Cycling has been part of every Summer Olympic Games since the birth of the modern Olympic movement at the 1896 Summer Olympics, which included a road race and five track events. Mountain bike racing, however, is a relatively new event – it was introduced at the 1996 games in Atlanta, Georgia.
The sport of mountain biking can trace it roots to the 1970s, when riders in the United States tinkered with bikes and adapted them to the rigors of off-road riding. Modified heavy cruiser bicycles, retrofitted with stronger brakes and fat tires, were used for freewheeling down-mountain trails. It was not until the late 1970s and early 1980s, however, that road bicycle companies started to manufacture mountain bicycles using high-tech lightweight materials.
Because of the enormous variation of terrain a mountain bike can navigate, the sport has divided and riders often specialize in a particular event. Today mountain bikers compete in cross-country, downhill and freeride events.