Many riders who enjoy the thrill of technically challenging Mountain Biking turn to Downhill. If you find you’re naturally quick through technical terrain and you enjoy learning about the limits of handling off-road, then this is the discipline for you. But don’t just think that good skill levels will suffice: although the races are short, they require high levels of fitness and strength.
Downhill riders often get into the sport via completely different routes to Cross-Country riders. Many of them come from the “street” end of trials riding, BMX and dirt jumping. There is also a considerable cross-over from BMX racing and, interestingly, from off-road motorcycling disciplines such as Trials and Moto-Cross.
Wherever you’re coming from, if you fancy a crack at Downhill, you can’t beat coming to watch an SDA event for getting a feel for the sport. Tracks, such as Fort William and Glencoe are open to the public with Gondola and chairlift access while there’s also a growing number of organised “uplift” days, and Innerleithen in the borders and can be a great stepping stone to competition proper. Check out the SDA events calendar for details of all our events.
Please check with the landowner before using any courses where there is no formal organisation: the sport has lost many facilities over the years through thoughtless misuse.
Downhill events usually have several classes catering for a range of abilities and age groups. A British Cycling membership and or Race Licence are needed for regional events. In return, the SDA run our events under the cover of British Cycling insurance is in place when you race and that organisers take their responsibilities seriously.
If you are under sixteen, the category system ensures that you compete against others of a similar age. Adult categorisation is based more on ability. As you become more successful, you will progress through Senior and Expert categories and the very best riders join the “Elite” category. There are also a range of categories for older riders, based on age.
Progression through the adult categories is through a national ranking system, administered by British Cycling, which rewards successful riders with points based on the length and difficulty of an event. Before you start racing, familiarise yourself with the rules of the sport, which include this system.