How Mountain Bike Trails Work

Image Gallery: National Parks Mountain bike trails can be challenging, but sometimes you get to enjoy a beautiful landscape like this one. See pictures of national parks.
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In mountain climbing, the peak is a beacon to new outdoor adventures. For mountain biking, it's either the challenge of the trail or just the fun of riding. The mountain bike trails you choose say a lot about the kind of adventure you're looking for.

Mountain biking has been growing as a sport since the 1970s. Enthusiasts started their own organizations to support the sport, like the National Off Road Biking Association (NORBA) formed in 1983 (today part of USA Cycling), and the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) formed in 1988.

Some organizations developed events and rules for competitive cyclists. The first Mountain Biking World Championships were held in 1990 by the International Cycling Union (UCI), which continues to be the respected authority on competition regulations. By 1996, mountain biking was added to the Olympic Games in Atlanta, Ga., and is scheduled to be a part of the 2012 games in London.

Other organizations focused on the recreational sport of mountain biking. This includes building and maintaining trails across the United States and around the world, used by millions of cyclists. IMBA continues as one of the biggest organizations supporting mountain bikers and trails. Each year IMBA members contribute a million hours to trail work projects, and there are more than 5,000 miles (8,047 kilometers) of trails today as a result of their contributions [source: IMBA].

Grab your helmet and bike, and pedal over to the next page! This article covers a lot of ground about mountain bike trail design, how to choose a trail and how trails are maintained.