The fastest mountain bike racers in the world are returning to Snowshoe Mountain September 27-October 1 for the penultimate round of the UCI Mountain Bike World Series. This season brings big changes for the World Series event at Snowshoe with a new race format for downhill and the addition of Cross Country Marathon World Cup (XCM) to the lineup.
Here are our top tips so you can get the most from your high speed, high intensity, and high five filled weekend:
This season brings a lot of changes to the UCI Mountain Bike World Series (the name for one). Now, the whole event is called the World Series but the individual events will still be referred to as World Cups.
The Snowshoe round of the World Series will kick off on Wednesday, September 27 with a new (to Snowshoe) race event – the Cross Country Marathon World Cup (XCM). Our leg destroying, lung burning Marathon course is a 62-mile war of attrition through the Allegheny Mountains from Snowshoe to Durbin and back. If you think you have what it takes, this XCM race is open to amateur riders with no need for a pro license. Sign up, clean off the shoes and helmet, and get ready to ride with the pros.
The Downhill (DHI) race format changed this year and should provide more excitement for racers and spectators. In the past, racers had track walk on Wednesday, practice on Thursday, qualifying runs on Friday, and the final race on Saturday. Here’s what the DHI schedule looks like this year:
Wednesday: Track walk and Junior Practice
Thursday: All Practice and Junior Qualifying
Friday: All practice, Junior Finals, and Elite Qualifying
Saturday: Elite Practice, Elite Semi-Finals, and Elite finals
The Cross Country Short Track (XCC) races will be split across two nights this year. Thursday night will feature the Under 23 category XCC and Friday night will be the Elite category XCC. The Cross Country Olympic (XCO) race will still be held on Sunday with a new start/finish location on Skidder slope.
It’s no secret that Snowshoe is a rugged and natural place, that’s why the top off-road bike riders flock here to race. As you spectate, expect rocky, rooty, slippery, and steep terrain. A good pair of hiking boots is a must and a set of trekking poles can make life a whole lot easier.
The weather can change quickly on our island in the sky, so it never hurts to bring a rain jacket or poncho, just in case.
Finally, make sure to pack enough water and snacks to last you through the day. You won’t want to miss a minute of race action to grab a pepperoni roll. And, if you’re in the middle of the downhill course, you’re a long hike away from food and beverage vendors.
Do Your Homework
The World Series is a season-long competition. Just like your favorite TV show, story lines and characters change all the time. Enhance your World Series experience by doing a little research beforehand. Find out who the top riders in the overall are, figure out the under dogs and dark horses, see who is on their way back from injury, and who has the best nickname. Getting familiar with the riders and teams is a great way to add excitement to the race. We’ll get you started with the top Americans in each discipline.
Men’s XCC/XCO: Chris Blevins, Specialized Factory Racing (Winner of the XCC at Snowshoe 2022)
Women’s XCC/XCO: Kate Courtney, Scott-SRAM Racing (2018 Cross Country World Champion)
Men’s DHI: Luca Shaw, Canyon Cllctv (Current U.S. National Champion)
Women’s DHI: Anna Newkirk, Beyond Racing (Current U.S. National Champion)
Explore the Pits
One of the coolest parts about mountain biking is its accessibility. In no other sport can a regular person play on the same field as the pros. But in mountain biking that’s a reality, especially if you sign up for the Marathon of Snowshoe. It’s also nearly impossible to interact with athletes at other sporting events. That’s not the case at the UCI Mountain Bike World Series at Snowshoe. Set aside an hour or so to walk through the pits in the main Village parking lot. Take a look at the bikes and gear, talk to the mechanics, and maybe even the riders. Pro tip: Bring a beer to the mechanics and you just may be rewarded with a t-shirt, water bottle, or piece of race-worn gear.
Understand Course Markings
Safety for athletes and spectators is a top priority for Snowshoe and the UCI. Part of keeping everyone safe is designating the different areas of the race course and spectator areas. While you’re at the races there are a few things you can do to help keep everything running smooth.
Make sure to only cross the course at designated cross points where course marshals are stationed. Jumping the tape elsewhere could result in an interference to the race and racers. Be sure to stay out of the B-zones as well. Along the whole downhill track and some of the cross country track there will be an inner layer of tape and an outer layer. The inner layer of tape marks the race course for the racers and the outer layer designates where spectators may stand during the events. That area in between is called the B-zone. The B-zone is designed to give the racers some run-off room (should things go south) and it gives race organizers, official race photographers, and volunteers room to work.
Bring Your Friends and GET LOUD
Snowshoe is notoriously one of the rowdiest stops in the Series thanks to all of our lovely fans….so let’s keep it that way. Call your buddies, tell the boss you’re sick, grab your tickets, and get up to the mountain. Bring your pots, pans, air horns, old rims, bagpipes, trumpets, and whatever else you can find to get loud. Safety tip: Please remove the arm and blade from your chainsaw if you choose to bring one.
Now get your race day voice ready and start practicing those chants… USA! USA! USA!
Better yet, book your lodging through Snowshoe Reservations to save 20% on your World Series tickets.
Don’t forget your bike! Our full Snowshoe Bike Park will be open Monday, October 2 for riding. This is your opportunity to try out some of the World Cup tracks and features like Lower Hareball, the Rooty Pebbles rock garden, and some of the sweet backcountry single track from the Marathon World Cup.
Volunteering is a great way to get a front row seat to all the racing and a bit of the behind the scenes action. Course marshals, crossing marshals, and split timers all get to be inside the B-zone, inches away from the race. As a volunteer you will get to hear riders talking to one another about everything from line choices and tire options to what they had for dinner last night. Volunteers also get a discounted lodging option, discounted meals on days that you volunteer and receive two free lift tickets per day of volunteering. And if you volunteer 3+ days you get access to even more perks.
Still not pumped? Check out the highlights from last year’s wild and wonderful downhill race