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08 April 2019 - Morganton, NC

Grand National Cross Country e-MTB Racing

By Adam Kidd - Shimano STEPS East Coast Demo Driver

The Grand National Cross Country, or GNCC, race series has been entertaining fans of motorcycle and ATV racing since 1975. Open to amateurs and professionals, these events feature fast open fields, technical wooded areas, steep climbs, and rutted descents. They’re family oriented and spectator friendly; many families camp and park their RVs near or along the race course to watch or offer support to friends and family while they race. Before the race, the pit area is open to fans as they walk by checking out bikes. The pros will even come out to say hello and autograph posters for the kids. Many of the pro riders are out on e-bikes before the race scouting the course, and their mechanics use them during the race to get back forth to key points where riders might need some assistance.

 

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GNCC noticed the increased popularity in e-bikes and conducted a survey to see what should replace the side-by-side race. They learned that riders and fans also took a large interest in mountain biking, so they decided to incorporate four e-MTB races into the 2018 schedule. For 2019, they’ve expanded the e-MTB racing to an eight race National Championship series. The rules are simple: class 1 pedal assist only. Other than that, the rules are similar to a typical XC mountain bike race. The biggest difference is the length of the race: one-hour total with multiple laps on an approximately three mile course. This format gives spectators several opportunities to view the action and many take full advantage.

 

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Photo: Ken Hill

 

The first e-MTB race in the series took place at The General in Washington, GA. Professional mountain biker Kyle Warner was on hand with his Shimano STEPS E8000 equipped Felt Redemption E-30. Kyle, who placed third, posted this recap to his social media.

 

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In addition to e-MTB racing, GNCC has expanded the vendor area to include demos and a separate course to safely test ride the bikes on much of the same course as the e-MTB race. We were fortunate enough to attend the second race in the series at the historic Steele Creek Campground and were excited to find so many people here stoked on racing and being outside. And not just on the moto racing either; there were crowds gathered to watch the start of the e-MTB race as well. After the race started, the crowds dispersed to the more technical areas or jumps along the course.

 

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Photo: Ken Hill

 

If you’re looking to race e-MTB and have a ton of fun while doing it, this is the way to go. There are several more opportunities this year, including an e-MTB specific event at the Loretta Lynn Ranch. The overall vibe feels so much like a mountain bike festival, just MUCH louder!