SHORT TRACK MTB RACING
“Short Track” is mountain bike racing contested over multiple laps of a short course, usually less than a kilometre long. It’s a bit of a distant cousin of cyclocross or even criterium racing – high energy, fast paced, shoulder on shoulder warfare that runs for between 30 and 45 minutes, depending on the grade. The MTB version runs on a predominantly dirt circuit - usually with some fun and twisty singletrack, fast bermed corners, a few little jumps and/or obstacles and the penultimate sprint to the finish line. Given the speed you travel at, it’s also a handy opportunity to refine some of your technical riding skills.
Having never raced Short Track before, I headed out to Sydney’s Sutherland Shire with an invitation to compete in their Club Championships. The ~800m circuit was overflowing with enjoyment, having held up really well after the recent heavy rain. Skills were on show with some challenging corners, tight sections of singletrack, loose and sandy segments, the odd spot of mud and a couple of places to send yourself airborne. After a captivating neck and neck battle across the whole 8 laps of the race, another rider and I both hit it for the final sprint. Out of the saddle, flying down the straight, handlebars locked. In the end, slow motion replay will show I took it by a matter of only a few inches, much to the entertainment of the onlooking crowd.
There was some fantastic competition across all grades (A down to C), in the women’s event (bundled in with C grade) and across the range of kids races (really cute and absolutely hilarious at times). The other great thing about short track racing is that like with cyclocross, spectators are really close to the action. Fully recommended for a family event – the kids can race prior to you getting out on course and your partner can watch on knowing they will get to observe you suffering (and putting on some mad skills) almost the whole time.
Short Track, I will be back.