Fancy riding with nearly 200 other women down a mountain bike course in England’s stunning Lake District? How about with multiple world champion Rachel Atherton chasing you down? That’s the idea behind the Red Bull Fox Hunt, where the hunted becomes the hunter in a bike race with a difference.
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The Fox Hunt is a mass-start format race that sees competitors take the role of hunters, complete with a specially designed jersey, and the pro rider the role of the fox. The difference here is that it’s the fox that’s doing the chasing. The hunters start off first, then after a short time the fox comes after them, and must try to pass as many of the hunters as possible before reaching the end of the course. The 2016 edition of the event takes place on October 1 and 2 in Cumbria, and there are 200 entries available.
It’s an incredibly fun and friendly event, and 2016 is the third time Red Bull has run the event with Rachel Atherton.
Entries open on August 18 at 10am, and demand will be high, so register your interest now and stand by that computer screen so you can nab one of the 200 places up for grabs!
Here are 10 reasons you should take part.
1. You get to ride with Rachel Atherton
Surely this is a total no-brainer?! It’s your chance to wheel down a mountain and generally hang out with multiple World Champion downhill mountain biker Rachel Atherton herself. She’s got killer bike skills, incredible race craft, and a whole lot of experience. She’s also more than happy to give advice, guidance and tips, and is keen to encourage more women into mountain biking and downhill racing, and also help those already racing progress.
2. You get to meet and ride with a load of other women
With 200 spaces up for grabs, the 2016 Red Bull Fox Hunt is getting on for being the biggest women’s specific mountain biking event in the UK. Women come from all across the country to take part, and part of the lure is certainly the chance to make friends and discover new riding buddies.
3. You can test ride some sweet bikes
Trek, who sponsors Atherton and her brother Gee, will be sending along a fleet of demo bikes. You’ll be able to try out some of the latest bikes on the market on the terrain they’re most suited for – much better than the bike shop car park! Red Bull will be releasing more info on how this will run over the weekend closer to the time, so keep your eyes peeled.
4. You can soak up the festival feeling
It’s not just a race, it’s a whole weekend of riding, hanging out and having fun. Most people camp in the area provided, and there’s a central tipi for hanging out in. Red Bull lays on a DJ in the evening and there may even be some live music.
Add to that the fact that Red Bull lays on some tasty fare for competitors, including dinner on Saturday night and breakfast and lunch on the race day, and you know you aren’t going to go hungry. There’s even food for the spectators to purchase too.
5. You don’t need to worry about mechanicals
Sometimes, the last thing you want to think about when you’re racing is fixing a mechanical. Happily, Trek will be providing mechanics who’ll help sort out any last minute issues so you can focus on the riding and racing.
6. You get cheered along the way
There’s nothing quite like having people yelling support at you when you’re zooming down a race track, and the Fox Hunt positively encourages the crowds to come out and support the riders.
This also means you should totally bring along your own fan club to cheer you along the course. The atmosphere will be all the better for it, and there’s nothing like reaching the finishing area knowing you’ve got an entourage who are seriously impressed with your efforts. There’s plenty of facilities for them to use, so they won’t be going hungry, either.
7. The course will be challenging and fun
The course is located in the Eden Valley in Cumbria, so you already know that you’ll be riding in one of the most beautiful parts of the British Isles. Add to that a start line of 596m, a course that’s just over 2km long, and a total elevation drop of 320m – plus some twists, turns and features – ad you’ve got the recipe for a fun ride.
Going by previous years, although there are more technical lines and jumps, there are also alternate routes you can take to by-pass them so you can take on as much or as little as you fancy. There’s also plenty of time to practice the course the day before the event, so you can perfect your line choices and get your speed dialled in ahead of time.
8. You’ll challenge yourself
The great thing is, you’re in control of the level of challenge you want to take. Determined to beat Atherton to the finish line? Go for it! Looking to get air and a clean landing off that jump? You’ve got time to practice. Just want to try your first race with a group of friendly and inclusive mountain biking women? This is the perfect opportunity.
9. It’s very well organised and there’s plenty of support
The set up for the Fox Hunt is as slick as you’d like, so all you have to think about is sorting your accommodation out, and riding. In previous years most competitors have camped, and Red Bull lay on showers, toilets and a bike wash in addition to the food and communal areas as listed above. There’s also medical and mechanical support to help look after body and bike.
Red Bull also lays on uplifts so you aren’t hefting your bike the entire way up the race course for practice, seeding and racing.
10. It’s fun!
The Red Bull Fox Hunt is a genuinely fun event, whatever you’re hoping to get from it. Many women want to really push their riding and test their skills against one of the best mountain bikers in the world, and others are looking to try racing for the first time, with the full spectrum of aims, ambitions and abilities present.
A seeding run on the Saturday means that come race day you’ll be grouped with people of similar abilities, and the atmosphere is supportive and inclusive. Women come away from the event absolutely buzzing, and everyone who’s ridden in previous years will certainly be signing up for this year. Demand will be high, and we can’t wait to see how the event goes.