2022 XCO Timetable:
09.00 Registration opens / Course open for practice
10.30 Race 1: Super Vet / Grand Vet / Youth / Juvenile / Fun Male. All Female Categories
13.00 Race 2: Under 8’s (Youth E)
13.20 Race 3: Under 10’s (Youth D)
13.40 Race 4: Under 12’s (Youth C)
15.00 Race 5: Elite / Expert / Sport / Veteran / Junior / Open Male Categories
Cross-Country ‘XCO’ races are held over multiple laps of an undulating circuit and have evolved massively in recent years: Races are shorter and more intense, with power and technical skill now as important as fitness to be successful. Over the course of the series you should expect everything from blazing fast descents and elevated boardwalk, to technical singletrack and lung searing climbs, giving everyone the chance to shine. While XCO races are ‘mass start’, each category has it’s own start, with gridding based on series standings.
- Under 8: Until 31st December of year in which 8th Birthday falls
- Under 10: From 1st Jan of year in which 9th Birthday falls to 31st December of year in which 10th Birthday falls
- Under 12: From 1st Jan of year in which 11th Birthday falls to 31st December of year in which 12th Birthday falls
- Juvenile (13-14) 2 lap male / 2 lap female
- Youth (15-16) 3 laps male / 3 laps female
- Junior (17-18) 4 laps male / 3 laps female
- Sport (19+) 4 laps male /3 laps female
- Veterans (40-49) 4 laps male / 3 laps female
- Grand Vets (50+) 4 laps male / 3 laps female
- Super Vets (60+) 3 laps male / 3 laps female
- Fun (17+) 2 laps male / 2 laps female
- Open (17+) 3 laps male / 3 laps female
- Expert (19+ licence only) 5 laps male / 4 laps female
- Elite (19+ licence only) 5 laps male / 4 laps female
Elite, Expert, Sport, Open and Fun are ‘ability’ categories that historically subdivided senior riders aged between 19 and 39.
Fun is for newcomers to MTB racing, wanting to experience XC racing and learn the ropes, and also those looking for a more chilled race. Open is the stepping stone between Fun and the other categories. Sport is in effect the ‘senior’ category for riders aged 19-39. Elite and Expert are only open to riders with a current British Cycling race licence that states Expert or Elite beside the MTB XC discipline.
Cross-country racing is about racing – it’s not a time trial. It’s about overtaking and being overtaken, trying to keep up with someone else’s pace and them with yours. It’s tactical – different people have different skill sets. Do you limit your losses on the climbs and make time gains on the downhills, or the other way round? As well as using your practise lap to work out what is the fastest line for you through any given section of trail, look for where you could go off the ‘racing line’ to overtake and decide where you’ll be able to ease up and swig a mouthful of drink. It is courteous to warn the rider in front if you’re going to pass them and on what side. The impetus is on you to do so safely – this is a non contact sport, treat others as you’d want them to treat you.
How long is a lap?
In line with UCI / BC regulations, lap length for XCO is limited to 6km and where possible forms a cloverleaf shape, giving spectators multiple viewing opportunities. Just as important is the target lap time for the leading riders allowing us to hit the optimum winning time, so a hilly course will be shorter than a flatter course to ensure the lap times are similar.
How can I get involved?
Each round of the Midlands Mtb series is organised by a different local club / team. If you’d like to give something back to the sport then get in touch! These races are for you – are run by riders like you – and can’t happen without you!
What time should I arrive?
Give yourself enough time to sign on at registration and collect your number board. You can only pre-ride the course once your number board is attached to your bike and at the designated times (09.00-10.30, 12.00-13.00 and 14.00-15.00). Allow for faff time and remember you’ll need to bring your own water onto site. Someone always forgets their shoes/helmet/gloves, try to avoid it being you making that mistake… Shops in the arena will have most of the spares you’ll need to save the day in case it is!
Will there be any camping available?
This varies for each venue. Keep an eye on the news section for up to date info. Even if there’s no camping available at the venue there will be sites nearby.
It’s my first time, what can I expect?
Cross country mtb racing is about finding out who is the quickest from point A to point B. It’s about pushing yourself harder than you ever could in training, it’s about going faster than you ever could on your own and it’s about having fun! “You can’t win the race on your first lap, but you can lose it” Sage advice… try and save something for the last lap! You’ll start at the same time as everyone else in your category, so get warmed up and ready for your heart rate to go from 60 to 180 bpm in the blink of an eye as you sprint off into the distance!
How long will my race last?
The faster you go, the quicker you’ll finish… But on average 90 mins. If you arrive to the race fresh, rested and ready to go your body will have enough glycogen stored away for 1hrs riding. This means most people will need to take on energy of some sort (hence the wide array of energy drinks, gels, bars etc) during the race to get them to the finish. 1 litre of water equals 1 kilogram – that’s a fair amount of extra weight to carry around, so many racers bring along somebody to pass up water bottles etc to them each lap from the feed zone. A hydration pack is another option, but not often seen. Remember this ain’t no Sportive – people won’t be stopping at the feed zone for a slice of cake, a banana and a chat! Same goes for pee stops…
What should I wear?
We’ve had elite riders win races in baggy shorts, so whatever you’re comfortable riding in! Bring a selection of kit with you, at the very least knee / arm warmers and a gilet as this is the UK! Don’t forget some clean kit for the podium too 😉
Do I need a licence to race?
A race licence is not compulsory, except for Elite and Expert categories (where your current British Cycling licence states Elite or Expert beside the discipline MTB XC). More info can be found here.
Cross-Country Team Relay races see 4 riders (team composition to have minimum 1 female, maximum 1 Elite/Expert male) competing in relay, each doing 1 lap on the Under 12’s course before passing the baton onto the next rider. Do you start with your fastest rider, or save them for last? It’s all about tactics and working together as a team! Relay races are held at the Regional Champs and Series Finale.