Mountain Bike Biathlon

by Eric Hamilton
September 2000

Was it Pat Clancy who dreamed up the idea of a combination of mountain biking and biathlon? Well Saratoga Biathlon turned a brilliant idea into a great success! We had 18 competitors of all age levels and both sexes take up the challenge of what proved to be a very fun event.

Personally I find summer biathlon to be a challenging event. They attract a collection of interesting, very personable individuals half of whom are in training for the real thing and half are runners that also are good marksman. Mountain bike biathlon puts a new twist on the off season sport, but better than that, in a lot of ways, it more closely matches the demands of the Nordic sport.

Like winter biathlon, I realized early on that I had to worry about a second piece of equipment... is the tire pressure right; do the brakes work; did I remember the helmet? It's just like worrying about did I get the right wax; did I bring the poles with the right grip; and did I remember my ski boots?

Once on the trail I found that I moved over the terrain in a similar manner to skiing on fast snow conditions. I found the down hill turns have the same trees that seem to move close into the inside of the turn. [At least there aren't the little daemons reminding you that if you catch a tip and go down your going to get whacked in the back with a nine pound weight.] Also, my weight on a bike has a certain momentum that will carry you part way up the hill. It also reminds you at the top of the hill to keep the momentum going. This, along with keeping the bike in a gear for the terrain just ahead of you, adds a technical aspect similar to the way technical aspects of skiing enter into a good finish time.

We saw some new faces and hopefully some new members to the club. The fantastic crew that the Schreiners get out to host their races did a splendid job. The hospitality cannot be beat! It was a great time and I hope that this type of event catches on!