BikeRadar Live: Get Set for the Dirt Crit!

Fast, close, and aggressive racing

Olympian Oli Beckingsale previews the purpose-built course and shares his knowledge and tips for success at the What Mountain Bike Dirt Crit Champs, powered by Rose bikes, at BikeRadar Live.


“Dirt crit racing is not short cross country – it’s fast, close, and aggressive,” says three-time Olympian and World Cup racer Oli Beckingsale. “It features a short technical lap where you’re riding at high speed elbow to elbow – fighting for each corner; just fighting for an advantage. As the speed goes up it gets more exciting and more technical. It’s aggressive mountain biking.”

British World Cup racer and all-round nice guy Oli Beckingsale (Giant Factory Racing) is getting fired up – and firing us up – for the What Mountain Bike Dirt Crit Champs, powered by Rose Bikes, at BikeRadar Live on July 10-11.

The 1km Dirt Crit circuit is designed to be short and rip roaring relation of a race, including open mogul fields, bomb holes, multi-line options and North Shore sections. Every segment of the circuit has passing opportunity making the racers stay close as the excitement builds towards the end of the short lap just like its name sake criterium racing. The result looks set to be electrifying multi-lapped races on a spectator-friendly circuit, which shouldn’t be missed!

Riding through the woods:
Geoff Waugh

Riding the wooded singletrack section

Alongside Oli in the men’s Pro-Elite race will be a high-calibre field with many top-ranked UK racers, including two-time Olympian Nick Craig; former national cyclo-cross champ Jody Crawforth; national 24hr solo champion, Matt Page; current third in the national points series-ranked Paul Oldham; as well as former national champion and the first man ever to win a national race on a full suspension bike, Paul Lazenby. The TORQ team ( will be present in force with riders including Ben Thomas, Andy Blair, Lee Craigie and Sion and Anthony O’Boyle, amongst others, and there will also be plenty more racers too (see below) as well as a very special guest (tba) who will all be vying for the win.

“It’s going to be good,” explains Oli after previewing the course at Brands Hatch, “it’s good to have an event like this that’s a bit different, a bit technical with some interesting north shore sections. There are shorter line options all over the place; and when making it a crit-style race, the speed goes up and things get more exciting and more technical; people will be sprinting for corners as well as for the finish. It should be fun.”

“The course at Brands Hatch is pretty rough,” he continues, “so I’ll be racing on my Giant Anthem X fully [full suspension bike] as it’s not like riding around a smooth forest track: it’s pretty bumpy under tyre with technical sections so I think fully with a bit of ProPedal damping will be ideal.”

Oli riding the north shore section:
Geoff Waugh

Hitting the North Shore

In the women’s race, the current leader of the British XC Series, Lily Matthews, has confirmed that she will be racing; alongside her will be her fellow 2012 Olympic hopeful, Annie Last, as well as multiple national champion Jenny Copnall who will be coming out of retirement especially for the race; also racing will be Cotic/Bontrager rider Kate Potter; current Irish Champ Cait Elliot; current second-ranked in the British XC Series standings, Lee Craigie, and many more.

Fancy a go?

If you fancy getting stuck in then you’d better hurry as pre-entry closes on the 5th July, although you can of course enter on the day. But besides the headline Pro-Elite race there’s also categories for everyone from kids races (with 8-11 year olds, and 12-14 year olds categories), through Sport 15-17 year olds, Sport 18+, to Sport Veteran 40+ categories; so whatever your level, if you fancy having a bash on a great course with other like-minded folks then there’s a category to suit. All races will feature male and female categories and will feature staggered starts.

On the skinny:
Geoff Waugh

Shortcuts aplenty including this skinny

There will be prizes for the top three places in each category, plus Rose Bikes will be stumping up £3000-worth of additional prizes, including a full suspension bike worth £1500! The WMB crew will be about over the weekend, racing and riding too.

Entry prices range from £5 for kids races, through to £12 for Sport 15-17, 18+ and Sport Veterans 40+, with the Pro Elite race costing £18. Please note that day or weekend BikeRadar Live festival tickets need to be purchased in addition to the Dirt Crit Champs entry fee.

Here’s the schedule for racing, which takes place on Sunday 11th July:

8-9 yrs – 3 laps (short course) – 10am start time

10-11 yrs – 3 laps (full course) – 10.15am start time

12-14 yrs – 4 laps (full course) – 10.50am start time

The following races start at the same time, with categories gridded in order, with the 15-17 yrs gridded behind the others

15-17 yrs – 8 laps (full curse) – 11.20am start time

18+ Sport – 8 laps (full course) – 11.20am start time

Veteran – 8 laps (full course) – 11.20am start time

The Elites will race by themselves.

Elite – 12 laps (full course) – 12.30am start

DON’T MISS OUT! – book online at or call 0871 230 1085 (lines open 24 hours, calls cost 10p per minute)

Who is Oli Beckingsale?

Oli beckingsale:
Geoff Waugh

Oli Beckingsale hails from near Bristol (‘born and bred’) and is a pro cross-country mountain bike racer who rides for the Giant Factory Racing team. He’s the reigning British Marathon Champion, multiple British cross-country (XC) Champion, a three-time Olympian – finishing 12th in Beijing –, and Commonwealth Games silver medallist. See here to read Oli talking frankly about his demons, his hopes for the London 2012 Olympics, and his swan song.  Oli will also be talking about all things mountain biking after the race in the Trade Arena of BikeRadar Live. See for more.

Oli’s Dirt Crit Tips

  1. Inspect the course: You need to inspect the course so you don’t get caught out. Look at all the different line options on the course and practice them so you’re comfortable with taking any of them come-what-may during the race.
  2. Get stuck in: Start fast as you’re going to have to get used to riding aggressively; of course not in a nasty sense but you’re going to have to fight for each corner as if you don’t other riders will cut you up and you’ll be behind. It really is fast, close quarters but non-contact racing where you really have to get stuck in.
  3. Pace yourself: You do need to pace yourself as, although it may be fast and furious, you still have to save a bit for the end as the race is still a long time and you can’t sprint all the way.

The Dirt Crit Course

Dirt crit course:

Here are the key features on the lap, all of which should be riveting for both racers and spectators

Tank trap

This wide-open multi-line section features a bomb hole, water splash or both, taking the fastest route before heading into the woodland descent.

Pumping paradise

As you rejoin the pathway, a sea of rollers lies ahead. Give those legs a rest and your upper body a work-out along a straight full of whoops.

North Shore shortcut

Oli riding the north shore section:
Geoff Waugh

As you dive into the woodland, the circuit weaves and whips around trees heading towards an open section. Here, you can choose to straighten out the bends by riding a ‘skinny’ up and over a fallen tree, then hoping a log or doing the mini log double before one more North Shore stretch spits you out in front of the pack…

Brands Hatch Bottom Out

As you snake to the bottom of the circuit a steep roll-in awaits, with a roller coaster style G-out in the bottom. Your arms legs and suspension will feel the Brands Hatch Bottom Out before its back on the gas…

The hill

A short, sharp attack that’s over before you know it, a few twists and turns, and you’re heading for the North Shore bridge and a motoring up to the top of the woods.

Home stretch

A quick blast through the trees with your legs burning and onto the home straight. Then a flat-out sprint for the line, plenty of room to pass on the wider path where you started…

Sound good?

Then make sure you enter the What Mountain Bike Dirt Crit Champs, powered by Rose Bikes now! Book your place on the start line at, or call 0871 230 108. (Lines open 24 hours, calls cost 10p per minute)

Confirmed Pro-Elite racers include:


  • Oli Beckingsale – Giant Factory Racing
  • Liam Killeen – 100% Me
  • Nick Craig – Scott UK
  • Scott Cornish – Syncros-Extreme
  • Jody Crawforth – Specialized
  • Paul Beales – Orange Monkeys
  • Chris Andrews – Orange Monkeys
  • Dave Collins – Hope Racing
  • Paul Oldham – Hope Racing
  • Ben Thomas – TORQ
  • Andy Blair – TORQ
  • Anthony O’Boyle – TORQ
  • Nick Collins – TORQ
  • Rob Lee – Syncros/Extreme
  • Euan Adams –
  • Ross Adams –
  • Matt Page – Wiggle
  • Christian Aucote – Moda/Kenda/Lake/Lloyds Cycles
  • Rab Wardell – Kinesis-Morvelo Project
  • Billy-Jo Whenman – Whyte Racing
  • Paul Lazenby – Whyte Racing
  • Dave Buchanan – Syncros/Extreme
  • Steven James – 100% Me
  • Luke Gray – 100% Me
  • Sion O’Boyle – TORQ


  • Annie Last – 100% Me
  • Lily Matthews – 100% Me
  • Jenny Copnall
  • Lee Craigie – TORQ
  • Kate Potter – Cotic/Bontrager
  • Cara Haines – WXC Racing
  • Cate Elliot (Irish champ) – WXC Racing
  • Jessie Roberts – WXC Racing
  • Rachel Fenton – WXC Racing
  • Gabriella Day
  • Melanie Spath