Ready, steady, relax

Competition without the stress, the mates’ race is friendly and fun. So grab a stopwatch, follow our guide and organise a race this summer.

Why bother?

Organising is more fun than racing, says Sam Jones, Monmouth mates-race organiser. “I do it for the love of biking — people having fun, that’s the biggest reward. A lot of big events miss the character of the thing, it’s about people smiling and having fun.”

Get started

“All you need is a stopwatch, a mobile phone and some friends,” says Nick Hamilton from riding club This is Sheffield. Find four good trails (not too techie) and tie them together in a proper loop. Plan out how long the descents and transitions will take (you can always cut one if things run over). At its simplest, a stopwatch, a rolling clock and allocated start times will do the job.

Watch us race at the Scottish EWS

Isn’t it illegal?

That depends on where you race. “We don’t cause any more damage than playing football in the park,” Nick says. Racing on private land is fine, but ask permission. Stay well away from Rights of Way (bridleways etc) as that is illegal. “it’s not official so you need to make everyone aware there is no insurance,” Nick says.

Help people love it

Brook Macdonald, Bruni Loic, Aaron Gwin, Troy Brosnan, Josh Bryceland - Podium

Give something away to the winners, even if it’s just a ‘hip, hip, hooray’ and a ‘podium’ place. “Everyone brings a prize for races I put on,” says Nick. “Entry fee is a couple of quid and the prizes mean everyone gets some sort of reward and their name read out with a round of applause.”

Even apart from the riding, people will love it — not everyone can win but there’s a chance they’ll beat someone they know and get bragging rights.

Don’t be put off

“Nothing is hard about putting on a mates’ race! Organising the thing isn’t an issue, once you’re committed to it you’re there,” says Sam.

Nick agrees: “Just do it. Don’t be afraid of putting something on, it’s not hard.”