Photo from Red Trail Racing flyer. Slick or knobby tires are ok 🙂

This weekend we got a chance to attend the Athens Twilight Criterium and even though there weren’t any mountain bikes around we still had a blast. Watching those guys and girls take 90-degree turns at high speed will get anyone’s adrenaline pumping! There were thousands of cheering spectators lining the inside and outside of the 1-km downtown course which was pretty impressive, especially given cycling’s low profile in US sports culture.

Anyway, that got me thinking about mountain biking (which tends to happen at least a few times a day 🙂 ) and how tough it is to put on a spectator-friendly mountain bike race. That is, unless you invent an urban MTB criterium like Red Trail Racing has done.

Just two weekends ago Red Trail Racing held a mountain bike criterium in downtown Lakeland, FL that sounded like a blast. The circuit course went up 5 levels of a parking garage (that’s 50+ feet of climbing for those keeping track), back to street level, then down the steps outside City Hall before more stairs and a sidewalk climb back to the start. The main event was a competition to see who could complete the most laps in 45 minutes (each lap took 5-6 minutes). Sorta like a short track race but with technical obstacles and urban flavor. There was also a 2-cross trials competition with ramps and plenty of big air.

Don’t get me wrong, I love mountain biking in the woods and in the backcountry but I’m also excited to see mountain biking becoming more accessible as urban courses and events spring up. Anyone else up for putting on an urban MTB crit in their town?

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