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We often get asked the same questions about MTBA membership, so here are a few of them and our answers. We hope that it helps you as you begin your MTBA experience.

 

What is a MTBA membership all about?

MTBA membership gives you a 'licence' to race any MTBA affiliated event in Australia. MTBA membership is available in the following classes:

Senior Competition: Allows for a member to contest any MTBA sanctioned race in Australia. This membership is available for people between the ages of 19 and 99. Age determination is made at the time of application.

Junior Competition: Allows for a member to contest any MTBA sanctioned race in Australia. This membership is available for people between the ages of 13 and 18. Age determination is made at the time of application.

DirtMaster Competition: Allows for a member to contest any MTBA sanctioned race in Australia. This membership is available for children between the ages of 3 and 12. This class of membership may have some restrictions to the type or extent of competition available. Details are available in the Junior MTBA member document. Age determination is made at the time of application.

Social Membership: This membership class is for people who do not intend on racing but who wish for the great insurance cover offered by MTBA for our members. This class of membership is strictly non-competitive, so members of the class who wish to enter a race will also need to pay for a day permit.

Membership also gives you comprehensive insurance coverage that is perhaps one of the best available in the sporting industry. Full details of the current insurance provisions for members is available here and includes public liability, personal accident cover and capital benefits. If you are not an MTBA member then you will be asked to pay for a day permit each and every time you race or undertake an activity with an MTBA affiliated club, so a MTBA membership makes good sense. 

 

The insurance provisions for a day member are also reduced to only public liability and capital benefits, ie there is no personal accident cover for day members.

 

We also provide you with Member protection.  Please call 02 9339 5800 and ask to speak to a Member Protection Officer (MPO).

There are other benefits to being a member though - go here to see what they are.

 

 

Upgrades to on-line membership system (only applicable to Clubs)

You may be already aware that the on-line membership system has had a work-over. We have added some membership duration options to the existing 1-year Junior and Senior memberships. 

These are:

  • A new 3-month option

  • A new 3-year membership option

  • A new Club Volunteering option

3-month member option

  • Purpose: This is designed for two reasons:

  1. As an alternative for participants who currently, or want to, participate in a short-lived series of club activities rather than purchase serial day permits.

  2. As a low-cost entry point to 'come and try' participants.  

  • Availability: This is available to Junior, Senior and Social member classes only

  • Cost: We have set the MTBA fee at $55 for a senior member, $40 for a Junior member and $25 for a social member. Your Club fee has been set at a default fee the same as your current 1-year member fee

  • Limitations : It is not available to DirtMaster or Value-add classes of membership. This is only available to new members who have never before been a paid MTBA member. The 3-month member option is only available once

  • Other :  A 3-month member can upgrade to a full-year membership at any time before expiry by simply paying the extra fee to MTBA and the club for a 1-year membership. There will be no differentiation made in the member's card, simply an expiry date in 3-months. Please note that day permits are still available for those that wish to enter one event at a time.

3-year member option

  • Purpose : To give a sense of 'loyalty' to MTBA members who wish to avoid the inevitable fee increases each year and get a discount in the process. 

  • Availability: This is available to Senior members only

  • Cost: We have set the MTBA fee at $300 for a senior member. Your Club fee has been set at a default fee the same as three times your current 1-year member fee. A 3-year member would pay a fee calculated similar to this example:   Club fee of $15 per year totalling $45 plus the MTBA fee of $300 for a total membership fee for 3 years of $345.00

  • Limitations : It is not available to Junior, DirtMaster or Value-add classes of membership

  • Other: 3-year members will be noted as such by a 'diamond' insignia on their member card.

Club Volunteer membership

  • Purpose : This club only discount membership enables clubs to set up a differential club fee for those members who will commit to act as volunteers at your club activities. This allows the club to recognise in a financial way the valuable contribution of those that volunteer their time for club activities

  • Availability: This is available to all classes of members. It is available in 3-month, 1-year and 3-year options subject to the availability and limitations notes above

  • Cost: We have set the MTBA fees at the same as for the current 3-month, 1-year and 3-year member fees. Your Club fee has been set at a default fee the same as your current 1-year member fee for a Volunteer 1-year and 3-month membership option and at a default fee of three times your 1-year fee for a Volunteer 3-year option

  • Limitations : The Volunteer option only applies at Club level. MTBA is not contemplating, at this time, a National body volunteering option. There are no other limitations

  • Other : No differentiation will be made on a member's card. The Club Volunteer option does not apply to the MTBA membership fee component.

          1-year member option (existing option)

  • No changes 

General comments

IMPORTANT: MTBA has set the price points we require. We now encourage your Club to set your fees as you require. It is, however, important for you to be aware that we have already set up a default fee structure for you as detailed above. If you feel that these are suitable for your club you need do nothing further. We do, however, encourage you to look at the fees and check. It is very important that you understand that you have complete control over the fees your club sets for the membership classes and their available options.

You will also shortly notice a new member card design that reflects our growing relationship with Cycling Australia.

  • Competition members (Senior, Junior, DirtMaster and Value-add classes) will be more generally called a 'gold member" and the member card will have a gold strip on the right-hand side of the card. As already mentioned a 3-year option to Senior member class will also have a 'diamond' insignia in the gold stripe to visibly indicate that they are important members to your club and to MTBA.

  • Social members (Social member class) will be more generally called a 'silver member" and the member card will have a silver strip on the right-hand side of the card.

Updated paper membership and fee summary forms will shortly be available in your club's on-line club forms area and in the club resource area on the MTBA website.

OK, you have convinced me - How do I join MTBA?

To join MTBA for competition you need to also be a member of an affiliated club. To find a club near you click on your State or Territory on the map of Australia that is displayed on MTBA website home page or here. This will take you to a list of all the clubs affiliated with MTBA in your chosen State or Territory. You can join the club on-line if they have made on-line access available.

If you know which club you intend on joining you can join directly by going here. If you have ever been a MTBA member and are using the on-line system for the first time use the second option "Existing MTBA member". Enter your Surname, Member number and date of birth and access to the on-line membership system will be sent by email to the last email address we have for you. Follow the links to personalize your password and renew. If your email address has changed or we don't know what it is please contact the This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

You can also join by post: Download a MTBA membership application form by following this link. Fill it out, add the club membership fee and send the club a cheque or money order made out to the club for the total or the MTBA membership and club membership.

If you join at a race: Download a MTBA membership application form by following this link. Fill it out, add the club membership fee and take it and payment to a club race.

In both cases some clubs have their own membership application form available on their website and some clubs have allow payment by credit card. Some can accept a scanned copy along with internet transfer of payment which means that the process can be completed by email.

If you are a financial member of CA or BMXA, then you join directly to MTBA without having to join another club. The process is as follows:

Step 1: Download the Cycling Australia paper membership form here.

Step 2: Complete the form.

Step 3: Post directly to Cycling Australia with payment (go here for fee) and remember to include a copy of your current MTBA Membership card (with more than three months to expiry). 

 

 

All those clubs - Which club should I join?

The club you join should be a good and comfortable fit to the type of mountain biking you do. In your discussion with the club contact of your preferred club you should ask if the club:

  • has a competition or social ride focus
  • has a MTB discipline competition preference, which mainly falls into XC or DH
  • has a venue(s) for competition and training or travels to other races as a club activity
  • has social activities outside formal competition
  • caters for female or juniors with specific activities (as appropriate)
  • has a family discount for all those living at the same residence


The answers to these questions may help you decide which club to join. The other factor is locality. Clubs provide a local context. They provide you a network of like-minded people to compete or recreate with. Clearly a local club close to where you live or ride may be more useful to you than a club located far away.

 

I want to race - What do I need to do?

Just as in any other sport or activity the right clothing and safety gear can make all the difference to your enjoyment. For participating at any MTBA sanctioned activity you need:

  • MTBA membership or the purchase of a MTBA day permit (or you can upgrade online from a social membership to competitive in your membership area)
  • Australian certified bicycle helmet for any XC type activity. For DH you need a full-face helmet that is Australian certified helmet or one that has been certified by an International Standard organisation. You can see the list of International agencies that comply with this requirement <here>
  • Your feet need to be fully enclosed - ie no sandals or thongs. Proper bike racing shoes are best but any hard soled show will suffice. You may like to get clip-less pedals and shoes, but make sure that you are familiar with their use (getting your feet unclipped) well before your first race.

We recommend the following:

  • Eye wear to prevent bugs and dust and leaves and such annoying your eyes. For DH most riders use race goggles.
  • Cycling gloves - full or half finger ones for XC and preferably full finger for DH
  • Padded cycling shorts will aid you comfort and a cycling jersey has plenty of pockets to put your food and spares in. See here for the MTBA cycling jersey. DH racers sometimes use BMX-style clothing.
  • For DH we recommend body armor and additional protection for knees and elbows.

 

What kind of mountain biking can I do with MTBA?

These days MTB is much more than just Downhill (DH) or Olympic Cross Country (XC). Clubs around the nation now do many other forms of MTB. Here are some descriptive words of what you can do with your MTB with MTBA to whet your appetite.

  • Olympic Cross-Country (XCO or XC for short). An individual or mass start competition, which is held on a circuit course, composed of forest roads, forest or field trails and unpaved dirt or gravel roads (a minimal amount of paved road may be necessary).
  • Short Track Cross Country (XCC). A very short XC style event of about 800m in length but generally about 1 minute 30 seconds in winning time. A short, sharp exciting event to watch and participate in.
  • Marathon (XCM). A XC event of over 60 kilometres in length and more than 3 hours in duration.
  • Downhill (DH). A time trial of sustained descending occurring between a start line and a finish line, which is located at a lower altitude. Competitors typically depart the start line in timed intervals (i.e. 30 seconds). The minimum length of course will be 1.5 km and the maximum will usually be less than 5 km and with a winning time of between 3 and 5 minutes. The course consists of a mixture of rapid and slower technical sections and be composed of single track, wide track and rocky tracks. The emphasis is placed on technical skills of the rider.
  • Four Cross (4X). 4X is a competition that consists of a qualifying round or rounds followed by a final race series where 4 qualifying riders compete on a shared short downhill type course. The winner and the second placed riders in each match qualify automatically for the subsequent round. Times are not taken into account except at the qualification stage.
  • Bike Trials. Events conducted over an obstacle course including such natural hazards as mud, rocks, water, or man-made hazards and can have any number of sections. The riders attempt to negotiate each section without putting down a foot or hand (dab). Each dab (foot or hand) adds a point to the rider's score. The rider with the lowest score wins the event.
  • Hill Climb/Uphill. A timed competition of sustained climbing in which the finish line is at a higher altitude than the start line. A hill climb may be a mass start competition or a time trial.
  • Point-To-Point. An individual or mass start competition held on a course from point A to point B composed of forest roads, forest or field trails and unpaved dirt or gravel roads (a minimal amount of paved road may be necessary). The minimum length for a Point-to-Point event will be 25 kilometers and will be less than 60km.
  • Stage Races. Events where competitors are required to compete in a series of different events toward one total overall score or time. A typical stage race might consist of an uphill, a cross-country and a downhill time trial. This event determines the most versatile rider and occurs over one or several days. Each stage has a winner. Competitors must complete all stages with the finishing times or points recorded after each event. The rider with the lowest accumulated total time or the highest accumulated points at the end of all stages is the winner.

 

My first race - What is involved?

Your first race is always going to be an exciting time. You will be nervous about what you have to do, if you are up to the task and who your competition is. The best way of allaying these things is race more often. The more races you do the more comfortable you will be and the more you will know what to expect. However there are some things that you should always do to ensure that you have the best experience possible:

Prepare. The night before set out your MTBA membership card and money, clothes, helmet, shoes, gloves and eye-wear. Prepare your drinks and food for the race. Place all these in the one place so that you are not hunting around madly trying to assemble all this at the last minute. Prepare your tools to take and make sure that your bike is lubricated and working correctly. The night before is not the time to change anything significant on your bike - like a new seat or gears - to do that will only add to the worry next day.

Practice. For XCO the first lap of the race is not the time to pre-ride the course. This should be done the day before or before the racing starts. You should know exactly where the course goes so that you can mentally know what is around the next corner or over the next climb.

For DH there will usually be plenty of time on race day to practice the course and you will have the full support of the race organisers when you do so.

For the other forms of MTB disciplines the opportunity to practice may be limited (in particular Marathon for instance) or indeed riding the course unseen is part of the appeal.

On race day. The following refers mainly to XCO and DH activity since these are the most common forms of MTB activity clubs do. "On race-day" for the other disciplines varies greatly and you should be guided by the race organisers.

So, for XCO or DH, get to the race at least 1 hour before the first race is due to occur or before the first official practice session. When race registration is available, register your name, nominate your race class show your MTBA membership card and pay the entry fee.

The remainder of the day somewhat depends on what MTB discipline you are doing. The way the day unfolds is different for XC and DH.

  • XC
    • Remember that you are not permitted to practice the course while another race is happening - it is not fair on them and you would not like it done to you. You are also not permitted to practice the race course on race day without having registered your intention to race and have attached the race number to your bike. Practice the course the day before or do one lap before the racing starts and then cool down, recall in your mind the course, where it goes and what it entails.
    • Know when you are expected to start and listen out for the race start calls. If you are just starting out do yourself a favor and do not start at the front of your class. In club races your race start may be in conjunction with other age groups or race categories and the call up to the start line may be in a particular order. If in doubt what the procedure is at any race ask the race organisers for clarification.
  • DH
    • Make sure that you understand the practice times and how you will be placed in your age category or race class once racing starts. Usually club and state level DH races are staged by having a morning practice session followed by the afternoon race on the same day. Some lager state races may be held over 2 days where additional practice will be available on Saturday.
    • Before you can practice you need to register for the race and get your number plate: no plate no practice. If you are new to DH racing or you are new at a particular race course your first practice run should be slow or better still walk the course when you first get to the race venue. It makes sense that you want to get the most out of your day so crashing and burning in the very first practice run is a big downer!
    • In some classes a preliminary race in the afternoon is held to rank the riders in order fastest to slowest. In some races the start order is completely arbitrary and you start when you get to the start line. If you are expected to start your race at a particular time the race organisers will post a start time list in between the finish of morning practice session and the start of the afternoon racing. It is your responsibility to check this list to (a) make sure that you are listed and recorded in the correct race class, and (b) check your start time.
    • Since the DH start line is usually some distance up a hill you will need to make sure that you know when you need to be there by checking the start time list (see above) and some idea of the time it takes to do so (by mentally knowing the time it took in your practice sessions). It is your responsibility to make sure that you are at the start line in plenty of time before your allocated start time. A good thing to keep in mind is that it is often easier to wait at the top than to wait at the bottom. Remember that if the race organiser has provided transport to you to get to the race start you are not permitted to use any form of private transport to get to the race start.


In both XC and DH races if in doubt ask.

 

What is the accepted rider etiquette?

When you are racing you can get extremely focussed and single-minded which unfortunately may mean that you can only think of one thing - your race. The fact is that you are also racing with many other people in your class, in a different (age or skill wise) race class and thus be better than you are or you are also riding with others who are less skilled than you are.

In all these cases it is important to know how you should react if you catch someone or someone catches you on the race course.

If you struggle with a climb or a downhill and you have to get off please clear the trail straight away so that riders behind you can keep going. If someone in front of you can't get out of the way quickly enough be patient and polite and wait till the rider in front can safely move aside and allow you to pass. Remember that this is probably how you would like to be dealt with if you are caught up.

If you are catch-up or you are caught-up the rider behind will call "track left (or right)" to indicate which side he/she wishes to pass you. You should attempt to move to the opposite side of his call (right or left side of the track) at the earliest opportunity to make room for the rider to pass you safely. Having said this it is the passing rider's responsibility to pass safely. It serves no purpose to pass a slower rider in an unsafe manner if it could precipitate a tangle of bikes in which both of you go down or even worse are injured. It is unsociable to pass a rider if the passing move causes the rider being passed to have an accident. To do this may precipitate a protest on your action which may result in relegation or worse still disqualification.

 

Which category should I race in first?

Most races will have age classes which are strictly limited to an age bracket or they will have open race categories in which there are no age limits. Age for most club or State level races is mostly determined by your age as at the end of the year in which the race is held. The race organiser will be able to confirm the age criteria.

In general terms if you are a junior (under 19 years of age) MTBA recommends that you enter your appropriate age category. If you are a senior (19 years of age or older) then you also have the option of the Elite category, an age category or an open age category. The choice is yours.

In most cases male and female race classes will be offered, although due to the limited number of women racing mountain bike all the women may be started together, although your results should be recorded in your correct race category.

If you are just starting out and over 19 years of age one of the open age classes may be a good beginning. This way you will be able to compare your race time with your correct age category or indeed the Elite race class and perhaps decide to enter one of those classes next time. For XC the difference in the race classes is mostly about your ability - the time it takes you to race a predefined number of laps of the race course (see below).

 

What training should I have done beforehand?

Like most things, the more you do something the easier it gets. MTB racing is no different. One of the joys of MTB is that you can practice a race course with your mates and friends. Riding with people who are stronger/better riders will often bring good gains in your skills and strength. You will be able to see how they negotiate sections of the trail and hopefully encourage you to extend yourself. Remember though that you control your own fate when riding your MTB and the sport is nothing if not self-limiting. If you are uncomfortable with riding a section of trail get off your bike and walk (or better still run) through it or get some expert tuition to help you ride through it.

In the early days on your bike, riding on a wide variety of surfaces is important. Getting used to the way your bike responds to various surfaces and learning how to shift your weight around to compensate for uphill, downhill or corners is something that will come with time and practice.

 

For how long will I race in XC?

Most club and State XC race courses are about 5 - 6km in length. All the XC race categories have defined race times. The time it takes the winner of each race category to ride a lap of the course determines the number of laps for that race class. The total time you will race for is determined by reference to the time it takes the winning Elite man (almost by definition the fastest lap time) to ride a lap of the course. For most race courses the winning Elite Man would take about 15 - 25 minutes per lap, depending on the race course length and the terrain. Given an Elite Man winning lap time of 15 minutes criteria the following race times and lap numbers can be calculated.

Class Target race time (h:mm) Lap Numbers
Elite /U23 Men 1:30 - 1:45 6
Expert Men 1:30 - 1:45 5
Elite /U23 Women 1:15 - 1:30 4
Veteran Men 1:30 - 1:45 4
Veteran Women 1:15 - 1:30 3
Masters Men 1:15 - 1:30 3
Masters Women 1:00 - 1:15 2
Super Master men 1:00 - 1:15 2 or 3
U19 Men 1:30 - 1:45 4
U19 Women 1:15 - 1:30 3
U17 Men 1:15 - 1:30 3
U17 Women 1:00 - 1:15 2
U15 Men 1:00 - 1:15 2
U15 Women 0:45 - 1:00 1 or 2
U13 Boys and Girls 0:30 - 0:45 modified race course
Sport Men 1:00 - 1:15 3 or 4
Sport Women 0:45 - 1:00 2 or 3
Recreational Men & Women 0:45 - 1:00 1

It must be emphasised, however, that the lap numbers in this table are approximate and completely depends on the course, weather and terrain.

Some events you will enter may have shorter race courses than this and some much longer.

 

What is the difference between a National, State and club race?

In most circumstances you will interact with MTBA at a club level and for most people this is all they are after - just plain old fun with their mates and having bragging rights when you place better then others in your peer group. For some others testing themselves against others drawn from a wider area is a better test of their ability. State level competition provides this, while still being reasonably local. For some others this is still not the test they need and contesting National Series level events and, in the ultimate, the National MTB Championships provides the real indication of where one is placed in Australia. The National series and the National Championships also provide the opportunity for the National selectors to see what you are made of, what you can do and for you to place yourself on notice for possible selection to represent Australia at the World MTB Championships, the Commonwealth Games and the pinnacle sporting event in the world - the Olympic Games (for XC only).

 

Will my bike be good enough?

If you are just starting out in MTB competition use the bike you have until you are sure this sport is one that you feel you want to continue with. As you grow in your sporting ability you will naturally find yourself needing a more sophisticated bike. It is important to remember, though, that the best riders can win on any old bike (so long as it holds together) so getting a very expensive bike to begin with is not needed.

In general terms though for XC racing a front suspension hard-tail (no rear suspension) is what is needed. While weight is often spoken about as being important in XC racing the reality is that the lighter the bike the more expensive it is and the more care is needed to make sure it is looked after. Another truism is that it is often much easier to lose weight yourself than spend the money and effort in making your bike lighter. Having said all that, as you become more skilled and stronger getting a lighter bike will help in achieving that extra few percentage of effort.

For DH activity the type of bike these days is a dual suspension with between 4 and 8 inches of travel both front and rear. However there is a growing trend to cater to 'hard-tails' - bikes with only front suspension, so don't feel that you need to buy a dually right away.

 

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