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The three main disciplines of Off Road cycling that are active in Ireland are:
Cross Country Mountain Biking (XC) where cyclists ride on bikes that are designed primarily around cross country racing. With an emphasis on a combination of climbing, speed and endurance the bikes tend to be both lightweight and efficient. XC Mountain Bikes have evolved from being steel hardtail frames with rigid forks, to the full suspension bikes that are most commonly used today.
Downhill Mountain Biking (DH) is an adrenalin fuelled Off Road discipline, where the main focus is travelling down technical, tricky and steep descents as fast as possible. The bikes used in DH tend to be very strong, with a large amount of sag to get ample traction to go fast over bumpy trails.
Cyclocross (CX) is a discipline of Off Road cycling that usually takes place in Autumn and Winter. The riders use bikes that are a cross between road racing bikes and mountain bikes - insofar as the frame and handlebars resemble a road bike, but the tyres are like skinnier mountain bike tyres. They generally use disc brakes also. A cyclocross race is usually run as laps of a circuit, with an emphasis on the rider's aerobic endurance and on their bike handling skills.
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