Monday, 21 February 2011

Changing the Rules

Another day spent riding around Sherwood Pines trying to find any tracks even vaguely interesting enough to make up a mountain bike course of a suitable standard for elite riders and a couple of Olympians. It hasn't been easy. The selection of trails at Sherwood is limited at the best of times and the parts of the Kitcheners trail I have actually ridden have been so uninspiring I've never bothered to do the whole thing.

The task was made harder by new UCI rules stating cross-country mountain bike courses should now be 4-6km long. Sorry, that's not a mountain bike course, it's a cyclo-cross course through a few more trees. Apparently, it's to make mountain biking more exciting and television friendly, but as the British National XC Series hasn't been televised for over a decade, I can hardly see BBC sport suddenly turning up because we've knocked a couple of kilometres off the course.

And as for more exciting, they've obviously never been to a BMBS venue. Let's face it England is hardly blessed with rugged, mountainous terrain so we always make the best of what we have in difficult circumstances. You can probably make a fantastically hard, testing, technical 5km course in the Alps - just send the riders around the alpine meadow, up the side of the mountain and back down the near-vertical, rocky descent. Job done. Not quite the case in Sherwood Forest, or Berkshire, or Plymouth. Even the hugely expensive Dalby World Cup course is 500m too long now!

So with shorter courses (though all of the BMBS courses will probably be pushing the 6km limit, a 4km course would barely get us out of the car park at most venues) and shorter race durations, this could be an interesting year for British Cross-Country Mountain Biking. Watch this space!

No comments: