes can be a collector’s favorite cup of coffee. The 24k gold mountain bike currently holds the most expensive bike in the world, going for one million USD! The bike is covered with 24 karats of pure gold, with its logo embellished with almost six hundred black diamonds and 500 golden sapphires.
The bike also comes with a gold-plated water bottle.
The Tour Divide Biking Race; The World’s Longest Race
For a person who appreciates nature and enjoys long rides, you probably heard of the Tour Divide biking race. Riders get to enjoy the 2,700-mile-long route filled with different beautiful sceneries. The trail stretches from Canada to Mexico.
Mountain Biking is One of the Best Ways to Work Out
Mountain biking involves riding over long, difficult stretches. Summiting these challenges is much more fulfilling than a gym membership. Biking is great for your overall health as it helps improve several areas of your life including fitness, cardiovascular, and psychological.
Cycling requires your hand-eye coordination and ensures perfect mind-body balance. The sport brings many people with diverse backgrounds together, allowing you to interact with different individuals and share ideas.
Mountain biking has hundreds of interesting facts, some of which have not been listed above. However, looking at the above facts, you can guarantee that there is more to mountain biking than you probably know. Mountain biking is an environmentally friendly sport that will help you keep fit and improve your overall health. So saddle up, and let’s go riding!