Mountain Bike (Cross-country)


Whether racing or riding with friends, the cross country (XC) mountain bike discipline offers excitement and fun. From a competitive point of view, BC Cross Country athletes are among the best both in Canada and the World. Each year, Cycling BC clubs and volunteers offer a variety of XC events around the province to suit all tastes and ability levels.

Cross-country cycling (XC) is defined by the terrain on which it is performed and the most popular of the four. XC courses and trails consist of a mix of rough forest paths and singletrack (also referred to as doubletrack depending on width), smooth fireroads, and even paved paths connecting other trails.

Cross-country racing sometimes emphasizes endurance over technical prowess, and races vary from 30 minutes to 24 hours in length, depending upon the format. Additionally, many mountain bike races are divided up into stages so as to span several days. Races can be either point-to-point or lap-based. Short Track cross-country consists of many very short laps so as to be spectator-friendly. Unlike downhill races, which are conducted in a time trial format, cross-country races traditionally feature a mass start or interval start, where riders are released in several large groups divided by age and/or ability.

Olympic format XC (XCO) is an event is held on a circuit of ideally 5-9 km in lenth of predominantly single and double track trail. The riders complete a set number of laps on the course of varying distances.  The rider who first crosses the finish line wins.

Marathon XC (XCM) is held on a course that is 60 km + in length and does not cover the same section of trail more than once. Only the start and finishing lines may be located at the same place. In BC however, an exception has been made to allow races over 45 km in length to be defined as Marathon.

Categories and Upgrades

If you hold a UCI International License, your cross-country (XC) ability category could be one of the following depending upon your age:

  • Novice: Riders new to the sport
  • Sport: Intermediate level riders
  • Expert: Skilled amateur riders
  • Pro-Elite: Professional level riders, who also have a UCI category of Under 23 or Elite

Riders without a UCI license in the last 5 years must register for the Novice category; otherwise, you must register with the category that you had on your last UCI license, unless you are applying for an upgrade. Riders may apply to upgrade to the next highest ability level when you register for your license, or part way through the season. However, you cannot downgrade in the same season once you have upgraded. Riders must have held a UCI license in the last season to be eligible for an upgrade.

Click here to apply for an upgrade. Submit all upgrade requests to  All upgrade requests must be accompanied by a non-refundable $10 application fee.