While mountain biking has been around since the 1970’s, it still has more of a grassroots feel compared to road cycling. Road bike races have formal institutions like the Tour de France while the downhill mountain bike race series’ are more regionalized. So, what does that imply for mountain biking fans? It means you can see professional caliber racing in your own neck of the woods! Here’s a guide to the Best Mountain Bike Racing Series out there across the US.
What’s Downhill Mountain Biking?
Before we jump into the racing series’, we want to first explain the differences between each mountain biking discipline.
- Cross-Country – The most popular of all the mountain biking events. It involves competitors racing point-to-point via a defined course where the person with the fastest time wins. The XC trails can range from fire roads to winding narrow single-tracks.
- Downhill – This is THE event for adrenaline junkies. People who feel the need… the need for speed! It involves jumping off cliffs, rock gardens and everything else a mountain trail can throw at them. Full-face helmets, body armor and chest protectors are the normal uniform for these competitors.
- Enduro – A combination of downhill and cross-country into one event. This is the all-mountain event. Click here to read the full explanation of this awesome match-up.
If you want to learn more about mountain biking, get tips on gear, and find hidden vacation spots for two wheeled fun check out our mountain biking guide:
Ultimate Guide To The Best Mountain Bike Racing Series in the US
Now that you’ve got a grasp on the different types of events, let’s talk about what are the best racing circuits in the US. This list does NOT contain any of the one-off races but rather the true regional race competitions out there.
The Northwest Cup – Pacific Northwest
Race Type: Downhill
The Pacific Northwest is home to what many consider to be the most prestigious downhill mountain bike racing series in the country. With over a decade under its belt, the series covers 8 races over 5 venues.
June 26 – 28, 2020
July 17 – 19, 2020
July 31 – Aug 1, 2020
September 18 – 20, 2020
October 9 – 11, 2020
Cascadia Dirt Cup – Pacific Northwest
Race Type: Enduro
The Cascadia Dirt Cup is the Northwest’s premiere Enduro mountain bike race series and not just for the races, but also as an incubator for the NW MTB community to grow. How? This Enduro series does it by making each event available to all levels AND by donating their proceeds to local trail stewards. In addition to the funding, they also contribute over a 1,000+ hours of trail work through the Work-Eat-Shred program. A great series with a great cause! Unfortunately, for 2020 the race has been cancelled. Let’s hope 2021 brings back a MONSTER of races.
Intermountain Cup – Utah
Race Type: Cross-Country/Endurance
The Intermountain Cup or I-Cup is a great event for beginners and pros alike. For beginners, the course is approximately seven miles long or one lap. At the other end of the spectrum, the elite racers are tested with a three lap, 21 mile race. The major events happening this year are as follows:
June 20, 2020
July 18, 2020
August 8, 2020
The Leadville Race Series – USA
Race Type: Cross-country
The Leadville 100 mountain bike race has been held in Colorado since 1983 and is considered one of the TOUGHEST mountain bike races in North America. It’s also considered one of the hardest to get into. Similar to the Mt. Baker Legendary Banked Slalom, there are now qualifying events that racers can enter all across the United States to gain entry to this hallowed race.
Lutsen 99er (Lutsen, MN)
Tahoe Trail MTB (Northstar, CA)
September 19, 2020
October 3, 2020
Silver Rush 50 (Leadville, CO)
July 10, 2021
Leadville Stage Race (Leadville, CO)
July 31 – Aug 1, 2021
THE LEADVILLE TRAIL 100!!! (Leadville, CO)
August 14, 2021
The Lost Sierra Triple Crown – California
Race Type: Cross-country, Downhill, Enduro
The Downieville Classic has been around for years and is considered one of the 10 best mountain biking races in the world. This classic as of 2017 has become part of the Lost Sierra Triple Crown brought to you by the Sierra Buttes Trail Foundation. A mixture of gravel and pavement, it’s a true test of every discipline in one race series. Unfortunately both the first two races including the famed Downieville Classic are cancelled for 2020. Currently, the Grinduro is still on though.