Unmissable mountain bike events of 2018

This year's biggest and best MTB races and bike festivals, whether you want to take part, watch from the trailside or spectate from your sofa

The Fort William World Cup always draws the crowds and 2017 was no exception. Credit: Bartek Wolinski/Red Bull Content Pool

Whether you love the cut and thrust of racing or would rather sit back on your sofa and watch the world’s best do battle on-screen, we’ve never had it better when it comes to mountain bike events. Live streaming means we can watch World Cup races and freeride contests unfold as they happen, video edits are online within hours of events finishing and, closer to home, there are great spectating opportunities at races like the Fort William World Cup and Red Bull Hardline. And that’s not to mention all the opportunities to sign up and get racing yourself. Here’s our pick of some of this year’s unmissable mountain bike events…

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UCI World Cup Series – starts 10 March

World Cup racing takes place in three disciplines – downhill (‘DHI’), Olympic-length cross-country (‘XCO’) and, new for 2018, short-course cross-country (‘XCC’). It’s the first we’re most interested in here at MBUK, because it tends to attract the wildest racers and has the most nail-biting finishes (plus the short three to four-minute runs suit our limited attention spans!).

We Brits are bloody good at it too, with the likes of Rachel and Gee Atherton, Danny Hart, Tahnée Seagrave, Laurie Greenland, Bernard Kerr, Phil Atwill, Mike Jones, Adam Brayton and Manon Carpenter (currently taking a hiatus from racing) all troubling the top 10 last year.

There’s a new track for this year’s opening downhill round – Lošinj, Croatia – but the one we’re really looking forward to is the annual pilgrimage to Fort William. We’ll be making our way up to the Highlands along with tens of thousands of rabid DH fans for the most exciting race of the year. See you there!

Some highlights of the 2018 Downhill World Cup season. Credit: Red Bull Bike

Can I take part?

Um, maybe. But only if you’re bloody good on a bike and either accrue enough UCI points or are selected for the GB team by British Cycling.

Can I watch it?

Yes. Each race is streamed live and free of charge at www.redbull.tv. We can also highly recommend heading up to Scotland for the Fort William round – details at fortwilliamworldcup.co.uk.

Dates:

  • 10 March – Stellenbosch, South Africa (XCO)
  • 21-22 April – Lošinj, Croatia (DHI)
  • 19-20 May – Albstadt, Germany (XCO, XCC)
  • 26-27 May – Nové Mesto, Czech Republic (XCO, XCC)
  • 2-3 June – Fort William, Scotland (DHI)
  • 9-10 June – Leogang, Austria (DHI)
  • 7-8 July – Val di Sole, Italy (DHI, XCO, XCC)
  • 14-15 July – Vallnord, Andorra (DHI, XCO, XCC)
  • 11-12 August – Mont-Sainte-Anne, Canada (DHI, XCO, XCC)
  • 25-26 August – La Bresse, France (DHI, XCO, XCC)

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Enduro World Series – starts 24-25 March

Enduro racing may not be quite as spectator friendly as DH, because it covers a wider area and the timed downhill stages are interspersed with a lot of climbing, but the coverage has come on in leaps and bounds over the past few years. More importantly, even this, the top international series, is open to everyone, regardless of race experience or riding ability.

A quick look at some stuff to look forward to on this year’s EWS circuit. Credit: Enduro World Series

Can I take part?

Yes. But not this year, because entries have closed. Members of the public can apply to take part, with places being allocated via a lottery system. See www.enduroworldseries.com for details. You’ll need high levels of both skill and fitness, though.

Can I watch it?

Spectators are welcome, but there’s no British or Irish round this year. There’s good coverage on the EWS website, including course previews with our old mucker Ric McLaughlin, highlights reels and much more.

Dates:

  • 24-25 March – Lo Barnechea, Chile
  • 31 March – 1 April – Manizales, Colombia
  • 12-13 May – Olargues, France
  • 30 June – 1 July – Petzen/Jamnica, Austria/Slovenia
  • 21-22 July – La Thuile, Italy
  • 12 August – Whistler, Canada
  • 22-23 September – Ainsa, Spain
  • 29-30 September – Finale Ligure, Italy

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Crankworx – starts 27-25 March

Crankworx Whistler is the daddy of all freeride festivals and it has now been joined by three sister events in Europe and Australasia. The recipe remains the same, though – a ton of two-wheeled fun, ranging from pro slopestyle comps and DH races to pump track challenges, open enduro races and kids’ events.

Emil Johansson performs at the Red Bull Joyride in Whistler, Canada on August 20, 2017

The Red Bull Joyride slopestyle comp at Crankworx Whistler always draws a massive crowd. Credit: Jussi Grznar/Red Bull Content Pool

Can I take part?

Some events (enduro, kids, etc) are open to the public, while others are pro only. Check out www.crankworx.com for details.

Can I watch it?

Yes. Spectators are welcome, so pack your flannel shirt and go hang out with the freeride bros. Alternatively, many of the events are live streamed on the Crankworx website and a ton of ‘sick edits’ drop immediately after each event.

Dates:

  • 17-25 March: Rotorua, New Zealand
  • 13-17 June: Innsbruck, Austria
  • 20-24 June: Les Gets, France
  • 10-19 August – Whistler, Canada

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UK National Downhill Series – starts 7-8 April

The BDS is dead, long live the UKNDS! Yes, that’s right, there’s a new national DH series for 2018, following long-term organiser Si Paton’s decision to step down from running the British Downhill Series. The Halifax UK National Downhill Series, to give it its full title, consists of five rounds, two of which will offer the opportunity to gain UCI points. It kicks off in April at Cwmcarn in South Wales and will give you the chance to rub shoulders with top British stars including Danny Hart, Tahnée Seagrave and the Athertons.

Highlights from last year’s final BDS round in Hopton, Shropshire. Credit: Wideopenmag

Can I take part?

Yes. Keep an eye on www.britishcycling.org.uk/britishcyclingdownhillseries for entry details.

Can I watch it?

Yes. Spectators are welcome and video edits are normally posted online in the days following each race.

Dates:

  • 7-8 April – Cwmcarn, South Wales
  • 12-13 May – Fort William, Scottish Highlands
  • 30 June – 1 July – Rheola, South Wales
  • 11-12 August – Rhyd y Felin, North Wales
  • 22-23 September – Bringewood, Shropshire

UK National Downhill Championships:

  • 21-22 July –  Glencoe, Scottish Highlands

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UK Gravity Enduro Series – starts 28-29 April

Britain has its own national enduro series once more, with organiser Steve Parr stepping up to the challenge again after a year-long break. He’s promising the tracks will be hard, but with that “grin factor”.

The queue may be long, but that just proves the trails are worth the wait! Credit: Tom Grice

Can I take part?

Yes. Entries are already live at ukgravityenduro.com.

Can I watch it?

Yes. Spectators are welcome and video edits are normally posted online in the days following each race.

Dates:

  • 28-29 April – Innerleithen, Scottish Borders
  • 26-27 May – Eastridge, Shropshire
  • 23-24 June – Afan Forest, South Wales
  • 25-26 August – Ae Forest, Scottish Borders
  • 15-16 September – Dyfi, Mid Wales

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Malverns Classic – 15-17 June

Back in the day – the mid ’90s, to be exact – the Malverns was the ultimate UK MTB event, with a heady mix of racing, partying and general dicking about on bikes. The festival is being revived for 2018, at its old home of Eastnor Deer Park, in Herefordshire. We’ll be there, hosting the MBUK Legends Classic Downhill, which will feature some legends of the sport. If it’s anything like the original Malverns, it’s gonna be a cracker!

Malverns June 2018 is going to be a road block. #malvernsisback 📷Geoff Waugh

A post shared by Malverns Classic (@malvernsclassic) on

Don’t be put off by this photo – there’ll be plenty for families as well as yoofs! Credit: Geoff Waugh

Can I take part?

Yes. Entries are already live at www.malvernsclassic.com.

Can I watch it?

Yes. You don’t need to race to enjoy the Malverns. Head to the website to get your tickets for camping or day entry.

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Megavalanche Alpe d’Huez – 6-8 July

The Mega is an all-time classic and a rite of passage for many mountain bikers. A ski lift whisks you from the French village of Alpe d’Huez (famous for its hairpin climb used in the Tour de France) to the top of the mountain and you then have to descend all the way to the valley floor, negotiating ice fields and boulder gardens as you go. What makes it difficult are the hundreds of other nutters riding alongside you, banging bars and riding with absolute disregard for anyone’s safety. It’s not pretty and making it down in one piece is definitely an achievement in itself!

Our boys Al and Ed took on the Mega in 2016. Predictably, carnage ensued! Credit: BikeRadar

Can I take part?

Yes. Entries are already live at www.ucc-sportevent.com/en/megavalanche-alpe-dhuez-en.

Can I watch it?

Yes. Official edits and tons of GoPro footage will filter out in the days after the race.

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‘Ard Rock Enduro – 3-5 August

This event combines a big day out on rocky Yorkshire Dales trails – many of them only open during the race – with a festival-like atmosphere back in the race village, which is why it sells out every year. If you’re lucky enough to nab a ticket, you won’t regret it!

mountain bikers try to conquer one of the climbs at the Ard Rock enduro

The climbs on the Yorkshire Dales are steep and gruelling! Credit: Mick Kirkman

Can I take part?

Sorry, not this year, unless you’ve already nabbed an entry to the sold-out event. Keep an eye on www.ardrockenduro.co.uk for details of next year’s race.

Can I watch it?

Sort of. Spectators are welcome, if few in number. Look out for self-shot videos popping up on YouTube in the days after the race.

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MTB World Championships – 4-9 September

While the World Cup series demands consistency, the World Champs is a one-off shot at glory, where racers lay it all on the line. Those who succeed get to wear the coveted rainbow stripes on their sleeve for the rest of their career. Add the fact that entry is based on where you’re from, not how many points you’ve accrued during the season, and the racing can be pretty unpredictable, with riders who’ve never qualified for a World Cup riding the same course as multiple-time world champions. It’s unmissable! This year’s racing takes place in Lenzerheide, Switzerland, with the Elite XCO being held on 8 September and the downhill the next day.

Some highlights from last year’s World Champs in Cairns. Credit: UCI

Can I take part?

Doubtful, unless you’re from a small Caribbean island or African nation and can convince them to let you represent them. Spots on the teams of most western nations are highly sought after and even big names sometimes fail to make the cut.

Can I watch it?

Yes. The World Champs are streamed live at www.redbull.tv and official edits are released soon after each event.

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Red Bull Hardline – dates TBC

Hardline is the hardest DH race on the planet, with a course built by Dan Atherton that incorporates huge jumps, warp-speed sections and tricky technical bits. Only a select few are invited to take part, and not all of them make it down to the bottom.

Our team rider Al Bond takes on the infamous Hardline. Credit: Red Bull

Can I take part?

Absolutely not. You will die.

Can I watch it?

Yes. Red Bull sell tickets for the event in North Wales, which normally takes place in September – keep an eye on www.redbull.com/gb-en/events. They also upload a load of footage in the days surrounding it.

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Red Bull Rampage – dates TBC

The big one! Rampage is the gnarliest freeride event on the planet, where the world’s top huckers, trick merchants and ‘freeracers’ gather in Utah each autumn to send ridiculous lines down the side of sheer cliffs. Watch it with a cold beer in your hand and your heart in your mouth.

Tyler McCaul competes at Red Bull Rampage in Virgin, Utah on October 27th, 2017. Credit: Bartek Wolinski/Red Bull Content Pool

Tyler McCaul drops in at Red Bull Rampage 2017. Credit: Bartek Wolinski/Red Bull Content Pool

Can I take part?

No. You’ll die an even more horrible death than at Hardline.

Can I watch it?

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Yes. If you’re feeling flush and are prepared to lose your own bodyweight in sweat under the merciless heat of the Utah sun, you can fly to the States and watch the event in person. It’s also streamed live at www.redbull.tv. Plus you’ll inevitably be sent badly bootlegged copies of the various GoPro runs with titles like ‘Crazy bike cliff ride – extreme crashes!!!!!’ by mates or family members on Facebook.