03 May 2018

Get on your bike with the Welsh MTB Cross-country Series

The MTB Cross-country Series recently got underway at Pembrey Country Park in Carmarthenshire, kicking off a round of races that continues through the spring and summer. Welsh Cycling’s Lyn Ryland gives a few reasons why you should be excited.

Off-road action at the MTB XC Series

Off-road action at the MTB XC Series

 by Huw Fairclough Photography

Wales is the perfect place for amazing XC riding

“We live in a beautiful part of the world that has everything you need for amazing off-road cycling. The terrain and the countryside here in Wales are ideal for exciting and challenging races, so we’re doing all we can to promote the sport. There is the perception that Off-Road is the underdog compared to track and road cycling, so I’m on a bit of a mission to change that.”

The race is only part of the story

“For me, the aim is to create an event rather than just a race. Sometimes competitions can just be a few people turning up, racing and then packing up and going home. We’re trying to make these events that bit more involving and turn them into a real day out for both racers and spectators. I went to the first event as the race organiser as I wanted to make sure things started off in the right way. I worked hard on the event village and got the local college in to help with volunteering and marshalling. We got in caterers and a beer bus which served great locally sourced produce and really contributed to the atmosphere of the day. We also had a commentator and music playing, all of which made the competition feel special. It’s all part of a long-term plan to grow the series and the discipline by creating a consistent feel and format across the events. We want to build a genuine identity, so that whether you come to round one or round four, you’ll see that they were all part of the same series.”

Young riders at the MTB XC Series

Young riders get underway at the MTB XC Series

 by Huw Fairclough Photography

It’s an event that’s open to all ages

“One of the best things about the first event was how many mums and dads were registering to race alongside their kids. There was a real family feel which we’re keen to promote. We want families to come and get involved and have a great day out. The kids’ races start at under-6. Seeing those is the just the best thing. These kids are tiny, but they are fierce. There are also 8, 10 and 12-year old brackets. After that the various categories get a bit more complicated, going all the way up to super veteran. It can be a bit challenging to fully understand, but it basically means that there’s a competition for just about every age of rider." 

You don’t need to be an experienced rider to take part

“We’ve also got a fun men and women’s category which is aimed at people who have never taken part in an event like this before. We had a really good number of riders in the fun women’s category which was exciting as it shows that we’re starting to get rid of some of those barriers and that women are thinking this is something they can have a go at. We hope that brings more people into the sport who are going to stay with us as they get more experienced.”

A young competitor at the first round of the 2018 MTB XC Series

A young competitor at the first round of the 2018 MTB XC Series

 by Huw Fairclough Photography

There’s plenty of time to get involved

“Even though we’ve already had our first event, we have four more meetings coming up in the next few months. On 20 May we’re at Aberystwyth for round two, which includes the Welsh Championships and should be a really exciting day. After that we’re on at Crickhowell on 3 June and Builth Wells on 17 June, before finishing up at Llandegla on 8 July. We’ve tried to take the competition all over Wales so that everyone has a chance to see what’s going on."

It’s a labour of love

“I’m passionate about promoting XC cycling here in Wales, so I have big hopes for this year’s series. We’re really lucky to have passionate and dedicated cycle clubs and local organisers that work with us to put these races on, plus an amazing team of Commissaires who assess and officiate at every event. The only downside for me is that I’m seven months pregnant so I’m not going to be able to see the end of the of the series. I’m going to try and make it to the race in Builth Wells, which is a day before my due date. I’ve told the organisers that it’ll be fine because the guys at St John’s Ambulance have delivered babies before.”

If you want to find out more about the 2018 Welsh XC Series or enter the competition yourself, head to the Welsh Cycling website for details.