Mountain Biking on the Internet

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The Independent Online

Mountain Biking has a strong participant base but struggles for mainstream media exposure. Following the sport at various levels is easier on the web than on the television.

Mountain Biking has a strong participant base but struggles for mainstream media exposure. Following the sport at various levels is easier on the web than on the television.

British interest in the week-long mountain biking world championships at Sierra Nevada, Spain, which start on Sunday, should be high. Going into the event, Steve Peat is fourth in the World Cup downhill rankings with Helen Mortimer and Fionn Griffiths in fourth and 10th in the women's downhill rankings while Louise Robinson is 19th in the women's cross-country rankings.

This and other information is tucked away on Eurosport's useful collection of pages dedicated to mountain biking's World Cup and World Championship series. Hitting the WCH link takes you to the pages where details of the meeting in Spain are comprehensively outlined on a day-by-day basis, from Sunday's cross-country training to the finals and awards ceremony in the same discipline a week later on 11 June.

For other competitions there is an easy to use calendar of events. Links from races to results are made live after the event and a link to a general cycling news page is included. Mountain-bike specific news is run on the main page. It runs teaser paragraphs of stories, such as the former world champion, Jerome Chiotti, admitting that he won the title in 1996 due to the stamina boosting effects of the banned drug EPO. Less controversially it runs round-ups of recent races with links to results.

MBUK.com, from Mountain Biking magazine, has a calendar too, including world class events as well as British contests with phone and web contact details where appropriate. It also has plenty of information about the lifestyle and hobby aspects of the sport, with tips from readers about good places to practice jumps and other techniques. These range from established courses where you pay for access to "cool carparks round the back of your cousin's house where the security guard couldn't give a toss what you do as long as you don't disturb him when he's enjoying a quick fag".

Those with a yearning to master hops and drop-offs can view above-average QuickTime movies offering instruction and advice. The site is also strong on industry news and gossip, the practicalities of fixing and servicing bikes, and test reports on new models and parts. This information can be readily accessed using an online database driven by pull-down menus.

The slang used in mountain biking allows rapid communication between aficionados but makes it difficult for outsiders to penetrate the sub-culture. The Dictionary Of Mountain Biking Slang will help. Some of the internal links to entries on the same page don't seem to work, but scrolling down the page is a small price to pay for deciphering the eclectic mix of terms borrowed from surfing, skiing, motor sport and the space programme. Many of the most colourful terms are injury related and/or lacking in political correctness.

andy.oldfield@virgin.net

Site Addresses

Eurosport Mountain Biking www.eurosport.com/cycling2000/mountainbike/

MBUK.com www.mbuk.co.uk/

The Dictionary Of Mountain Biking Slang world.std.com/~jimf/biking/slang.html

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