Downhill mountain biking is a genre of mountain biking practised on steep, rough terrain that often features jumps, drops, rock gardens and other obstacles.
Downhill bikes are heavier and stronger than other mountain bikes and feature front and rear suspension with over 8 inches (200mm) of travel, to glide quickly over rocks and tree roots. Big brakes for reigning in the fast speed achieved and high gearing as they do not even pretend to be ridden up a hill.
Depending on the format, riders have a single or double attempt to reach the finish line as fast as possible, while remaining between the two tapes designating the course. Riders must choose their line by compromising between the shortest possible line and the line that can be travelled at the highest speed. If a rider leaves the course by crossing or breaking the tape they must return to the course at the point of exit, unless they do not gain a time advantage from crossing the tape, in which case they can continue with their run. Riders start at intervals, often seeded from slowest to fastest, and courses typically take two to five minutes to complete with winning margins often being less than a second. Riders are timed with equipment similar to that used in downhill skiing.
The team goal is to field top riders who race at a high level to compete at the Inter Service Championship and the British Cycling National Downhill Series. We select an A team to compete based on performances at our annual Welsh training camp, Ex Mountain Mayhem, from the RN Development team and the previous year’s race results. Members are given the opportunity to race most DH races from around the country each year, a limited number of these races are given extra consideration if entered. The team selected have the chance to go on an overseas training camp in preparation for the Inter Services. All this training culminated in the RNRM being crowned Champions in 2018. Our mission is to try and retain this title.
A few pointers...
- Gear is important, make sure you have:
- Full face helmet, knee pads, elbow pads, full jersey with armour, small hydration pack, mountain bike specific shorts with padded lining, eye protection and full finger gloves.
- Positioning your body correctly when downhill biking is extremely important. If you’re too far forward – over the handlebars you will go!
- With downhill biking, you’re not only using the brakes to slow down – you’re using them to take corners properly and prepare for jumps and obstacles.
- Know your limits and try not to hesitate when you reach turns, obstacles or jumps.
- Lower your centre of mass, soften your elbows and knees, look ahead, balance your bodyweight, control your braking.