olympics_Cycling: Mountain Bike - Erie News Now | WICU & WSEE in Erie, PA

olympics_Cycling: Mountain Bike

The thrill is extraordinary as cyclists navigate their mountain bikes over rocky dirt paths that wind their way over a 4.7 km course. The steep hills and hairpin turns challenge each of the competitors as they focus on one goal…bringing home the gold medal.  

Mountain biking is a sport that dates back to the 1970s in California's Mount Tamalpais. It all began when cycling enthusiasts wanted to add more excitement to their ride. First, they stripped down their cruiser bicycles, the old-style bikes with comfortable seats and larger handlebars that were definitely designed for paved, flat surfaces. The cruisers were very hard to handle on hills because they did not have the proper gears.

When their bikes were ready, the creative cyclists hit the wooded fire trails and forest paths, flying their bikes over the dangerously rugged terrain. It exhilarated the cyclists! As the sport became more popular, the bikes were modified to meet the extraordinary demands of the sport. They had to be fast, yet strong and stable enough to handle the hills at breathtaking speeds.

Mountain biking made its Olympic debut at the 1996 Summer Games in Atlanta. The US didn't earn a medal in the men's competition, but the women took the bronze that first year. Although it is still considered a young sport, it became very popular around the world following the 1996 Olympics.

This year's competition will take place at Hadleigh Farm, in Essex, England. 80 competitors, 50 men and 30 women, will ride their bikes over the challenging course hoping that their bike and their cycling experience will push them to the front of the pack and earn them an Olympic medal!

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